WHO IS ANNIKA KJELLGREN?
Annika Kjellgren is the Chief Executive Officer & Founder of Impact Consulting. Prior to founding Impact Consulting, Annika worked for UNDP in Moldova and for the World Bank in Rwanda, Sudan, Bhutan, and Tanzania. Annika also worked in the United States for PricewaterhouseCoopers Securities’ mergers and acquisitions team and Riggs Capital Partners’ venture capital team.
You can connect with Annika here:
IN TOR 041 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- The ‘lucky ride’ Annika has taken advantage of to create effective impact in Africa, both in the ground and from Sweden.
- Annika’s views on the value of private business or corporate experience before joining the international development field.
- Accounts of her impact, the rewards of her work, and her philosophy of helping and learning.
- The changes for leaving potentially profitable careers, twice, all in search for closeness and more direct impact.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- World Bank
- Republic of Rwanda’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning
- School of Business, Economics and Law at Gothenburg University
- Development consulting
- Cash transfers
- Private sector, banking
- Rural economies
- Career transition
- Education and job skills
- Market development
- Bottom of the pyramid
- Labor markets
- Karthoum, Sudan
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
After living abroad for 18 years in Africa, Europe and Asia, returns to continue her work but as consultant.
Human development policies. Ministries of finance, post war development.
Rwanda got the bulk of her work. Poverty reduction strategy from the World Bank. A flagship was supporting the most vulnerable (GFP Rwanda?).
Rwanda is pleasant to work with, the government is committed to development.
Challenges come in a central capacity, especially when working with victims of government violence.
Lots of effort to help the population. Cash transfers, giving money straight to households. The program is still evolving.
Private sector background, always interested in international development. Crazy hours. Never a summer off.
After 9\11, a deliberate decision to join the field head on.
“I wasn’t driven for making more money, what the stocks were at, my bonus.“
Ends up coincidentally at the World Bank. Few months later, provided consulting to the World Bank in Rwanda- checks and balances.
It started as a temporary assignment, then linked to the Finance Minister and stayed.
Had to support setting up a new unit, met a friend, they became close.
Moldova is an isolated and poor European country.
A carpet company purchased wool from farmers, but paid 30 days or later.
Annika visited the farmers, simple living.
Had to talk to the carpet company, negotiate better terms.
Made an impact in their lives, people were very grateful.
“I still have my shoes, I remember them whenever I see them.“
“My first job was a fluke.“
A combination of luck, opportunity, but also hard work throughout her life.
Now in a new market, there’s a lot of trying.
Banking skills transferability
Education does not give all the skills. Most learning happens on the job, when you deliver.
Currently pursuing a second Master’s degree.
Wanted closeness to clients, not a lot of bureaucracy “but that is how it works sometimes.” Checks and balances are necessary. “It’s a balancing act.“
Closeness is good for beneficiaries. Working with governments is better with closeness.
Large organizations tend to impose lots of redundancies, sometimes make workers wonder why.
People and organizations are noticing things can be done better. More involvement with local players.
“It was a change to let my career lead the way.” Back to Sweden was a personal choice. But she could still work for Africa from home. “I’m closer to there now.“
Consultancy is still emerging, there is potential in the bottom of the pyramid. A lot of work is there to do in marked development, young employment, financing. More labor market focus.
What sustainability and impact mean in practice.
Focus on Africa and emerging markets, which applies everywhere.
Will continue providing expertise. World Bank is still a client.
Engaging stakeholders of Swedish and European origins, in innovation and new markets. The private sector is more attuned to development issues, it’s a highlight of the Swedish economy.
Day to week
Not a lot of changes. “I’m very used to have my office on my purse.“
The biggest change is establishing the company, dealing with authorities. Sweden is strict. “I think it’s good that I’m going through this.” It’s only at an initial phase.
Looks to be more focused on drawing attention on Africa, getting universities.
It’s a challenge at home. She’s meeting a highly skilled, international group of classmates at her MBA, none of which have ever been to Africa.
“My way to explain does not fit in the corporate world.” She’s been talking on the field.
Making policy requires other languages, but it should not disown the field.
NGOs and corporations have strategic similarities. “It’s all about making an impact.” They have the same needs, including systems, checks and balances.
Khartoum assignment. It was not safe to travel. She was doing government evaluation. It would take too long. Large contrast to Rwanda, much hotter, just Arabic. Within days she built friends, celebrated her birthday. Something that took years at home.
“You can always find common factors.” People she met became friends for life.
“We have more in common than differences.“
“Making the switch is easier more than ever. Private experience is more relevant in development over time.“
“Don’t disown office experience. You will become more marketable.“
Economic sustainability must be an active concern, which private business experience can help with.
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