Christer Segerstéen was a Major in the I4 infantry regiment based in Linköping, but left to become the sixth generation to run the family estate Hamra in Östergötland. In this capacity, he was an independent forest owner and became involved in Södra as Chairman of the forestry district. In 1991, Christer was elected as an alternate to Södra's Board and a couple of years later he became Vice Chairman. In 2010, he took over as Chairman.
Södra's two histories
"Now, when celebrating the anniversary, it is important to remember that Södra actually has two histories – before and after the crisis," said Christer. "Gösta Edström did a fantastic job at the time, but the profits being generated by Södra today are also due to the other people and other decisions. For example, Lars-Eric Åström's amazing achievement in buying out the state's shareholding after the crisis."
Christer also believes that the Board decision from 1992, to invest in chemical pulp in addition to sawmills, was a milestone.
"At the time, people in the industry saw us as fools. But that decision is the basis for today's success."
Home-front environmental interest
Christer's interest in the environment stemmed from his home at Hamra. One of the first issues he raised successfully with the Board, was the idea that each forestry district should have a nature conservation representative to create commitment to the environmental agenda.
"In the mid-1990s, discussion of forestry policy was quite polarised," said Christer. "I was tasked with finding common ground with the environmental movement and invested considerable energy in this effort. Södra started to work with forest certification, decided to voluntarily set aside up to 5 percent of productive forest land and reserved SEK 50 million for work with Green Forest Management Plans. This allowed us to focus on our work and created a good dialogue with the environmental organisations."
Christer's own time as Chairman included the decision to change CEO in 2012.
"It was difficult, but necessary, since Södra made a loss of SEK 919 million that year. After the Acting CEO took over the reins, we reviewed the Group and reduced the number of employees by 10 percent, starting with the head office where 14 percent had to leave. Because we left Norway at the same time, we made substantial cuts in costs and were able to start getting our finances in order."
At the end of Christer's Chairmanship, the decision was taken to increase production at Värö.
"The current strategy, whereby Södra continues to invest in chemical pulp and to grow as a company, was one of the last decisions I was part of completing."
In 2015, Christer stepped down from the Board. Today his family, his estate and local politics in Kinda Municipality take up most of his time.