Meet Sara Schützer, who works with international development cooperation at SMHI: "Our work can save lives”

Sara Schützer is the Zumba instructor, scuba diver and former restaurant manager who decided to study hydrology. Sara now travels the world as a project manager for several of SMHI's international development cooperation projects.

International development cooperation at SMHI focuses on strengthening the capacity of sister organizations and other partners, primarily in low- and middle-income countries, within our areas of expertise: meteorology, hydrology, oceanography, and climate.

"Some of the projects I work on aim to produce good forecasts and warnings that reach people, potentially saving lives. It can provide people with the time to prepare for a flood or hurricane by securing themselves, their crops, or livestock", says Sara

Sara Schützer, along with three colleagues from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA)
Sara Schützer, along with three colleagues from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA)

From restaurant manager to hydrologist

Originally from Gothenburg, Sweden, Sara has previously worked for several years as a scuba diving instructor and in restaurants in ski resorts around the globe. It was while working as a restaurant manager in Switzerland that Sara had the opportunity to make a career change. There, she served a man who was working on an EU initiative to promote climate-friendly innovation and entrepreneurship. Impressed by Sara's energy, he offered her a job right at the table.

"I took the opportunity and moved to the Netherlands to start my new position as a project manager. Within that role, I traveled around Europe and met many truly inspiring people with a strong motivation to save the world. I was inspired by them and felt that I also wanted to help save the world, so I thought my next step was to learn more. Therefore, I decided to start studying hydrology", says Sara.

Sara Schützer writes on a  blackboard in a classroom in Zimbabwe.
Sara Schützer teaches hydrological modelling on a course in Zimbabwe


After five years of studies, Sara got a temporary job at SMHI's hydrological research department, where she worked on modeling the downstream effects of wetland restoration. After that, she secured a permanent position as a project manager for some of SMHI's international development cooperation projects, a role she greatly enjoys.

"In this position, I am constantly exposed to new situations and meet many new people. I often find myself in situations that require problem-solving, which is a challenge I like."

In her role at SMHI, Sara has worked in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Indonesia, and Ethiopia, where she believes her broad background has been valuable.

"I think that a wide variety of experiences can provide you with more perspectives and approaches to handle different situations that may arise, says Sara Schützer."