Wanted: High-level lighting executive, no lighting experience necessary

March 10, 2022
Those aren’t Fagerhult’s exact words, but they describe the company’s search for the person who will push it further into IoT and connectivity.

Of the 160 words that appear in the experience-required section of Fagerhult Group’s job posting for a newly created position reporting to the CEO, there is one word that is noticeably absent: “lighting.”

No, the job is not for vice president of marketing, of communications or human resources, where this sort of thing is common across all industries.

Fagerhult is advertising on LinkedIn for a CTO — chief technology officer — who will be responsible for taking the Swedish lighting company and its 13 brands to the next level in IoT lighting and controls, reporting to CEO Bodil Sonesson.

As regular LEDs Magazine readers will know, the lighting industry as a whole is trying to push into Internet-connected technology and services. Luminaires are becoming “things” in the Internet of Things as vendors outfit them and the lighting infrastructure with sensors and communications chips.

The idea is to track assets, people, and environmental conditions, often collecting and analyzing data. This in turn assists all sorts of operations. The most common benefit is often smarter and more effective lighting controls. IoT lighting can also help optimize space, keep tabs on easy-to-lose items, guide people around large premises, engage in-store customers in individualized assistance and promotions, reroute drivers around traffic jams, and so forth.

But the IoT has not yet been the bonanza that the lighting industry hopes for, as progress has generally been slow. One challenge is that lighting companies can’t just waltz right into IT, given the truism IT companies already dominate it. Thus, while lighting vendors are in some instances working out IT partnerships, they are in other cases competing against IT outfits.

Fagerhult has quietly made some impressive IoT strides in recent years, something which became evident last month during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call with analysts. CEO Sonesson told analysts then that Fagerhult has installed around 200,000 of its Organic Response sensor nodes since 2019. The nodes include sensors and Bluetooth communication chips. They can be connected in a mesh scheme, which in Fagerhult’s case entails the Wirepas mesh protocol (not the Bluetooth mesh protocol). The nodes typically reside in luminaires, although they can be mounted independently.

While the primary function of the nodes is to facilitate smart lighting controls, the nodes support broader IoT functions, which users have so far activated in about a third of the installations, Fagerhult told LEDs.

The 200,000 is a sign that Fagerhult’s 2017 acquisition of Melbourne, Australia’s Organic Response — now called OR Technologies — is paying off.

Organic Response nodes featured heavily in an early pilot in which Habo-based Fagerhult worked with Swedish security services giant Securitas to install a combined lighting control and security system at the Medicon Village Science Park in Lund, Sweden. Since then, the two companies have joined forces to offer the Fagerhult X Securitas service.

Fagerhult has also teamed with other companies, such as Sony Corp., with which it is offering an indoor positioning system for office buildings.

It further boosted its IoT capabilities last April when it acquired all of Danish outdoor connected lighting specialist Seneco A/S.

The new CTO will be responsible for overseeing and ratcheting up these endeavors.

“The lighting industry see a fast change towards new connectivity solutions driven by the strong demand for smart buildings and cities,” Fagerhult states at the top of the job posting. “Fagerhult Group is strongly committed to this approach that brings value to the customers and creates new business opportunities. Connectivity solutions are also crucial to reduce energy consumption and an important part in the Groups sustainability strategy. The organisation is well positioned for this new and exciting opportunity and needs the strong market-oriented CTO to lead this effort.”

If this executive comes with no lighting experience, it would fit the mold of Fagerhult’s Sonesson, who joined the company in 2018 with a rich background in technology and the internet but not in lighting. Sonesson came from Lund-based Axis Communications, a networked security camera company owned by Canon Inc., in no small measure to pump up the connectivity operations of Fagerhult.

The new CTO will relieve acting head of connectivity Geert van der Meer of his double duty. Van der Meer is also the head of Fagerhult’s infrastructure operations.

Fagerhult is expected to announce the new CTO soon. LinkedIn has now flagged the post as “no longer accepting applications.”


Here is the section of the help wanted ad that describes the experience required. Let us know if you spot the word “lighting”!

About your work experience

Our new CTO needs to have extensive experience from driving market adoption of new technologies. We need someone who has worked strategically but also operationally in planning and implementing towards the goals. You need to have experience from stakeholder management to bring things together and create alignment. You will also need to have a lot of people management experience to grow and develop new competencies and talent in an organization. To be specific, we are looking for you who have:

•  +10 years of experience in a technology business with a focus of driving technology changes and market adoption.

•  +10 years of people management with a preference in working with diversified teams remotely in a changing environment

•  Worked with building ecosystems and partnerships

•  Experience from driving thought leadership

•  Good general IT competence from both hard- and software

•  +10 years of strategy planning and execution

•  P&L as well as budget responsibility

•   Experience from marketing and business development especially with thought leadership 

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.