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Astrid Lindquist

Meet Astrid Lindquist  – Investment Associate at Summa Equity and MSc in Finance alum.

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

The short and very formal way of describing my role would be to say that I am an Investment Associate at a private equity (PE) firm called Summa Equity. Summa Equity invest across three core themes aligned with the United Nations sustainable development goals (UN SDGs). These are ‘Resource Efficiency’, ‘Tech Enabled Transformation’ and ‘Changing Demographics’ and I am currently focusing my work on the third one.

Now, that might not be too informative for someone currently in school. To be a bit more concrete, a PE investor role entails not only the ‘classic’ financial activities that you might associate with an investment position such as modelling and deal structuring. It also involves plenty of additional activities across other fields. For instance, there is a significant focus on the commercial and operational side, involving activities like understanding what growth opportunities there are for a certain portfolio company and how those are best pursued. It is safe to say that operational levers like these play an increasingly important role in the value creation work of most PE firms as it is no longer enough to rely on pure financial engineering to generate sufficient returns.

In addition to the financial & commercial side, legal and governance activities play a huge role as well as it is crucial to establish mutually beneficial contracts with each portfolio company and that the management teams that we collaborate with have incentives that are aligned with ours. All in all, the main take-away is that it is unusual that a day at work involves the same set of activities as the day before. You’ll have to try pretty hard if you want to get bored.


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

I feel that it would make little sense to dedicate my career to something that doesn’t contribute positively to the SDGs in the long term. We face a plethora of serious challenges across the ESG spectrum and those are challenges that we have to address (ironically enough, we sometimes act like we have a choice). This is probably not the first time you hear this and it might come across as a bit gloomy, but it’s not. If you think about it, these challenges will necessitate a lot of new ideas and require a substantial amount of change to take place. That notion holds true across essentially all industries. Inherent to the strive of achieving this change is an unlimited amount of super interesting opportunities. To kick in a door that might already be open for some, an investment strategy focused on capturing these opportunities is not only about doing good but is also absolutely key to generate superior returns. I’m convinced that this will only become increasingly true during the coming decades. Sustainability is not a ‘nice to have’ or a marketing tool, it makes sense for both our world and the returns of our funds.

Now, there are surely plenty of ways in which you could become a driving force in achieving the changes necessary to reach our SDGs. A role at a PE firm is fortunately not the only way. But for me, an active investor role provides me with an opportunity to focus on the things that I find the most fun and impactful. At SSE, I really enjoyed the courses in Accounting, Finance and Macroeconomics. By working part-time in parallel to my studies at a Swedish fund management firm (Enter Fonder) and by setting up and managing my own little private brokerage account (disclaimer: an account with an incredibly low AUM and varying success), I grew an increasingly strong interest in investments specifically. During my subsequent position at BCG as a consultant, it was the close collaboration with management teams on various strategic issues that I found the most rewarding. An active investor role at Summa Equity offers all those things in one fine package!


Why did you choose to study your subject area at SSE?

What I love more than anything is when things truly make sense. I was therefore naturally drawn to the Finance and Accounting field, or most of the fields that revolved around some type of quantitative element really. In other words, the very short answer would be that I went for the fields that I felt I performed best in, which was also (probably not coincidental) the ones that I found the most fun and rewarding.


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

SSE has a crazy high concentration of exceptionally ambitious and driven people. Although it sounds super cliché, that environment helped me to quickly pick up on different career tracks and how they could be pursued. But perhaps more importantly, SSE provided me with the opportunity to really nerd out on and become skilled in the subject areas that I enjoyed the most. During my Bachelor's, I studied great courses in Finance and Accounting which really allowed me to understand these topics in depth.  During my subsequent MSc in Finance, I met a super inspiring professor during a course in PE whom I also later had the opportunity to write my master thesis for. I think back to the things that I learned during that course on a regular basis in my current role at Summa Equity and I believe that it was during that semester that I cemented that an investment position in PE could really be something for me (shoutout to Per Strömberg!).


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

From time to time, I felt a bit anxious at SSE. If I could go back and speak to the 19-year-old me, I would give myself a pat on the back, cut myself some slack and laugh at some of the things that caused those feelings of anxiousness. This wouldn’t have been too helpful though. What would have been helpful however, is if someone had told me to let go of the imposter syndrome. If you feel that something feels interesting, go for it before you have the chance to invent any reasons not to. You don’t have to know everything about an internship or an industry in advance, an interest in finding out more suffices. Search on Linkedin for someone that holds or has held a similar position and ask them if they can tell you more and help you prepare over a cup of coffee. They will be happy to help, and no one will expect you to show up as an expert. Just prepare all the seemingly stupid questions that you can think of (spoiler alert: nobody will think that you’re stupid, they might not even know the answers to the questions themselves) and go for it.


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

Redundant imposter syndrome. 😊