From Career start to CEO

Continuous self-development is the key to doing a good job. Meet three people who have grown with the help of the West Sweden Chamber of Commerce's networks, all the way from being new on the job to becoming CEO.

Normally Anna Nivala, Pontus Lindh, and Wilhelmina Lund would never run into each other as they work for different companies in entirely different industries. However, today they are meeting at the West Swedish Chamber of Commerce office in Gothenburg to talk about their experience of participating in the Chamber's various networks, from when they were new to the job market to today, when all three are CEOs of their respective companies.

­- I was encouraged by my former boss to join the Young Professionals network many years ago, says Anna Nivala, CEO of the technical consulting company Bengt Dahlgren Göteborg.

- He was part of a CEO network at the West Sweden Chamber of Commerce when he heard about Young Professionals and told me that this would be a good place for me to create my own network and exchange thoughts with other driven individuals.

Network for young people

Young Professionals is a network for individuals at the beginning of their careers where they get to meet others in the same situation and learn from each other. Something that Pontus Lindh, CEO of the mobile accessory company Holdit, highlights as very positive.

- When you're young, you don't have much experience, but by talking with others, you can absorb each other's experiences and turn them into your own baggage.

CEOs Anna Nivala, Pontus Lindh, and Wilhelmina Lund all place great value on developing their leadership.

Wilhelmina Lund, CEO of the transport company Freightman, agrees but also points out that Young Professionals not only provided insights about oneself but also offered valuable knowledge with a wider perspective of the local and global business environment.

- Freightman is a family business, and I had already worked there while I was studying, so I knew our company and our industry, but at Young Professionals, I got input from people who worked in other types of companies. That gave me a broader understanding of how other companies and industries function.

Develop in the leadership role

Despite this, after about two years, Wilhelmina felt that she had outgrown the network. But instead of just quitting, she moved on and became a member of the Chamber of Commerce's network for young leaders.

- It was really fun, as we were all young individuals who had obtained relatively high managerial positions. So here again, there was a very good exchange of experiences, while we got to know each other inside out.

The activities at the West Swedish Chamber of Commerce, however, are not just about networking; there are also pure training programs, something that suited Pontus Lindh perfectly when he was asked to start as CEO of Holdit a year and a half ago.

- I have held various positions within the company and have always been keen to further my education. The CEO training was a perfect way to get a clear understanding of my actual rights and responsibilities in this position.


Anna Nivala felt the same when she received her first CEO assignment. Both Anna and Pontus chose the CEO training at the Chamber of Commerce, something they are very satisfied with.

It's nice to meet other people who are in the same position.

- I found it valuable to gain that knowledge and support when I was completely new in the role, so I also took the opportunity to join the Chamber of Commerce's CEO network," says Anna Nivala.

Wilhelmina Lund has also moved on from the network for young leaders to the CEO network today.

- For me, it was a natural journey. After two years, I felt that I had outgrown my network and that I would benefit more from discussing and exchanging experiences with others who also had an employer's perspective. Since both Young Professionals and Young Leaders had such a high standard, it was natural for me to choose the CEO network at the Chamber of Commerce as well.”

Valuable time

But being a CEO means a lot of work, so how do they actually find the time to continuously participate in networks and attend trainings?

It creates value to be part of this.

- The quality is good, with skilled facilitators and great discussions. I gain inspiration and knowledge, while also being able to discuss issues with people in the same position but with different experiences and perspectives, says Anna Nivala.

Wilhelmina Lund agrees:

- I always leave West Sweden Chamber of Commerce with something useful, whether it's a good podcast or a completely new strategic thought. These are valuable hours for me.

Pontus Lindh also believes that the time he invests in himself is well worth the effort.

- When I learn from others, I become more efficient and can tackle things faster, so I think it's self-evident that I should take time for this. My job is to develop Holdit, but how can I do that if I'm not also developing myself?

3 Networking tips:

Anna's, Wilhelmina's, and Pontus's best tips for getting the most out of your network:

3 Networking tips

1 Be focused. You have set aside the time, and you will get much more out of these hours if you put away your phone and fully dedicate yourself to the network while you are there.

2 Create some space in your calendar before and after the networking meeting. Urgent work matters may arise that you need to address immediately afterward, and thoughts may come up that you want time to reflect on."

3 Don't rush away from the meeting. Take the opportunity to stay and talk with the other participants.


Effective leadership is the foundation of thriving companies. At the West Swedish Chamber of Commerce, we have extensive experience in educating and developing leaders in Western Sweden. Here, you'll find management and leadership training programs, as well as networks for every stage of your career. Take a look and see what suits you best.