Cristina Stenbeck was born in New York City as the eldest daughter of Jan Stenbeck, a Swedish industrialist and entrepreneur, and her American mother, Merrill McLeod. Her parents had three other children, Hugo, Sophie, and Max. Stenbeck is the granddaughter of Hugo Stenbeck (1890 – 1977), a Swedish industrialist and lawyer who was one of the co-founders of the family company, Investment AB Kinnevik.
Stenbeck attended St. Andrew's School in Delaware (where she later served as a trustee), and graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelor of Science in 2000 at age 22.
Cristina Stenbeck’s business career began in 1997 after she joined the board of Invik & Co, a finance-based subsidiary of Kinnevik at the time. Stenbeck assumed leadership of the group in 2003 when she became the vice chairman of Investment AB Kinnevik, later becoming chairman in 2007.
For the next decade after 2003, Stenbeck made successful changes at Kinnevik, consolidating the ownership of the group, whilst simplifying the corporate structure. She also divested peripheral businesses in order to reduce leverage and increase transparency of the company.
Her leadership has also seen the group’s global network expand; the Kinnevik Group now operate in more than 80 countries in the communication, entertainment, media and e-commerce sectors, with well-known brands like Tigo, Tele2, Viasat, and Zalando forming part of the firm’s reach. As of the fourth quarter of 2013, Kinnevik’s net assets totalled SEK 65.5 billion, while the combined revenue of all group companies was approximately SEK 420 million.
In early 2014, she was appointed chairman of the board at the online fashion retail website Zalando. She also assumed the chairman role at telecoms giant Millicom in May 2014.
Stenbeck is a board member of the Reach for Change foundation which promotes social entrepreneurship and business activities in Africa, Scandinavia, Russia and the CIS. She also works for the Hugo Stenbeck Foundation with her brothers and sister, Sophie and Max, a charitable foundation established by her grandfather in 1962.
In April 2012, Stenbeck was awarded the Swedish Royal Patriotic Society Business Medal for outstanding entrepreneurship, while in November 2012, she won the Golden Gavel for her leadership as chairman of a listed company.
Stenbeck has been married to the English businessman Alexander Fitzgibbons since September 2005. She has three daughters and one son and lived for a long time in London, but decided in 2015 to move to Stockholm.