Cecilia Lambie is co-owner and director of The Luxury Network, a marketing group which works as a private membership club with connections in capitals and countries around the world, and chief executive of the newly launched My Luxury Channel, a live-commerce shopping site. She was born and grew up in Sweden and found a love of travelling from a young age. She got to travel the world as a senior global marketing manager for Ericsson Executive Education before she met her Kiwi boyfriend – now husband – and moved to New Zealand with him almost 20 years ago. 

My happiest memory would probably be playing with my sister and my cousins at my grandma and grandad’s grocery store. We would go to see them over the weekend and the store was also where they lived. I had a really close connection with my mum's mother, and she's definitely part of my happiest childhood memories.

Cecilia Lambie back in Sweden visiting her beloved Mormor (grandmother), Ebba Malmsten, with children Isabella, left, and William. (Image: Supplied) 

As a child, I wanted to be a singer. My favourite group was – and still is – ABBA, and I wanted to be Agnetha Fältskog. If I gave a musical career a go now, though, I think my kids would say "absolutely not".

I come from quite a hard-working family. My parents taught me that hard work does pay off. They always told us to try our best. You might not be great at it, but just give it a go. 

My dad started his own business at the age of 20, and my mum worked in it, too. They bought and sold businesses throughout my childhood, so I grew up around a very open and business-focused family, where at the dinner table we talked about businesses and what my parents were working on. And, to be honest, money has also always been a subject that we've never been very shy about discussing within my family. 

I started working at just 14 at a grocery store in Sweden. It was like Countdown is here. There’s nothing better than earning your own money at an early age. You never forget your first paycheck. I worked in the afternoon or over the weekend, and when I was older, I ran the store’s accounting during the holidays when their accountant had the summer off.

I was a bit of a saver, too. I remember my first bank book in Sweden. It was Pink Panther themed and every time you deposited money into your bank account, you got a little Pink Panther sticker. I loved that. I like to save my money. 

When I got a little bit older and started thinking, "Oh, god, what am I going to do with my life?" my dad told me don't choose your first job based on what tastes the best, choose something you actually enjoy doing and then you'll be good at it and you'll be able to excel at it. And I think that's great advice and that's what I try to do.

After I finished school in Sweden, I took a gap year. I went to France and studied French. 

My most fun – and scariest – memory from my time there was probably from the first time I lived on my own. I had organised my own accommodation and my mother came with me to make sure I was settled in. When we got to the apartment, we found it was like a little cage. There were these crystal bars through the windows and it was so cold, it was like living in a cave. We stayed there one night before finding somewhere else.

In Montpellier, southern France, during her gap year. (Image: Supplied)

After my gap year, I went to Lund University in Sweden. I got my bachelor's degree and my master's in science and business administration. I did two exchange programmes while at university, one in Belgium and one at the National University of Singapore. 

I also did two years of executive MBA courses at Columbia University business school while I worked at Ericsson Executive Education, and their global management programme. I've always loved travelling, and that's probably one of the reasons I still live abroad and not in the country where I was born.

When I worked for Ericsson, they joined forces with Sony and created a global brand called Sony Ericsson. I worked with their marketing team and also with mobile product launches. I travelled a lot. I worked in Sweden, Hong Kong, Sydney and Japan over that two-year period.

Working in Tokyo was phenomenal. I love Japan. It was so technically advanced. They were so much at the forefront of what was happening in technology and innovation. 

Enjoying some outdoor exercise while working in Japan for Sony Ericsson. (Image: Supplied)

After I met my boyfriend, Hugh, we moved to NZ. I couldn't continue with Ericsson because their presence here wasn't that big, so I started my own consulting company. I did that full-time from 2003.

In 2019, I was really keen to try something else and came on board The Luxury Network. So that's how I started on a more entrepreneurial journey and moved away from more of the corporate world.

I speak four languages – English, Swedish, German and French – and over covid, I decided to try to learn Mandarin, too, because NZ is such a major part of the Mandarin-speaking luxury market. It’s an area of The Luxury Network that I’ve really enjoyed working in, and we see a big growth opportunity to be able to work with Mandarin speakers.

I've got three children – William, 16, Isabella, 14, and Olivia, 11 – and they would say I'm a bit of a nerd. I was definitely an academic overachiever at school – and I really enjoyed school. That's probably also why I studied so much afterwards.

My advice to people in business is to always work with something you enjoy because you'll get passionate about it and will excel. Don't choose what your parents want you to choose.  

Another good piece of advice is to never take no for an answer in a work-related capacity. You might not be talking to the right person or you might not have presented a solution in a way that they can see why you would be able to add value to their business. Perhaps there's another way of getting to a yes. Keeping that optimism is really important because it's easy otherwise to give up.

I manage stress by walking my dog. I love him. My mum says he's more half-human, half-dog because he’s so spoiled. I've never owned a dog before and I love it. Walking my dog helps me to get some space and to get away from everything. He's always happy to see me and is definitely the most easygoing person in my life.

I do like to spend my money on travelling, and I hope my husband and I have instilled a love of travelling in our kids as well. And as I work with a lot of luxury brands, I have access to some amazing businesses that have amazing products. 

NZ to a certain extent reminds me of Sweden, not just on the nature side of things, but also all the friendly people. Both countries are also working hard to create an equal society and independence for women. Those are two causes that are close to my heart and something that I really like about here.

As told to Ella Somers. 
This interview has been edited for clarity.