Jacob Wallenberg: The Chairman of Investor AB

1 minutes reading time
Published 29 Feb 2024
Reviewed by: Peter Westberg

Jacob Wallenberg, part of the Wallenberg family’s fifth generation and Chairman of the $68 billion family investment company Investor AB, is probably one of the most influential businessmen in entire Europe. As the chairman of Investor, a position he’s held for over a decade, Jacob has become the most visible face of the “troika,” including his cousins Marcus and Peter, leading the family’s various enterprises. His penchant for engaging directly with challenges and his active role in public debates underscore his leadership style, marked by both decisiveness and a capacity to navigate complex issues.

Key Insights

  • Jacob Wallenberg's leadership at Investor AB: As Chairman, Jacob has significantly influenced Europe’s business sector, driving Investor AB towards strategic growth.

  • Authentic leadership: Embracing the Wallenberg family motto "Esse non videri," Jacob focuses on genuine, hands-on leadership, actively engaging in both business strategy and societal issues.

  • Global business influence: Beyond his executive roles, Jacob actively participates in global forums and organizations, highlighting his commitment to addressing broader societal and economic challenges.

  • Passion beyond business: Jacob’s interest in sailing, particularly participating in the Gotland Runt Offshore Race, showcases his personal commitment to tradition and the Wallenberg family's legacy.

Path to The Family Business

Born on January 13, 1956, in Stockholm, Sweden, Jacob’s journey to the helm of the family’s business empire Investor wasn’t predestined by his upbringing. Despite the Wallenberg legacy, his early years were shaped by changing family dynamics, including his parents’ early divorce and his father Peter's international career, which kept him abroad until Jacob’s adolescence. Raised alongside his siblings and half-siblings in a large family, Jacob was exposed to a range of future possibilities, even as his grandfather Marcus “Dodde” Wallenberg took a special interest in him.

His academic and professional path was – in regular Wallenberg fashion – rigorous and international, starting with a reserve officer’s exam at the Swedish Naval Academy, followed by studies at the Wharton Business School in Pennsylvania, where he earned both a Bachelor of Science in Economics and an MBA. Jacob’s “apprenticeship” included stints at prestigious financial institutions like JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and eventually the family bank SEB, across global financial capitals from New York to Singapore, honing his expertise in finance and banking.

The Jacob Wallenberg Approach: Authentic Leadership

Jacob’s career has been characterized by a series of significant leadership roles, including his tenure from 1998 to 2005 as Chairman of SEB, a bank founded by his great-great grandfather, André Oscar Wallenberg in 1856. He also served as its CEO in 1997 and Vice Chairman from 2005 to 2014. He notably held the Vice Chairman position at other major companies including ABB, Ericsson, SAS, Atlas Copco, and Stora Enso. Additionally, he was the only non-American member in The Coca-Cola Company board between 2007 and 2014.

Jacob’s leadership philosophy is deeply rooted in the Wallenberg family’s motto, “Esse non videri,” latin for “to be, not to seem.” This principle emphasizes authenticity and a hands-on approach to business. Wallenberg's approachable style, willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue, and preference for simplicity over extravagance highlight his commitment to this ethos. He is known for his ability to adapt to change, a quality he regards as essential for survival and success in the global business arena​​.

“Change is really the only tradition worth preserving. We think there is only one way to survive in the kind of global business we’re involved in, dealing with multinational companies – if you want to be at the forefront and be successful, you have to be able to adapt.” – Jacob Wallenberg

Overseeing Investor AB

Jacob has been the Chairman of Investor since 2005, and before that Vice Chairman since 1999. The company is sometimes referred to as the Swedish Berkshire Hathaway, and is one of the largest investment companies in Europe with a market cap of $68 billion. Some of its major public holdings include AstraZeneca, Atlas Copco, ABB, Saab, and EQT.

Since its inception in 1916, Investor has continuously built and developed strong and sustainable companies through substantial ownership and board participation. This is mainly done today through its three different business areas: Listed Companies, Patricia Industries, and Investments in EQT, in all of which Investor is driving the initiatives that are believed to create most value for each individual company.

Under Jacob’s leadership, Investor has expanded its portfolio of businesses, adhering to a strategy that emphasizes clear delegation and active engagement in strategy and implementation. This has resulted in an average annual adjusted net asset value (NAV) growth of 14% during the last five years, and as of February 2024, NAV amounts to almost $85 billion.

Influence Beyond Business

Beyond his executive roles, Jacob is deeply involved in addressing societal and economic issues. He’s known for his active participation in organizations such as the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, the Stockholm School of Economics, and Connect Sweden. His international presence is significant as well, with memberships in the European Round Table, various think tanks, advisory committees, and annual appearances at the World Economic Forum in Davos and the Bilderberg Group.

Jacob’s passion extends beyond the boardroom to the open seas. He embodies the Wallenberg tradition of sailing, participating annually in the Gotland Runt Offshore Race – the world’s largest of its kind – aboard “Regina,” a classic yacht that has been in the family since 1951 when it was gifted to his grandfather, Marcus “Dodde” Wallenberg, by the Finnish shipowner and politician Henrik Ramsays.


Jacob Wallenberg’s influence in shaping the trajectory of the family’s business interests, coupled with his active engagement in broader societal and economic discussions, underscores a leadership style that is both grounded in the Wallenberg heritage and attuned to the challenges of a rapidly evolving global landscape​​​​.

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