Annika Wahlberg MD 2009 - 2012:'Being Managing Director of the Swedish Chamber felt like one of the most enjoyable jobs in the UK'
Since its inception in 1906, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce has grown into one of the largest and most active foreign Chambers in the UK. This year, the Chamber is celebrating its 110th anniversary and this will be acknowledged during the year through articles highlighting the Chamber’s history. In this issue, we feature some of the amazing women of the Chamber’s past and present.
Annika Wahlberg first moved to the UK in the 1980s from Sweden, having spent three happy summers horse riding in Ipswich, Suffolk. She specialised in capital markets, first in a management role for Eurobond borrowers/issuers in the employ of a Japanese bank and subsequently in the Treasury department of a UK bank.
When the bank was taken over by a Spanish competitor, Wahlberg decided it was time to indulge her passion for the countryside and horses by working at the Royal Show, the largest agricultural/equestrian show at the time. She also spent time looking for jobs on the internet that would suit her Swedish profile and she found an advertisement for the Managing Director role at the Chamber. She applied in December 2008 and picked up the reins in early February 2009.
Wahlberg tells The LINK that the main challenge that the Chamber faced while she was director was the financial crisis and the cost-cutting consequences this had on business.
“Despite this, Members were very supportive of the Chamber and we managed to increase numbers of Members, income and the number of patrons supporting the Chamber”.
Wahlberg says that she remembers the Chamber with warmth, gratitude, and a smile.
“There are so many happy memories, the collaboration with the Council members, volunteers, companies, and other Swedish organisations allowed us to achieve so much on a small budget, and last but not least the creativity of the staff, scholars and trainees was something from which I learnt a huge amount and which made every day a pleasure to go to work.”
There are many opportunities and benefits to being a leader if this is what you wish for, according to Wahlberg.
“The main challenge as a female leader is probably being heard and resisting our perhaps natural tendency to manage hands-on rather than to lead by listening and providing advice/coaching.”
Since leaving the Chamber, Wahlberg has held a number of fixed term roles and worked as a consultant, while studying and pursuing her many interests in her spare time. First, she returned to capital markets by working for an international trade association looking after its Members engaged in asset and investment management.
“After that I helped put some structure into the UK Crowdfunding Association and most recently a short stint at the University of Cambridge and its Centre for Alternative Finance in a corporate engagement role,” Wahlberg says.
And the future seems open for adventures to come.
“I have just made one dream come true, by moving from London to West Berkshire, where I lived in the late 80s and 90s and I couldn’t be happier living in a small village with the countryside on my doorstep. I’m also managing to spend a few weeks each summer in the Stockholm archipelago with my family and would like to take the day skipper exam,“says Wahlberg.
Now on the lookout for a new challenge involving people, products and projects in her local area, she wants to stay active and continue to pursue her hobbies in her spare time.
“I’m a firm believer in fate, so will just have to search the internet again for Swedish/jobs/UK again and see what comes up.”