Stockholm Study Trip: AUP Alumni in Action

Under the guidance of both faculty and alumni, AUP study trips provide a holistic journey that goes beyond theoretical knowledge and incorporates real-world experience.  

Learning from Swedish Brands

AUP students from the Strategic Brand Management and other select programs embarked on a transformative journey to Stockholm this past year. These study trips are a cornerstone of AUP’s educational philosophy and are considered core features of the learning process, truly hands-on experiences that can expand horizons as much as professional networks.

Professor Waddick Doyle, Program Director of the MSc in Strategic Brand Management, played a pivotal role in putting the study trip together. After previous student excursions to London, New York and recently Morocco (where they looked at the branding of the city of Fez), Professor Doyle succinctly captures why Sweden proved a perfect destination for this year’s cohort: "Stockholm is a major business center hosting big brand headquarters. It has transformed from an industrial economy producing automotive products, timber, or electronic goods with Ericson, for example, to a more post-industrial, post-modern economy built around the music, digital or fast-fashion industries. Brands have been central to this process."  

The Nordic capital provided a living case study for students in the program, offering real-world examples of the impact of branding on a city’s economic landscape. For MSc candidate David Valdivia, the trip was a revelation on many levels. David, a returning student who completed his undergraduate studies at AUP in 2015, marveled that “Stockholm is almost the Silicon Valley of the Nordic regions, and yet it’s so quiet and calm. This small country has influenced the world in big ways. It has launched some very good campaigns, and we got to visit some of its top agencies."  

Students arriving in Stockholm.

Students have to opportunity to hear from industry professionals.

Enjoying every part of the city!

Connecting generations of students  

In addition to discovering the exciting economic and business-related aspects of the city, and visiting a series of NGOs located there to discover how they are branded, students also had the opportunity to connect with AUP alumni living and working there.

One of Professor Doyle’s former students, Marie Alani (BA in International Communications, ’00), moved back to her home country after graduation and eventually became an expert on branding education and Swedish brands, rising to the position of Head of Faculty at Stockholm’s Berghs School of Communication. She facilitated the group’s visits to company headquarters and various events with local students, fostering a rich exchange of ideas and experiences. In fact, the Berghs School made such an impression that current student Gordon Fackler has made plans to register for their highly-ranked training certificate in Brand Strategy once he completes his MSc at AUP.

Gordon particularly enjoyed the community-building side of the trip. He explains, “At the EU level, Sweden is an industry leader when it comes to music. We visited a major company called Pophouse, founded by AUP alumnus Viktor Fredell (BA in International Business Administration, ‘01). The trip and course helped me learn about the management and business side of music, as I am a music producer myself. This was the most valuable thing for me personally, not just the places we visited but the connections we made within our travel group, which really felt like a family, and during the AUP alumni meets.”

Gordon also remarked on how inspiring it was to meet people employed at local NGOs and aid organizations, including UNICEF, to talk about brand marketing in the context of humanitarian and development work. Gordon’s experiences on the trip reflect the tangible impact of exposing students to diverse industry landscapes, ensuring they emerge not just as graduates but as informed, industry-ready professionals.  

Shaping New Perspectives

As Gordon put it, “They have IKEA, H&M, Spotify… The USA has Uber, Twitter, Tesla… Sweden is a fascinating polar opposite, and yet so similar.”

The study trip was an opportunity for students to discover radically different perspectives, exposing where local lifestyles and politics diverge from their native cultures and where they overlap. Learning about Sweden’s social democratic policies such as parental family leave and the extensive social safety net, for example, served as a fascinating lens through which students discovered how their peers in another country live. This kind of international orientation is one of the key features of the MSc in Strategic Brand Management.  

The program is also recognized by the French government RNCP (Répertoire national de la certification professionnelle), and consequently graduates are able to apply for a French work visa and potentially launch their careers in the EU market. The intercultural approach to personal and professional development offered by the program is very much in line with the university’s mission to empower students with the soft skills and cultural sensitivity needed for success in international careers and life.