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Johan Bäckman Berg

Meet Johan Bäckman Berg – MSc in Accounting, Valuation & Financial Management alum and Vice President of Corporate Development at Joint Academy.

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

As the Vice President (VP) of Corporate Development at Joint Academy, a leading healthtech company specializing in digital physiotherapy solutions, my role is multifaceted. Primarily, I oversee our European expansion efforts and lead the acquisition of physiotherapy clinics, where we deploy our cutting-edge software.

For the past two years, a significant portion of my time has been dedicated to leading our teams, growth and P&Ls across three European markets. This journey has been an invaluable crash course in leadership and driving B2C growth, being through the full circle of hiring to firing. On a typical day, I collaborate closely with my team, providing guidance, monitoring progress, and strategizing our expansion roadmap. However, as the tech industry has shifted its focus towards profitability over rapid growth, this aspect of my role has become less prominent.

Nowadays, the bulk of my work revolves around sourcing, managing, and closing acquisitions of physiotherapy clinics, both in Europe and the United States. These clinics are typically small, entrepreneur-operated businesses, and a considerable amount of time is spent nurturing relationships with the sellers/founders, in addition to the standard due diligence processes inherent to M&A. I find this hands-on, commercial aspect of my work really fun.


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

After completing a year-long traineeship as a LUMA at Kinnevik, where I had the opportunity to work closely with the CEO, I was keen to gain operational experience in a fast-paced company. Kinnevik, being a growth-focused investment firm, had recently invested in Joint Academy.

Truthfully, the startup and healthcare domain was entirely new to me at the time. However, at the time I had problems with a sour back, and I knew of Joint Academy’s app. I tried it out and was really impressed with the results. I could for myself see the potential of receiving structured digital support everywhere you go in an app, as opposed to the traditional approach of scheduling a visit with a physiotherapist, only to leave with a printed exercise sheet and minimal follow-up guidance. Adding to that, after learning more about the company, I was really impressed with the Joint Academy team, the tech platform and got a very interesting role to start with.

But all in all, I guess it is more of a happy coincidence.


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

At SSE I did the Bachelor program and later the Master program in Accounting, Valuation and Financial Management (MAVFM). During my undergrad years, I was really drawn to the overall environment – the academic atmosphere, the driven student body, and the school's strong ties to the business world.

When it came to my Master’s, I was more focused on building practical skills that I could put to use at future jobs. Through internships, I realized how directly applicable the curriculum was to real-world scenarios. I further liked the combination of hard (financial) and softer (managment) skills that the MAVFM provided, and I very much enjoyed the combination of courses like corporate valuation and strategic management control.


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

My Master's degree at SSE really equipped me with some solid hard skills that I've put to use daily. In my role managing the EU expansion, the management aspect of my MAVFM program has been invaluable. Understanding how to track performance, follow up with my team, develop strategies, and execute on them – those learnings were crucial.

Additionally, the financial valuation courses have come in super handy, both during my time at Kinnevik and now when evaluating and acquiring physiotherapy clinics. Being able to properly assess potential acquisitions is a game changer.

But SSE wasn't just about academics. The friends and network I built at the school are maybe more important. I was heavily involved with the student association SASSE, and that whole experience was extremely rewarding. Having that tight-knit community really enriched my overall SSE journey.


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

First off, don't stress too much about doing SSE 'the right way.' It's tempting to give advice like 'do more of this' or 'get involved in that,' but the reality is, everyone's SSE experience is a bit different. I've seen classmates approach studying in vastly different ways (should I focus on studying, working, friends, SASSE, other things?), yet most end up in really interesting and fulfilling places. So my advice is to keep doing what feels right for you, focus on that, and things will likely work out great.

Once you're done with SSE, I really encourage trying out an operational role, working alongside people from different backgrounds compared to yours. It is a lot of fun! There's so much to learn from individuals with different educations, life experiences, and motivations. Plus, your SSE education becomes even more valuable when you bring that perspective to new environments.


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

Fun. Learning. Community.