Johanna Øygard

Johanna Øygard

Job title (at time of interview)Territory Manager Nordics Sandvik Mining and Rocks Solutions


“Every person has a history to tell and from that you can learn a lot, to help people by guiding them in their stories has developed me and guided me into the right paths as well. Curiosity and passion lead me into sales and the position that I have now, but I would never been there if not listening and learning from the stories in our company!”

“I’ve learned that some paths don’t turn out the way you envisioned but going down a path you never thought you would usually leads to greater development and something really good in the end, don’t give up and trust that your work will lead somewhere even if didn’t turn out exactly as you thought.”

Johanna’s journey at Sandvik entails continuous professional and personal growth, inspiring others, particularly women, to pursue business-related roles despite not necessarily possessing the conventional formal background typically deemed necessary. She endeavours to remain open to other perspectives and to challenge both herself and the organisation to make decisions beyond the comfort zone. While diversity is often discussed, she questions whether there exists the courage to invest additional time and effort in pursuing less certain options. She has, for instance, urged her organisation to rethink its approach to recruitment, advocating for a departure from entrenched requirements in favour of embracing candidates who may require more development. This shift has led to the discovery of female leaders and individuals with diverse backgrounds, deviating from conventional expectations.


Johanna Øygard has a Master’s degree in Finance and a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management. She lives in Sandviken and is married with three children; Aksel 12 years, Arvid 9 years and Ingrid 8 years.


June 2024

By Claudia Fernández P.

  • What do you think has been your most important personal attribute and how has it influenced your professional success?

    I think that my total openness with myself and who I have created trust by other people, what you see is what you get, and I have always tried to be one person, and true to myself in that. I have a huge interest in human beings which have helped me create invaluable bonds and relationships – that together with curiosity and courage has been the factors behind, I think.

    Every person has a history to tell and from that you can learn a lot, to help people by guiding them in their stories has developed me and guided me into the right paths as well. Curiosity and passion lead me into sales and the position that I have now, but I would never been there if not listening and learning from the stories in our company!

  • What message or advice would you give to young Johanna, who has not yet started her professional life?

    What’s the worst that could happen besides risking people’s lives? Often, we tend to magnify consequences, which hinders us in both actions, decision-making and being our true selves. “Have courage and be kind” are my watchwords and it’s something I really learned along the way!

    Then to be patient! I’ve learned that some paths don’t turn out the way you envisioned but going down a path you never thought you would usually leads to greater development and something really good in the end, don’t give up and trust that your work will lead somewhere even if didn’t turn out exactly as you thought.

  • Your background is in business and human resource management. Please tell us how did you come to work in the mining industry?

    The way into the mining industry was actually via Sandvik, but not that straight!  I studied economy and clearly saw a future there, work at a bank, analysis or at the Swedish Economic Institute were some of the plans I had. After a few years in my professional life where I happened to have my office next to the HR department, I opened my eyes to this field and because I always loved to study, I enrolled in a degree in Human resources. Coincidence then led to my applying to Sandvik (Sandvik Materials Technology which is now Alleima) a place I had never before thought of as a possible employer, industry did not attract me at all and I probably saw this more as an opportunity to get to work with HR, I know that many times I thought that eventually I will move towards an area/branch where I really have an interest!

    I started as HR support very closely with tube manufacturing and after a few months at Sandvik I had found the passion for the industry, the core of so many parts of Swedish history and so significant for our society!

    Sandvik as a company also gives employees an endless opportunity and bouquet of alternatives, which has meant that I never felt that I was stuck, but during my almost 21 years developed and even hooks that I did not know at all from the beginning have developed into something very good.

