Stockholms Akademiska Forum proudly presents

The SDCN International
Talent of the Year Award

The SDCN International Talent of the Year Award recognizes an exceptional member of SDCN and honors them for their professional achievements in Stockholm, their active participation in the network’s events, their drive and determination in pursuing opportunities, and for easing into the social milieu of Sweden.



Mei Li Heman, a resident of Brazil and USA, might as well have ‘tenacity’ as her middle name. When her rich experience as producer and project manager in the entertainment and advertising industries of New York took some time in translating to job opportunities in Stockholm, Mei Li soldiered on with perseverance. A member of the SDCN Management Team and producer of several SDCN films, she grabbed onto every opportunity that came her way. After a few short gigs, she eventually found a role as a full-time Producer at the advertising agency, B-Reel.

Lucione Rabelo, from Brazil, has a background in sales and customer support. A natural relationship-builder, Lucione’s ‘people skills’ held him in good stead while settling down in Stockholm. He immediately became a regular face at the SDCN Career Support Group and professional events, and showed exceptional drive in adapting to available opportunities. His determination in diving into the Swedish job market soon paid dividends as he found a role as Senior Sales Account Executive at ChainTraced where he is presently working.     

Swetha Dua, from India, is a whirlwind of energy and drive. Unfazed by the limiting circumstances during the pandemic, Swetha eagerly took to the grind and turned every half-chance into a win! She was an active member of SDCN, and peppered the Career Support Group with her questions. A project manager and team leader with years of experience, Swetha changed tack to get into the Swedish job market, signing up for the Stockholmsmentor program, which led to an internship via Jobbsprånget, and finally her present role as Project Manager at Avanade.

Melis Aktas, from Australia, is a researcher in Clinical Psychology, an English teacher, and an HR professional all rolled into one! Melis was also President of the SDCN Management Team for almost a year. During her time with SDCN, Melis took initiative and conducted many much-appreciated workshops about mental health and training for interviews, her warm personality leaving an impression on everyone who met her. It was only a matter of time that Melis landed an internship with Northvolt, which then got her a full-time role of HRIS Coordinator with them.     

The 2021 Winner of the Award will be announced
in the Stockholm City Hall on 30 November.


Award Winner

Peng Wu

Peng’s story of taking the decision to settle down in Stockholm seven years ago, was more happenstance than an actual plan. He was visiting his partner who had shifted to Stockholm, and was convinced by her to stay, when he was slightly tipsy over dinner – at least that’s the story that he likes to tell! But Peng’s story is also one of resilience, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace an unfamiliar place.


Portrait photo of a woman

Laura Brembilla, from Italy, is a polyglot and a multiculturalist in the truest sense of the terms. Presently a Junior Key Account Manager at Acolad, Laura facilitates connections between people of different cultures and backgrounds. Laura turned up at SDCN in September 2019, only a day after she shifted to Stockholm and already spoke impeccable Swedish. She became one of the most active members of the network, joined the Management Team and immediately impressed everyone with her pro-activeness, persistent drive and indefatigable enthusiasm.

Namrata Nanda, from India, was associated with the SDCN Management Team for a rather short while. But her active participation and characteristic warmth made an impression on everyone in that brief time. A communication and finance professional with several years of experience, Namrata embraced her new life in Stockholm, and became a regular face at SDCN events. Her go-getter attitude, affable personality and tenacious efforts quickly paid dividend, as she found employment as Product Marketing Manager at Ouriginal where she currently works.

Samantha Goos, from the Netherlands, thrives in exploring new opportunities and fostering new connections. She became an active member of SDCN almost immediately after shifting to Stockholm in November 2019. She joined the SDCN Management Team, and eventually helmed the team as the President. An amalgam of ideas and energy, Samantha leveraged her formidable background in copywriting and online marketing, along with her years of international experience, to find employment as Dutch Marketing Specialist at Qred.

Olivia Downey, from USA, is a data analyst and CRM/database specialist working in the higher education sector. Having made Stockholm her home since June 2018, Olivia immersed herself in SDCN’s activities, and frequented the Swedish classes and career events. Armed with her characteristic geniality and positivity, along with an expansive professional background, Olivia was relentless in her single-minded pursuit of opportunities in Stockholm. She presently works as Systems Analyst and International Officer at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Anirban Dey, from India, has been a dedicated member of the SDCN Management Team since 2019. A marvelous wordsmith with a sense of adventure, humor and curiosity, Anirban has contributed greatly to the written content of SDCN with his refined writing skills. Besides holding a Post-Graduate Diploma in the Teaching of English, he has served as a professional writer of love letters! Currently working as a Communicator at Stockholm Academic Forum, he is also enrolled in the Intensive Swedish for educators’ course and fervently picking up Swedish at an amazing pace.


Award Winner

Mehdi Attarpour

Mehdi Attarpour is from Iran and has a background in data analysis. A go-getter and a persevering professional, he came to Stockholm in August 2018, and was a regular at SDCN events and career development sessions. He made the most of an opportunity to attend a course at the Software Development Academy in KTH, a collaborative effort with Novare Potential. With this course under his belt, there was no looking back for Mehdi. He is presently employed as Junior Java Developer at 3 Sverige and is doing all sorts of geeky things!


