As a Palo Alto native, I’ve been spoiled by consistently good weather. Before moving from California to Washington, D.C. in 2011, I had little appreciation for how much of my energy and mood could be influenced by the presence of sunshine and blue skies. While D.C. has its good days, there are more days I miss the mild, temperate climate back home.
Stockholm is another story. It’s the beginning of my third week in the capital of Sweden (or, as it’s marketed here, “the capital of Scandinavia”), and I have never felt more at home. If it weren’t for the 10 p.m. sunsets and 3 a.m. sunrises, I would genuinely find the climate indistinguishable from northern California’s.
Any positive comment about the weather, however, and many Swedes are quick to stress that it isn’t like this all the time. Swedes say winters are terrible and summers are unpredictable: it could be sunny and beautiful, or it could be gray, windy, cold, and rainy — and last year it was constantly the latter. We’ll have to see by the end of the summer whether these warnings were prescient or overly pessimistic. Let the record show I’ve experienced 14 gorgeous days and 2 gray days thus far.
I’m fortunate enough to be in Stockholm as a Wallenberg International Fellow, a position funded by a generous grant from the Wallenberg Foundation for Education in International Industrial Entrepreneurship. As a fellow, I’m working as a venture analyst on the EQT Ventures team, part of the renowned global private equity group EQT Partners. Half a week before my first day in the office, EQT announced the successful closing of the EQT Ventures Fund with €566 million euro in commitments, making it one of the largest funds in Europe.
Apart from screening startups that are looking for funding, meeting founding teams, and analyzing potential deals, I’m fully immersed in the Stockholm startup scene. EQT Ventures sponsored the inauguralTechCrunch Stockholm event, which was also the first-ever TechCrunch event organized outside of the U.S. Next week, we’ll be hosting the STHLM Tech Meetup, a monthly gathering for tech and entrepreneurship enthusiasts in Stockholm.**
So far, I’m impressed with what I’ve seen of the Stockholm tech world. There are quite a few co-working spaces, startup hubs, incubators, accelerators,meet-ups, and other opportunities for people to gather, collaborate, and exchange ideas. In these communities, people are engaged in a wide range of activities — everything from creating webapps and freelancing coding projects to bootstrapping their own companies and consulting on digital platforms. I’ve loved meeting people here. Everyone I’ve talked to is passionate about what they create and excited to discuss their projects.
With all the innovation and creativity going on here, I’m surprised I hadn’t heard more about Swedish startups in the U.S., or that there’s not yet a “Silicon ______” metonym for an area of Stockholm. And I suspect I’m not the only American who feels this way.
I’ll be sharing more of my reflections and experiences throughout the summer, so stay tuned.
**Gotta say, I love the Swedish commitment to creating shorthands by striking out vowels. It took me a few days before I realized that STHLM stood for Stockholm, and I admit I couldn’t figure out what BRDS was without looking it up. (It’s “best regards.”)
All views expressed are entirely the author’s, and do not reflect the views of EQT, The Wallenberg Foundation, Georgetown University, or any other institutions affiliated with the author or mentioned in this post.
As a Wallenberg Fellow I had a chance to spend last summer working for Ericsson and gaining hands-on experience in strategy, intrapreneurship, and Smart City solutions while learning about the Nordic innovation system. In this post I want to share with you some of my observations on Sweden’s Silicon Valley and challenges of being an intrapreneur.
Ericsson is headquartered in Kista Science City, also known as the Nordic Silicon Valley, – the largest Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) cluster in Europe and the birthplace of many wireless communication technologies.
The development of an ICT cluster in Kista was largely influenced by a substantial supporting infrastructure for innovation in the region: universities (internationally recognized KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm University have departments there), local and international technology providers (Ericsson, IBM, Tele2, Tieto, Cisco, and Intel to name a few), and Ericsson’s major R&D facilities quickly put Kista on the map.
In the early 90s the cluster was known for its ‘rebellious’ spirit – soon after re-location to Kista talented engineers had become ‘cowboy’ researchers – they followed a hunch and proceeded with their research rarely waiting for an official request from the headquarters. Those researchers were the moving force behind Kista’s breakthrough innovations in wireless ICT. As the sector matured, Kista has developed into a space of considerable R&D activities with a focus on business services, passing its “rebel” title to Stockholm City Center with its vibrant startup scene.
Ericsson played a central role in shaping the cluster and it keeps setting the tone for its development now as 17,000 of the company’s employees and much of its R&D facilities are based in Kista. Ericsson of today is reinventing itself as a system integratorin order to not simply survive but thrive in the new open communications ecosystem.
