From Stockholm to Silicon Valley: ‘This was an absolute blast’

The Local has been following the journeys of students on the Executive MBA degree at Stockholm School of Economics, one of the world’s best business schools.

From Stockholm to Silicon Valley: 'This was an absolute blast'
Photo: Juan Colmenares and his fellow SSE MBA course mates
This time, SSE MBA student Juan Colmenares shares his diary following the week-long study trip to Silicon Valley. Find out what it's like to be an MBA student at Stockholm School of Economics and decide whether the rigorous degree will help you take the next step in your career.


Juan Colmenares, Senior Field Application Engineer at Infineon Technologies


Juan is originally from Venezuela. He moved to Sweden as an exchange student in 2010

‘Most days were extremely packed, with a schedule from 9am to 9pm. Some days we were having lunch while working, making it really tiring. However, this was an absolute blast. Stanford is the perfect place to close our value creation module and the perspective we have received are unique.’


Day One


Our first day in the Silicon Valley, started as usual with a group activity in order to reflect the outcomes and takeaways from our previous week. Only this time we were located in the wonderful campus of Stanford in Palo Alto. In the morning, our course in international marketing started, where we focused in topics such as market research and the current consequences of social media. After lunch, we had a visiting lecturer that touched in topics such as storytelling, how to be persuasive telling the truth, and how to approach innovation by maintaining purpose at the core. During the afternoon, we visited the technology center called Plug and Play, where companies such as Dropbox and PayPal started. Finally, the day finished sharing between our colleagues visiting the Fogarty Winery.


Day Two


The second day started with the course of strategic management. Topics such as business models, and competitive advantages were deeply discussed. During lunch, we received a guest speaker that talked about fear, how to tackle it by being graceful and using it as motivation. After lunch, we continued with the course of strategic management, now putting into practice the theory by analyzing a real firm case. The day was completed with a marketing panel discussion in cooperation with the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce with entrepreneurs. The main theme being: Why go to SV? How networking is about learning from each other.


Day Three


We continue with strategic management during the morning of the third day. In this case, we cover questions such as how to formulate strategy? And how communication is key. Based on our discussions, we proceeded to analyze another real firm case. It is always interesting to hear the different points of view not only from the professor but also from all the colleagues. After lunch, we received a guest lecturer from Stanford, where we discussed how the Silicon Valley emerged as an innovation hub and which ingredients and process catalyzed it. Moreover, we also argued on where do novel idea come from? During the evening, we divided ourselves into our working groups and started working on our projects.




Day Four


Our fourth day, my favorite, started with a workshop on how to execute your strategy. We discussed the importance of not only doing the project right but also doing the right projects. Likewise, how strategy should fit culture, structure, goals and metrics so as to be more successful. During the afternoon we had the opportunity to visit a company of our choosing. In my case together with some colleagues, we visited the Ericsson D-15 Labs team. In there, we were shown a glimpsed into the innovation potential through Ericsson’s 5G platform. It is a state-of-the-art campus in the center of Silicon Valley, where Ericsson collaborates with its partners. At the end of the day, we went for an American Football game where Stanford was facing UCLA. It was the perfect environment to start relaxing and face the last day of the week. 


Day Five


During our last day we share a received feedback from our peers of the course regarding our Marketing project. This was actually very interesting since the feedback from our peers always gave a different perspective one is not typically considering. Also, we received a visit from the Silicon Valley Bank that gave us a corporate overview about the VC relationships. Finally, we also received a personal perspective from An SSE EMBA Alumna, whom is currently located in the SV. Her point of view is really valuable for people considering moving to SV like myself. On the other hand, during this day I had the pleasing opportunity to expand my own technical network by sharing my research with the power electronics group in Stanford.

This content 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.”