Ericsson’s Niklas Heuveldop

Niklas Heuveldop is a FierceWireless Rising Star. (Image: Ericsson, Ulza/iStock)

As president and CEO of Ericsson’s North American business, Niklas Heuveldop faces a challenging landscape. The vendor’s carrier customers are still between LTE and 5G rollouts and software is quickly replacing the proprietary network hardware that is Ericsson’s core strength.

But Heuveldop is up to the challenge. Ericsson’s North American business grew 6% year-on-year during the first quarter when adjusted for currency fluctuations, and the company said the unit gained market share during the quarter.

Heuveldop has been one of the winners during Ericsson’s reorganization, which has seen the company eliminate roughly 18,000 jobs and flatten its management structure. CEO Börje Ekholm removed an entire management layer and consolidated six different teams under Heuveldop’s leadership last year. At the time, Heuveldop was Ericsson’s chief strategy officer and SVP for technology and was based in Sweden.

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Then Rima Qureshi, president of the company’s North American business, left to take a job with Verizon, and Ekholm asked Heuveldop to replace her. Heuveldop held his old job and his new one for a year before relinquishing his position in Sweden to concentrate full-time on North America.

Considering what Heuveldop accomplished as a part-time CEO, the next year should be worth watching. Heuveldop will not be focused exclusively on carrier customers; he says Ericsson has 24 industry partnerships and that enterprises are very interested in how 5G can help them cut costs and grow market share.

In addition, Heuveldop has exposure to the 5G plans of all the U.S. nationwide carriers because all of them are testing with Ericsson equipment.

“Three years ago we were begging the U.S. carriers to join the 5G effort,” he remembers. “We did not want the U.S. to be behind on standards. Fast forward and here we are—the U.S. probably will be first rolling out 5G commercially.”

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Ericsson’s Niklas Heuveldop