Doing Business Like A Swede

David E. R. Dangoor, renowned international businessman, SACCNY´s former Chairman and sponsor of the Dangoor Marketing & PR Scholarship, dishes on how being Swedish could help you succeed in New York.

David E. R. Dangoor is a man who wears many hats. Aside from his role as President of Innoventive Partners LLC, a strategic planning, marketing and public relations consulting firm; he is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of BioGaia AB, a public Swedish biotech company, plus Board Member for organizations such as the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and the New York City Ballet, among others.

Since 1976, this Stockholm-native and graduate from the Stockholm School of Economics has developed a remarkable career in five different countries after leaving Sweden. During our sit down in his Park Avenue office, this quintessential international businessman tells us about his career, life in New York, and how he believes being Swedish can help you succeed in the U.S.

What is your number one advice for professionals seeking an international business career?
Be flexible. You need to be able to relocate and travel a lot, which creates stress on some things that matter the most to us, such as relationships. In my case, I lived and worked in five countries, while remaining single. So if you factor the stresses of moving and traveling alone, you may have to be prepared for a lonely existence at times. The upside is that you get exposed to different people and cultures.

Flexibility and agility aside, were there any Swedish qualities that gave you a leg up in your career?
Yes definitely. Being educated in Sweden gave me a big advantage—whether it is in honing my work ethic or lack of ego. Perhaps there is something about my “Swedish-ness” that led people to seek my opinion often. Also, I never felt less “equipped” than many of my competitors, who were often Harvard, Stanford MBA etc. degree holders. They often lacked what I call an appropriate level of humbleness—one of Sweden’s typical traits.

You mentioned education in Sweden as an asset. Given how many startups come from Sweden, do you think Swedish education drives innovation?
I am not sure. If anything, sometimes education can be an obstacle, because you are taught to think in certain ways and molded to believe that some things are more desirable, such as having an international business career back in my day. Now, innovation has that luster. While I am not surprised Sweden is doing well on that front, I would not attribute it to education. Instead, I would say it is more about the Swedish upbringing and way of being that make us more aware of important world trends, which spark our desire to take part and aim for the top.


The ability to relocate is necessary for an international career

The lack of ego makes people seek your opinions

Americans value honesty, a common Swedish trait

For Swedish startups looking to venture abroad, why might New York City be an appealing choice?
Network and stimulation. Whether it is in art, culture or business, you feel the energy and creativity everywhere in New York. There is constantly something new to stimulate you and with people from all over the world. For example, during my 15 years on the board of the New York City Ballet, I was constantly amazed by the dedication, hard work and resulting brilliance of these young dancers. Despite the excitement and potential distraction in the city, these dancers stay focused because this is where you can most likely get acknowledged, and this is a stage that matters among the most. This is also true for entrepreneurs. Finally, the people you meet here are likely the opinion leaders in their field. This is why New York is so special, stimulating and exciting.

You mentioned creativity, do you think it rubs off on entrepreneurs?
Yes, absolutely.

Lastly, what do you think draws Swedes and Americans to doing business together?
Honesty. Americans are extremely enthusiastic and straightforward when it comes to doing business. And one of the great qualities Swedes are known for is honesty, a quality that is highly regarded among New Yorkers. It is amazing how the moment Americans view you as honest and trustworthy, doors open.