Susanne Svensdotter
Distance Learning MBA (2018-20)

When I started my MBA studies, I did not have a clear idea of what I wanted to do after graduation. I did want a career change, and I planned to use my studies to discover which subjects would interest me. I come from a hard core technical background with a PhD and 25 years of experience in Mechanical Engineering, however, I felt that I needed to learn about the world outside of technology. It turned out that I liked a lot of the modules and I found it impossible to pick out a favourite. I am a natural Jack-of-all-trades, interested in a vast number of topics, so during my studies I made the decision to at least narrow down my industrial sectors of interest.

I graduated in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and my sector of preference was hit very hard. I have therefore not yet done my career change and I am pursuing two main short-term ideas for future positions and one long-term. Short-term, one possibility is to stay in my current organisation, in a role connected to the subject of my dissertation as this was very well received within my company. The second short-term career idea is to move to an organisation in my sector of preference, emphasising my expertise in Process Excellence and R&D. My long-term career plan is to create a portfolio career, supporting start-ups as a board member. I am a great fan of life-long learning and I have recently joined the organisation Women On Boards to learn how to be an effective board member.

I am extensively networking, both within my organisation and outside of it. For example, I am in contact with a couple of recruiters, and I have done several interviews with organisations of interest. I am carefully studying every organisation that I have spoken to because I want to make sure that I agree with the company culture. I prefer to take my time for this, and I have not hesitated to say no to an organisation that I felt was not right for me.

In parallel, I do a lot of voluntary work. I am active in the WBS Social Learning Platform, where I have participated in a panel discussion on Diversity and Inclusion, moderated another panel discussion on the role of Sales during the pandemic, and I am currently preparing a presentation on Lean Six Sigma and related techniques. I find it great to keep in contact with fellow WBS students and alumni. My WBS contacts have for example given me the opportunity to give a seminar about Cultural Diversity and Inclusion to the Xavier Institute of Management, India, which I found very enriching.

The themes for my other voluntary work are linked to my interests and ideas for future careers.

  • I am involved in a French organisation (EllesBougent) aiming to encourage young girls to choose STEM as a career. For this organisation, I give speeches to schools, and I mentor girls at innovation events. In the same field, I have given an interview to the organisation Ignited Thinkers, discussing why I enjoy STEM and what advice I could give students of today
  • I am a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society and serve as the Diversity representative for the Paris Branch. As such, I am organising events promoting inspiring ladies within the Aviation and Aerospace sectors
  • For the Women In Aerospace – Europe organisation, I have participated in writing a White paper on the skills gap in Aerospace and I am active in our virtual networking events.
  • I am interested in supporting education and I will be shortly joining the board of a charity supporting education in Kenya
  • I have found (to my great surprise) that there are many young students and graduates who are interested in hearing about my career experiences, and I have done several one-to-one meetups to talk about my career.

The pandemic has opened new possibilities for distance working and distance connecting, which I am planning to use to my advantage. I am enlarging my geographical area of interest for both job searches and voluntary work. I think that in a very unusual time, such as we are experiencing now, it is important to keep up your motivation and good spirits while still accepting that things might be moving a bit slower than during “normal” times.