Navigating the beginning of a career

5 January 2022

The professional world can be hard to navigate for a young person in the beginning of their career. The Link met with Jan Olsson, CEO of Deutsche Bank Nordics and Chairman of the SCC, to get his best advice on how to lay the foundation for a successful career. “It is easy to live with success, but it is very difficult to live with failure. The best advice I have ever gotten was to learn how to deal with difficult situations.”

To leave university and entering the professional world can be an overwhelming experience for many. Looking back at his own experience, Jan wishes he had been advised to be better prepared. “The transition from university to the professional world didn’t come easy for me at first. At university, you have the benefit of selection; you can choose what classes you would like to take according to subject and professor, and you are your own boss. In the professional world, you can’t always choose, there are hierarchies, and you have someone else deciding for you. There is a whole other social infrastructure, but eventually you learn, and you adapt.”

3 initial steps
Jan explains that it is important to identify your own strengths and weaknesses to really find your position in the professional landscape. “The first thing I would do is to make an analysis of myself to make sure what abilities I have, and don’t have, and to be honest with myself about that. Although it is hard to accept for some, you cannot be good at everything. So, identify what set of skills you have, and then position yourself.”

The next step is to act on those new insights. “After doing the analysis, take it into execution phase by selecting a profession that fits those abilities. The third and final step is to go wide, use multiple architectures by applying for many jobs at once. I would say, the harder you try, the luckier you will get,” says Jan.

Risk taking and dealing with failure
Jan emphasises that in order to manage a long and successful career, it is crucial to learn how to deal with failure. “It is easy to live with success, but it is very difficult to live with failure. The best advice I ever got was to learn how to deal with difficult situations, solve them, and move on.” He continues: “You have to take risks to succeed, otherwise you just end up as an average person. And with taking risks, some failure is inevitable.”

One way of dealing with professional hardships can be by seeking support in your network. Jan points out the many benefits of building a network early on in your career, for example by joining a community that can act as a steppingstone into the professional world. “It’s not only an excellent environment for young professionals to meet among themselves, but it is also an opportunity to meet with more established senior people within the Chamber. Those relationships can provide you with many opportunities enhancing your career.”

The benefits of a young professional’s network
On 30 September, Jan held an evening talk for the Young Professionals community of the SCC. During the evening, Jan spoke about differences between the job markets in Sweden and the UK, how to build a network as a young professional and the importance of taking risks. “These kinds of events are also great opportunities for more senior professionals to meet the young crowd and get a feel of what the interests of the next generation are. Even though the sole purpose of my evening talk was to give advice to the participants, I too learned a lot from the discussions we had. Many came up to me afterwards wanting to discuss some topics further, and I also connected with several of the participants on social media. I would highly recommend member companies of the SCC to engage in Young Professional activities.”

Jan finishes off with a message to the Young Professionals of the SCC; “I would really like to encourage you to attend both the SCC events directed to the YP community, but also the general SCC events. There are huge opportunities to pick up on within the UK and the Chamber.”


About the Young Professionals

The young professional’s network of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1994. Over the years, the Chamber has offered unique inspirational business and educational events, social networking opportunities and personal development through its mentorship programmes for young professionals. Today, it forms a dynamic community representing young professionals across all industries, and welcomes both Swedes, Brits and others interested in building a stronger network. All employees up to 35 at member companies are automatically members of the Young Professionals community, and welcome to attend all events with member benefits.

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