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Susanne Holmsäter

Building the future of commerce, BSc and MSc alum Susanne Holmsäter realizes her company’s mission to make commerce better for everyone as Country Lead (Nordics) at Shopify.

Describe your role and what it is that you do overall and on a day-to-day basis.

I’m a Country Lead (Nordics) at Shopify, realizing Shopify’s mission to make commerce better for everyone, with a focus on the Nordics. This includes a variety of tasks such as supporting our product teams as they expand Shopify’s features internationally, enabling our external partners to build and grow with Shopify, localize our offering, launch marketing campaigns and much more. Ultimately it all comes down to empowering our Nordic merchants and making sure Shopify shows up in a way that meets their local needs.


What interested you about the field/company/role you are currently in?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs and love the magic that happens when someone fulfills their professional dreams. I joined the Swedish start-up Tictail back in 2017 because I saw the opportunity to utilize my skills to support entrepreneurship at a larger scale. When we were acquired by Shopify in 2018, that opportunity grew to a whole new level. I’ve always been drawn to work where I can truly see the impact it's having and working at Shopify means being part of a company that supports millions of merchants all around the world. In 2020, Shopify merchants generated $307B+ in global economic impact and supported 3.6M+ jobs, representing the largest workforce in the world. That’s real people and real businesses which Shopify empowers through its vast network of commerce tools.


What excites you most about your work? Where do you think your field is going in the next 5-10 years?

Working with entrepreneurship is at the very heart of what inspires me and that’s where I get a lot of my energy. Seeing companies evolve and flourish on our platform is incredibly rewarding. Since Shopify supports businesses from first sale to full-scale, I have the opportunity to see brands grow from MVP to IPO. In 2021, seven merchants even went public: Allbirds, FIGS, Olaplex, Oatly, AKA Brands, VitaCoco, Flow Hydration.

What also excites me every day is the creative, fast-moving environment in which we operate. Working at Shopify means working at the frontline of an ever-changing commerce landscape. It also means being a part of one of the most innovative and forward-thinking companies out there. As for the future, I really believe the pandemic made us rethink how fast an industry can change. During the past two years, the pandemic exposed the need for businesses to be agile, adaptive, and all-channel. That’s a reality Shopify was already building for. Looking ahead, we see some really interesting trends when it comes to the needs of fostering long-term customer relationships and building a strong social commerce, which is at the center of online shopping for tomorrow’s consumer.


What is it like to work for such a large (and popular) company like Shopify?

Working at Shopify is like being part of an ever unfolding journey. The world changes and so do we, both at a company- and on an individual level. There’s a reason why one of our company's mottos is “thrive on change”; we know we have to keep moving into new, unknown territories and be prepared to change if we want to build a 100 year old company.

On a very personal level, working for Shopify means I get to spend my days with incredible people that I learn a lot from. I get to collaborate with people across so many fields, such as developers, engineers, sales professionals, support, growth hackers and many more. I get to meet employees on a weekly basis from Canada, to Singapore, Poland and Australia, just to mention a few. And I actually “meet” these colleagues in their homes, because working at Shopify means working from home, or actually, from wherever we see fit!

During COVID, the world realized that a centralized physical space isn’t actually a requirement to do impactful work. So back in May 2020, Shopify chose to seize the opportunity, going all in on digital-first work. We steered clear of an opt-in model where employees can choose whether to work from home or the office, which can lead to an uneven playing field when it comes to opportunities and seats at the proverbial table. Because of these decisions, we are now Digital by Design. The freedom and flexibility that comes with this decision has had an incredible impact on the quality of my everyday life. What’s more, it has also allowed us to open up to - literally - hiring anyone, anywhere. This is truly a game changer in building a global company.


What was so appealing about the BSc in Business & Economics Program at SSE when you were considering what to study? Or what was appealing about SSE?

During my high school studies we had the opportunity to meet former students who had graduated and enrolled at different universities in Sweden. One of those presentations was by a student who had enrolled in SSE, and he spoke so passionately about the possibilities that came from pursuing a business & economics degree. Personally, I had always been fascinated by the way economics enables us to understand the world in new ways, from a macro to micro perspective - and how it’s used to analyze human behavior. Once I graduated high school, I was determined to apply to SSE to explore this further.


How did your time/education at SSE help guide you to the career journey you have embarked on?

SSE has been a launchpad for many famous entrepreneurs throughout the years, with companies like Klarna, Voi and Budbee starting their journeys in SSE Business Lab. I involved myself quite early on in this incubator and during my time there, I realized that I thrived in that environment.


Following your time studying, do you have any words of wisdom or advice you would like to share with our current students? 

I actually want to highlight that even if I knew I wanted to study at SSE, I didn’t know what career I wanted to pursue with that degree. I think it’s important to acknowledge this, as I now know just how little I actually knew about my own dreams and future career at that point. Knowing exactly what you want to do when you’re 20 is like finding true love on the first date; it could happen but honestly, don’t count on it to last. An important thing to call out about the BSc at SSE is that it actually allows you to spend time thinking about your future and your career while simultaneously learning about the world of economics - a path that is really wide. For me, my career has involved a lot of trial and error, trying new things to eventually find out what I really enjoy doing. And having the degree in my backpack empowered me to try a variety of really interesting things.


What are three words that sum up your time at SSE?

“I’ll be back.”