Although Lars grew up a Californian in Manhattan Beach surfing and playing volleyball, he spent his summers in Sweden (his parents kept a farm outside of Södertälje in Grödinge) where he had a quintessential Swedish upbringing: sailing camps in the archipelago, running in the fields and the woods: “Sweden was a huge part of my upbringing.”
Commenting on the pathway to his success, Mr. Nilsson says “I had the right upbringing; I had parents who loved and respected me, who gave me opportunities. I had the right group of friends who were ambitious, studied and did internships. Growing up doing a lot of sports developed my sense of competitiveness and education also played an important part; it enables you to start thinking for yourself; you get the experience of being a young adult before going into the ‘real world’ – it is an unbelievable opportunity”.
After graduating from college in the late 80s, Lars went to work initially for Xerox, where he learned the trade by selling copy machines door to door: “I decided I’d be the best; I’d work later, I’d work harder, I’d be more charismatic, and friendlier”. The Cloudera VP continues to adhere to the principles he learned so well at the inception of his career.