Last spring, I graduated from upper secondary school. As the Swedish tradition dictates, my family and friends gathered at my house to celebrate my graduation – and the table of gifts started to grow. Cookbooks, plates, glasses, paintings and candlesticks. You probably know the deal; beautiful things that contribute to the fear of growing up. But one of these gifts caught my eye. One of my fathers friends gave me a book named Sveriges nya miljardärer (Sweden’s New Billionaires), such a catchy title. To my great disappointment, all of the businesspeople in this book had their degrees from universities such as Stockholm School of Economics, Uppsala University and some of the international, prestigious, top tier universities such as Harvard University and Stanford University…
Lund University is one of the world’s top 100 universities (among the top 0.4% of the world’s universities) and the most popular university in Sweden for international students. It’s ranked 97 in QS World University Rankings by TopUniversities and has an overall score of 4.2 stars, according to student reviews on Studyportals (Study in Sweden, 2021). I am still confused why the book, that I mentioned in the introduction, choose not to highlight some of Lund University’s success stories?
… So I did some research and realized that there are so many successful people out there, whose histories began at Lund University. Let me introduce you to some of Lund’s inspiring and successful business stories (some general education) that you really should know about!
Olof Stenhammar, Bertil Hult and Cristina Stenbeck are three entrepreneurs who began their businesses after their graduation from Lunds University. Olof Stenhammar holds an honorary doctorate degree in Philosophy and Economics from Lund University. He is an entrepreneurial derivatives exchange executive who founded OM (Optionsmäklarna) in 1984 to introduce stock options in Sweden and led the exchange as it became a pioneer in electronic trading (Fia, 2005). OMX AB was created in 2003 upon a merger between OM AB and HEX (Helsinki Stock Exchange). In 2015, OMX AB was renamed Nasdaq AB, but it also operates under the alias Nasdaq OMX AB.
Bertil Hult founded EF Education first at the age of 23 in the basement of his university dormitory in Lund. During Hult’s supervision, EF Education grew to become a multi-billion dollar corporation with more than 40 000 employees across 500 schools and educational programs in 53 different countries. Today, EF Education continues to open language schools around the world and grow its online language school.
Cristina Stenbeck is a prominent business leader and entrepreneur. Cristina completed her Bachelor’s degree in Science in 2000 graduating from Georgetown University, in Washington D.C. She also studied Swedish at Lund University and has since returned many times, not least to meet the students at Lund University School of Economics and Management. In an introduction to one of her lectures at LUSEM, the students got to take part in the following presentation: “She shouldered the responsibility of the Kinneviks Group during her young years, and has been highly skilled in developing and consolidating the Group, which today has operations in more than 80 countries spread over six continents. With great courage, knowledge and energy, Ms Stenbeck has further developed Kinnevik into a modern global group and has demonstrated how leadership in owner-led companies and groups can be combined with engagement and social responsibility.”
Swedbank’s former CEO, Jan Lidén (Degree of Master of Science in Business and Economics), graduated from Lund University when he was 24 years old. Macroeconomics was what he found most interesting. Swedbank’s current CEO, named Jens Henriksson, was born in Lund in 1967 and has two degrees from Lund University. Jens studied business and economics at Lund University School of Economics and Management and electrical engineering at LTH. Before he became the CEO of Swedbank, he was a CEO at Folksam, and before that a CEO at NASDAQ OMX in Stockholm.
The current CEO of Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB), Johan Torgeby, holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Lund University School of Economics and Management. Johan has more than 20 years of banking and financial services experience and has previously worked at Morgan Stanley & Co in London.
Handelsbanken Group’s CEO, named Carina Åkerström, studied law at Lund University. Carina’s career at Handelsbanken spans over 30 years. She became executive vice-president in 2008 and CEO in 2019. In 2020, she was named the most powerful woman in business (“näringslivets mäktigaste kvinna”), by Dagens Industri.
It feels like the list could go on for hundreds of pages. These are just a few, a small selection of all the people that could have been addressed in this article. Annie Lööf, Anders Tegnell, Maria Kulle, Johan Glans, Hans Mosesson (ICA-stig) and David Batra also started their careers at Lund University. And who knows… Maybe you are the one that will be listed as one of the most successful people from Lund University in the future. Some day, I would like to write a new book, inspired by Sveriges nya miljardärer, but include all of the amazing, successful people mentioned in this article. And maybe even you.