Day 1 - Stockholm
After 10+ hours of flights, our day of travel ended with a full out sprint across the Amsterdam airport desperately trying to make our final connecting flight to Stockholm. The photo below of our good friend Andres Rivera shows the aftermath of said sprint. The effort proved to be worth it as we made it to the great country of Sweden ready to hit the ground running.
Once getting settled in our hotel that offers an exquisite water front view of the connection between the Baltic Sea and Lake Malaren, all of us students gathered together after an afternoon of walking around and getting our bearings to celebrate with a quick lunch and crisp, Swedish draft. Many laughs were had as we desperately tried to fight off jet lag while at the same time trying to pronounce (with no luck at all) the Swedish foods and beers to our servers.
We then went on a panoramic tour of the city visiting several of the 14 total islands that make up the city. Our tour guide was able to tell us the ins and outs of each of the areas and how they’ve changed over time. We were able to get off the bus at many stops to get a closer look at buildings/monuments and we even got to spend some time at a local beach nicknamed “coco cabana.”
Our first full day ended with the whole group sharing in some traditional Swedish cuisines at a restaurant called Bla Dorren. We then called it an early night to catch up on some sleep as many of us have been up for over 30 straight hours. It was well worth the lack of sleep and we’re ready to take on tomorrow with full force.
Day 2 - Stockholm
The first day of company visits began with breakfast at the Hilton Slussen Hotel. As many from the group can attest, this meal was definitely a step up from common hotel breakfast in the US, offering the staples of eggs, bacon, and waffles alongside a large variety of bread, a custom omelette station, and even a juicer for fresh pear and apple juice.
The first event of the day consisted of hosting a guest speaker from the American Chamber of Commerce in Sweden - Randy T. Gosda, Communications Director. Randy came to speak on business investment trends in Sweden as well as shed some light on the differences between operating a business in Sweden and the United States; these insights were a valuable introduction to the country and set some context to the rest of the Sweden visit.
After lunch, the group traveled to the ElectroLux headquarters to learn about the company’s history, sustainability efforts, and response to current global supply chain challenges. Presenters included: Jorgen Karlsson, Responsible Sourcing Manager; Harvard Jorgensen, VP Group Operations Supply Chain Development; and Anders Marklund, Corporate Finance Director, Group Treasury. The group was amazed to learn that the company developed the first interactive screen fridge as well as a Roomba-like automated vacuum cleaner - called the Trilobite - both over 20 years ago!
The day formally ended with a group dinner at Aifur Restaurang. This restaurant delivers a full Viking dinner experience, complete with mead, reindeer heart cold cuts, Nordic toasts, and live folk-style music played on a variety of stringed and wind instruments. This glimpse into Nordic history was the perfect way to wrap up a full day of travel and business insights!
Day 3 - Stockholm
Today we started the day with a visit at Carlsberg beverage company where we learned all about their strong sustainability initiatives and diverse product line. We even left the day with some tasty samples. The Mall of Scandinavia was our next stop for some lunch and light shopping before our next company visit. We then met with Skanska and learned all about the various company certifications and many of their major projects. Their impact from Sweden to America really found connections with many of us. After we finished up our company visits we then grabbed some groceries, admired the beautiful views, ate burgers with forks and knives, and had to stop for some delicious Carlsberg lagers.
Day 4 - Stockholm
On Saturday, our group was able to experience a Viking tour. We first began by looking at the runes the Vikings the left behind, which were memorial stones. We then made several stops at Viking settlements, where there were churches which dated back to around 1000 AD. Many were still standing; however, some were unfortunately in ruins. Later in the day, we visited a reconstructed farm that allowed us to see how the Vikings may have lived back in time.
