"The adjustment from life in the UK was quite easy"

Describe your role at the company, and briefly your background / experience of living and working in other countries.

– I am the Nordic-Baltic HR Director for AstraZeneca, based in Sweden. I’m originally from Manchester, UK and had also worked in London and Cambridge for AstraZeneca. Although I’ve been working in global roles at AZ for some time, this is the first role where I’ve had the opportunity to live and work abroad. I’ve been here for nine months so far.

What expectations did you have before moving to Sweden?

– I had quite high expectations as a few of my friends and colleagues had previously lived in Sweden and were very positive about the experience. They talked a lot about the beauty of the country itself, the good standards of living and the positive work-life balance culture. I was also warned about the weather – my new manager advised me to buy a warm coat!

How did it turn out?

– Overall it’s been very good. I’ve found the adjustment from life in the UK quite easy and it feels like a real privilege to have the opportunity to live and work here. The work culture is very productive and collaborative. Colleagues have been open and friendly. On the social side, there is quite a large ex-pat community here, with many opportunities to meet new people and experience everything Sweden has to offer.

What is the best thing about living in Sweden?

– I love living in Stockholm – it’s a fantastic city, with a really good arts and culture scene and excellent shops and restaurants. There is always lots going on – this year I’ve particularly enjoyed events like Kulturnatt Stockholm and  Stockhoms Kulturfestival which have very well-curated programmes and are free to attend.

– I’ve also had the opportunity to travel to other cities across the Nordics and Baltics. Many places are within an hour’s flight so it’s great for weekend city breaks.

Would you recommend others to move here?

– Yes, definitely.What do you think of Sweden in regard to equality (gender, sexuality, general differences) and other social aspects?

– Sweden has a reputation for a strong commitment to equality of opportunity and this is well deserved. Women are very well represented in leadership positions and across all sectors of the economy. Overall, society is open and tolerant with a strong respect for the rights of every individual.

In your opinion, which is the most beautiful place in Sweden?

– Djurgården is fantastic year round and great for walks. Next year I’m hoping to hike part of the Kungsleden trail which I’m told is very beautiful.

Which is the best Swedish tradition?

– I’m a big fan of semlor – the buns that are traditionally eaten in the run up to Easter. They are delicious!

Back to EMA to Sweden >

Gemma Dainty

HR and Internal Communications Director, Nordic-Baltic