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The Big Oak Door

The big oak door, the gateway to the Stockholm School of Economics symbolizes so much more than just a door in a building. During recent decades thousands of students have entered here. Young men and women, with different backgrounds and different dreams – but with shared motivation and curiosity. They have opened the door and, a few years later, with their acquired knowledge and experience, have opened hundreds of other doors in Sweden and in the world.

They say that knowledge is power, but it is more than just that. Knowledge is freedom of choice; it is meaningfulness and is linked in many ways to the concept of happiness itself. Knowledge and a sense of belonging are among the greatest gifts a human being can possess. The process of accumulating knowledge through education is an experience and sparks a chain of events, which touches our very soul. Achieving this takes more than one-dimensional education. Accumulating the facts in order to become a critical thinker and reflective individual is not enough; it takes an educational process that involves formation on every level – heart, mind, body, and soul. This is what it takes to inspire learning that reaches the very core, that gives rise to memories, feelings and a sense of belonging.

Rapid industrial growth in the early 20th century increased the demand for educated leaders and employees. Early on, some of the country’s foremost entrepreneurs and industrialists recognized a need for an institution for advanced studies in economics. In 1906, they established the Stockholm School of Economics Association. In the autumn of 1909, the first 110 young students entered Sweden’s first school of economics.

They were all men and they faced a two-year education in economics, trade, economic geography, political science, and law. During the course of the 20th century the school grew to become what it is today – a number of institutions, research institutes, international collab­orations, innovation and sustainability initiatives, broadened admission opportunities, a wider international program portfolio, and increased commitment to diversity and equality issues.

Today the Stockholm School of Economics is internationally recognized as the leading uni­versity of its kind in northern Europe: a specialized academic social science institution with economic subjects at its core. There is yet another dimension that we believe will be decisive in the future. Through an interdisciplinary approach SSE amalgamates facts and analysis, self-reflection and self-awareness, empathy, cultural perceptiveness, and responsibility.

We honor diversity. The unique combination of experiences and qualities that every student brings to our school, along with our education, strengthens our students’ ability to go into the world with a free-spirited and open-minded approach.

Despite the Stockholm School of Economics’ modest size, it is a university that makes a big impact. Through the years, our students have been awarded distinguished positions in a multitude of occupational areas. Often, they have affected the course taken by society. Some of them have chosen to tell their life stories in this book. Twenty-one alumni have shared their inspiring, personal accounts of where they come from, what has spurred them on, and what straight or winding paths they have taken after completing their education.

If knowledge is power, then maybe this refers to the power to choose. That makes the Stockholm School of Economics the home of freedom of choice, no matter who you are or where you are going.

Stockholm School of Economics