Day 5 - Stockholm
We started our free day by sleeping in and getting a later than usual hotel breakfast before starting an exciting day. At noon we met up as a group and headed down to the Crazy Horse pub to enjoy some local libations before a sold out rivalry soccer match between Hammarby and AIK. Surrounded by other fans, we enjoyed a very unique atmosphere at the pub, on the train to the arena, and around the stadium with fans cheering their teams chants before the match. Making a stop at the merchandise stand, the group made sure to purchase apparel to support the home team, Hammarby. Inside the arena we experienced something greater, an atmosphere where thousands of fans cheered on their team through organized chants that echoed throughout the stadium. It was an exhilarating, high scoring game that ended 3-3. We all had a great time and needless to say, we will be Hammarby fans for life. To end the day, we enjoyed a dinner together at the local crepe restaurant with many sweet and savory options to satisfy everyone.
Day 6 - Linköping
Today, we left Stockholm and departed for Linköping. Unfortunately, this meant that we had to leave our wonderful tour guide, Annalee, as well. Thank you Annalee!! We traveled to Linköping via train, allowing us to view the full countryside of Sweden, consisting of numerous lakes and large swaths of farmland. There are actually 96,000 lakes in Sweden, which is incredible considering that the country is roughly the same size as California. Upon arriving to Linköping, we traveled by coach to tour around the city and surrounding regions. We began by touring the regional lakes and canals—one of which had 7 locks! We then walked around the open air museum of Gamla Linköping (gamla can be translated to old). Gamla Linköping consists of numerous houses and stores moved out of the main city for preservation. After Gamla Linköping, we visited the Linköping Cathedral, which is the second largest Lutheran Cathedral in Sweden. Although originally constructed as a Catholic cathedral, it was reformed into a Lutheran one under King Gustav I. We ended our day with an excellent dinner at Alfama, which is a local Portuguese restaurant.
Day 7 - Linköping
Today began bright and early with our best breakfast yet. We had just packed our things from our one-night stay in the Clarion Collections Hotel in Linkoping, and after having our first meal we hopped on the bus to head to Tekniska Verken, a municipally owned company that made its profit turning the city's waste into heat and energy. While the smell may have been unpleasant, the plant itself was very impressive. We met with Henrik (research engineer) & Johan (public affairs manager) who walked us through several presentations discussing everything from the company's vision to the technical process behind turning yesterday's leftovers into tomorrow's biofuel.
After finishing up at Tekniska Verken, we hopped back on our swanky blue bus and headed to the train station to catch a 3 and a half hour ride to Copenhagen. Naturally, most of us enjoyed this scenic trip by napping; sorely feeling the effects of the lack of our daily fika (coffee break). We were greeted by Joanna, our guide for the week, and proceeded to take a mini tour on our way to the Phoenix Hotel. It was on this ride that Joanna insisted we check out the canal, which is a popular swimming/hangout spot for tourists and locals alike. We dropped off our things, changed into our swimsuits, and headed down to check out the hype.
While we knew the water wouldn't be toasty, we didn't expect it to be as cold as it was. Jumping in took the breath out of your lungs, and made sitting outside in the wind and 60 degree air feel like a hottub. Once we had our fix, we walked back to the Phoenix to get ready for dinner. While I regrettably cannot remember the name of the restaurant, no one could deny that it was incredibly classy. All-in-all, a fantastic first day in Denmark, and we're all looking forward to the rest of the week.
Day 8 - Copenhagen
Today we started off by taking a trip out of the city to visit Rockwool Group. Rockwool manufactures stone wool by melting basalt and other components to create a cotton-candy-like material that is used in construction. I really enjoyed hearing from Anthony Abbot, Director of Group Public Affairs and Sustainability, especially regarding their Rockcycle reverse-logistics and recycling program, which allows them to collect and repurpose old Rockwool as a raw material in other products. They’ve also started a brand called Grodan which is using this technology in agriculture by creating blocks of substrate that allow plants to grow in a water-efficient medium. I’m excited to see these brands and their sustainability efforts grow in the US!
