Simplifying Complexity - Pehr Magnus Karlsson

Simplifying Complexity - Pehr Magnus Karlsson
05 July, 2023

Thank you to Pehr Magnus Karlsson, Head of Finance Transformation at EF Education First, for joining us on the EMEA Recruitment podcast.

“Learn to deal with complexity, but also learn to simplify.”

In this episode, Paul Toms begins by asking Pehr about the last thing that made him smile. Pehr had a call with a few technology specialists who were able to provide him with a demo solution and think outside the box, cultivating a great interaction.

Next, we learn why Pehr has spent over 20 years with EF Education First. He shares that he has been surrounded by great people and has worked with great managers. He adds that it’s never boring, as things arise unexpectedly, and he enjoys a challenge. In essence, being stimulated and surrounded by great people is what keeps Pehr loyal to the company.

As Head of Finance Transformation, Pehr compares his role to a rollercoaster that is slowly ascending to the top – fun, exhilarating and a little scary. The company is about to go live with a new accounting system that will affect 50,000 people in 100 countries, which Pehr is looking forward to implementing.

For those who wish to replicate Pehr’s rise to the top, he emphasises the ability to simplify complexities. In Finance, the role requires you to sort, absorb and simplify information for the business, people, or processes.

Later in the episode, Pehr lists a few leadership qualities that help him in his role. These are: having the ability to teach, but not lecture, and having the ability to listen. During his extensive career, he has been given opportunities throughout the function, leading Pehr to become a generalist, enhancing his ability to jump into different situations and provide solutions.

Discussing his time management skills, Pehr reiterates the importance of communication in his role; with a lot of meetings in place, he must be mindful of the tasks he has to tick off.

Onto the pandemic, we learn that Pehr did not find the COVID period very tough personally; he felt supported by the company, and working from home wasn’t an issue, due to becoming accustomed to other conferencing tools and methods.

He adds that people were innovative during the pandemic, coming up with new ways of working. However, he does acknowledge the struggles other employees may have endured.

Paul asks Pehr about the next goal he wishes to fulfil. He shares that he loves to travel in his career and has spent time with colleagues in Latin America, which has inspired him to learn Spanish.  

Listen to the end of the episode to find out if Pehr has any hidden talents.

You can listen to this episode wherever you get your podcasts or watch on YouTube below: 

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If you’re interested in a particular part of the episode, please use the timestamps below:

00:00 – Introduction
00:45 - The last thing that made Pehr smile
01:55 - Why Pehr has stayed with EF for over 20 years
05:20 - Head of Finance Transformation at EF
07:45 - Advice for those looking to secure a leadership role
10:20 - Characteristics of a Finance leader
17:45 - Time management
21:25 - Connecting with people during COVID
26:10 - The life goal Pehr wishes to achieve
29:10 - Finding out if Pehr has any hidden talents

EMEA Recruitment is a proud partner of Operation Smile, an international medical charity that provides life-changing surgery to children with cleft lip and palate. To support us in our goal of creating 100 new smiles through this partnership, please visit:

This episode is hosted by Paul Toms, our Founder, and Rose Jinks, Marketing Manager.

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