Insight & influence - how to excel in global mobility

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Insight& Influence







4 : Employees : Your most valuable asset 6 : International talents boost competitiveness 8 : Guide : Help people become circular migrants

20 : This is how they retain global talent 21 : My family’s well-being will keep me anywhere 22 : The good life the Danish way 23 : International Community’s guide to retain

HOW TO ATTRACT 10 : The job recruited me 12 : Made in Denmark 14 : A child-friendly city 15 : International Community’s guide to attract


HOW TO SAY SEE YOU LATER 24 : It’s like an addiction 25 : International Community’s guide to say see you later

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AND SMEs 26 : International employees create value in SMEs.

16 : And now she is knitting with a group of Danes 18 : We know settling in well matters 19 : International Community’s guide to welcome



ee is where the employ es dg le ow kn ac they will have Once a company s it into account, ke ta d an om fr n process. coming st of the relocatio re e th ith w s es rategy more succ Global Talent St , The Centre for

– Sally Khallash

their busy schedule to Leadership took time out of ues. I felt like I knew talk to us about company val y after that and it made everything about the compan me feel appreciated. modities

– Alan Thompson, Danske Com

When I talk to internati onal colleag becomes o ues about D bvious that enmark, it m any come h life and not ere to enjoy just to earn the good money. The leaves emp work-life ba loyees with la time to do them happ the things th nce y. a t make – Anil Mor, Aarhus Univ ersity Hosp


Basically, years of know-how and experience will be put into a shared concept, which companies can apply to attract international employees and their families. – Jan Beyer Schmidt-Sørensen, City of Aarhus

International Community


Employees :

Your most valuable asset We simply need talented people to make the wheels of our businesses turn and boost our competitiveness – and sometimes when we set out to hire the most talented employee, the person with the right background, skills and experience cannot be found in our own little duck pond. Today, companies of all sizes look outside Danish borders in order to get the right employees. Besides their apparent skills, our experience and studies prove that international employees add diversity to the work environment, create better conditions for innovation, generate jobs and may even hold the key to foreign markets. However, how do we make sure that talented international employees and their families decide to come to Denmark instead of another country – and not least settle here ? Experience has taught me that you need to address the needs and wants of the international employees and their families, both before and during their stay, in order to make their time here as successful as possible – for both their sake and for the sake of your company. It is important that you sustain the investment you have made. The following pages provide you with valuable information concerning the four phases which companies typically need to consider when recruiting international employees and these are specifically : attracting, welcoming, retaining and saying see you later. The stories are mainly told by international employees living in Denmark in order to get the most honest and insightful advice on how to support their needs. In other words, this is the how-to guide to get access to the most talented employees outside Denmark no matter what your size, location, business area or previous experience of hiring talented international employees are. Welcome to the talent race ! Karina Boldsen, Director People and Culture at Vestas, on behalf of International Community’s Advisory Board.


Foreign skilled talents are crucial for future prosperity and productivity in Danish companies. – Tine Horwitz

Tine Horwitz, CEO Consortium for Global Talent


Talent boost

International talents boost competitiveness Highly educated foreign talents are creating growth and new jobs by filling job positions where Denmark needs specialists, which we do not have inside our borders. Moreover, they contribute with the development of new knowledge and technology thus helping Danish companies into new markets, which is crucial for a knowledge-based society in a globalized world. During recent years the phrase “economic crisis” has become a widely used phrase in people’s vocabulary. When you work in the field of global mobility in Denmark you often hear the question: “Why is it necessary to focus on attracting and retaining international talents, when we have a high unemployment rate in Denmark?” However, studies prove that international talents do not take jobs away from the Danish population – on the contrary they create jobs, increase productivity and contribute to the competitive performance of Danish companies. Lone Skriver Pedersen, Group Mobility Manager at Grundfos Management A/S, knows how important it is to recruit international talents to boost their competitiveness.

