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4:30am starts and Scrabble to end: How IKEA leader gets it done

How IKEA's Christine Båtemyr gets it done. Images: Getty, Supplied

Christine Båtemyr starts her days at 4:30am rowing on Sydney Harbour and ends them playing Scrabble in ‘Swenglish’ with her family. 

She describes the board game tradition as her family’s way of checking in.

But those two routines are perhaps the only common threads winding through the IKEA Australia country customer fulfilment manager’s daily life. 

Båtemyr is one of the female leaders at IKEA Australia, where the leadership squad is split 50:50 by gender. 

The Swedish furniture giant recently launched its new Equality Plan which aims at closing the gender gap entirely, and across all job levels and functions, including those that are typically male- or female-dominated. 

Båtemyr’s ‘long and winding road’

IKEA is one of Australia's most popular brands. Image: Getty

Born on a small farm just outside of Ontario Canada, Båtemyr has lived in Sweden, Istanbul, Turkey, Jakarta, Indonesia, New Delhi, India and now calls Sydney, Australia home. 

In her words, her life has been a “long and winding road”.

Even her accent is international: her Canadian lilt turns distinctly Swedish when she says ‘IKEA’. 

And her work life is similarly diverse: some days in the office, others in the distribution centres. When she has meetings, she tries to get them out of the meeting room and instead have coffee or fika - a quick break for coffee in Swedish. 

In her role, she’s at the forefront of changing shopper trends and there are two key things she’s seeing: a need for convenience, and a need for care. 

“A lot of our customers, our people, need things to be easier in our lives so one of the big things [we’re seeing in fulfilment] is really working with convenience to understand what customers want, where they want it, when they want it and also how they want it,” she told Yahoo Finance. 

“It's not always easy to get to one of the larger IKEA stores that we have.”

She’s also seeing a growing demand for assembly services and friendlier delivery time-slots. 

But above that, the global shift to more conscious spending - led by another famous Swedish export - Greta Thunberg - is hitting home at IKEA. 

According to a UK and US survey of 2,000 shoppers, more than 50 per cent want brands to act more ethically and sustainably, including improved transparency.

“The other side of [the fulfilment trends] is also working with a brand that they [consumers] can trust, so to be comfortable that things are being taken care of in a good way and I think that consciousness is amplified more and more every day. 

“We know the world is changing, things are happening constantly and there's more to it - to work with brands people can trust.”

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