As our trip comes to end, we’ve had some time to really ponder the last 12 days in this beautiful country. One thing that really resonated with us about the Swedes is how they prioritize sustainability. They do this in every aspect of life, from how conscious they are when running a business to how they only drink water in glass cups to reduce plastic consumption. One of our first days there, we went to a local coffee shop to get coffee to go and we were blown away with the lids they had. We’d never seen anything like it, but they had paper lids on their cups, not plastic. At first, Michelle questioned its functionality and was reluctant to use it because she thought it would leak, however, to her surprise it didn’t. In addition, every single business we visited mentioned at least one way they are and are planning to become more sustainable in the future. Lastly, another thing that really differentiated the Swedes is how accessible the C-suites are to all levels of employees. There is not an extreme polarization of low level and high level employees. They really embody the spirit of collaboration to truly excel their businesses to new heights.

Lauren’s highlights are similar, and she’s realized she is truly a Swede in all that she values. From putting the planet and its people ahead of profit to their flat organizations to their views of equality and respect for their places. In Stockholm, the only litter we saw were cigarette butts. There various litter strewn about like you see anywhere in the US and in most major cities across the globe. If something was on the ground that should be in the trash, someone would pick it up, even if it wasn’t their mess. Lauren also loved how approachable and accessible the executives we met with were, and how down-to-earth they all were. Each one, at some point, said something along the lines of denouncing “corporate bullshit,” which was refreshing compared to US executives, who live their whole lives as part of that corporate bullshit. It was amazing to her that so many high-level executives would take an hour or more out of their day to meet with a group of students from a different country as a favor to their old college buddy, especially considering how last minute this whole trip was!

Overall, we are so glad this trip happened and we were able to join. We had so much fun and learned so much about business and culture in Sweden. This trip gave us the global perspective we were hoping for! Thank you to Dr. Niklas Myhr and Dr. Gokcen Balli for making this trip happen!

Group photo with Northvolt CEO Peter Carlsson
Group photo with the CEO of Volvo Group, Martin Lundstedt
Outside Volvo Group’s headquarters was a lineup of three Volvo flags and two Pride flags for June 🏳️‍🌈