I joined Chief Technology Officer’s Office as a Business Analyst and was assigned to a small team that worked on creating new revenue streams for the company by monetizing existing network assets. ‘New’ in this context means that the team should be innovative while ‘existing’ served as a reminder to align with the corporate agenda. In other words, my team was tasked to act as intrapreneurs – innovate from within. Owing to the Wallenberg Program, I leapfrogged several career stages for that summer and was given the responsibility to pioneer innovation in corporate settings – a role that is usually reserved for company’s senior management.
Starting with ‘cowboy researchers’, Ericsson truly embraces the culture of intrapreneurship – its highly-ranked internal innovation program is worth a separate post – and I want to add to this by sharing the lessons I learned while pioneering an innovation solution within a multinational corporation that, I believe, are applicable to any intrapreneur.
Expertise does not lead the way.When advocating for an innovative solution, an ability to give a precise acronym-free pitch is as important as an ability to ask for one. While expertise is an asset, it is not a determinative of success in pioneering an innovation in corporate settings. Your competency is what lets you get your foot in the door, but your communication skills are what let you be heard and eventually supported by others.
Persistence does not open more doors.Innovation within a corporate system is rarely about being persistent. Persistence, while essential for entrepreneurs, might lead an intrapreneur to a dead end. Benchmark – often and rigorously – and then adjust the proposed solution accordingly.
Bring the product to the market. Bring the product to the market, do not bring your product to the market. While ego can serve as a motivation for some of entrepreneurs, it will surely sabotage the career of any intrapreneur. It is likely that innovation, as implemented, will be tested and modified in line with your original proposal later on, but to have this probability this innovation needs to first reach the market.
Returning to Stockholm for New Years provided a chance to explore the snow covered city and reconnect with my summer as a Wallenberg Fellow. Six months prior, I was just starting as an intern in the mergers and acquisitions department of Electrolux. The position was a professional pivot from academic into the business arena, therefore the learning curve was steep. However, a dedicated supervisor and refresher on my undergraduate business courses helped to ease the transition. By the end of the internship, corporate valuations were an almost comforting concept.While the end result was rewarding, it was the journey that was truly remarkable.
Spending late nights in Shanghai and early mornings meeting with prospective acquisitions were definitely highlights of the experience. Each experience taught me more about the company as a whole and the resiliency necessary to grow and maintain such an expansive enterprise. The first weeks of my internship were populated with meetings aimed at saving a dying acquisition. Each day, it seemed as if the synergies and financial benefits were disappearing until the deal itself disappeared as well. The internship ended with me as a junior project manager on a burgeoning acquisition. As odd as it may sound, it was far more educational to see a project fail and how the business regroups than to ignorantly observe success.
However, the most gratifying opportunity I had was making various portfolios. Each portfolio was focused on a region or industry, identifying market leaders of strategic importance to the company. While the mechanics of the process were mundane, the skills learned will be eminently useful in my next endeavors after graduate school. Learning to identify market trends and assess synergies of possible acquisitions will help me as I look to enter the field of strategic consulting. But what made this internship so rewarding wasn’t just the lessons or travel opportunities, it was that I know my work was used during and after my internship. During my New Years visit, my former supervisor and I met for lunch and recounted the summer and provided updates personally and professionally. In the midst of the conversation, he informed me that one of my portfolios was followed up on with the support of the VP. Though he told me I couldn’t get a finders fee for my work, the simple fact that a summer intern could provide work of strategic value to am established multinational company was payment enough.
Before that lunch, I already knew that I had had a great internship and that the Wallenberg Program was a phenomenal opportunity. The visit and the lunch simply solidified my previous conclusion and provided a beautiful backdrop.
Around a year ago, I received a long awaited e-mail: I was invited for the Wallenberg Program interview. Looking through the Georgetown University course offerings, I could hardly contain my excitement: negotiating foreign direct investments, navigating emerging markets in cross-border deals, structuring financial aid packages for poor countries – Georgetown School of Foreign Service courses fit perfectly with what I wanted to study.
