“I would love to work on solutions that foster sustainable industrialisation and innovation in South Africa”

SI met with Praneet Kala, SI scholarship holder and speakers at the SI Diploma Ceremony taking place at Stockholm City Hall on 25 May. In this interview he shares his experience of studying in Sweden and his ambitions to contribute to sustainable development in South Africa.
Profile picture of Praneet Kala.

After six years of working in a software engineering consultancy, Praneet Kala looked for opportunities to grow professionally and gain more international experience.  He came to Sweden from South Africa in 2022, to study Integrated Product Design at the Royal Institute of Technology – KTH. This year, he will be graduating, and we met with him to hear about his journey.

Hi Praneet, what was your motivation to study in Sweden with the SI Scholarship for Global Professionals?

– There were several factors to why I choose Sweden. One of them was that I was looking for change and growth. Although I was working for a company with many international connections prior to coming to Sweden, I felt that something was missing and that there was more to learn. To get the full international experience you need to be there, experience different cultures, cities, and people altogether. So, I turned to a friend who had received the SI scholarship before me, and I had the opportunity to speak with him and understand more about what the scholarship was about and how deeply entrenched Sweden is with sustainability and innovation.  

– The offer of the Network for Global Professionals (NFGP) of the SI Scholarship was something that spoke to me. During these two years I’ve had the opportunity to connect with like-minded people and grow, so that platform has been really good!

Your two years of studying Integrated Product Design is coming to an end, was the experience as you imagined it? 

– Before coming to Sweden I was in a situation of trying to understand what my next career move would be. I was working in an organisation where I had gone from a junior position up to becoming a team lead, managing employees and projects. Studying my programme allowed me to choose a track that was more “high-level” and allowed me to explore what the potential is for my future. This programme thought me to adapt a more holistic approach to my work and better understand what sustainability means in this context. The sustainability aspect has really flooded my mind. It used to be a small aspect when working on projects back home, but now it’s even more entrenched in my thinking process. I got to learn how organisations think of sustainability in terms of IT infrastructure, digitalisation, innovation and so on. It’s an entirely new way of thinking, which I think is amazing!

What is your plan after graduation?

– I’m hoping to still learn and understand more about the potential of sustainability in my field. I am passionate about the UN Sustainable Development Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure, and I would love to work on solutions that foster sustainable industrialisation and innovation. What is next for me is to continue learning within the field of drone technology and sustainable solutions for flight, to the point that I can bring some solution back to South Africa.

– Ten years from now I would love to be in the space of a Chief Innovation Officer or Innovation Manager. I want to be able to drive a company direction and at the same time be able to share knowledge, bring like-minded people together and create opportunities for innovation.

Do you have any advice to your fellow scholars and others interested in the SI scholarship? 

– Something I always try to remind myself of, is to adapt my thinking to look for opportunities. When we are presented with opportunities in life there is often this anxiety and build-up of expectations that we put on ourselves. Sometimes we should throw that aside and ask ourselves: why not apply? why not take this opportunity?  This usually gives me an extra push to convince myself to try new things. The whole idea is to take risks, to grow, to understand and to learn. So, if something catches your attention, something you like but are afraid to do, just ask yourself – why not?! And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work – at least you know and you can try something else. That’s how I came to apply to hold a speech at our diploma ceremony. I have a message to share with someone and I believe I can motivate and inspire people – so why not?!

Are you looking for an international experience? The Swedish Institute awards fully-funded academic scholarships for master’s studies in Sweden through the SI Scholarship for Global Professionals. 

Global professionals from 41 countries with work and leadership experience, and with the ambition to contribute to change in their home country and region are welcome to apply. Read more about our scholarship here.