International talents increase productivity and growth According to a study published by the Confederation of Danish Industry in 2012, highly educated international employees contribute to increasing productivity and growth in Danish companies. The study underlines that global talents not only entail productivity they also provide Danish companies with new knowledge within research, production, marketing and not at least knowledge about foreign markets. Moreover, over a period of three years companies, which recruited international experts, experienced an increase in productivity of almost three percent compared to companies with Danish experts. Tine Horwitz, CEO of Consortium for Global Talents, which aims to attract and retain skilled foreign professionals in Denmark, is well aware that the companies need talented international employees to compete. “We have to realize that Denmark is in global competition for recruiting international talents with skills and knowledge to boost our competiveness, strengthen our economic growth and position on the global market. The labor force is decreasing in Denmark and Europe and we are faced with a demographic change with less hands and brains to execute work. Therefore, these foreign skilled talents are crucial for future prosperity and productivity in Danish companies, Tine Horwitz says.”

“We do not focus on the employees’ nationality, but on how to attract the person with the right skills and background. It is not always possible to find the needed specialists with a Danish passport so we often look outside the country. International employees contribute with new knowledge and competences and are important to our productivity, competitiveness and overall performance at Grundfos.”

Why attract international talents? In a global market, recruitment of talented, international employees can be an important key to long-term success for your company.

Boost competitiveness and performance now and in the future. Improve conditions for innovation through cultural diversification. Broaden corporate culture and facilitate access to the global market.

Improve your company image and become more attractive as a potential employer. Gain insight with cultural and language competences.

Strive to employ the most talented employees regardless of nationality.


Circular migration

Once you become an expat, you’re always an expat. –Sally Khallash

Sally Khallash Sally Khallash is a founding director of The Centre for Global Talent Strategy and is one of the leading global experts on talent mobility. Sally Khallash is a recognized EU expert and has adviced both multinational companies such as Maersk, Novo Nordisk, Milicom, World In Property and PWC on strategical issues and is also a favoured speaker and analyst by governments and organizations such as the UN, International Organization of Migration, DI and more.

Guide : Help people become circular migrants Circular migrants are, according to global talent expert Sally Khallash, part of a powerful trend in the international work field. Companies, regions and countries supporting the circular mobility patterns of expats will turn out to be successful.

“I don’t know what the Danish strategy is ; I fear ‘nothing’ is the answer. Denmark has been shooting randomly at everything and as a result the country is lagging behind.”

Multinational company CEOs stress the scarcity of talent as a major threat to growth – above factors such as market knowledge, investment decisions, access to resources. So in order to grow, companies and nations must have the ability to attract the best workforce – or the most talented will work elsewhere, says global talent expert Sally Khallash.

Here Sally Khallash takes us through the four important steps in international recruitment – and give tips on how to be successful doing so.

Moreover, to have success in attracting the brightest you need a strategy and the know-how to implement it. “At best, companies need to supplement the good old “trial and error”approach with a strategy to give a purpose and a process to reach their goals,” she says.

Need for a strategy With a Master in political science Sally Khallash helps global companies attract the right people to their workforce. Living in London, she is writing a PhD on how Danish companies can become better at attracting and retaining global talent at Copenhagen Business School. In her opinion Danish companies as well as the Danish nation need a clear strategy on attracting global talent. “Denmark is lagging behind. European countries around Denmark have strategies for their recruitment. Ireland wants to be the Silicon Valley of Europe, the UK wants to attract the very wealthy, Norway goes for oil and gas specialists and Sweden is looking for engineers to improve their manufacturing industry,” Sally Khallash says and continues :


However, the task is within reach, and Sally Khallash sees more and more companies working with global talent in a professional way.

Know who you are looking for Not knowing what kind of talent you are looking for turns your task into looking for a needle in a haystack. You must know what kind of talent you need in your company, region or country. Then analyze where in the world this is located – and go for that. Sally Khallash adds that companies with a strong social responsibility profile tend to be more attractive to global talent: “Most people want purpose in their work, and as part of your branding strategy you should know how you appear to potential candidates in other countries,” she says. Moreover, Sally Khallash advises companies to take the initial first contact with a candidate very seriously. “Sometimes companies send someone from a recruitment agency with no in-depth knowledge of the specific job and candidates are not attracted by talking to people with a limited knowledge of their future. So we loose a lot of people in that very first phase.”