One year since the day of the interview, I have to admit the program influenced me in more ways than I could ever imagine. I did take my dream courses, and I also made friends from all over the world, went through a continuous networking exercise, and met opinion leaders in international development and public policy. Here are the three ways the Wallenberg Program broadened my mindset:
1. Embracing the networking culture of Washington DC
To say I used to feel uncomfortable about the notion of networking would be an understatement. But when in Washington DC, do as the Washingtonians do… Well, you got it: network! During my internship at the World Bank last summer, I made it a rule never to eat lunch at my desk (which, btw, is a terrible American habit). Rule number two – to never eat alone – was almost self-enforcing: if you go to the World Bank cafeteria, you can hardly find anyone eating alone. Hence my lunches became social.
DC culture surely nudges you towards more networking, but that is not sufficient. I was also lucky enough to have great role models. Learning from my peers showed me the way forward every time I got frustrated. When you keep stepping out of your comfort zone, there has to be some place safe, where you can look back and reflect. I am incredibly grateful for all the personal development conversations I had with other Wallenberg fellows, and with our Georgetown advisor – I really learnt a lot from them.
2. Realizing that changing the world is possible
Throughout the summer, my encounters with fellow interns made me believe the world can actually become a better place with all the young energy devoted to doing good. Washington DC probably has the largest concentration of international development professionals in the world, and in fact, meeting those people always infected me with optimism and the will to act.
3. Learning from experts
With major international organizations and most influential think-tanks all collected in one place, Washington DC amazed me with the abundance of strong views on everything – from US environmental policy to the EU refugee crisis. Even more amazing was the opportunity to discuss these topics with opinion leaders. For example, as Wallenberg fellows we visited the US Department of State to talk about US foreign policy in Ukraine, we also met with the President of Freedom House Mark P. Lagon to discuss the impact of democracy on development. And both of these occasions were great opportunities to learn through discussion and to think critically.
It’s still hard to believe that six months of the Fellowship are coming to an end. One thing is certain, however: I’m emerging from this experience with a broader mindset and greater leadership ability than I had a year ago.
Situated in the heart of Stockholm’s historic financial district is Investor AB, my internship home for the summer and the place from which a considerable amount of Sweden’s world-class industrial prowess is managed. I was immediately welcomed by my internship hosts, shown my desk, on which a large bouquet stood, and introduced to the history of the Wallenberg family’s important role in Sweden’s economic development, and how this legacy continues to guide Investor’s current business model. By the end of my first week, I quickly realized the importance of organizational culture and the role it plays across the decision making process. Later, after numerous conversations about careers with my colleagues regarding their own experiences, I began to get a better idea of what specific aspects of a given organization’s culture best allow me to thrive, and the importance of seeking new opportunities and challenges that allow one to become familiar with a wide variety of working environments.
Notwithstanding the continued importance of these types of lessons in the context of my own professional and academic life, the most enduring aspect of my summer in Stockholm will remain the people with whom I interacted. My colleagues at Investor were helpful, kind, and sincerely interested in tailoring my summer internship to my specific needs whenever possible. Our fellowship hosts were also exceedingly generous, providing us with social, cultural, and professional opportunities that provided an excellent foundation for further exploration of the city, while allowing us to engage in what our peers were accomplishing at their respective internship assignments. Lastly, and most importantly, our six-member cohort has bonded and learned from one another in ways that will remain transformative as we move ahead, together in our lives.
On my last evening in Stockholm, I sat on a bench facing Carl Eldh’s statue to August Strindberg, taking in the last of the sun, which decided to appear with more vivacity in the closing portion of our trip. As I sat, I reflected on the proximate lessons and opportunities this fellowship provided me, such as the importance of team dynamics, work-life balance, and the ability to utilize both one’s own problem-solving skills, as well as, team creative capacity to meet new challenges directly. More importantly, however, I came to realize the profound impact that my summer in Sweden will have on the remainder of my professional, academic, and personal life. And for that I am very grateful.
Some summers are meant to be special. From that sunny evening in the mountains around the Carpathians when I proposed to my girlfriend in the summer of 2014, and from that dark November night in Stockholm, when I was told that I had been chosen as one of the Wallenberg Fellows, I realized that the summer of 2015 would be special. The spring required preparations for my upcoming wedding in the country-side back at my home town of Vellinge in Southern Sweden as well as getting ready for my American adventure: applying for visas, applying for internships and finding the courses I want to study in Georgetown. And then I was suddenly there. The humid heat of Washington welcomed me to the town of lobbyists, politicians, international organizations and think tanks. Soon the event invitations started pouring in: seminars on the Greek debt crisis, the policy challenge posed by Russia, the financial markets role in attaining growth and many more.
