“I can confidently say that being connected to the alumni network creates lots of good opportunities”

We got a moment with Hakima, SI scholarship alumni and part of Sweden Alumni Network Azerbaijan, to ask her about her experiences from Sweden, how it has affected her professional life and what she has brought back to Azerbaijan.
Woman sitting in chair looking into the camera

Hakima came to Sweden as an SI scholarship holder in 2019 to study the master’s programme Strategy and Management in International Organisations at the university of Linköping. For Hakima, the SI Scholarship for Global Professionals and the chance to study in Sweden was an opportunity to deepen her knowledge about several issues, sustainability being one of them. 

It gave me a chance of studying in the country that I always admired from the perspective of being conscious about sustainability topics. Taking from that I became part of issues related to circular economy, reverse supply chain, sustainable production and consumption.

The best thing with the programme she chose, according to Hakima, was that it gathered more than 15 different nationalities and contained a lot of case studies with real companies which is a good balance of theory and practice. But studying in Sweden also gave new perspectives on learning based on critical thinking. 

I personally think that creativity and innovation arise from the kind of mindset that I got a chance to train myself in during my time in Sweden, she says. While methodology differs from one programme and university to another, the mechanism stays the same, that education in Sweden enables you to boldly express your own thoughts and come up with innovative ideas.

But she also expresses surprise about certain things. What was surprising to Hakima about studying in Sweden was how work-life balance is important, even as a student. 

It is said that “people just chill a lot in Sweden”. Well, I observed it differently. It is just a matter of appraising your time and trying to be efficient, so you have time for yourself as well. So, this also applies to studying in Sweden. Additionally, of course the “Lagom” philosophy is the one that makes you organise your life in a way to sense everything around you and keep balance while enjoying them.

Hakima works as a Software Product Manager and runs a research project about building smart city infrastructure in Azerbaijan and is engaged in the local alumni network. She tells us how the SI Scholarship for Global Professionals has been key for getting to where she is today. 

 Supported by Swedish Institute, the Embassy of Sweden to Baku and Azerbaijani Government, I and two of our local alumni network members initiated a research project of Ensuring Citizen Participation in building smart city infrastructure. We had a study visit to Sweden to learn from best practice, discuss about applicable solutions in my country as Azerbaijan is in the process of building city/villages in a smart concept. Back to its root-cause, the scholarship played a crucial role to get to know my team members, create close contacts with both SI and the embassy as well as arrange our meetings with Swedish authorities.  

Certified local SI/Sweden alumni networks can apply for funding for organising activities related to UN’s sustainable development goals or to Sweden. Hakima points out that the experience from Sweden has been important for her engagement as alumni and her role as chairperson. 

The network I got through my time in Sweden enables me and my team to arrange activities, design projects with participation of speakers from Sweden, of course with high support from the Swedish Institute.  

This year, the main focus for all local alumni networks has been promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, and that is something that the network in Azerbaijan has been working for too. One example was partnering up with a local NGO in organising an actvity to raise awareness around autism with the goal of creating a more equal and inclusive society. 

Additionaly, we organise activities to draw attention to certain SDGs such as gender equality, sustainable cities and communities and a clean environment. 

Engaging in a local alumni network means a lot to Hakima, on both a personal and professional level.  

From a personal perspective, it is good for staying connected to Sweden and to people who have studied there. In a professional manner, I can confidently say that being connected to the alumni network creates lots of good opportunities. It allows access to events, projects organised by the Embassy and meeting people through that channel. For instance, I got a chance to meet with CEOs of Swedish Businesses in Azerbaijan through a dinner organised by the Embassy to discuss business opportunities, she adds. 

According to Hakima the relationship to SI and to Sweden is something she will continue to enjoy for the rest of her life. 

It is worth mentioning that what makes the scholarship provided by Swedish Institute different is the close and long-term bond and continuous initiatives in professional development that follow after graduation. 

Learn more about the SI Scholarship and SI Alumni Network.

The SI Scholarship for Global Professionals offers fully-financed scholarships for master’s studies in Sweden. It is a unique opportunity to develop professionally and academically, experience Swedish society and culture, and build a long-lasting relationship with Sweden and other global professionals. Read more about the scholarship here.

The Sweden Alumni Network is a global community open to all who have received a scholarship from the Swedish Institute, participated in one of our Leadership Programmes or have studied in Sweden. Here you can find more information on how to engage with our alumni networks.