    As said, Sandvik has a lot of opportunities, and 2015 I applied for a role within the Mining area  of Sandvik, working first with division Rock Tools and then into Sales. Here a bit of a new world opened up where I also went from previously working with production and R&D to working with sales support. From having been quite far from the customer in my previous roles, I suddenly had the customer on my shoulder, and I felt that the circle was closed in a way, this is where it happens! The mining industry is such an incredibly large part of Sweden’s history and I remember the first time I was down in LKAB’s mine in Kiruna, feeling the wings of history, what has happened here and how the development has taken place to today’s mines, it’s so incredibly awesome that I didn’t have a thought not to work in this sector!

  • You have had a highly successful career in the last 20 years. Please describe your career progression and how you reached the level of Territory Manager in charge of Sandvik's sales territories, first the Northeast Europe and then the Nordics.

    As said, I started my career in HR at Sandvik and really started from scratch and the floor there, which has been invaluable and 100% laid the foundation for where I am today. I started as what was called an HR advisor for a production unit, I worked with a lot of operational HR and supporting first-line managers. I learned an enormous amount there and it has shaped me during all the years I have worked with HR, to understand our business and the mission of support functions – it made early on that both my interest and working method were not about which function I came from but what the business needs.

    My passion working within Sandvik was definitely laid in the first years at SMT and I continued my path from production and technology to R&D. There I learned an enormous amount about myself and at the same time how different operations can be within the same company. Where in production there is often pulse and high tempo, in R&D operations the focus is long term and strategy, it taught me a lot about patience, details but also what Sandvik as a company builds large parts of its success on, a world-class R&D. The fantastic thing about such a large and global company is precisely that the possibilities are great, IF you want!

    When I got the opportunity of going into the role as HR Manager within Sandvik Mining & Construction’s sales organization in Sweden I landed in a bit of a new world again! The pulse I might have lacked a little in R&D suddenly increased tenfold and here the customer was in EVERYTHING, integrated in our DNA.

    I had the privilege of working with a very experienced manager who had the courage, lack of prestige and openness to really use me as an HR Business Partner and not just what you can sometimes end up in as a support function – precisely responsible for the specialist support and not being integrated into the business. Here I was given space to take place and step into areas that may not always have been HR, but it allowed me to develop towards something that I had not even thought about from the beginning.

    When this manager then retired, it was not at all strange for me to apply for the role, I had been pawing these lands for quite some time and the step was natural.

    This very move from a support function to a business position is something I believe is the key to increasing diversity, the percentage of women in business positions etc within the Mining industry. We mostly have our female employees and managers in non-business positions, but in an industry like ours, I believe that to be successful and be able to support both managers and the business, you need to be a business partner, know our products, know our challenges, and be invited to this room (and of course take responsibility for being invited!). This is something I did and one of the biggest reasons why I have the position I have today, as Territory Manager Nordics.

  • What are you passionate about in your work and find most rewarding?

    Since I now work in sales and feel that I have found a home in this area, one of the things I value and am most passionate about is being involved and contributing to customers’ development and steps towards the future mine thanks to our solutions and product development. Long-term partnership with customers to jointly contribute to a sustainable industry is extremely motivating. Then it goes without saying to make this journey together with employees who I feel I give responsibility for growth, courage to throw themselves into the unknown, feel involved and grow with the task – then I enjoy!

  • What has been your greatest challenge experienced during your career in the mining industry?

    I would probably say to find the right skills and to dare to think differently in recruitment etc., we tend to want individuals who are basically just “plug and play” – but if we want change, we have to dare to do differently and dare to think more long-term, even if there will be a longer entry distance that costs both time and money. We are at a stage where we are competing with many industries for labor and we need to attract more people to the mining industry, both in terms of the right skills and of course also women. The mining industry is a quite small “community” with pride and traditions, and I have come across this many times that “you need x number of years of experience in the mining industry to enter our company” and there we need change the tone. We are facing both a major generational shift but also a major shift in skills. To be able to respond to this fully, I think we must dare to think differently and challenge the traditions.

  • What aspects do you highlight in favour of the mining industry in Sweden and the progress made in recent years in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?

