Gabriela Andersson – Co-founder, Coach/Mentor

Gabriela comes originally from Brazil where she studied engineering and languages. She worked as a translator/teacher before she migrated to Sweden.

After her migration, she experienced challenges in integrating in Sweden, finding her way into the society, meeting friends and creating a professional network. She could already speak Swedish, English, Brazilian Portuguese, some Spanish, German and French when she moved to Sweden. She also had work experience and a lot of formal degrees from Brazilian universities with her.

Despite of that, she realised that there was something she quite didn’t understand. Why would it take so long to integrate into the Swedish labour market? Why was there so much bureaucracy and paperwork to validate education? In America, things were quite different. She could just create contacts and make her way forward. In Europe, things appeared to be quite slow. Maybe it was because of the climate? She thought.

After meeting a lot of people in the same situation from several countries living in Sweden, she decided to ask two more, a man from Pakistan and a woman from Irak to start an association. This association was intended to create a network to connect migrants with locals professionally.

The association Integration in Sweden became known and developed a professional mentoring project (yrkesinriktat mentorskap) with different cooperations with public and private organisations. Two years later, she was working as an employment officer and holding a Masters degree in Peace and Development Studies from the local university. Later, she had a vision that the organisation would become self-sustaining.

Her work as an employment officer led her to see that integration was quite a more complex issue in Sweden. She worked in different offices in the country until she joined a national project for high-skilled immigrants, where she researched on professional mentoring and suggested implementing mentoring at national level.

Her knowhow brought her into research at doctoral level, where she focused on shedding light on why some migrants leave Sweden to countries like the UK to start businesses. She examined Somali entrepreneurs’ paths into business in the UK – despite of their former dependence on the Swedish social welfare and other European welfare systems during many years!

Looking at solutions to integration (instead of problems!), she became interested in learning about underlying issues that hold people back from integrating both socially and professionally and how to create solutions for personal and professional inclusion. This has taken her to reeducate herself as a therapist and certified coach, with education both in the US and with an international certification as a hypnotherapist at the world’s largest hypnotist organisation.

Her experience led to the current research project to understand about the connection between migration crisis and migrants’ strategies to enter the labour market. The project called “Bottom Up Integration” became also an area for deeper research and testing new techniques in professional mentoring. This project joined an international network on mentoring in Europe, participating and expanding knowledge within the area.

She works today as a coach/mentor and researcher within the area helping people and organisations to expand their awareness, develop personally and professionally and implement mentoring as a way of expansion.