Your new star becomes vulnerable After the candidate signs with your company, the first thing to do is acknowledge that here is someone very vulnerable.

Circular migration

According to Sally Khallash there are four important steps when recruiting international talents.

“Especially mobility ‘novices’ tend to be a bit insecure finding themselves in an unfamiliar and vulnerable situation. Once a company acknowledges where the employee is coming from and takes it into account, the company will have more success with the rest of the relocation process,” Sally Khallash says. She adds that many companies are doing a lot in this phase and that most of the trouble for the newly arrived occurs in meeting with public entities. “When I interview expats working in Denmark, being bounced around by Danish bureaucracy is what makes their coming here hard. I’m sure the system does not mean to be bureaucratic and a lot of effort is going into improving this phase, but unfortunately we’re just not there yet. Some tend to leave because they do not feel comfortable here. Also, some people have a hard time with the overall negative attitude towards foreigners in Danish media.”

Empowering expats to belong Even though a company should help expats feel like they belong there is no need to pamper. “Doing too much can de-empower expats. They have a lot of resources, so in general you just need to give them a clue, a gentle push in the right direction, and they will work out the rest themselves,” Sally Khallash says.

Remember to say see you later Hardly any companies work actively to turn their expats into circular migrants. However, in Sally Khallash’s opinion, they should. “Once you become an expat, you’re always an expat. You get this restlessness, because the society you long to go back to is never there, because it developed and you developed too. In stead, we must acknowledge this new way of working, where people move from country to country to work for new subcontractors or competing companies once they’ve left their first country. Taking our children to these different countries, we create this new group of third culture kids with a true multicultural background.” Although it makes sense in the overall retention strategies of firms, most companies do not have the resources or the processes in place to help people get a job with a related firm or a subcontractor once their contract with the expat is over. This means that instead of maintaining contact with the respective employee through a more holistic career planning strategy, most companies lose contact with their employee and with that the knowhow that the employee brought into the firm. “We need to understand that the global trends push towards short term employments. Companies can gain many benefits from adopting an ‘alumni’-inspired strategy that both improves fruitful circularity in expat careers and helps firms maintain access to a qualified talent pool even when the employees stop working for the respective firm,” Sally Khallash says.

Furthermore, Sally Khallash underlines that companies and nations need to understand that retaining and the following step “see you later” starts when you recruit. “You must keep the promises you make when you recruit. Not to overpromise and underdeliver is difficult. But making sure that your area has international schools and is generally attractive is important.”


How to attract


The job recruited me Nothing is more important than the job itself when it comes to being successful at recruiting global talent. That is the reality with Danish dairy company Arla Foods. Personally, a move to Aarhus and Denmark was realistic for 48-year-old Anton Blokland when he contemplated leaving Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Administratively, the move was also easy and he and his wife Sandra even liked that Aarhus feels like a city but is still a village. Ultimately, the job Arla Foods had for the Dutchman made the difference. “I was attracted to the role that Arla offered me. I was brought in to further grow and expand our global business services’ finance department geographically and further improve the quality of our services. I like driving strategy implementation and change management, working with people and drive behavioral change, which truly can make a difference,” he says.

Pretty good feeling Before Arla, Anton Blokland worked for an American company in the Netherlands, Belgium and in the USA, always implementing changes in organisations. “When I was approached by Arla, I was at a bit of a crossroad professionally and I wanted to do something different. However, I was not very familiar with Arla, because they were not that well known in the Netherlands at the time,” he says. Anton Blokland met with a recruitment company in Copenhagen and was attracted to the role and the job content. Later he visited Arla in Aarhus and met some of the senior executives. “I had a pretty good feeling after meeting with management in Aarhus. The job was very interesting and learning more about Arla’s strategic ambitions


