Twenty-two Darden MBA students, led by Darden faculty member, Andrea Larson, spent a week on a Global Business Experience (GBE) in Stockholm, Sweden in May 2014, investigating the theme of “Sustainability, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Scandinavia.” Students gained insights into the business successes and opportunities associated with products, products, systems and services informed by sustainability principles. Swedish companies and municipalities have pioneered these principles, inspired by realities and parameters of pollution limits, ecological system laws and the conscious human aspiration to reduce if not eliminate social inequities, creating a seedbed of innovation that has influenced markets worldwide.
On the first night of their GBE program in Stockholm, the group had a very unique opportunity to be hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, Mr. Mark Brzezinski, and his wife, Mrs. Natalia Brzezinski, for a panel discussion on “Sustainability & Social Entrepreneurship “at the Ambassadorial Residence. The Brzezinskis arranged for a wonderful panel of successful Swedish entrepreneurs to have a dialogue with our students. The panelist included:
- Sarah McPhee, CEO of Storebrand SPP
- Martin Lorentzon, co-founder & Chairman of the Board for Spotify
- Sebastian Siematowski, founder & CEO Klarna
- Carolina Sachs, Secretary General for Axfoundation
- Ben Gorham, founder and CEO Byredo
In her role as part of an Ambassadorial couple, Mrs. Natalia Brzezinski has worked in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy team to promote women’s empowerment in business, youth engagement on diversity issues and entrepreneurship. As part of these efforts, she has explored in detail Sweden’s high-tech startup scene and innovation ecosystem.
She frequently speaks publicly on the value of both ethnic and gender diversity in business, women’s leadership and how the values of the millennial generation will shape the future workplace. She recently visited Darden in January 2014 to speak with our various student groups on these topics.
Natalia began an interview series with The Huffington Post focusing on Swedish female leaders in politics, business and the arts. She also co-writes with her husband a personal blog on U.S. State Department’s web site, geared to sharing their experiences in Sweden.
Photo courtesy of the Brzezinski’s Blog.