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The CEOs of Handelsbanken, SEB and Swedbank on their student life in Lund and the USP for a career in banking

Johan Torgeby, Carina Åkerström and Jens Henriksson are all CEOs of major banks – and alumni from Lund! Watch the webinar with them any time!

Find your unique selling point – and enjoy your studies and your studentlife. That were some of the advice and topics that were touched upon on the webinar “From Lund to leaders – Meet the CEOs of Handelsbanken, SEB and Swedbank” on 13 April. The CEOs also talked about science-based targets and actions for banking. Watch the full webinar whenever you like to learn more!

”We long for Lund! Lundagård, the Carnival, Ekonomicentrum! The joy of living in a corridor, together with all sorts of people reading law, medicine, geology, philosophy. Don’t only deliver on the grades. Engage in politics, in the nations. Have fun and enjoy it!”

The words are Jens Henriksson’s, the CEO of Swedbank, but could come from any of the CEOs that participated in the webinar. The joy of Lund was tangible, and the memories as well as thoughts and good advice for all interested in the future of banking, were plenty.

Quotes from the talk on education and careers

Jens Henriksson, Swedbank:

”When I hire people, what you are looking for, is a degree. It doesn’t really matter in which subject, as long as you have finished your studies. If you are approached by a company in your last semester and offered a job; don’t do it. Finish your degree. In this talk, we are one engineer, one lawyer, one economist and we are all CEOs of large banks. It doesn’t matter that much what you have studied, as long as you have enjoyed it.

My best advice is also that you should do something else on the side, something that will be your unique selling point when looking for a job! Also, be good at what you do. Because then you will be interesting for a bank. Work hard and deliver. In the end somebody will see that and you will raise within the bank. And when you become a boss, hire people that are smarter than you. Create an environment where the best idea might win.”

Carina Åkerström, Handelsbanken:

”Banks are open for different opportunities and different careers: IT, investment, law, digital, retail and others. When you are progressing in work-life, my best advice is that you be curious, be brave and from time to time – that you move outside your comfort zone. If you can handle that, it will give you opportunities. And, having a good boss will help.

Also, to embrace the technology is not bad when moving forward. To have a great understanding for that, is not wrong.”

Johan Torgeby, SEB:

”You need a passion for what you do, and a passion to perform. It is so obvious when you start at a workplace, who has it and who hasn’t it. Stamina vs IQ is also underestimated. We all get problems in life, but it the ones that stand up again when knocked down, that are the ones that won’t give up.

If I were to change anything about my studies, I would have taken a course in rhetoric. The power of communication cannot be underestimated. I would also have taken more math.

In sustainability actions, it is the general insightfulness of people that drives the change. And then others will follow.”

PM Nilsson, Dagens industri:

”Join the student papers, like Lundagård here in Lund. Confront the student politicians. Don’t hesitate to get on board to big media companies in Stockholm.

I wish I had studied more languages, like Spanish or French. When I hire people I look for the one thing that is something different, not just the degree in the basic subject. Languages can be such a thing. That is very important, I think.”

About the participants

Carina Åkerström is President and CEO of Handelsbanken and studied law at Lund University. Carina’s career at Handelsbanken spans over 30 years. She became executive vice-president in 2008 and CEO in 2019. In 2020, she was named the most powerful woman in business (“näringslivets mäktigaste kvinna”), by Dagens Industri.

Jens Henriksson is President and CEO of Swedbank since 2019. Jens studied business and economics at Lund University School of Economics and Management and electrical engineering at LTH. Jens has previous experience as CEO of Folksam as well as NASDAQ OMX in Stockholm. 

Johan Torgeby is President and CEO of Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB) since 2017. Johan holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Lund University School of Economics and Management. Johan has more than 20 years of banking and financial services experience and has previously worked at Morgan Stanley & Co in London.

PM Nilsson is political editor at Dagens Industri and studied law and political science at Lund University. Starting his career as editor for the renowned student magazine Lundagård, PM has continued his journalistic journey at Expressen as well as Bonnier AB. PM moderated the talk.