Next we headed on a guided tour around the city center. We saw The Little Mermaid statue by the water, Amalienborg and the queen’s garden, the Nyhavn canal area, Christianborg Palace and the Royal Library, and ended our tour outside of Tivoli Gardens, the third oldest active amusement park and inspiration for the Disney Parks. For lunch I stopped at the Tivoli Food Hall and had two Smørrebrøds for lunch. These are open-face rye bread sandwiches topped with cold cuts, fish, meatballs, and other garnishes, and they’re very traditional in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Afterwards I joined some of my peers in the park, and we had a great time experiencing Tivoli! We even got to see a parade of Lamborghini’s in the park before taking the pedestrian street back to our hotel for an afternoon snooze.
After waking up, we found a local pizza joint and enjoyed our pies on the terrace at our hotel. We spent some time discussing the activities of the day, and spent an even more considerable amount of time figuring out the best way to eat a slice of pizza. Iguess that’s just the engineer in all of us. We wrapped up the day with a journey to find karaoke, where we sang and danced before heading back for a good night’s rest.
- Chase French, UK MBA ‘22
Day 9 - Copenhagen
We first visited Digital Hub Denmark. We talked about the public software that is available to all citizens. Over 2000 free services offered. These services allow people from around the world to be quick introduced to Denmarks culture and digital ecosphere. They match Denmark talent with companies who are trying to solve the worlds problems.
Denmark has public service to fill taxes. The bank and government are connected and it takes less than 10 minutes to do your taxes.
This has been the first time I have ever been out of the country. What has been the largest surprise for me has been the size of Denmark / Sweden and the Nordic culture. (5.8 million & 10.4 million people). With the higher tax rates there are more resources for government program especially ones that are focused on children. Free education from kindergarten to college and healthcare till you’re 18. During our visit to Denmark Digital Hub Mikkel mentioned that people in Denmark and Sweden are willing to take a little bit larger of a risk when starting a company compared to Americans because your children’s ability to go to college does not depend on your financial situation.
Day 10 - Copenhagen
We started out the day with a yummy hotel breakfast and then headed straight to Maersk’s international headquarters. In our meeting, we spoke with employees both from data analytics and sustainability where they informed us that in addition to the company’s shipping business, they’re expanding into logistics to better serve their customers. They spoke on their current ESG strategies, their path to becoming carbon neutral by 2040, and how they’re making those decisions in the most data driven way possible via analytics and hopefully eventually AI.
We then hopped back on our bus, grabbed a change of clothes at the hotel, and headed to a local market for lunch where I grabbed some meatballs, potatoes, salad and the cutest (and yummiest) strawberries I’ve ever had (see below).
After that, we did a quick tour around the Royal rose gardens and the Danish King’s summer house (or should I say castle complete with its own moat) - to us it’s hardly a summer house as it’s in the middle of the city but when it was built back in the 1600s the area was rolling countryside!
After that, we spent an hour or two in the Danish National Art Museum where we wandered about looking at both classical and modern pieces from French, Danish, and other European artists.
We hopped back on the bus and headed back toward the hotel for a famed canal tour, where we saw all the sights we had begun to become familiar with from the water. The bridges here are so low that you can touch them when you pass under!
After the tour we booked dinner at a local restaraunt on the canal and enjoyed lobster, cod, and steak, and of course French fries with a Danish twist. 10/10 day!
Day 11 - Copenhagen
Our group slept in a bit later since we had a free day and then decided to go check out the bungee jumping at the end of the canal. Only one person planned on doing it, but five of us ended up doing it. It was a ton of fun and gave a great view of the city before jumping.
After bungee jumping, some of us went to a little market nearby called Reffen. It is a vibrant area that has had shipping containers refurbished into market stalls. There were a ton of restaurant choices for us to pick from. I got a steak sandwich, Korean BBQ chicken sandwich, and a crepe.
We had a group dinner together to close out the trip. Our guide Johana took us to a local place called Puk. It was a wonderful time to decompress after traveling together for two weeks.