Mid-Summer Reflection

By Lingyuan (Sylvia) Sun
Three months has been my magic number.
In the past, I’ve studied and traveled in multiple cities for three months – Hyderabad, Toronto, Cambridge, Tokyo, just to name a few. This experience allows me to become familiar with a wide variety of working and learning environments, and grow as a truly international person.
When I was selected as one of the Wallenberg International Fellows this year, I started wondering – what will three months in Stockholm bring to my professional life? The answer is – it opens up a broader world in front of me and allows me to have a better understanding of myself and what I’m good at.
Over the course of this summer, I am working on a dual internship in Stockholm thanks to the Wallenberg International Fellows Program. The first part of my internship is with Permobil, a leader in power wheelchair industry in the Nordics and one of the largest suppliers in the world. I joined the Business Development Unit in the Chief Finance Office in Kista, the “Nordic Silicon Valley.” The second part will be with Investor AB, which wholly owns Permobil, so that I’ll have chance to gain a broader picture from the perspective of the parent company.
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The view of Kista from my desk. I echo Chloe who wrote that clouds in Stockholm are works of art.
With most of my professional experience in the public and nonprofit sector in Asia, I had limited knowledge about European markets or the power wheelchair industry, and thus the learning curve has been steep. The two projects I’m working on – the Market Intelligence Project, focusing on the North American and European markets and Go Directly to China Project – provide a great balance for me and allow me to utilize what I’ve already learned to solve unknowns. They also provide me with a precious opportunity to observe and engage in “international business” in the real world. When I apply my knowledge and networks to come up with creative ways to search and analyze data about the Chinese market, and when I continuously refine the models in the Market Intelligence Project so that it can be used for further strategic planning, I can see my internship having a real impact.
Learning on the fly can hardly be achieved without my incredibly helpful colleagues. Most of my colleagues have years of experience in consulting, finance, and business operations, so I also learn their stories about working in different firms and settings. With a relatively small (but rapidly growing) team, I always have lunch with my colleagues in lovely restaurants in Kista. They are also my primary sources to know more about Sweden – we have discussed a wide range of topics during our lunch breaks, from Swedish dating culture to mid-summer traditions, from childbirth in Sweden to the European Championship.
03 June 2016 - first fika time at Permobil.JPG
Having Fika (Swedish coffee break) with my team. Along with amazing coffee, we had ice cream made from liquorice powder and cranberries. To be honest, it was the first time I found liquorice to be tasty.
A highlight of my internship so far is that I got a chance to visit the headquarters of Permobil in Timrå, a small town in Northern Sweden. Seeing the whole process from assembling parts of various power wheelchairs to customizing the products according to individual users’ needs, I’ve gained a better understanding of how my work on business development is linked to other units and departments in the corporation.
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Display of Permobil products in the lobby of one of Permobil’s buildings in Timra.
In early July, I will switch to Patricia Industries at Investor AB. It’s an interesting time as Investor has just celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. I’ll have more stories to tell about my professional growth and adventures in Stockholm by then.