The CEMS Global Alliance is a purpose led organization, powered by our beliefs that great leadership starts with self-leadership and societal progress requires continual exploration. In this series of interviews, we take a look at CEMS students and alumni that are contributing to make this world a more open, sustainable and inclusive world.


Humans of CEMS: Running a sustainable trail in finance and life

In today's "Humans of CEMS" interview, we would like to introduce you to Rebeca Correa Ehrnrooth, President and Chairwoman of the CEMS Alumni association.

Rebeca is a 1997 CEMS alumna, her home university was SSE (Stockholm School of Economics), and she spent her exchange semester at RSM (Rotterdam School of Management).

Find out more about Rebeca and how she manages to follow a sustainable trail in career and life.

1. After graduating from CEMS, you have always worked in finance - what fascinates you about this industry and which skills does it take to make a career in it? 

Correct, I have always worked in the same sector. Luckily, the finance industry is a vast sector and I have held different roles in investment banking (mergers & acquisitions along with debt financing), at a rating agency issuing bond ratings and in asset management (private equity and hedge funds).  

To make it in finance it is good to be numerate, be able to manage processes, have negotiation skills and interact with lawyers, accountants, and other stakeholders. The more senior you get, you’ll require sales skills. In my experience, at times the environment is cut-throat. 

Having spent more than 20 years in the finance sector, what would you say were the most impactful events and how did they change your way of thinking? 

I took a big step in 2014 when I decided to leave a big brand company and join an asset manager focused on delivering institutional investment returns combined with social and environmental returns. Having worked for more mainstream organisations, I thought this was how I could personally do the most impact in my career helping future retirees and contributing to a better world. While sustainability is a “hot” sector now, I was an early mover and I spent time on advocacy. I believe that finance has to have a more inclusive approach to be successful over time.   

2. Years ago, you became involved in a webshop for trail and ultra-running products - what were the decisive factors that convinced you to take your passion one step further? And in which ways has this project enriched your life? 

Ultra-running, i.e. running distances longer than a marathon, is my leisure passion. I adore being outside on the trails experiencing emotions from extreme exhaustion to pure thrill when completing a race. The interest in running allowed me to become involved in a running store ( advising on high quality, durable and lightweight gear to other runners.

Having a small independent shop has been challenging in Covid-19 times and running gear really is discretionary spending and many races have been cancelled. I find the ultra-running community amazing and I have gained a lot of insights about how it is to run a small business. It is harder than you think! I’m in awe of all entrepreneurs. 

3. COVID-19 is a topic that impacts all our lives, both personal and professional: Do you see some positive side effects as a result of people adapting their habits? 

The current pandemic has affected all of us. Thinking positively, this is not an extinction scenario. This is the world getting used to dealing with global human disaster which could become a recurring event. Positive effect of this crisis is that we realise we can live with less. I have been encouraged to see more people walking and biking in London.  

Having worked for over 20 years, this is not the first crisis I have lived through and likely not the last. Being based in the UK, the words “keep calm and carry on” resonate with me. It is not the fire that kills, it is the panic and stampede caused by the fire. Out of every bad experience comes new opportunities. 

I’m a strong believer in the human ability to innovate and adapt. I think CEMS and the CAA can have an even more important role representing how well global and local can function together in a world where many actors are becoming increasingly national.   

Rebeca Correa Ehrnrooth
Rebeca Correa Ehrnrooth