I started my work at the Peterson Institute of International Economics, working for Prof. Anders Åslund, senior fellow at the institute and previous advisor to both the Ukrainian and the Russian governments, as well as a professor at Georgetown University. My main project was assisting in the writing of a book on “How to fix Europe”, going through the latest evidence on the state of Europe’s economy and which areas need to be reformed in order to come back to growth. Soon it became clear that the world of think tanks is a quite peculiar environment: it is a reputational field, where you use your name and your network, and use it to reach out and make a difference in real decision-making. It is like a practitioner’s version of Academia – a place to delve into deep intellectual thought, but with a constant need to “popularize” your knowledge and reach out to the public and shape the debate.
In the middle of this, it was time to yet again do a transatlantic journey, going home to get married. The silence of the calm farm landscapes in Skåne stood in deep contrast to the buzz of the U.S. capital. Before I had time to reflect further upon the matter, I was back on an airplane, now a married man.
The Wallenberg International Fellowship Program does not only entail an internship and a semester of studies at Georgetown, but also aims at offering leadership development of its participants. All six of us admitted to the program are at a critical phase in our lives: our time at the university is going towards its end, and we need to figure out where we want to go next. To help us along that path, we took part in a leadership seminar at Stockholm School of Economics with Markus Wallenberg, the reason we are here in the first place. In Washington, we all participated in individual career coaching sessions to develop a better understanding of what we want to accomplish with our careers. During fall, we will meet leaders from different fields, broadening our understanding of leadership as well as offering us a possibility to gain valuable contacts for the future.
For me, these few summer months have inspired me to think deeper about what really matters in life and how to structure my search for a work-place where I can make a difference and be true to my ideals. Has this program made me a leader? Not yet, but it has allowed me to broaden my perspective on leadership, forced me to understand my own ideals better, and put me in an excellent environment to learn from inspiring people.
Our fourth cohort of Wallenberg International Fellows comprises Stockholm School of Economics and Georgetown University students who are citizens of Australia, Germany, South Korea, Sweden and the United States.
Stockholm School of Economics Fellows
Rowan Kurtzis a Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics pursuing a degree in Economics. He previously graduated with honors from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and was admitted to Pi Sigma Alpha, a national Political Science honors society. While completing his undergraduate degree, Mr. Kurtz spent a semester studying Post-Genocide Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Rwanda where he conducted an independent research project examining issues related to the repatriation of Rwandan refugees. After his bachelor studies, Mr. Kurtz joined Teach For America as a founding 8th grade math teacher at a first-year turnaround school in New Orleans, Louisiana. After completing the program, Mr. Kurtz returned home to Alaska to work at the Anchorage Community Land Trust where he focused on addressing issues of unemployment and inequality in Anchorage. Additionally, throughout his undergraduate studies and subsequent professional experiences, Mr. Kurtz maintained his connection to Alaska by working as a commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Mr. Kurtz is a native English speaker, has an intermediate knowledge of Spanish, and basic knowledge of Swedish.
Agnes Magnusson is a Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics pursuing a degree in Economics. She previously graduated from Stockholm School of Economics with a B.Sc. in Business and Economics, where she wrote a thesis titled “Financial Crises and Voter Attitudes: Exploring Shifts in Demand for Right-Wing Extremist Parties.” Ms. Magnusson’s professional experience includes work within the research and educational sector. She has previously worked as a lecturer for The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise—Sweden’s largest and most influential business federation. Currently, Ms. Magnusson works at the Stockholm Institute for Transition Economics and performs research tasks in the field of transition economics with a focus on one-sided leniency policies. In her free time she enjoys the cultural life of Stockholm and is a frequent visitor at the Royal Swedish Opera House. She is a native speaker in Swedish, fluent in English, and has basic knowledge in Mandarin and Italian.
Aylin Shawkat is a German Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics pursuing a degree in Economics. She holds an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Economics from the University of Frankfurt and is passionate about international development and poverty alleviation. Ms. Shawkat has extensive experience in academia where she worked as both a teaching assistant and a research assistant, with a strong focus on industrial organization. Furthermore, her professional experience entails working with an NGO in Bangladesh as well as a traineeship with the capital markets team of a German consultancy focused on reputation management, specifically in mergers and acquisitions. At SSE, Ms. Shawkat is engaged in the Effective Altruism Society which she presides over for the year 2017/18. She speaks German, English, French and has basic knowledge of Bengali.
