When you applied to SSE, you were already enjoying a successful and varied career in the arts field – from television host to manager at the Stockholm Cultural Centre. What made you do it?
Having studied literature, theatre and philosophy, I felt that my lack of a formal academic degree posed an obstacle on my way to new positions and challenges.
I am now the head of operations at the Dunker’s Cultural Centre in Helsingborg, a publically co-sponsored organization with a multi-million kronor turnover. I enjoy the cultural sector but after the SSE MBA I have become more open to working within a completely different sphere in the future. The business world, for example, has a lot to learn from the arts sector when it comes to creativity and innovation. Cultural and creative enterprises make up a growing chunk of the economy in a postmodern world.
How did participating in the SSE MBA program change you?
I learned a lot about myself, for example, that I can accomplish far more than I previously thought. The program really put me to the test and I realized that my capacity extends far beyond what I believed and that I can actually do anything as long as I put my mind to it. That’s a good feeling that I took home with me from the MBA.
I have also become better at critical and analytical thinking, and I have acquired an array of new decision-making tools. As a manager, I used to base my decisions on gut feeling, which worked pretty well, but now I am able to complement my intuition by taking in different perspectives and not jump to conclusions.
I have become much more aware of my strong sides as well as my weaknesses and I have come to realize that what I really want is a managerial role that offers a helicopter perspective and lets me work on strategy and development from an overall level, which is where I am today. To be aware of the fact that there’s so much more to you than you think, is a wonderful and liberating insight.
The program is a real intellectual challenge and lets you meet and work with people from many different industries, which gives you new perspectives. Learning new things together is very stimulating.
What were the major strengths of the program, in your eyes?
I appreciated the perspectives of the program, to begin at a macro level and then delve deeper and deeper into the microcosm of a single company and issues such as innovation, business development and idea development.
The pedagogy was advanced and the faculty was keenly aware of the individual ways in which different participants learn and incorporate new knowledge. The teachers were curious about our knowledge and our experiences, which they built on as instruments in the learning process.
What surprised you most about the program?
The playful elements, such as the workshop in operations analysis that included the building of a series of tiny physical vessels to illustrate the complexity and interdependencies of modern industrial operations.
You work in a sector that is not driven primarily by profit, but for the good of the public. Is a business school MBA really suitable for that field?
If there is one sector that needs more rational and analytical thinking, it is the non-profit cultural sector, where decisions are too often based on subjective opinion rather than objective analysis. Public sector operations in the field of culture face a sometimes bewildering array of qualitative objectives as well as the economic restraint that comes from the desire to reduce public expenses. I have found that a strict operations framework often frees up more creativity.
What’s your opinion on your fellow participants?
I have gained a network for life, consisting of people with whom I have gone through fire and water. We became very close during the two years. Many participants came from out of town, which meant that they were able to spend a lot of time with the group every fifth week when they were in town.
How would you sum up the program?
Terribly tough and completely wonderful at the same time. I don’t regret taking it for a second. It’s a very useful education, both on a personal and a professional level.