Laura Barceló Bartrolí

Management Consultant

Working in a Swedish company when you are not a Swede: courage or stupidity?

2020-jan-16 20:00:00

It’s 06:00 am. Still pitch dark and cold outside. As a 26-year-old sun lover from a Mediterranean country, these wet autumn days in Stockholm are not at all my kind of vibe. Nonetheless, nothing keeps me from quickly jumping into the shower and getting ready for the day. Excitement. That’s the feeling that has been tingling inside of me since my first week at Centigo, that bursts out every morning when I hear the alarm beeping. I feel so lucky that this is the feeling I associate with my new job – and everything indicates that this excitement is here to stay for a long, long time.

Excitement and nervousness... a good combination?

Nevertheless, I must say that before I started the introduction program at Centigo (the first six weeks of the Consulting Program), I had mixed feelings. There was excitement, but it was merged with a considerable dose of nervousness. I guess you might think now “Well, who’s not nervous before starting a new job?!” Good point. However, in my case my main concern was that in my new job I would be using not my first nor my second, not even my third, but my fourth language: Swedish – a language that I started learning only one year ago. Swedish language at least 8 hours every day, Swedish coworkers every day, Swedish clients every day and Swedish fika (hopefully) every day. I wouldn’t say that scared me, but I would be lying if I said that the thought of it did not worry me at all.

“A non-swede in a company with deep Swedish roots”. That would be me, a small minority in the firm. Moreover, a young employee with a background of studies that is not at all the most ordinary among consultants (not many are familiar with the terms immunotherapies for cancer or immunoglobulins around here…!). Did I make the right decision looking for my first job in Stockholm? Was it stupid to even start working as a consultant, using a language I did not master (yet)? Was I making my life and career too complicated? Maybe. But what can I do? I like challenges – and I embraced this one.

From nervousness... to confidence

That challenge turned out to be an incredible opportunity. So far, I would dare to say that this is one of the best experiences of my life. Centigo has welcomed me with open arms from the first moment, something that I will forever be thankful for. Yes, I speak Swedish every day at least 8 hours, and yes, I am mentally exhausted when I get back home in the evenings. But there is something about the atmosphere at Centigo that is difficult to put in words, something that makes every single one of my days here unique, stimulating and exceptionally enriching. It’s the culture of the company, which is embodied by its people. Ambitious people, bright, true professionals, but at the same time welcoming and warm. Exceptional coworkers.

So yeah, perhaps I made my life complicated when I made the decision to start my career in Stockholm. I guess I will never know how my professional career would have begun if I had moved back home. However, now I know that I made the right choice choosing Centigo. Just the first five weeks at this company have contributed to my personal and professional growth more than I could have ever imagined. A different nationality, different languages, a different background and expertise… All those are elements that make me unique in this company and that I now see as key factors in contributing to value creation as well as diversity. I’m definitely going to keep this feeling of eagerness when the introduction program ends and I start working on client projects. I’m thrilled by the idea of passing on this excitement to the next generations of consultants! And, who knows, will it be you…?

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