Georgetown University Fellows
Natasha Burrows is a Masters in Asian Studies candidate at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Advanced) with First Class Honours from the University of Sydney, majoring in government and international relations. Upon graduation Natasha worked in the development sector as an Australian Volunteer for International Development in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Most recently, Natasha worked at the Public Affairs section at the U.S. Department of State, responsible for the portfolios of alumni engagement and youth outreach at the United States Consulate General Sydney. Natasha has implemented projects encouraging connections within the Asia-Pacific, including as the Director of Program for the Conference of Australia and Indonesia Youth, an organization that promotes track-two diplomacy between young leaders. Natasha has a strong interest in the interaction between states and markets in Southeast Asia. She speaks English and Indonesian.
Katherine Kitson is a candidate for the Master of Science in Foreign Service degree at Georgetown University. She studies Global Business and Finance, and is pursuing a certificate in International Business Diplomacy. In addition to her studies, she serves on the Executive Board of Georgetown Women in International Affairs. She has undergraduate degrees in Comparative Literature and Italian from Indiana University, where she was a member of the Hutton Honors College. Ms. Kitson also holds a Master of Arts degree in Italian Studies from New York University; her thesis focused on contemporary representations of female politicians. Prior to arriving at Georgetown, she worked in the trade promotion office of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, facilitating foreign direct investment between the United States and Italy. During her time there, she lead many international commercialization projects from concept to implementation. Ms. Kitson has also worked as a research volunteer for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She is interested in the private sector implications of government policy, particularly with respect to trade, technology, and investments. She is fluent in Italian and has basic knowledge in both Spanish and French.
James Lee is a Masters in Foreign Service candidate at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, concentrating in Global Business and Finance and is pursuing a certificate in International Business Diplomacy. Mr. Lee holds a B.A in International Affairs with a focus on International Development from the George Washington University, where he was awarded the Presidential Academic Scholarship. His professional interest lies in integrating business development with technology in the form of public-private partnerships. Mr. Lee’s experiences include work in the humanitarian and the nonprofit sector. Most recently, he worked as a research assistant for the Scholl Chair of International Business at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Prior to Georgetown, he worked at the Grameen Foundation, supporting microfinance and mobile health operations in sub-Sahara Africa and Southeast Asia. He also served as a reconnaissance military police in the Korean Air Force. Having lived in China for nearly a decade, Mr. Lee is an avid consumer of Chinese culture and East Asian affairs. He has native proficiency in English, Mandarin Chinese and Korean.
Our third cohort of Wallenberg International Fellows comprises Stockholm School of Economics and Georgetown University students who are citizens of Germany, Latvia and the United States.
Stockholm School of Economics Fellows
Beatrice Gohdes is a Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics pursuing a degree in Economics. She previously graduated from Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich with a B.Sc. in Economics and a B.A. in Chinese Studies and Philosophy. She is highly passionate about Chinese culture and politics and has lived in China multiple times. Ms. Gohdes has extensive work experience in both the public and private sectors such as the Sino-German Cultural and Economic Association in Taipei or Jebsen&Jebsen, a Hamburg based international trading company. Most recently, she helped coordinate an international cooperation project between the Deutsche Bahn and China Railways and helped building the digital healthcare startup Kaia Health. In her free time Ms. Gohdes has been engaged in numerous projects such as founding the Economics Society at SSE or participating in the HULT Prize social entrepreneurship challenge. She is a native German speaker, is fluent in English and Mandarin and has basic knowledge in both French and Swedish.
Agris Jomerts is a Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics, studying Finance. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from Bocconi University in Milan, where he had been selected to receive the Bocconi Merit Award scholarship. As an undergraduate, Mr. Jomerts worked at Mediobanca S.p.A. within the Debt Capital Markets team, supporting the operations related to multi-billion bond offerings. After his Bachelors studies, Mr. Jomerts joined the EY Transactions Advisory office in the Baltics, where he was involved as the lead analyst on M&A deals in various industries such as telecommunications, real estate, e-commerce and biofuels. Mr. Jomerts is a native Latvian speaker, speaks English fluently, has an intermediate knowledge of Italian and a basic knowledge of Russian and Swedish. Before going to Washington D.C., Mr. Jomerts will also be doing a two-month internship at Cushman & Wakefield in Stockholm, supporting the work of its Capital Markets team which is providing real estate transaction advisory services in the Nordics.