really made a difference. I wanted to become part of the Arla journey,” he says and continues : ”At the same time, the job was flexible since I travel a lot. I could still stop by the Netherlands to visit my children and family,” he says. Anton Blokland has two children aged 18 and 20 living with their mother in Rotterdam, while he moved to Brendstrup outside Aarhus with his wife. She works in sales for a Dutch company with Europe as her market and since October last year she has been working out of Aarhus. “From Billund the flight to Amsterdam is 50 minutes, so it’s a relatively easy commute,” he says. Even though the exact content of the job was the most important factor for Anton Blokland, the local surroundings also mattered. He feels the Danish and Dutch mentality are similar and this makes him feel comfortable in Denmark. To Anton Blokland, Aarhus is not the most attractive city in Denmark businesswise. “Aarhus is not the greatest city to grow business, the lack of a fast train to Copenhagen or a close by airport for international travel often requires you to connect via Copenhagen in case of travel outside Denmark, but to me it is ok,” he says.

I had a pretty good feeling after meeting with management in Aarhus. I wanted to become part of the Arla journey. – Anton Blokland

Arla wants long-term relationships The number of expats being hired to work from Arla’s head office in Aarhus is rising. Senior HR Manager Ulla Kjaer says : “We’re a global business and of course we want our employees to reflect that. We want to have the global perspective in all of our actions.” Some of the new expats coming to Arla are part of the company’s graduate programme and the graduates are recruited from many countries. Regarding both graduates and more senior members of staff or management Arla is going for long-term relationships. “Of course the surroundings like good infrastructure, the right kind of schools and so forth are important, but the job we offer should be the most important thing. A candidate must choose to work with us because of what we have to offer as a company – otherwise it will not work out in the long run,” she says. Arla Foods has production sites in 12 countries and sales offices in 42. The global number of employees is 18,000. Anton Blokland, Vice President Global Business Services Finance at Arla Foods.


How to attract

The new project ‘Talent Attraction’ can be valuable when attracting your next international employee.

Made in Your company competes with much bigger and better known countries and cities for talented international employees. So how do you make sure that your company and its location are more attractive than companies in Hamburg or Houston ? Fortunately, Aarhus, the Central Denmark Region and Denmark as a whole have a lot to offer to international employees and their families. Consequently, project Talent Attraction has been initiated to promote everything Denmark has to offer – and basically is here to support your company with tools which can add value to your company brand and be used strategically to attract talented international employees. According to Bent Mikkelsen, head of the Department for Regional Development in Central Denmark Region, your company needs to be aware that job offers are often not just evaluated by the job position, salary and future career opportunities – it is the whole package. “External factors – which are more or less out of your company’s hands – can make a huge difference between getting the contract signed or discarded. Does the city offer a rich cultural life, can the kids get an international education, is it possible for the accompanying spouse to find a job or a social network and can the employee find something to do outside office hours ? Your surroundings mean a lot to potential employees, so you need to


be able to communicate that your area is attractive to work and live in,” says Bent Mikkelsen.

Improve your company brand How do you add your surroundings to your company brand and communicate about them ? Recently Aarhus created a city brand – “Aarhus. Danish for Progress” and the accompanying “With us” statement – which profiles the city and creates a shared visibility between organizations and companies of all sizes. Also the new nationwide project ‘Talent Attraction’ offers a shared employer place branding concept based on a collaborative effort. “Consistency is very important when branding a city or an area. We need to tell the same tale to strengthen the brand. Therefore, a project like ‘Talent Attraction’ can be valuable when attracting your next international employee, since it collects information from companies of all sizes and uses it to produce best practice solutions and other material for the benefit of your company. Basically, years of know-how and experience will be put into a shared concept, which companies can apply to attract international employees and their families,” says Jan Beyer Schmidt-Sørensen director of Business Development, City of Aarhus.

Aarhus – The Capital of Culture Another project, which definitely will add international flavor to the city and the entire Region, is Aarhus 2017. Coincidentally, one of Aarhus’ most recognized international employees is Rebecca Matthews, the newly

How to attract

Denmark appointed director for the visionary project. According to her there is no doubt that as The Capital of Culture, Aarhus will reach a broader audience in the coming years to the benefit of the companies in the area. “It is an incredibly exciting task, and I am really looking forward to getting started. It is also a very big task. The Capital of Culture is a unique opportunity to raise the profile of Aarhus and the Central Denmark Region internationally, and the RETHINK theme contains the potential for creating a whole string of new and strong relations across Europe,” says Rebecca Matthews.

