Meet Åsa Jonsson (MSc Organisational and Social Psychology, 2019), who is a Future Strategist based in Stockholm. She works at Kairos Future, an international consulting and research company that helps companies and business leaders to understand and shape their futures. Åsa is also engaged in the Swedish feminine leadership movement and is active in the Burning Man community.
Tell us about your career journey since graduating from LSE.
After graduating I started working for the e-commerce platform Footway, one of the largest e-commerces in the Nordics. Initially, I worked with strategic communication, online community building and with developing practices for crowdsourced production of creative content. I was part of an amazing team, which with a lot of heart and playfulness was seriously dedicated to excelling in effective collaboration. It was both a greenhouse for my personal growth and a school in, I would say, beyond best practice agile methods.
Later, I took on a role as product owner and came to lead my own team consisting of developers and communicators who worked on building scalable structures and processes for managing creative content. I was responsible for the content management system, all the creative content on six e-commerce sites on 24 markets, and worked with onboarding new e-commerce stores to the platform.
What is your current role?
I work as a Future Strategist and management consultant for the company Kairos Future. We help organisations understand what happens in their contexts and support them in developing robust future based strategies and putting them to work. This includes for example trend analysis, scenario planning, strategy development, process leading for innovation and support in strategic transformation.
Some clients we help develop a so-called thought leadership. This entails using qualitative and quantitative methods to thoroughly map the development in the specific area the organisation is interested in, ideally to come up with models that can be used to navigate the organisation's context.
We also conduct our own research. For example, we continuously survey personal values in the Swedish population.
What is your area of specialism either academically or professionally?
I specialise in the future of retail, the future of internet and the future of organisation and leadership. For example, I was part of producing a report on the Future grocery store for Sweden's largest Grocery chain, ICA, I am working with projects that investigate web3.0 and metaverse, and I give lectures on Generation Z.
What drives you in your career?
I am passionate about making the business world become more alive. To help organisations create from a place that feels alive and that makes the planet become more alive.
What is your greatest career achievement to date?
During autumn 2020, Footway was going through a merger with an acquired company (both companies the size of €100M), and was to build a new platform from scratch and launch six fashion and sports stores on 24 European markets. All in a few months! I got to lead the communications team through this process. This entailed leading a team that was partly new to each other, and with consultants coming in and out of the team during different phases of the journey. Our tasks were to build a new content management system, build some parts of the new frontend and to make sure we had all the images, videos, texts and graphics needed to launch all the stores, which together had about 70.000 products and 300 brands. Building flexible, simple and scalable structures was really key to make it possible!
The experience is one of the most challenging in my entire life, and also one of the most rewarding. Mostly, I learned about leading a team through deep uncertainty and complexity. I gained insight into how I can uphold practices that keep me as a leader centered and energised, how I can fertilize the soil for a team culture that supports brave actions and what is needed to create a sense of enough structure in chaos to keep the team moving. I am most proud of the fact that my team came out on the other side of the change process stronger, more connected to each other and with a structural capital that made us very high performing.
What was the main thing you gained from studying at LSE’s Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science?
I learned how to think critically, reason and contrast different perspectives. My background before the LSE was in engineering, which mainly taught me problem solving – a different kind of thinking. I also really appreciated the department. All the teachers gave so much to us students, my fellow students were amazing people and I really felt like I had place to feel belonging to.
What is your fondest memory from LSE?
Oh, hard to choose! But one that is representative of many is a late night in the kitchen of my flat in the Butler's Wharf accommodation. We were a group of students from different programmes and countries, sat around the kitchen table and for fun reading scenarios about the future of AI from Max Tegmark's book Life3.0. The mood was kind of silly and playful, but the discussions were also very sharp and argumentations intelligent. I remember really appreciating the collision of different perspectives, mine from Sweden and engineering and social psychology, someone from India and social policy and someone else from Spain and marketing. And that represents what I cherished at the LSE, being surrounded by people with very different world views but who are all curious and interested in societal development.
If you are part of the PBS alumni community and would like to share your experience, please get in touch at email@example.com