Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Marie Vasallo's First Impressions of Sundsvall

By: Marie Vasallo, SAGA Trainee

It has been a whirlwind first week! Rachel, Erica, and I met US Ambassador Mark Brzezinski. We had a great round table discussion about the future of green tech research and development. We were invited to the Sundsvall Business Awards Gala, where we had the opportunity to meet important key actors in the political and business sectors. And we experienced our first traditional Swedish meal, a starter of Löjrom (Swedish roe), reindeer filet, and desert of cloudberries. Every day, we are encountering new experiences and meeting authentically kind and generous people.

Before I get ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning of this amazing adventure. Nearly twenty four hours of traveling, I finally arrive in Sundsvall. Erica and I were greeted by our mentors at the airport and we were taken to our apartment via the municipal’s electric vehicle. From the Living filter ventilation system at the airport, to the eco-friendly transportation, I knew Sundsvall would be the perfect place receive a great education on eco-sustainability.

Although Sundsvall is a small city, it has a global presence. The other trainees and I celebrated with sushi during our first day, and the following evening, I made Indian food with ingredients I picked up at the local market. The other day, I went out to lunch with my coworkers and we had Italian. This week the town is celebrating a global food festival in the city square. The food scene in Sundsvall is incredible.

For a town of 75,000 people, I am surprised at the diversity that I have encountered. I am pleased to see faces from all over the world. In the short time that I have been here, I have met many expats and visitors from every corner of the world. As for the locals, their kindness and generosity has truly been amazing.

My first week as a trainee at Standard Solutions Group (SSG) has been such a wonderful and informative experience. A person from each department took the time to give me a presentation on the roles and responsibilities of their department and how it related to the vision of the company. I will be working on a project that will examine an existing collaborative inventory network in northern Sweden, and investigate if there are similar networks in the US or in Europe.

The “green” aspect of the project is to discover how much impact a shared inventory network will have on the environment. The idea is that rather than having each company stockpile expensive, large, low turn-over items, multiple companies would utilize a single warehouse or a shared inventory. By reducing the redundancy of parts, companies can “go green” by eliminating the procurement of raw material to create the part, as well as, eliminate wasted energy and resource that goes into building the part. Additionally, parts are not sitting on a shelf that may deteriorate or become obsolete and end up scrap metal or thrown out. I am excited to explore the companies in the north that have been participating in this collaborative network for the past 17 years. I will blog about my experience at the plants in next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Photos: Top - Bengt Alden, Åkroken Science Park, Johan Engman, SSG, Marie vasallo, SAGA Trainee, Erica Restich, SAGA Trainee, Peter Ekdahl, MD Seedfinance group@åkroken, Fredrik Blom, Project Manager Sundsvalls Business Development Agency, co. Below - U.S. Ambassador Mark Brzezinski, Erica Restich, Rachel Agnew, Marie Vasallo. Cleantech Region.