Mats Kröger is a Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics, pursuing a degree in Economics. He also holds a Bachelor in Economics from Humboldt-University in Berlin and holds a prestigious scholarship from the German National Merit Foundation. Mr Kröger has a strong interest in the issues of climate change and extensive professional experiences in the private as well as the public sector. These experiences include internships at top-class consulting firms BCG and EY as well as the German development bank KfW, where he worked on financing solutions in the wind energy sector. Working at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy allowed him to further pursue his interest in economic policies. Mr Kröger is native in German, fluent in English and Spanish, and has basic knowledge in French and Swedish
Georgetown University Fellows
Gregory Bernstein is a Masters in Foreign Service candidate at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he studies Global Politics and Security and is pursuing a certificate in International Business Diplomacy. Mr. Bernstein attended the U.S. Coast Guard Academy as an undergraduate, where he studied Government with a concentration in International Relations. While at the Academy, Mr. Bernstein was selected as a 2010 – 2011 Presidential Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress in Washington D.C. and was published in the Center’s Review for his Fellowship thesis on U.S. international development policy. Following graduation, Mr. Bernstein served in the U.S. Coast Guard for five years, achieving the rank of Lieutenant. From 2011 to 2013, Mr. Bernstein was assigned aboard the USCGC Morgenthau where he conducted counter-narcotic operations in the Pacific waters of Central and South America. Between 2013 and 2015, Mr. Bernstein was the Commanding Officer of the USCGC Terrapin, where he led operations in search and rescue, counter-narcotics, and national defense. In 2015, he transferred to Washington D.C. and completed his military service in the Office of the Deputy Commandant for Operations as a member of Executive Staff and the Military Aide-de-Camp to the Deputy Commandant for Operations. Mr. Bernstein is a native English speaker and is fully proficient in Spanish.
Kathleen Burke is a Masters in Latin American Studies candidate at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she studies Political Economy and is pursuing a certificate in International Business Diplomacy. Ms. Burke is also a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where she graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 2016. She also studied for a semester at the National University of Cuyo in Mendoza, Argentina, where she conducted an interactive research project comparing Argentina and Chile with respect to business, trade, and finance. Ms. Burke received the Lauren Bessette Memorial Prize in Economics, in addition to the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) Book Prize for her essay on Haitian literature and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Epsilon. She has worked as a Marketing intern at global architecture firm Gensler in New York, where she produced case studies for senior associates and translated selected marketing materials for Latin America offices in Spanish. Ms. Burke has also served as a research volunteer at the Latin American Cultural Association in Buffalo, NY.
Christian Conroy is currently a dual Master in Public Policy (MPP) and Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) candidate at Georgetown University, where he is focused on using econometric analysis to advise foreign companies entering emerging markets. Prior to Georgetown, Christian most recently served as the GM for the Shanghai office of CRCC Asia, where he led efforts to provide global recruitment consulting to more than 200 host companies across 14 different sectors and organized panels on topics such as mobile technology and entrepreneurial opportunities. He has held several other positions in the private sector, including Supply Chain Security Risk Analyst at BSI Group, Technical Advisor for Psychometrics and Analytics at GSX Inc., and freelance contract writer for Smartbug Media. Christian was also previously a Fulbright Fellow based in Xi’an, China, where he studied the decentralization of education policy with a focus on the distribution of authority between county bureaus of education and primary schools in rural China. During his time in Xi’an, Christian worked with Shaanxi Normal University’s Center for Experimental Economics in Education and Stanford University’s Rural Education Action Program to organize and analyze extensive data on human capital in rural China collected through large-scale fieldwork projects. His policy interests include technology disruption, smart city solutions, international development, big data, and just about anything related to China.
In line with the first cohort and the goal of developing future global business leaders, the six members of the second Wallenberg International Fellows cohort represent six different countries: China, Croatia, Eritrea, Germany, Sweden and the United States.
Stockholm School of Economics Fellows
Sebastian Röing is a Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics, studying International Economics. He graduated with honors from King’s College at the University of Cambridge. Mr. Röing’s diverse professional experiences have included work in the public, private, and non-profit sectors across Europe. He has previously worked as a trainee for the Delegation of Sweden to the OECD in Paris where he contributed to the Aid for Trade initiative and the OECD Better Life Index. Prior to his experience with the OECD, Mr. Röing worked as an intern at Giving What We Can, and Oxford based organization that aims to increase the efficacy of donor giving, and as an intern at SRM Economics, a London based economic consulting firm where he conducted financial and economic analyses. Mr. Röing is a native Swedish speaker, fluent in English and French, and has a basic knowledge of Mandarin and German. His Wallenberg Fellows Program internship was with the Peterson Institute of International Economics performing research and analysis as part of an interdisciplinary team, for two articles and a book on sovereign debt management and financial stability regulation.
