Today, few people are familiar with ADB. It stands for Automatisk Data Behandling in Swedish, (Automatic Data Processing), and until the end of the 1980s was the buzzword for what is now IT. When Susanne started the ADB programme at Mälardalen University, she did so because she was into economics and computers. She had no idea that she could learn to programme.

“It first dawned on me when I realised what the course was based on. And then again when I sat one of my exams. I didn’t understand a thing when I studied. It wasn’t until I was about to write my answers on the page that everything fell into place. It was then the logical thinking started.”

It soon became apparent that economics, which had attracted Susanne to the course, wasn’t her thing. She much preferred to programme and make things.

“I like technology and seeing its results. To understand how you can make everyday life a little easier for people. My dream project would be to develop a topflight system for the healthcare sector – something that would make a substantial difference and ease the frustration that exists in the sector today.”

Susanne remembers one time when was with a midwife who was unable to open her medical notes. The system crashed and the midwife sighed in resignation. “Knowing what I did for a living, she asked whether I couldn’t develop a better system. I looked at her screen and saw how cluttered everything was, and felt wow – this could be so much better.”

No longer coding in five years

However, Susanne doesn’t think that she’ll be coding in five years’ time. She sees herself in a more customer-facing role as a project manager or team leader. But leaving the IT sector isn’t on the cards just yet. She thinks that it’s just too exciting because she knows what big a difference an exceptionally good system can make.

“Last autumn I was faced with a choice. I had been a programmer my entire career and realised that I no longer had the same drive. Of course, I still like to solve problems, but more by discussing them with clients. Someone else is welcome to implement the solution. Having said that, I’m grateful to have programing as part of my skills set. It makes it easier to understand other coders and the challenges they face.”

Group dynamics is an area that interests Susanne – getting people to work together and develop as individuals and a group. This is perhaps why she is passionate about promoting LearningWell’s ‘FLIT’ association. FLIT stands for the Swedish words for ‘party’ (Fest), ‘play’ (Lek), ‘sport’ (Idrott), and ‘thought’ (Tanke). Internal associations are for employees to participate in activities outside work; activities for which the company pays.

Susanne says that she recently played a game of bumperball and had dinner at the office. Bumperball is like normal football, the main difference being that players’ upper bodies are encased in huge plastic balls. This means that players can tackle opponents as much as they like without getting hurt.

Part-time cat breeder

Away from work, Susanne prioritises her free time. “When I’ve got the kids to bed and sorted out my cats and the house after a day’s work, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of my computer. I just want to relax and do something for myself, like exercise, go for a walk or watch TV.”

Cats are a hobby, but at the same time mean a lot more than that. This becomes clear when Susanne talks about how she breeds and shows cats, and that she recently attended the World Cat Show in Vienna. She shows on a small-scale but she has a keen interest. Her speciality is Maine Coons, which are tall, have semi-long fur and tufts around the ears. 

“They look quite cross most of the time, but they’re incredibly good natured. And I went to the World Show just to look, that’s enough for me. It’s great to meet other cat nerds in the same situation and talk about cats for an entire weekend.”