Final Thoughts

There is a lot to take away from the Scandinavian experience. We learned a great deal about a culture that we had little prior knowledge of. Not only that, we were able to experience the region in a very special way. The trip offered a blend of business, culture, and leisure that couldn’t be replicated on our own travel. The three major takeaways that will carry with us.

First the Scandinavian culture. Having the opportunity to be led through two natives’ perspective allowed for deeper immersion into the culture. It allowed us to get a taste of the different regions of Scandinavia. Through this we were able to get a sense of the stark differences in the people and way of life. For example, the people of the north compared to the city of Stockholm were vastly different.

Second, the business environment. Each visit was a unique experience. The quality and quantity of visits would be impossible to replicate and something that we will carry with our MBA coursework and future career. Not only did we get the chance to visit with business professionals, but we got to network with some of the most innovate companies in the world. A major learning experience for us was to apply our coursework and knowledge on real life problems at the Smart Growth Workshop. This was a great way to understand Swedish business first-hand.

There were strong themes that emerged throughout the diverse companies we visited, making it clear that the Scandinavian culture and landscape do have an impact on the way businesses are run and the attitudes its employees share.  One theme we saw was a strong effort to decrease dependence on current energy solutions, not staying complacent with the statue quo.  We saw this championed most during our time with  Northvolt, H&M, Orsted, Volvo and Einride.  Each of these companies are forward thinking, taking real steps towards the future, being prepared for how the world is changing and namely, doing the right thing for society and the planet.  It is not even a second thought.

At Orsted in Denmark we discussed how the industry in changing, with an increase in the amount of electric cars being purchased, the need for renewable energy is also increasing.  With this, energy efficiency is increasing which may put downward pressure on the demand for energy as well.   While no one claims to have the answers to all of these future scenarios, we saw a companies actively working to address what is coming on a much larger scale than we see in America.

Another theme we saw was how encouraged innovation is. Another effort in not remaining complacent with the status quo.  Aquaporin for example values innovation, they value improvement over everything else, whatever that looks like.  The way they are pushing the envelope and combining Art + Science without knowing what the outcome will be is awesome.  This could provoke the way their employees think or approach problems in new ways, improve employee satisfaction, or attract new people to their technologies.  We find their openness to “see what happens” very inspiring.

Lastly, was the opportunity to build strong relationships with our classmates. Travel allows people to learn about individuals on a deeper level. You find out a lot of about ones’ character and values. Additionally, you learn a lot about yourself. Travel forces one to critically think and problem solve. It requires an individual to work with others and can put life into perspective- all of which are skills that are highly transferable to any environment. We will truly value the bond created from the course as we continue in our program and careers.