Up to the task

Project Talent Attraction: Brands Denmark as the preferred country to live and work in. Can be part of your company’s strategy towards attracting international talents. Highlights the values that international talents consider the most relevant when deciding to come to Denmark to live and work.

Similarly, project ‘Talent Attraction’ helps Danish companies build relations with talented employees all over the world. The project supports companies throughout Denmark, but mainly concentrates on the Copenhagen area and Central Denmark Region where, respectively, Copenhagen Capacity and International Community/Aarhus Business Network is in charge of the task.

Aims to attract talented international employees to Denmark through close cooperation with companies of all sizes, universities and research institutions.

“We are very excited to head this project in Central Denmark Region and look forward to collecting valuable information from all over the Region to the benefit of everyone involved. This is going to be a collaborative effort and we hope that many companies will see this as a great opportunity to become even more attractive to international employees – no matter their size and previous experience,” says Peter Kjær, Chairman of Aarhus Business network.

Is lead by International Community in Central Denmark Region in partnership with City of Aarhus and Copenhagen Capacity.

Develops best practice solutions based on years of know-how and knowledge for everyone to share.

Please, contact Mattias Suhr Mortensen at or Merete Sandager at for more information about the project.


Dyrehaven is one of the Belgian family’s favorite spots in Aarhus.

A child-friendly city The Belgian couple Hilde Van den Borre and Koenraad Verbrugge came to Denmark from the United States in 2005. Koenraad’s company asked him take over responsibility for a department at DuPont in Denmark, so the family with three children pulled up the stakes and started afresh. It is always a big decision to move to another country, but according to the couple the decision was not so difficult this time. “We had tried moving before, so it was a much easier decision this time. The first time you move, you try to analyze the pro and the cons. We found out that it is too difficult to analyze. We figured that we would probably regret not taking the opportunity and you can always go back if it doesn’t work out. When you have that mindset, the decision about moving becomes much easier,” explains the couple.

International schooling a top priority However, it takes more than an open mind to move the family. One of the things the couple wanted information about before moving was the possibility of international schooling in Aarhus. “Our oldest son was five years old at the time. He had just finished pre-school and was ready to go to school. Fortunately, I found an international school in Aarhus, and then we were ready to go,” explains Hilde Van den Borre.


Today Aarhus offers international education from kindergarten to high school.

It is all about having fun in “børnehave” According to the couple, the education system is a bit different in Denmark. The Danish “børnehave” in particular is different from kindergartens in many other countries. “‘Børnehave’ is very Scandinavian. Children have a lot of freedom in the ‘børnehave’. In other countries it is much more structured and from three years and up it is much more like going to school. In Denmark you first go to school when you are six years old. Before that age it is all about playing outside and having fun,” says Hilde Van den Borre. According to the Belgian couple, international parents coming to Aarhus may find it difficult to adjust to the Danish educational system. However, the family has had great experiences with the Danish “børnehave”. “Our two girls really enjoyed attending ‘børnehave’ and did not experience any challenges with the transition to school. Three years in ‘børnehave’ also gave them a good introduction to the Danish language and made them ready for school,” says Hilde Van den Borre.

A great city for young children The couple did not know much about Denmark before they decided to move – apart from the fact that it was in northern Europe and Copenhagen was the capital.

How to attract



I found an international school in Aarhus, and then we were ready to go. – Hilde Van den Borre

More than a job. Be aware that international employees consider both the job and surrounding factors before signing a contract. International education, housing, job and networking opportunities for accompanying spouses and the possibility of enjoying leisure time activities can be of great significance.

Be informative. Prepare potential international employees about what to expect when moving to Denmark. Be honest in order to avoid misunderstandings and consider everything from paperwork to housing and from leisure time activities to child education.

Stay informed. Stay updated on everything your area has to offer to newcomers – for instance through International Community – and pass it on to your (potential) international employees.

