Alumnus of the Year 2020 - Hanna Claesdotter
For Hanna Claesdotter, a former student in the Design Technician Programme at the University of Borås, and now a well-respected product developer at the bicycle company Rapha in London, the news came that she was named Alumnus of the Year came as a pleasant surprise.
“I was very surprised,” she said.
The jury points out in its motivation that, among other things, Hanna Claesdotter has shown courage, commitment, and determination and shown that it is possible to go far with the Design Technician degree she earned and to make an international career - in record time.
“I have always had many ideas and dreams and after my degree in 2016 I made a list of goals. I knew Rapha as a brand and had a long-term dream to work as a product developer there. To have that opportunity at some point in the future, I thought I would first need to build a career. But I got a job at Rapha almost immediately after graduation,” said Hanna Claesdotter, who has now been employed by the coveted employer for almost four years.
She started as an assistant and continued as a mid-level product developer. She now works with product development and has responsibility for an entire product category.
“The company has continuously given me new challenges and opportunities to make increasingly complex collections. I have also had the opportunity to drive more and more process development and train and coach juniors.”
Hanna Claesdotter reached her dream workplace just six months after graduation and in a short time she has climbed internally and completed several successful projects.
“The company has seen my strong drive,” she said.
It was precisely that drive that made her apply for the Design Technician Programme at the Swedish School of Textiles in 2013.
“The combination of the creative and the reality-based, with a focus on processes and optimised solutions, was perfect for me."
And the programme met her expectations.
“It was fun, intense, and educational. I got the chance to meet experts from the industry and take advantage of all the incredible resources that the university has. That environment is amazing! Think of all the days, nights, and weekends I spent in the sewing room to learn how all the machines worked. And the more I learned, the more I understood how much there was left to learn.”
In her current professional role, she has noticed how unique the education is at the Swedish School of Textiles.
“It has also given me an edge in the international labour market. The profile of knowledge and competence, the depth and breadth, which I brought with me directly from the university, were things that many others are forced to work towards for a long time.”
During her education, she also had the opportunity to develop the personal qualities that paved the way for her career and made her a respected name in the cycling world today.
“I have always been very curious and wanted to find out how things and processes work, and then try to make them better. I think that is the key to my success in my professional role.”
Hanna Claesdotter works as the link between design and production and is used to the fact that things go quickly in a close collaboration with the team in the office. But during the interview, she is quarantined at home in her flat in London. It is lockdown, and everyone works remotely and the usually regular trips to factories and suppliers in China and Vietnam are paused indefinitely.
But dreams do not take a break. It is difficult to plan in times of pandemic, but Hanna Claesdotter knows that she wants to stay in the industry and hopes that the pandemic will bring something good with it:
“In the past, we have been very tied to the idea that we have to be in an office to get things done. But I do not think we will go back to that now that we have seen that there are other solutions. I hope the flexibility will be greater,” she said, continuing:
“My dream is not to be stuck in one place but to move with the seasons and live where there is fantastic nature, cycling, skiing, and hiking. I want to cycle around the world.” Imagine being able to work with a prototype, go out and test it, and then come back and improve it. Without being stuck in an office."
Despite a great international focus, Hanna Claesdotter has not forgotten her roots. She has previously volunteered for the Swedish School of Textiles, among other things by being interviewed as an alumnus and by lecturing to industry organisations about her degree project. Now another lecture awaits - as Alumnus of the Year.
“I am really looking forward to that."
She takes on the ambassadorship with joy.
“I am very proud of my educational background and am happy to be a representative of the University of Borås and the Swedish School of Textiles. I have so much to thank them for. Now I would like to do what I can to give back in some way,” said Hanna Claesdotter.
Motivation of the jury
"At a time when students in their future dreams are becoming increasingly value-driven, Hanna Claesdotter shows that with great courage, commitment, and determination it is possible to go far. Together with strong values around sustainability and equality, she has successfully progressed from her studies to an exciting job in the cycling industry in London. An industry that has historically been very male-dominated.
Despite the fact that she is no longer within Sweden's borders, Hanna Claesdotter has since she completed her education shown a great willingness to support current students in achieving success in their studies and to contributing to the quality of the education and its professional affiliation. This was shown by acting as an ambassador for the Swedish School of Textiles at the same time as she has voluntarily contributed to various projects linked to textiles and fashion.”