Alumna in fokus: Elisabeth Styffe
"Network and meet companies as often as you can during the your study time to build your pool of contacts"
Elisabeth Styffe, CEO Alaté AB
Why did you choose Karlstad University?
Karlstad University has a good reputation and graduates from the business and economics programme at the time were extremely satisfied with their studies. The university college had been there for some time but the university was new. The idea of tackling things and hopefully being involved in building and influencing the university and programmes was attractive.
Have you always had an interest in financial issues?
Yes, always. Business and economics provide a broad base of opportunities and a solid foundation regardless of the choices I have made in my professional as well as personal life.
What was your student life like?
Fantastic! I had the opportunity to get to know so many exciting people and companies and also to enjoy the variation of theory and practice, individual study, group work and inspiring lectures. In addition, we could be flexible and at times I both worked and took extra courses to graduate more quickly.
Do you remember anything in particular?
Many of the assignments and cases we had were developed in cooperation with industry so the problems were authentic and topical. When we worked on a case, degree projects etc, we were encouraged to get in contact with a company for input and in this way the practical and theoretical components of the studies were integrated. This is something I have practised for most of my professional life – bench-marking – contacting others with experience of similar problems or challenges.
What do you work with today?
I have run my own company for two years. There are four of us, with Sweden and Norway as our market. We work on finding interior products for companies, primarily in the manufacturing industry, adapted to their present and future operations. Before that I worked in bank and finance in Karlstad and Stockholm for 15 years.
How did your studies prepare you for your career?
I have had great use of much that I studied, probably because I have had so many different professional roles and it was easy to grasp a new role quickly. I have worked with marketing, IT, business development, project management and leadership. Finance, business models, pricing, business case and strategies are important components in all these roles. It is an advantage to understand theoretically what is required and easier to recognise the needs and solve problems with the kind of theoretical background I have. The most useful aspects of studying are that you get a basic structure, get used to reading texts, develop ability to assume roles, assignments and to form an opinion. You get used to working in a group and not hesitating to accept help, and you get used to finding others to solve problems or develop new products and services with.
What is your best tip to students today?
My best tip is to network and meet companies as often as you can while you are studying to build contacts and find out about available roles. Work extra if possible. I worked while studying most of the time and also had contact with a number of other companies to apply what I had learnt. Studying means acquiring the basics. Working means getting input, perspectives and experiences that may be useful in the future. Dare to test, dare to challenge yourself and be open and ready to meet anything new.
As an alumna, can you see yourself cooperating with the university?
Absolutely! Industry and academia need to cooperate much more to ensure that degree programmes are attractive to business and that Värmland and Sweden can recruit the expertise needed. We want more students to feel that they can stay in Värmland and Sweden. My company and all others have an important role in displaying the variation of companies, and our attractiveness as employers currently and for the future. At the same time, we need students to develop, thus ensuring that Swedish companies are competitive on the global market.