“We visited Aarhus before moving here to find out more about our future home city. The city was nice, clean and well maintained, so we looked forward to living here,” says the couple. When they moved to Aarhus they experienced that it was a great city for a couple with young children. “There are so many things to do in and near the city when you have young children, and it is actually a very child-friendly city. Aarhus is a green city with parks and playgrounds and the Marselis Forest is perfect for a stroll. The deer park ‘Dyrehaven’ is also a great place to bring the kids and you can feed the deer by hand,” says Hilde Van den Borre.

More time with the family According to the Belgian family, Denmark is not all picture-perfect – the weather is grey and taxes are high. However, if you value family life then Denmark is a great country to live in. The couple really appreciates the Danish work-life balance, which allows Koenraad to spend more time with the family. “In Denmark the work-life balance is pretty good compared to other countries. Management accepts and respects you having the possibility of taking the day off or working from home. I also have six weeks of vacation, and it is normal to take three weeks in a row during the summer period, which is not the case in other countries. It is really nice for the whole family,” says Koenraad Verbrugge.

Get to know each other. Invite the international employee and his or her family on a visit to the company and the surrounding area in order to give them a taste of what to expect in Denmark in and outside the workplace. Maybe arrange a “coffee date” with an expat already living in the area.

Acknowledge their values. Acknowledge that international employees travelling alone and international employees with families value different things. However, the Danish worklife balance is often attractive for everyone since it leaves time to take part in leisure time activities and to be with the family.

Cooperation. Cooperate with the nationwide project ‘Talent Attraction’, which is lead by International Community in Central Denmark Region. ‘Talent Attraction’ can add value to your company brand and be used strategically to attract talented international employees.


How to welcome


And now she is knitting with a group of Danes Within a week of moving to Aarhus because of her husband’s job Kate Thulin got her first friends in Denmark. Six months on, she can hardly squeeze additional social activities into her schedule. She has felt very welcome from day one. Every Tuesday American Kate Thulin packs up knitting needles, yarn and her improving Danish language skills to go for a knitting meet-up at a local café. She connected with the all Danish knitting group only a couple of months after arriving in Aarhus in August 2012. “I read about the knitting group in the international newsletter from the University, so I sent the organizer a message on Facebook saying that I don’t know how to knit and I don’t know Danish, but I would like to learn both. They invited me in,” she says. 27-year-old Kate Thulin moved from Washington DC because her Swedish husband, Anders Thulin, got the job of his dreams at Siemens in Brande.

How will I meet people ?


Humongous relief to get friends On their first day in Aarhus, the couple went to the International Citizen Service by the harbour in Aarhus. While Anders Thulin consulted SKAT, Kate Thulin talked to International Community. The network invited the newly arrived couple to a get-together during the annual Aarhus Festival a few days later. The Thulins went. She scouted for possible friend matches ; he made contact – even though it was intimidating. During just one afternoon, the Thulins had a new group of friends – all expats working in Aarhus. “It was a humongous relief that I never got to the phase where you get sad, don’t leave home and just don’t have the energy for meeting new people,” she says acknowledging that not being shy helps.

Take Danish classes If you are shy, however, the best piece of advice from Kate Thulin is to attend Danish classes as fast as possible. “I enjoy my class very much even though we don’t see each other out of class. But many of the others do,” she says.

Back home Kate Thulin used her masters degree in international affairs to work at The German Marshall Fund of the United States, which aims to strengthen transatlantic relations. In Denmark Kate Thulin did not have a job to look forward to. During the last weeks in the US thoughts about that preoccupied her – besides the packing and the saying goodbye.

Two months after arriving Kate Thulin was finally issued a CPR-number. Even though this prevented her from taking Danish classes and working from day one, she feels very welcome in Aarhus. Everything went smoothly on arrival and Siemens prepared the Thulins very well for moving to a different country. What will happen in the future is too early to say.

“I worried a lot what it would be like after the first week in Aarhus, when Anders left for work. How would find things to do, how would I meet new people, would I feel lonely ?” Luckily, that never happened.

