Describe your role at the company, and briefly your background / experience of living and working in other countries.
– My current role at Medivir is as the CEO which I have taken on starting April 1 of this year. However, I relocated almost three years ago to the Stockholm area to join Medivir as the new head of our business development area. My background is primarily from financial services, as strategic advisor to biopharma companies on sales or acquisitions of companies and financing transactions, and in heading business development for a medtech company. I grew up, was schooled, and lived my entire life in New York City before moving to Stockholm. My mother is Korean, my father is German and the common language was English so I lived in a multi-cultural house as a child. I travelled extensively, both professionally and personally, but always returned to New York.
What expectations did you have before moving to Sweden?
– My husband is Swedish, and it was important to me that our daughter grow up with both her father’s and my heritages long before I knew we would move to Sweden one day. His Swedish heritage, along with the rather significant Swedish community in New York, brought midsommar celebrations, kanelbullar and very stoic reactions to important events into our household. There was significant talk about how dark it is in the winter, or perhaps worse, how light it is in the summer.
How did it turn out?
– Just as dark as promised, although that was now well expected. What I did not expect, not having been warned, is how grey and rainy it is in the autumn! What also did surprise me having heard much about how “cold” Swedes are and how hard it would be to make friends, is how much my own open and sharing style impacted my relationship with other Swedes. I have found that the slightest bit of connection with another person opens up a very warm and sharing relationship where entire lives and confidences are revealed very quickly. Conversely, I found in the US that you could make small talk for years, and never really know someone. The other aspect about Stockholm that I very much appreciate is how multicultural a small city can be. Having grown up in the “melting pot” that is New York, it is a pleasure for me to experience Swedish openness to other cultures at the same time as carrying a large respect for their own. This multiculturalness is one of the best aspects of Medivir as a company. People have come from around the world to work at Medivir and it is something we are very proud of.
What is the best thing about living in Sweden?
– Balance is one of the most important things to Swedes, with “lagom” being an important new word in my vocabulary. It comes out in the importance of family and career both at the same time. What it means practically for me is being able to have a young child and feel that I have time to be an important presence in her life, while I am also able to be the CEO of a company and meet the demands that that requires professionally.
Would you recommend others to move here?
What do you think of Sweden in regard to equality and other social aspects?
– I mentioned earlier the concept of balance and the multicultural embrace. This also comes out in ways that regard gender as well. I come from a very male dominated financial services field in New York. While this never held me back professionally, I can see how much more important differing views and differing backgrounds is in Sweden. I feel that it is just automatic to take into consideration the gender balance in important decisions, such as workforce considerations. We are also especially proud at Medivir of having been named on Allbright’s “green list” for gender equality with balance at all levels of the organization, employee, leadership and board of directors.
In your opinion, which is the most beautiful place in Sweden?
– I cannot say yet that I have travelled around Sweden enough to determine what I believe to be the most beautiful place, but central Stockholm also reflects the fantastic Swedish sense of balance with its multiple green parks, beautiful waterways and stately buildings, intertwined with modern towers and fast paced professional life. That juxtaposition is beautiful to me.
Which is the best Swedish tradition?
– Fika! I think it is wonderful that Swedes remember not just on holidays or important events to sit down and get to know the people around you. That chance to breathe during a busy day encourages reflection with team members and in the biopharma business where innovation is so important, this is an opportunity to come up with new ideas together with others that sitting alone does not encourage. I believe fika is at least in part responsible for the rich heritage of innovation in Sweden.