Bensam Solomonis a Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics pursuing a degree in Economics. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics from the Stockholm School of Business. Mr. Solomon’s professional experiences span the public and private sectors, and include internships in both finance and government. Currently, Mr. Solomon works as an intern at Leksell Social Ventures (LSV), Sweden’s first social impact investment company. At LSV, Mr. Solomon is responsible for screening funding applications for socially conscious and economically sustainable businesses, and for helping to shape the company’s corporate communication profile. Mr. Solomon also works as an intern for the Swedish North African Chamber of Commerce, where he provides assistance to both the board of directors and the general secretary. Mr. Solomon is a native Tigrinya speaker, fluent in Swedish and English, has conversational proficiency in Italian, and a basic knowledge of Bulgarian. His Wallenberg Fellows Program internship was with Limiar Capital, LLC, a private equity firm focused on emerging markets. His work involved researching several emerging markets, evaluating various aspects including the macroeconomic conditions, political risk, and stock market valuations and culminated in the development an investment thesis for these countries. In addition, he also interned at the International Finance Corporation, at the Office of the Chief Economist in the Thought Leadership Unit.
Alexa Strausis a Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics studying Business and Management with a specialization in Management, and is the recipient of a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service. Ms. Straus graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy and Economics from the University of Bayreuth in Bayreuth, Germany where she wrote a thesis titled “Non-Financial Reporting: Evolution Challenges and Implementation – the GRI Example.” Ms. Straus has worked in diverse industries analyzing international trade and business. These experiences include an M&A internship at Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, Germany where she worked in project management and the preparation of contract negotiations; an internship at Sotheby’s Deutschland in Munich where she researched art market trends and coordinated international sales activities; and an internship at the German Consulate General in Atlanta where she researched political and economic trends. Ms. Straus is a native German speaker, is fluent in English, has an advanced knowledge of Italian, and is conversational in Swedish. Her Wallenberg Fellows Program internship was with Medtronic, in the corporate international relations department. She supported the formulation and execution of Public Private Partnerships and worked on market access issues, health economics and regulatory policies for medical devices.
Georgetown University Fellows
Valentino Grbavac is a Masters student at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in the Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies program. Mr. Grbavac attended Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota where he majored in Political Science and History and minored in Russian Studies. The title of his undergraduate honors thesis was: Unequal Democracy: The Political Position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During his time as an undergraduate, Mr. Grbavac was selected to be a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow at Princeton University’s Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. As an undergraduate, Mr. Grbavac also worked as a marketing and sales intern at Extended Exposure, a marketing firm located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. At Extended Exposure, Mr. Grbavac worked to develop strategies for marketing, business development, and market penetration for clients. Mr. Grbavac currently works as a contributing writer for the Institute for Political and Social Research in Mostar, Bosnia. Mr. Grbavac was commissioned by the institute to research and write a book about the contemporary political position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to be published in both Croatian and English. Mr. Grbavac is a native speaker of Croatian, speaks English fluently, is an intermediate speaker of Russian and has a basic knowledge of Italian. His Wallenberg Fellows Program internship was at Ericsson, where he supported the Standardization Team in an evaluation of national regulations in different countries to understand their needs, and work together to find a solution that works with country/regional policies, and technology.
Chloe Krawczykis a Masters in Foreign Service candidate at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she studies Global Business and Finance and is pursuing a certificate in International Business Diplomacy. Ms. Krawczyk also attended Georgetown as an undergraduate, when she studied Science, Technology & International Affairs with a concentration in Energy & Environment. In 2013, Ms. Krawczyk received a Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study Mandarin and was honored as a Peter F. Krogh Scholar. As a Krogh Scholar, she produced original research analyzing China’s human rights transition based on the Spiral Model. Between 2014 and 2016, Ms. Krawczyk was an analyst at an economic consulting firm with global presence, Cornerstone Research, where her casework included international finance, securities, and energy market-based valuation projects. Ms. Krawczyk is a native English speaker, fluent in Mandarin, has a basic knowledge of Spanish, and is attempting to pick up Swedish. Her Wallenberg Fellows Program internship was at EQT Ventures, the venture capital arm of global private equity group EQT, where she analyzed fast-growing and innovative technology companies to find promising investment opportunities.