Carrie Greenwood from England is an amalgam of hard work and resilience. Presently, an Archive Assistant at The Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library, Karolinska Institutet, she has successfully managed to translate her curatorial passion towards preserving and providing access to historical objects, into her profession. An active member of SDCN since May 2018, Carrie has been an enthusiastic participant in career development sessions, språkcafés and professional events.

Meghna Anand from India, has an academic background in media engineering and software development. After studying and working in Germany at the Offenburg University of Applied Sciences for a few years, she came to Stockholm and is presently working as a PHP Developer at Pied Tanca Group AB. An individual of many interests, Meghna, alongside her professional pursuits, has also started working as a volunteer member of the SDCN Communication team on the side.

Ayla De Schutter from Belgium is as multifaceted as her background suggests. A tourism expert, classical linguist and artist all rolled into one, she presently works at Klarna as a Service Agent – a job that she managed to bag in just a few weeks after her arrival in Stockholm! Ayla has been a part of SDCN since October 2018, and in her brief time with the network she has been generous with giving back to the community by sharing her experience with other members.

Will Gastineau-Hills from Australia, has a background in geography, urbanism and collaborative transport planning. He is passionate about working towards sustainable solutions in the context of urban development. In his first career support session at SDCN, Will expressed an ardent interest in working at Sweco. Fast-forward a few months, he got precisely that – his dream job, and presently works at Sweco as a Transport Planning Consultant, leveraging his substantial experience in the domain of transport planning and analytics. Will also volunteered with the SDCN Intelligence team for a brief while, in which time he was generous with his contribution of ideas.


Award Winner

Lili Wang

Lili Wang from China has brought her dry sense of humor, her contagious energy, and her unconventional style to SDCN, where she has been “the soul of the Intelligence team”. Lili always comes up with new and creative thinking to further develop the network. She embraces new ideas, seemingly without fear, and can be relied on both to take initiatives and to see projects through. Her expertise in SAP technologies enabled her to find a job at Klarna as SAP Basis Manager. Lili is also a real head hunter within Klarna where she looks out for new talents to recruit from SDCN. When she started her job she actually negotiated with her employer the possibility to take time off when needed to remain an active member of the SDCN Management Team. We couldn’t be more grateful! 


Stockholm Academic Network member Ann Wong

Ann Wong from Hong Kong and New Zealand, is truly a global citizen and we are honored that after Hong Kong, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, and California, she chose Stockholm. A neuroscientist with a PhD in Cellular Molecular Neuroscience, Ann conducted research on hearing loss and cochlear implants. At Staf and SDCN, we had the pleasure to see her grow into her position as SDCN Vice President. We were impressed by her communication skills, especially on social media, as well as her calm energy and her work ethic. 

Anna Semenova

Anna Semenova from Russia has been with SDCN from the very beginning. With her warm personality and her impeccable organizational skills, she has welcomed countless members to SDCN events and become the face of our Event Team before a brief tenure as SDCN Vice-President. Behind Anna’s effortless smile, however, you will find hard work, a PhD in Solid State Chemistry, as well as an openness to new opportunities. Anna has learnt perfect Swedish, and she actually started training to become a teacher here in Stockholm. But Swedish students will be disappointed to learn that she found a job that matches her impressive scientific background and started working as an analytical chemist at Northvolt.

Eugen Azcoaga I got a job! SDCN

Eugen Azcoaga who is Finnish-Basque, knew as soon as he arrived that he wanted to be part of the innovative start-up scene in Stockholm and combine his tech skills with his creative side. His efforts and strategy paid off – and not just once but twice. After working as Head of User Experience at a Stockholm-based tech startup Match2One, he switched to another innovative company, Valtech Stockholm, where he worked as a UX design consultant. He is presently working as Product Designer at 

Honorary SDCN Members

Per Bengtsson, former University Director at Karolinska Institutet, identified a collective gap in Swedish universities’ approach to talent retention since too many highly qualified scholars left the country prematurely. This led to his urgent support of the cause of both international talents and their partners having an equal access to opportunities in Sweden, for them to make a sustained contribution. This was the fundamental premise which served as the inspiration behind the beginning of SDCN’s journey and shaped the ethos of the network.

Laure Marcellesi was one of the founding members of SDCN, and was instrumental in the development of the network. Leveraging her stellar academic background and people-centric organizational acumen, Laure facilitated volunteer engagement, put together events and helped members in various capacities, during her time with SDCN. The weekly career support session is also one of her enduring contributions to SDCN.

Frithjof Stöppler

Frithjof Stöppler has been a steadfast pillar of support to SDCN right from its genesis in 2015, not to mention his tenure as the President of the SDCN Management Team for three and a half solid years. A complete people’s person through and through, Frithjof touched numerous lives during his stewardship of SDCN and continues to be an important part of the network.

Jenny Harler is a heady concoction of humanist, CEO, PR veteran, communication expert, and among many other things, germinated the very idea of the SDCN International Talent of the Year Award. She has been a consistent friend to SDCN for several years and has enriched the network with various inputs.

Global SDCN Members

The SDCN Global Membership is an honorary membership conferred on distinguished former members of the network, who have departed from Stockholm to reside elsewhere, but in the course of their association with SDCN made significant and sustained contributions to the network. They left SDCN richer with positive experiences, and continue carrying with them SDCN’s message of the cruciality of internationalism and a truly multicultural society.


Johanna Laurent

Johanna Laurent

Ann Wong
New Zealand

Ananya Sadhu