Empowering Professionals for Next-Generation Leadership

Next-Generation Leadership

Our CEO, Dr. Tina Persson, an ICF Certified Career, Leadership & Team Coach, recently spoke with Humans of Fuzia to share her journey from academia to the corporate world to founding her own company, Passage2Pro AB.

Her professional background is a blend of the academy (Ass. Prof) and 8 years in the corporate world as a headhunter, consultant, and brand manager.

She has published over 20 articles in international journals and is the founder of the biotech company Aptahem AB ( and host of the podcast PhD Career Stories (

What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.

I grew up in a middle-class family with my brother and, of course, my parents. I learned from my early years that working hard and studying in the field of STEM would give me a good start in life. My mom never had the opportunity to study, so for her, her daughter needed to get the opportunity to choose her destiny. As a young girl, I had good grades in school, so it was a natural choice to start studying natural science at the university. At the university, the professor hand-picked me into starting a PhD in organic chemistry.

After my PhD I was awarded a stipend to start my Postdoc career at the Max-Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Göttingen. Germany. I stayed as Postdoc and Senior scientist in Germany for over 5 years. Looking back, this stay has been crucial and the most important step in my career, even though I am not active as a PI in academia today.

After my Postdoc career, I was appointed as Lecturer at a smaller university in Sweden, Whereupon I started my Tenure Track career at Lund University.

It was as Ass.Prof at Lund University, I slowly realized that I became increasingly demotivated. I loved to be a scientist but got increasingly involved in administrative matters. I got increasingly frustrated over the fact that I had to apply for grants to cover my salary. At that time, I had a group of 2 PhDs, Postdocs, and several collaborators working in my group. However, Said and done, I decided to leave academia and start looking for a career beyond the industry. This turned out to be easier said than done.

Being an Ass. Prof at the university, I tried to find raw models, but I couldn’t find any. What I found were female professors, but I didn’t want to become like them. I wanted something else out of my life and career.

The next step was to find a new career in the industry. This was extremely difficult as I learned they didn’t understand my background and why I wanted to leave. During this period, I got sick as I got more and more anxious about my financial situation, but also I started to feel worthless. Most likely, I suffered from imposter syndrome. Long story short. I took a decision.

If anyone in the future ends up in the same situation as me. Then I want to help them as no one deserves to feel the way I do, and no one deserves to be treated like I had been after I left academia. I kept that promise, but it would take another 10 years before I founded my company Passage2Pro AB.

Long story short, I finally got a job in the recruitment business where I stayed for 8 years. I learned an incredible lot eg. Doing business, sales marketing, and networking, and I also learned it’s OK to have fun on the job. Looking back I would say without the experience from the recruitment business it would have been difficult for me to run my company as I do today.

I learned sales & business

After 8 years in the corporate world, I made a short trip to Karolinska Institute, Sweden, as Program Office Manager at the Career Service.

Then I stepped out of my comfort zone and started my company Passage2Pro

Finally, I was ready!

Starting my company was my hidden dream, a dream that now saw its light.

Read the full interview here.

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