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Rouse in Profile: Malin Keijser Bergöö

Published on 27 Jan 2021 | 4 minute read
Bridging C.P. Snow’s ‘two cultures’

Malin is a Senior Associate in our Stockholm office.  She is a qualified European Patent Attorney engaged in all aspects of portfolio development and management, patent prosecution and enforcement.   

It’s now more than 60 years since the well-known British scientist and novelist, C.P. Snow, gave a lecture entitled The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution in which he identified a dangerous rift between the sciences and the humanities.   Since then the phrase ‘the two cultures’ has become part of the language, and the lack of a proper dialogue between the sciences and the humanities continues to be widely discussed.   So it’s been interesting to see just how easily Malin moves between the two; it’s something that seems to have come quite naturally to her.

She grew up in a scientifically oriented family in the relatively small city of Västerås, 100km west of Stockholm, where her father, an Engineer, worked for ASEA, the General Swedish Electric Company, and her mother taught Natural Sciences.  Her older brother and sister both subsequently became Engineers.  At school, however, Malin did well at all subjects, not just the Sciences.  She read widely, loved languages, and generally just enjoyed learning.  It was by no means a foregone conclusion that she would go on to study Engineering – or even that she would go to University. 

When she first left school, in fact, she spent a year working in the research department of the ABB Group, a merger of ASEA and Swiss electrical engineering company, Brown Boveri.  The department was doing quite advanced work, but, as a junior, Malin was essentially just doing what she was asked to do, without understanding how it fitted into the bigger picture.  It didn’t take her long to decide that she needed to go to University.  Even then, when the time came to apply, she listed three possible courses: Engineering, Law and Religion – the latter because it was something that had always fascinated her. In the end, she decided on Engineering largely for practical reasons. She could very easily have taken a different path.

Being keen to spread her wings and move away from Västerås, she accepted a place at Linköping University in southern Sweden.  She absolutely loved her time there.  Of the 189 students in the Applied Physics class, only nine were girls and, perhaps inevitably, they formed a very close-knit group.  They are still among her closest friends and make a point of meeting up three times a year.  Much as she’d enjoyed her time at University, when the time came to graduate, she really had no idea what she wanted to do.  The only thing she knew for sure was that she didn’t want to work as an Engineer – she couldn’t see herself spending her days conducting research or designing circuits.  She had begun casting around for ideas, even thinking that perhaps she could be a teacher like her mother, when she stumbled on a Patent Office recruiting advertisement.  It sounded the sort of thing that might suit her  – and it was.

She worked happily as a Patent Examiner for six years, before deciding to take time out to go on a long trip with her then boyfriend, now husband, Claes.  They spent a marvellous year travelling through South America; journeying to the Antarctica with a Belgian biology group; and working at a Dive Centre in Australia, on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne.  Malin’s diving skills had been acquired in Honduras, during a three-month trip to Central America just after her graduation from Linköping University.

Malin’s natural curiosity and eagerness to learn enabled her to largely ignore the cultural divide; it also enabled her to develop a wide range of friends and contacts in all sorts of places.  When she returned from her year long adventure, she quickly found a job with a mobile antenna company, where a friend of hers was working. From there, she moved to a start-up company, and ultimately to the well-known Swedish company DeLaval, world leader in dairy machinery, where she worked for 10 years, managing the company’s patent portfolio and appearing on behalf of the company in hundreds of oral patent opposition proceedings at the EPO.  She loved the work, but after 10 years was beginning to yearn for a broader experience than could be obtained working with just one company’s patents.  But, as working in a regular Patent Agency practice held no appeal, it wasn’t at all clear where this might be found.

Again, the perfect solution presented itself through friends and contacts. At the time, Anna Theander, a friend from Malin’s childhood days in Västerås, had been working at IPQ for a year, and as soon as they began to speak about the firm and its approach, Malin realised it was just what she was looking for. These days she is in her element, often working for companies that don’t have their own in-house patent department, which means that she becomes, in effect, their in-house counsel.  She knows what needs to be done and how she can help; for her, it’s much more interesting, challenging and rewarding than working for companies that have their own patent departments and everything set up ready to go.

Malin’s personal life is every bit as interesting, challenging, and rewarding as her professional life.  She has been sailing just about as long as she can remember, beginning as a child on Lake Mälaren when the family lived at Västerås.  Now she and Claes and their 15 year old son, David, have a boat not far from their house in Stockholm and sail whenever they can.  They also have a summer house further North in Sweden and Malin talks with enthusiasm about the perfect night skies there and the happy times they spend in the sauna followed by a dip in a hole that has been cut in the ice.

While Science has undoubtedly played a large part in Malin’s life, and continues to do so  – she’s even married to an Engineer and it looks as though her son, David, will become one too – that certainly hasn’t cut her off from other aspects of life.  She loves literature - often reading Swedish authors, although she says her favourite author of all time is the Canadian writer, Margaret Atwood – and watching films, from the classics to Star Wars and The Matrix.  For her, there has never really been a cultural divide – or if there has, it’s one she’s had no difficulty bridging.  It’s not so easy for everyone!

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Rouse Editor
+44 20 7536 4100
Rouse Editor
+44 20 7536 4100