Sylvia Sun is a Masters in Foreign Service candidate at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she studies Global Business and Finance and is pursuing a certificate in International Business Diplomacy. Ms. Sun is also a graduate of the University of Hong Kong, where she graduated with first class honors with a Bachelor of Social Sciences, and the Pembroke-King’s Program at the University of Cambridge where she studied international law and finance. Ms. Sun previously worked as a Liaison Associate for the China Development Research Foundation, where she served as the primary point of contact for 50+ delegates and staff from global firms including McKinsey, BCG, MasterCard, and Bloomberg. She also worked as a seasonal intern for AIA Hong Kong, where she reviewed diverse financial planning products, and ultimately won the Best Presentation Award for presentations to senior management. Ms. Sun has native proficiency in English and Mandarin Chinese, and is fluent in Japanese. Her Wallenberg Fellows Program internship was at Investor, A.B. Patricia Industries and Permobil where she split her time doing business development work and Asia market analysis for Permobil followed by work at Patricia Industries working on investment and corporate strategic analysis, financial modeling and valuation work on current and future investments.
Consistent with the goal of developing future global business leaders, the six members of the inaugural Wallenberg Fellows cohort are from five different countries: Poland, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine and the United States.
Stockholm School of Economics Fellows
Marta Khomyn is a Master’s student at the Stockholm School of Economics majoring in Finance. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga. Ms. Khomyn has work experience in the financial and technology sectors. She worked as a consultant at the World Bank (ICT Innovation team), conducted macroeconomic research for Euromonitor International, was a Google ambassador, and has previously interned at Deutsche Telekom’s start-up accelerator hub:raum, allowing her to pursue her interest in technology. Ms. Khomyn’s Wallenberg Fellows Program internship was at the World Bank Group, where she worked on designing Rapid Technology Skills Training Programs to improve job creation in the developing world.
Piotr Rozwałka is a Master’s student at the Stockholm School of Economics. He also holds Master’s degrees in International Management and Philosophy from Erasmus University Rotterdam. Mr. Rozwałka has worked in an academic setting, conducting research and teaching, and also has experience at top-class consulting firms McKinsey, BCG, and ABB Group. He has an entrepreneurial mindset and has founded three start-ups focused on import and wholesale, retail, and online auctions. He is also an avid traveler and spent two years exploring more than fifty countries, with a particular interest in conflict-affected areas and the resulting social and economic problems in those regions. Mr. Rozwałka’s Wallenberg Fellows Program internship was at the World Resources Institute in the Land Resources Rights Initiative, where he co-authored an economic working paper on the cost/benefit analysis of secure community forest tenure.
Hannes Tordengren is a Master’s student at the Stockholm School of Economics. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics. Mr. Tordengren’s experience includes work in international, public, diplomatic and private sector positions. He served in Afghanistan with the Swedish Armed Forces and worked at the Swedish Embassy in Ukraine. Mr. Tordengren also serves as the Secretary General of the Stockholm Model United Nations. His Wallenberg Fellows Program internship was at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, where his work involved research on pension reform, energy efficiency, business regulation and innovation.
Georgetown University Fellows
Alec Albright is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and Eastern European Studies, as well as an alumnus of the Landegger Program International Business Diplomacy. His global perspective is highlighted through experience in international business, research, economic analysis, and database evaluation. Mr. Albright has interests in private equity and venture capital activities in the technology sectors of Scandinavian and Eastern European markets. His Wallenberg Fellows Program internship was with Investor AB, Patricia Industries. Mr. Albright conducted analyses on existing investments as well as new potential investments while learning about corporate financial matters, commercial and strategic analysis and valuation.
Olivia Lamb is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in the Asian Studies Program, as well as an alumna of the Landegger Program in International Business Diplomacy. Ms. Lamb has experience with international business development in various markets, and has performed analysis of international economics and business policy, with a specific focus on China. Her Wallenberg Fellows Program internship was with the Merger and Acquisition Group of Electrolux, where she worked on acquisition projects in different stages of the process, spanning various business sectors and geographies.
Anastasia Nedayvoda is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture, and Technology Program, as well as an alumna of the Landegger Program in International Business Diplomacy. Her global business interests are supported by work experience in emerging markets, where she witnessed the strategic decision-making process in companies of different sizes and structures. While at Georgetown, she worked as a lead teaching assistant on the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Globalization’s Winners and Losers: Challenges for Developed and Developing Countries at the School of Foreign Service. Ms. Nedayvoda works for The World Bank Group, in the Bank’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Unit. Her Wallenberg Fellows Program internship was with Ericsson, where she helped in strategy development and supported the execution of forward-looking technologies.