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Heidi Stensmyren is eager for new challenges in the biotech industry

Heidi Stensmyren has served as President of the Swedish Medical Association, held a managerial position at Karolinska University Hospital and is now Medical Director at a biotech company. “I’m curious and like to have influence, so I’ve often chosen management roles,” she says.

In April, biotech company Cellcolabs recruited Heidi Stensmyren as Medical Director. Life Science Sweden went to Solna, where the company´s offices and lab are located, to learn about her professional journey.

“The exciting thing about the biotech industry and working for a small company that builds and develops is that you break new ground. We are creating something new that will benefit many people. Here, I am close to research, development and the market all at the same time,” says Heidi Stensmyren and continues:

“As a doctor, you usually only treat one patient at a time, but by working at an earlier stage in the biological process and by making new technology available, I can help many more people.”

She shows us around the open and colourful office landscape in which Cellcolabs is located. The company produces stem cells for research purposes.

Heidi Stensmyren is originally from Norway, trained as a doctor in Germany and has served as President of both the Swedish Medical Association and the World Medical Association.

How did you end up in Sweden?

“The reason is very trivial, but I met a Swede. I had a job in Switzerland after studying in Germany and planned to become a gynaecologist, but it turned out differently. I arrived here and chose to become a specialist in anaesthesia and intensive care.”

“I also like technology, and anaesthetics and intensive care are a bit of a gadget sport. I’m a fairly practical person and can handle a chainsaw, weld and change a car tyre by myself. In hospitals, I’m known for my fondness for playing with the gadgets.”

Which achievement are you most proud of in your career so far?

“The fact that I have been able to influence healthcare in general and contributed to Sweden’s life science strategy, and I have also been able to put focus on things that are important for Sweden in terms of health economics. I am particularly proud to have been involved in the management of Karolinska University Hospital. I am also proud of the work I have done internationally, as I have had the privilege of heading the World Medical Organisation and the Committee on Medical Ethics.”

How did you choose your different roles?

“I am curious and like to have influence, so I have often chosen management roles in which I have operational responsibility. When I accept a job, I make sure that the mission and goals are clear. Once you have achieved this, it may be time to pack up and move on.”

“The assignments have been the attraction. It is important to know what the mission is first of all. A title has no value of its own; it’s what you can do with the role that creates value.”

What are your hopes for the future?

“I hope that we at Cellcolabs will have at least one more production facility and that we will supply stem cells to several hospitals in the world,” she says and ponders further:

“A Swedish export product. When Sweden publishes its next life science report, I hope that we will be included and that the Minister for Enterprise and Health will say: This is a Swedish export product that is based on successful Swedish research, and we are very proud of it.”

The interview is drawing to a close, and we have talked a bit too long, so Heidi Stensmyren is running late and hurries on to another meeting room.

Heidi Stensmyren

Age: 50

Family: Two children

Lives: In in Stocksund

Last book read: The song of the cell by Siddartha Mukherjee

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