‘I view the world in a different way now’
Sweden and Silicon Valley may be on opposite ends of the globe, but they are connected by innovation. So it’s no coincidence that students of the Executive MBA at the Stockholm School of Economics get to learn in both places.
Lawyer Callum Dolman always knew he was interested in getting an MBA degree. And when he and his Swedish wife relocated from his native Australia to Sweden, Stockholm School of Economics was the clear choice.
“I wanted to transition from a legal management role into a more general executive management role. And when I compared the various programmes, it was clear SSE is the most reputable of them all,” Dolman tells The Local.
Photo: Juliana Wiklund/Stockholm School of Economics
He didn’t make the choice based on reputation alone, however. First he got inside information.
“The CEO at Dellner Couplers AB is an alum himself and has an Executive MBA from SSE,” Dolman says. “I spoke with him and I could see how greatly the degree has benefited his career. He was very supportive of my study plan, because he understands the benefits it brings both to me personally, and to the business. ”
Having started in January, Dolman is today still less than halfway through the 18-month programme – but he says the effects are already clear.
“I was surprised at how quickly my perspective has shifted,” he remarks. “It’s had an immediate impact on my job. I can contribute more fully to all of the discussions going on.”
Modules in the Executive MBA cover a broad range of topics such as finance, value creation, economics, sustainability, global context, and more. Students can also select a special focus, either Financial Management or Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
“I am already more able to understand the discussions from various departments and the difficulties they face,” Dolman says. “Learning things like economics and finance has given me a new frame of reference, not just at work, but in life in general.”
But it’s only the beginning. One of the biggest highlights of the programme this year is the group’s upcoming trip to Silicon Valley.
“Silicon Valley is the heartland of innovation and entrepreneurship,” Dolman exclaims.
“I’ve never been anywhere near a place like that before. I think it will be a massively inspiring and eye-opening experience, to see how it actually works – how world-changing products and technologies are thought up and delivered.”
The week-long trip has been organized byAngelika Lindstrand, programme director for this year’s Executive MBA cohort.
“This is actually my first year with the programme. I used to teach and do research at SSE, but when they asked me to be programme director I was a visiting scholar at Stanford,” Lindstrand explains. “So now I commute between California and Stockholm.”
Lindstrand’s role is to make sure the programme delivers at the highest level possible – but also to add her own personal twist to the education. That’s where Silicon Valley comes in.
“My special twist is the connection to Stanford, Silicon Valley, and California,” Lindstrand says. “Thanks to my contacts we’ve been able to make this a reality.”
Photo: Kent Ericksson
But it’s far from a one-woman show. Lindstrand adds that the Executive MBA participants have been an incredible resource for the programme and each other, helping flesh out the trip with their own contacts.
“One participant did some work for NASA in the past, and he was able to get us an organizational visit there as well,” Lindstrand says.
She says that the trip will include a variety of company visits – not just tech and startups. Innovation is about much more than that.
“At first many students think innovation and entrepreneurship is only for startups. But it can mean intrapreneurship too, innovating within a larger organization,” Lindstrand explains. “Entrepreneurship is the skill set you need to put those innovations into action.”
While many students may have felt some sort of entrepreneurial drive within them long before, Dolman says that tool kit is invaluable in turning vision into reality.
“I’ve always had a lot of ideas bumbling around in my head, and a clear interest in all aspects of business management,” he says.
“And this course has given me direction and the tools to combine them and make it happen. And it’s changing me, and my work, every single day.”
And while the intensive programme certainly isn’t easy, that awareness and desire to improve is also what makes teaching the programme so rewarding, Lindstrand says.
“It’s exciting,” she exclaims.
“Most of the students have plenty of business experience, but they realize that their expertise isn’t sufficient for what they want to accomplish in life – and the Executive MBA at SSE is the springboard they need. That’s why they apply. And that’s being innovative: being able to see that you have to do something differently in order to achieve your goals.”
This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by Stockholm School of Economics.
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