    An awful lot has happened with targeted measures and the topic has become a natural part of the agenda. When I started my career at Sandvik, there were many workplaces where it was a stated rule that women could not work because it was too heavy, tiring, bad environment, etc. In step with awareness of the working environment, health and safety, we have realized that such an environment is not good for ANYONE to work in, neither women nor men (although it may take longer to wear a man out) – then the issue has become a completely different one and not about gender, which I feel has opened up a tremendous development and enabling in just the last 10 years. Furthermore, industry organizations such as Swemin in Sweden have worked intensively to highlight the mining industry, the accessibility and the work opportunities that exist in a very important way – we need to be many who go to the front to show a change in the stereotypical way of seeing the mining industry as dark, cold and dangerous.

  • Have you benefitted from role models or mentors who went before you, or from other support structures in the workplace?

    Absolutely – just this with role models in general is one of the most important ways to get ahead, I think. One of the most important aspects of role models, I believe, is to show that it is possible, just like in sports where the success of one team member can make so many others in its vicinity rise and achieve success, because you see up close that it is actually possible! I think we need to work much more on it at all levels in the organization, it is easy to raise this at manager level, but showing so much earlier that so much is possible, means that an organization can achieve completely different successes. As I also mentioned, my former manager who really made it possible for me to step into rooms where I naturally perhaps wouldn´t have been was so important and the real enabler for me stepping into a leading business position.

  • Do you have any advice to young women starting out in their studies or careers in this field? What was most challenging for you when you started working?

    After several years of study, I had high demands on myself when I started work, that I should be educated and “know this” – instead it was something of a slap in the face to realize how LITTLE I actually knew and that the years at school had actually been more of “learning to learn”!

    It was both a self-confidence challenge and a patience challenge – I felt useless! Humility and courage, throwing myself into the unknown and learning by doing was probably the most important thing I did.

    I grew up in at a farm in a small village and have always loved spending time with elder people, listening to their stories, this was something that I had a lot of use of when I started. I took back on some of the old gents within HR and they introduced me to everybody and everyone, gave me a great arena to work on!  The advice I have and what I think is of great importance is to take time to learn the history of the company (Mining companies often have a long one!), listen to stories/storytelling, ask questions and be interested in the story, realize that no one has expectations that you should know everything and most people actually love to tell and teach about their knowledge – those were important lessons for me!

  • Do you believe that the presence of women in significant management, operational, business, and support roles influences the ultimate success of a company? Does a more diverse operating team lead to better or different decisions or performance?

    What I have learned and worked extremely hard for is cognitive diversity, which I am completely convinced is the primary success factor for achieving diversity also within gender etc. This is precisely what I emphasized earlier with courage, we always need to think differently in, for example, recruitment and not take the easiest way. We always need to take time to think about what the group/organization need, it might be a completely different type of personality than the easiest choice, to solve complex problems we need differences and I have learned that myself over the years, what do I need to surround myself with to complete me?

    I am convinced that a high diversity with different backgrounds and ways of thinking gives a better result and a sustainable organization.

  • What do you like to do outside work? What are you passionate about?

    My husband and I have three children together aged 8-12 and he also has two older children, 21 and 23 – so this probably takes up most of my time outside of work. It’s sports, sports and sports! I have a background as an elite cross-country skier and have actually also won the World Championships and World Cup in roller skiing, so training is something I am still most passionate about and it´s my personal mental feedback.

    I run and compete in mountain biking, and this is one of the most important things for me outside of work. I ALWAYS prioritize time for exercise as I know that this is my most important tool for recovery and reflection. I prefer to train alone where I can just be alone with thoughts and ideas or just a good book in my ears!

    My athletic background in endurance sports has shaped me and influenced my professional life immensely – again a bit of what I mentioned earlier, have courage and try, what’s the worst that can happen? There I often come back to something I have also immortalized in the form of a tattoo on my arm – “Just because it burns doesn´t mean you´re gonna die, you gotta get up and try”! (Pink). Extremely important to me and it has helped me many times!