New on the job - Lars Palm, head of division for Lund University Commissioned Education (LUCE)
For most of his professional life, Lars has worked with skills, expertise and knowledge development, or knowledge management as he calls it. This means that he has called for a lot of what LUCE offers: tailor-made courses aimed at industry and external organisations. Lars Palm is happy to discuss lifelong learning.
“I understand the discourse of both the University and the private sector, and now I can connect these two worlds”, says Lars Palm.
Although he did not purchase LUCE services in his previous role, he has collaborated extensively with Lund University with regard to packaging material research and sustainability issues, about which he is still passionate.
“Appropriate packaging can contribute to reduced food waste. If a type of packaging can extend the shelf-life of a food product, it can be more sustainable from a system perspective”, says Lars Palm, adding nuance to the current discussion on packaging.
LUCE is a self-financed unit which currently has a revenue of around SEK 80 million and offers over 140 courses. Its largest clients are the Swedish International Development Agency, the Swedish National Agency for Education and the Swedish Institute. Business and industry represent a small part of LUCE’s activities. The University has invested in commissioned education and three new business developers have been appointed to the division. They are to focus on reaching companies and organisations locally and regionally.
One dimension of Lars Palm’s assignment, connected to the University’s efforts better to meet the needs of business and industry, is to intensify the work of the division so as to match the private sector’s needs for professional development with Lund University’s expertise and skills. This requires awareness, as it involves dedicating development resources to the areas in which there is a demand.
“Timing is important”, says Lars Palm; “marketing offers of new development for commissioned education courses to prospective clients must run alongside the development process to minimise the risk of the department dedicating time and resources to produce training courses for which there is no demand.”
There he believes that Lund University has a great deal of expertise to offer, particularly in the field of sustainability and artificial intelligence.
After two months as an LU employee, he finds that much corresponds to his expectations. Some things are simpler than what he is used to from industry, while other things are more complex.
“I was forewarned that the less detailed governance at the University can be a challenge if you come from the business sector”, he says with a smile, emphasising that he sees this as an attractive and inspiring opportunity.
As a new employee, he has had to spend a lot of time learning about the organisation and understanding who does what. But his great curiosity and wish to constantly learn new things were what attracted him to a position at Lund University. He deliberately allows himself to be captivated by the University’s breadth and diversity.
“I sneaked in to an exciting lecture during the Humanities and Theology Days, about the extent to which Jesus’s death on the cross was a failure, when I passed the LUX building on the way from one meeting to another”, he says.
In his spare time, he prefers to work with his hands, which he finds to be a meditative experience.
“I like to do practical work, preferably in the garden or on motor vehicles; things that do not require so much mental effort. But then I also like speed, on skis or on a motorcycle. I like to challenge the limits of my ability”, says Lars Palm.