Sad to Say its Over

Boy this trip was a wild one! In the final half of our trip we got to visit Sweden and Denmark. The journey to Sweden was a MISSION. We took an overnight boat from Estonia to Sweden and this night ended up being one of the best/worst times on the trip. I get extremely sea sick so the storm we went through over night and the confined cabins didn't treat me so well. However, dinner with the whole class and taking a group shot of snapps was a good way to prepare ourselves for a fun night at the disco.

Sweden

During this part of the trip we went to Converionista, Ericsson, Northvolt, and finally Sinch. Of all the business visits thus far, these were my favorites.

Conversionista was so fascinating. This particular business really made us sit and think about how to fix and solve an issue first hand. They wanted us to think about the difference between a quick fix and an actual solution to the original problem. Some examples given of this were ATM machines that had signs on them for consumers so they would know how to easily use the machine after many first found it difficult. So instead of fixing the machine originally to make sure people didn't get confused… they added a sign. I feel like this type of “solution” is commonly found a lot in the U.S.. Americans like to say they focus on customer satisfaction but do not necessarily want to fork out the money to improve or update products to achieve this satisfaction.

Ericsson was extremely interesting to me. This was the longest business trio we had, a total of about three hours. It was really cool getting a feel of the company. Johanna Snickers was the first person we met and she fave us a brief rundown of what the company is and it's culture. This company gave us a feel of an open environment and they promoted friendship within the company versus unhealthy competitiveness. The CEO has done a very good job thus far, they can be seen integrating within the business and with the employees. In the U.S. it is uncommon almost to have CEO's wanting to be seen as a friend or an equal amount their employees.

The group at Ericsson

Sweden as a whole tends to focus on sustainability, positive company culture, and inclusive environments. The companies all showed that the health of the earth was on the back of their minds. Keeping the culture positive and inclusive ultimately meant that it was also progressive for its employees. One interesting thing that we discussed was how in America, we tend to want people to make work their whole lives and devoted extra time to it. In Sweden they want people to want to work and they understand people have lives. I found an interesting article that mentions the differences between both countries and it was a pretty cool read.

The article mentions that work culture is one of the biggest differences. It states, “Perks [in the US] often encourage people to stay at the office” and that “it might be more efficient if employees just went home and got some rest”. Being well rested makes a difference in work culture and it is seen as an importance. In Sweden, the view is that people who take breaks are more productive, since they're well-rested.

A Day of Exploration

Denmark

Our final stop on our journey was Denmark. Technically it was Denmark and then back to Sweden (Malmö). For this part of the trip, we visited SAAB, Trelleborg, Maersk, and Mikkeller.

Nyhavn

As previously mentioned in the Sweden section of this post, America tends to not care too much of the outside lives that employees have and how the culture of the company may affect them. In such a big company like Maersk, their company and owner values have remained the same and still to this day are important in operations. Also Danish culture shows an importance of separating work and social lives. Another factor that Maersk valued highly was the previous owner of the companies values. This was pleasant to see. The company was started by Mr. Maersk and his values still hold up to this day. A practice like this in the U.S. seems almost taboo. In America, typically companies change our their founders and switch around leadership roles and their values. Due to this, often times initial values, morals, and visions of the companies tend to get lost or fade away.

Trelleborg gave us an up close perspective of the international business and how their culture differs from other places in the world. At Trelleborg we learned that again, causal and friendly environments matter to businesses.

Mikkeller was the final business stop on our trip and it was a good one to end on. This was a brewing company in Denmark and they to value the separation of work and a social life. In America we are worked like dogs, we get up and dread work. We always feel unrested and that there isn't enough hours in the day to get our work done which results in also working from home even though you aren't getting paid to do so. We learned from Mikkeller that it is not very common to stay at work after hours and their work actually doesn't follow them home! They enjoy lunches with their colleagues and coffee breaks. Denmark believes that having a healthy balance between social and work life can create a better business environment and therefore, better business success.

The gang at Mikkeller

Final Thoughts

Overall, this trip exceeded all my expectations. I learned so much more than I originally thought and I made some new long lasting friendships. I even made memories that I will never forget. These companies and countries opened themselves to us and I am extremely grateful. Being able to compare business cultures and structures will come in handy as I make my way into the true business world.

I learned so much history and I really got to appreciate every aspect that these countries had to offer…even down to the bear salami! I will take these teachings with me and always remember the times shared and the memories made.

Thank you so much Niklas and Clas!

Chapman's Finest

-Angelica Rivera