Why getting an MBA pays off for you – and your boss

Furthering your education while working full-time can be a challenge, especially if your employer doesn’t recognise the value of professional development. That’s not the case at Swedish company Tobii Pro, where employee Anne Jansen was encouraged to get her Executive MBA from Stockholm School of Economics (SSE).

Why getting an MBA pays off for you – and your boss
Photo: Tom Englund and Anne Jansen

The pace is fast at Tobii Pro; after all, employees need to be at the top of their game for the company to maintain its reputation as a global leader in eye-tracking technology. 

Much like the company, Tom Englund, Business Unit President at Tobii Pro, is always looking to the future. It’s because of this outlook that he encourages his employees to take the next step in their careers. 

“It is part of our company’s DNA to encourage further education and it is a challenge we are glad to take on with our staff,” Englund tells The Local. 

Find out more about the Executive MBA at SSE

Photo: Stockholm School of Economics

The Executive MBA program at SSE can be done part-time so students can carry on working whilst studying simultaneously. The program lasts 18 months with electives in Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Financial Management. 

A recent graduate is Englund’s colleague Anne Jansen. Recently promoted to Vice-President of Sales at Tobii Pro, Jansen enrolled in the SSE MBA in January 2016 and found her studies tough but also rewarding. 

“I was ready for the next step in my career and wanted to get an outside perspective,” says Jansen.

“There were 47 students in my class and they came from all different backgrounds. It wasn’t just management types but people with a marketing background, engineers, physicians and even lawyers. It was a very diverse group and we learned a lot from each other,” she says. 

The course syllabus is equally diverse with modules on Business Law, Managerial Accounting, Finance, Strategy, Marketing and CSR & Sustainability, among others. Traditional lectures are combined with skills seminars and livestreams.

“Our group visited Stanford University in San Francisco and also universities in Hong Kong and Riga. There would be lecturers from the host universities, SSE faculty and also guest lecturers, which gave us another perspective,” says Jansen. 

Since being founded in 1909, SSE enjoys a reputation as one of Europe’s best and most well-established business schools. The SSE MBA was recently ranked number 65 in the world in the FT ranking of Executive MBA programs. Alumni typically get, on average, a 50 percent salary increase after completing the program. 

Having the backing of your employer as well as your family is vital if you are to complete the 18-month program. It was an investment well-worth making argues Tom Englund, who encouraged Jansen to apply for the SSE MBA

“We felt this was part of Anne’s development program as she has been with Tobii Pro for 10 years. She couldn’t work at 120 percent like before but it was worthwhile for her to embark on this challenge as the efficiency gains and new skills are very beneficial for us as employer,” he says. 

Progress your career with an Executive MBA at SSE

He adds that the leadership tasks students take part in on an MBA program helps them to become more holistic leaders and contribute more to the management side of the business.

Jansen admits that without the support of her employer and her family it would have been more of a struggle to complete the program.

“I was lucky that my employer was generous and gave me time off work. The workload on the course is around 20 hours per week and your family needs to make some sacrifices too,” she says. 

Jansen, who has worked in a variety of roles at Tobii Pro such as a Product Manager and Services, says that the SSE MBA has been a life changer. 

“Doing the program has extended my business network and now I think in more dimensions, whereas before I used my intuition. You have more tools in your backpack and understand better what direction to take,” she says. 

And her advice to budding students considering applying before this year’s September 15th deadline is simple. 

“You need to be very motivated! And I would certainly recommend that you ask your partner first before embarking on the program. It is an investment worth making as you will get a return on it in the future.” 

The SSE MBA Executive Format program starts on January 28, 2019, and ends on May 29, 2020. Deadlines for applications are September 15th and November 15th. 

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Stockholm School of Economics. 


‘They feel conned’: Swedish universities fight for PHDs hit by new residency rules

Sweden's top universities are to call for doctoral students to be exempted from Sweden's tough new permanent residency rules, arguing that it will damage both academic standards and national competitiveness.

'They feel conned': Swedish universities fight for PHDs hit by new residency rules
At Lund Technical University, a majority of doctoral students are international. Photo: Kennet Ruona/LTU

In a post on Wednesday, Astrid Söderbergh Widding, the chair of Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions, said that Sweden’s universities had agreed to submit a joint letter to the government “very soon”, calling for parliament to put in place a special exemption for PHD students to make it easier to stay in Sweden after their studies. 

The parliament, she wrote, “should introduce an exemption for doctoral students and young researchers from the requirement to be financially self-sufficient”. 

Previously, doctoral students were eligible for a permanent residence permit if they had lived in Sweden with a residence permit for doctoral studies for four out of the past seven years. Apart from a slim set of requirements, this was granted more or less automatically.

But according to Sweden’s new Migration Act, which was introduced in July this year as comprehensive legislation to control the number of asylum applications, they now need to be able to additionally show that they can support themselves financially for at least a year and half.

The new law means that the rules for permanent residency are now the same for all categories of applicants, including doctoral students.

Stefan Bengtsson, the rector at Chalmers University of Technology, said that the change would mean as many as 400 to 500 doctoral students, many of whom have built up considerable expertise, might be unable to stay in Sweden.

“This makes for an uncertain future for those from outside of Europe who have applied to come to Sweden for an academic career, which is cause for great concern and disappointment among those who came here under other circumstances,” he told The Local. “Some of them may, of course, feel like they’ve been conned

But what was even more worrying, he said, would be the impact the change to the law might have in the longer term. 

“This change to the law could contribute to giving Sweden a bad reputation. This will create difficulties in recruiting internationally and damage our long-term skills supply.”


At Lund University, the majority of doctoral students in the science and technical faculties are from outside Europe, while Söderbergh Widding, who is also vice chancellor at Stockholm University, estimated that about half of doctoral students were international. 

Söderbergh Widding told the TT newswire that the change was “a devastating death blow”, which put to waste a “previously hard-won battle to make it possible for doctoral students to obtain a permanent residency permit after four years of studies”. 

She said in her letter that the change contradicted the research policy proposition from December 2020, which stated that the “number of foreign doctoral students who stay in Sweden should increase”, and said that giving residency to doctoral students was a good way to increase this.  

Ole Petter Ottersen, the rector of the elite Karolinska medical university, told the newswire that he thought the change in residency laws would damage Swedish competitiveness. 

“This is not good for Sweden. This will damage our ability to attract and recruit talent from other countries. For a country that lies on the periphery, the goal should be to make it easier, not harder, to recruit competence.”