In January 2020, Karl-Johan Persson stepped down as CEO of H&M after 11 years. Her successor is Helena Helmersson, the brand’s first female CEO and, as of this year, one of the most influential women in fashion. The Swedish-born Helmersson has been with the brand since 1997, working from a humble driver position to eventually take the top spot. Known for her commitment to ethical and sustainable clothing, she is willing to take both the brand and the world of fashion in general in a very new, very 21st century direction. Learn more about H&M CEO Helena Helmersson with these ten quick facts.
1. Was born in Sweden
Helmersson was born in the small town of Skellefteå in northern Sweden in 1973. One of three sisters, she spent her early years in Skellefteå until she left to study at the Umeå School of Business and Economics in the north-central region of Sweden. . . After completing his bachelor’s degree, he continued with his master’s in international business administration, eventually graduating in 1997.
2. His first job was at H&M
Helmersson clearly values loyalty. While an increasing number of people spend their twenties flitting between companies trying to find their ideal fit, Helmersson obviously preferred the idea of finding a company and staying there. His first job after graduating from Umeå School of Business and Economics was as a section manager in H & M’s purchasing office. Over 20 years later, the job title may have changed, but the company remains the same.
3. She has traveled the world
If there’s one thing you can’t blame Helmersson for, it’s that he hasn’t traveled much. As part of his duties at H&M, he has worked extensively abroad. Her first international assignment was in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where she spent most of 2007 working as a production manager. After that, he spent almost three years in Hong Kong as manager of the brand’s underwear production department. He finally returned to his home country in 2010 to assume the position of manager of social responsibility and supply.
4. She is the “most powerful woman in business” in Sweden
Helmersson may only have been H&M CEO since January 2020, but her previous positions at the company have been highly influential in their own right. Four years into her tenure as director of social responsibility and supply for H&M in Sweden, she was powerful enough to win the title of “Most Powerful Woman in Business” from the weekly business magazine Veckans Affärer. Speaking to GreenBiz about the honor, Helmersson said: “I am very proud and very happy. There is a tremendous amount of teamwork behind everything we do, and I take it as proof that it has been visible.
5. It has been included in the BoF 500
As if being named the most powerful businesswoman in Sweden was not enough, Helmersson has also had the honor of being named in the BoF 500.The list of the brightest and best in fashion is compiled by Business of Fashion and is considered minus) ‘the ultimate career index of the people who shape the fashion industry’.
6. She is the first female CEO of H&M.
After 8 years as H&M Supply and Social Responsibility Manager in Sweden, Helmersson was promoted to Global Head of Production in 2015. In 2018, she moved to the company’s headquarters in Stockholm to take the reins as Group Chief Operating Officer. , with responsibilities. on expansion, logistics, production, IT and analytics. Two years later, she made headlines when she was promoted to replace Karl-Johan Persson (grandson of the founder and CEO of H&M since 2009) as CEO of the group. The appointment makes Helmersson the first woman to hold the top position in the group, and only the second CEO not to be a member of the Persson family (as themds.com points out, the first was Rolf Eriksen, who ran H&M afterward. Stefan Persson left in 2000 and before the arrival of Karl-Johan Persson in 2009).
7. Gunhild Stordalen is your icon
If there is one person Helmersson aspires the most to, it is the Norwegian doctor and environmental advocate, Gunhild Stordalen. “There are many people I really admire, Gunhild Stordalen is one of them because he is trying to change the system,” he explained during an interview with agood.com. “It is not just a silent question, but the system around food. And I admire it because it is not that easy, but she is a bit relentless in her ambition to make a change in that industry.