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Published: 06 Mar, 2014

Alumna from Umeå University is named most powerful woman in business

NEWS When the Swedish business journal Veckans Affärer (Sweden's Business Week) ranked the 101 most powerful women in business in Sweden in 2014, Helena Helmersson came out on top. Helena Helmersson is head of sustainability at H&M and alumna of the Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE).

Helena Helmersson. Foto: Mattias Bardå/pressbild

Veckans Affärer explained, ”Helena Helmersson is driving the most important issue for the future in the market’s biggest company. H&M’s head of sustainability is not only the most powerful woman in business in 2014, but she is part of a force that reaches far beyond the boundaries of business.”

”I don’t see myself as powerful”

In an interview with Veckans Affärer, Helena Helmersson said she sees the prize as a sign of appreciation for H&M’s work on environmental sustainability in countries such as Bangladesh. But, she also noted there is a lot more work to be done.

”Large companies like H&M have to always strive to be better. I don’t see myself as powerful, but I am also not someone who is afraid of responsibility – it gets me going.”

Worked for H&M for 17 years

Helena Helmersson was born in 1973 and comes from Skellefteå, a city on the coast of Sweden north of Umeå.  She studied international business at the Umeå School of Business and Economics and finished her degree in 1997. Shortly thereafter, Helena Helmersson began working at H&M.

She was named the head of sustainability in 2010, making her part of the leadership overseeing more than 100,000 employees.

Active USBE-alumna

The award for Most Powerful Woman in Business was given on March 5th at a gala held at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm.

The Umeå School of Busines and Economics held an alumni event in the same hotel at the end of January this year. Helena Helmersson took part in the event as a speaker on the theme ”H&M’s global responsibility.”

For Umeå School of Busines and Economics, sustainability is an important focus. They began working towards environmental certification under the ISO 14001 standard last fall.

Link to Swedish article in Veckans Affärer

Editor: Therese Danley