Business Unit Manager at Evidensia Djursjukvård
While I spend a lot of time networking and setting up lunches for this blog, sometimes a new person pops into your connections almost serendipitously. And the more time I spend building a life in Stockholm, the more I come to think of how much our connections are reliant on chance encounters. Lunch with this Boss Lady was an example of such a connection.
For some time I have been using a fantastic little app called Lunchback. I stumbled across this app and its team perhaps 6-12 months earlier at Sweden Demo Day and as soon as I heard the pitch I was sold. Take my money now.
If you don’t know Lunchback, it’s a professional networking app that, with a list of people within your geographical area, let’s you book a lunch within a couple of clicks. They also have an additional subscription-based service called Magic that uses AI to book a weekly lunch for you. I’m a regular user of both and while I always enjoy the lunches I book myself, somehow the Magic bot always makes better picks than I do. It’s genius.
Now if you’re wondering what’s the big whoop about a networking app? There are in fact a million out there so it’s not like I didn’t have a choice before Lunchback. I think what I am finding so great (and important) about this app is the access it gives to people of all professions, at all levels of seniority. Granted, people need to create their own Lunchback account so it’s not a directory in the same way LinkedIn is but the ease at which I can connect with someone for lunch is unparalleled.
If you’re born and raised in Sweden, accessibility to professionals might not be an issue for you but that’s why I think this app is so important at least for the expat community. It’s well documented how difficult it is for foreigners to find and establish a network of their own and I truly believe Lunchback helps break down those barriers, one lunch at a time.
So, did I meet Evelina on Lunchback? Well, no actually. I met her boyfriend.
We jump into rapid conversation about all things content marketing as Nils is working on a startup of his own called Delibr. Eat 52 Lunches popped up naturally as a part of that conversation and I asked him, did he know any amazing Boss Ladies that I could talk to? He came up with a couple of names and the one of most interest happened to be his girlfriend. With enthusiasm, he messaged her right away and introduced the two of us. That’s the other remarkable thing about Lunchback; the people you meet are so friendly, so open and so willing to help.
Evelina and I were to meet at Egoïste, a cafe/restaurant at Mood Gallerian. I had really fond memories of this place because it was one of the very first cafes I had been to on a short yet fateful visit to Stockholm. That was three years ago and I had only returned once or twice. I was looking forward to returning, this time with a Boss Lady.
The time we had for our lunch was probably the shortest in comparison to the other Boss Ladies but that didn’t stop us from digesting a lot of conversation in just 45 minutes. This Boss Lady also happened to be the youngest of anyone I’d lunched with so I was extremely curious to hear about her experience of being a young woman in a senior leadership position.
Shadowing for success
We kick off the lunch by talking about her current role but since I don’t have too many connections within the animal health sector, I need an explainer on what her role entails on a daily basis at Evidensia Djursjukvård.
“I’m responsible for 10 animal hospitals and clinics in the mid to northern region of Sweden – that means both the personnel and the organisational results.” explains Evelina.
I’m curious to know what the career progression has been like for Evelina given her young age. Is this the first senior managerial role Evelina has been in or has she come from a line of managerial experiences?
My first role was as a trainee where I got to shadow the CEO for a period of seven months.
“Before joining Evidensia I spent five years within the banking industry at Swedbank. My first role was as a trainee where I got to shadow the CEO for a period of seven months.”
That level of accessibility to the CEO of a powerful organisation impresses me and I ask her what kind of tasks she was involved in. I crossed my fingers and hoped she didn’t have to be the office gopher, fetching coffees and dry cleaning. To my relief, her traineeship got her stuck into strategical projects, quantitative and qualitative analysis. I don’t know about you but a traineeship with the CEO of Swedbank beats any internship I’ve ever done.
From there, Evelina joined Swedbank as a full-time team member, becoming a project manager and management advisor. Within two years, she was promoted to branch manager where she lead her team for just over two years. Those cumulative experiences are what gave her the management experience for Evidensia, and someone 10 or 15 years her senior.
P’s get degrees but internships land jobs
We get our meals and dig in, knowing that this lunch has a deadline. In between mouthfuls, I ask Evelina what her educational background is because I get the sense that even as a student, she was someone that got ahead of the pack early.
I studied industrial engineering and management at KTH and while I was there I got involved in as many internships as I could...
“I studied industrial engineering and management at KTH and while I was there I got involved in as many internships as I could, and I did my master thesis at Deloitte.”
Those internships included big name brands like Scania and NCC. But it was towards the end of her degree that Evelina really got the chance to explore her potential as a recipient of the Future Female Award.
Awarded to a female engineering student for the past 14 consecutive years, the Future Female Leader Award was given to Evelina in 2009 because of her mature attitude towards leadership and career. So what did the prize include? “The Future Female Leader Award meant that I was able to take my pick of three internships from companies like Scania, AstraZeneca, Ericsson, Sandvik, Electrolux, Skanska, Fortum and TeliaSonera. I chose to spend the next 18 months interning at Skanska, Electrolux, and Ericsson.”
While I’ve not interned at such high profile companies like Evelina has, undertaking an internship while studying is a similarity we do share. I always had my heart set on doing internships before graduating because to me, it was the surest way to secure yourself a job come graduation. Yet not everybody does an internship and we talk about why that is as we both agree that there are no drawbacks in gaining practical experience. Perhaps it’s competitiveness for the spots? Perhaps it’s isolated locations? Perhaps it’s a financial issue?
Judge on results, not age
We circle back to her current role and I start to move the conversation into a direction that tackles her experience as a young woman in a managerial role that, at times, is done via correspondence. Has Evelina ever experienced difficulty in managing her team because of her age? She reflects on the question and explains that yes, when she first started her role, her age probably was a factor.
Don’t judge me on my age. Judge me on the results we get together.
I can relate quite closely on this topic because I have been in situations where my age caused conflict within a team. There’s nothing worse than being doubted in your competence simply because of your age and I believe that that situation is a product of company culture.
So how did Evelina overcome it? “When I first started, I was very quick to communicate with my teams that yes, I was young, but don’t judge me on my age. Judge me on the results we get together.”
With that perspective, it’s clear that her mature attitude was why she won the FFLA award just two years prior. It also illustrates what aspiring Boss Ladies need to be very good and fast at doing; communicating with your team. Being quick to lay the law means that you can get to the task at hand faster, and by consequence, success.
We wind up our lunch and its bittersweet that we finish up our lunch – I could happily stay chatting to Evelina for another couple of hours but with so much great, practical insight from this Boss Lady, this lunch needed to be documented yesterday.
You can follow or connect with Evelina on LinkedIn.