At SSE, students are encouraged to pursue their business interests. We also want you to find your own complementary side passion in life. Bill Keenan found a passion for hockey first, made a sports career, and wrote a book about it. Now he has switched focus to a new goal, to strive towards a business career – that preferably will take him back to Sweden and Stockholm – a third time.
Bill has been an exchange student at Stockholm School of Economics during the fall, and it was no coincidence that this was the destination where he would end up. Ever since Bill played hockey in Sweden, he knew that he wanted to return in some capacity.
– During my hockey years in Sweden, I started to think about maybe working in Stockholm in the future, so I asked my teammate about the business schools. At that point, he never mentioned Stockholm School of Economics. But when I heard about SSE the first time, I knew that this was obviously the top place to be. Later on, I asked my teammate why he didn’t mention SSE to me, and he said that it was because it’s basically impossible to be accepted into the school.
Not saying it is easy, but the image of the school as not within reach is not accurate. But as a result of the large interest to study here – along with all the given opportunities – SSE obviously attracts talented students from different backgrounds and from all over the world. Something that we greatly value.
New York is a great place to work and live, but at the same time, spending so much time in Sweden has opened me up to a different way of life.
Bill Keenan, exchange student from New York
Bill is currently pursuing his MBA at Columbia University in New York, which partly was an active choice since he knew he could get the opportunity to come back to Sweden. So when he had 30 different exchange programs to choose from, he decidedly chose SSE.
A big difference that Bill experienced was the close interactions between students, and he appreciated the well-balanced mix of group and individual components within the education.
– One of the best parts of SSE is that you are compelled to interact with people you might otherwise never get to know. There seems to be a real focus on getting students from different backgrounds and countries to collaborate on projects. In hindsight, this was an excellent way to expand one’s horizons.
The MBA that Bill is pursuing at home is very broad, something that really made him push to try to get up to the speed with the rest of the students. Compared to being a 23 year old, when basically the only exposure he got during his time in Sweden was his hockey teammates, he is now 29 with a much broader perspective – looking at the opportunities in this country more through the eyes of a business person. He expresses that it is kind of shocking to perceive the small size of the country and to realize that he has been able to first pursue one dream here, and in the future hopefully a job within management consulting or finance.
– I have found that studying at SSE unlocks doors. The school has made footprints throughout the city and continent for that matter. I plan to run my own business one day, and although I’m not sure in what field, I see Stockholm as a place where one can find all the resources, skills and the network need to succeed. It’s also a place that instills confidence and I think that’s a big key. For example, I was amazed how young some of the master’s students are – that speaks to the confidence the Swedish people have in what they are doing and it helped to motivate me.
My only wish is that I could have stayed in Stockholm during the summer. Life in Sweden exceeded my expectations, and I look forward to returning soon.
Bill Keenan, exchange student from New York
Step out of your comfort zone
Bill wants to encourage more people from Columbia University – and the US in general – to take the opportunity to come here for the exchange semester.
– Having grown up in the US, it is worth getting out of your comfort zone and putting yourself in a situation where you’re a minority. New York is a great place to work and live, but at the same time, spending so much time in Sweden has opened me up to a different way of life.
One of the first things Bill noticed when arriving to Stockholm was the proximity to everything, especially the distance from the school. He lived right across the street which is tough to beat when it comes to convenience. During the semester he had time to enjoy the vibrant nightlife, travel around in the city and to take a tour around the quieter archipelago. Moreover he had the chance to do a lot of sauna baths and to eat the best fish he ever tasted, but also the worst.
– Tasting surstromming was an experience, but once was enough!
Even if Bill did not stay here for that long this time, he started to miss some smaller things, like real American breakfast food and slices of pizza.
– My only wish is that I could have stayed in Stockholm during the summer. Life in Sweden exceeded my expectations, and I look forward to returning soon.
Text: Malin Johansson