“I can imagine staying here and becoming a Dane. But I miss my parents and my siblings back home a lot because I’m very close to them. Not even the best HR department can change that,” she says.

I can imagine staying here and becoming a Dane. – Kate Thulin

Kate Thulin’s network in Aarhus

Kate Thulin’s leisure time activities

A couple from Sweden. They met within a week of their arrival in Aarhus at a get-together hosted by International Community during the week long Aarhus Festival. She works at Vestas and he works at Grundfos.

In the morning she works as a research assistant at the Department of Political Science and Government at Aarhus University, a job she got through her first unsolicited application.

A Danish couple. He works with Kate Thulin’s Swedish husband Anders Thulin at Siemens and she studies medicine.

The afternoons are spent learning Danish.

A German woman working with Anders Thulin at Siemens. She knows about expat life from working in China. A week into his job, she said to him : “If your wife would like to have a girl chat, I would be happy to go out with her, so tell her to call me”. Some of the employees at International Community in Aarhus.

She recently started teaching international politics part time at the IB World School at Langkær Gymnasium. Tuesday nights she attends the knitting meet-up. On Saturdays, the Thulins often go to a wine tasting at Løves Bog- og Vincafé close to Trøjborg where they live. Also, they take walks and hope to start to learn kayaking.

The Thulins see at least one of the above during a weekend. Once a month she joins an English Reading Book Club started at the library. Now, she has volunteered to continue the club outside the library.


How to welcome

BESTSELLER BESTSELLER has about 200 international employees in Denmark. About two times a month BESTSELLER welcomes a new international employee, mostly for the company’s trainee programme. Most of BESTSELLER’s international employees come from Europe, but occasionally newcomers arrive from India, China, Canada and Turkey. 3,300 people work at BESTSELLER in Denmark. 10,600 work for the company internationally. Foto: BESTSELLER

We know settling in well matters Global clothing company BESTSELLER helps international newcomers settle in once they arrive in Denmark by, for instance, finding an apartment and helping out with the paperwork. About twice a month an international employee will start working at BESTSELLER. And every time, the company’s Mobility Department starts the same procedure to help the international employee get settled in as smooth as possible. Tine Hagenau heads the department and explains how it works. First up is getting formalities straight like the right contract and making sure work permits are in place. Then they register the employee with the tax authority and in the company so that the expat can get a computer and a telephone. “Once the international employees arrive in Denmark each department has scheduled a one-two week introduction for the employees planning who they will meet when and how they will be introduced to their work. On one of the very first days they meet my department,” she says.


At an individual meeting the Mobility Department explains for instance how to get a bank account and a CPR-number, having the right insurance and the rules about vacation. “We also offer to go with them to the authorities and they almost always bring us along. It’s easier now that we have everything at International Citizen Service in Aarhus, but sometimes we have to go to different locations and the expats feel comfortable taking us along,” Tine Hagenau says.

Mostly Europeans Most of the international employees coming to work at BESTSELLER are graduates coming for a two-year trainee programme. Most of them are European, but people from India and China have also joined the company. Once they have finished the programme, some of them stay to work at BESTSELLER with the 3,300 other people working in Denmark or as one of the 10,600 working in BESTSELLER outside Denmark. “We are a global company and we need people with the right understanding of culture, business and language at our markets in different parts of the world,” she says.

How to welcome



Welcome everybody. Make sure to welcome the entire family, not just the employee. International employees and their families decide whether to stay or leave within the first eight weeks.

Tine Hagenau, head of BESTSELLER’s Mobility Department.

We are a global company and we need people with the right understanding of culture, business and language. – Tine Hagenau

Assistance. Dedicate personnel to making sure that international employees (and their family) get settled as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Consider assigning a “buddy” or mentor who can assist through the entire contract period.

Paperwork. Arrange a visit to the International Citizen Service with the international employee in order to get all the paperwork done in one place. Make sure to introduce them to International Community and sign them up for their weekly newsletter with current events for internationals in the area.

Work ethics. Starting in a new work place with different work ethics can be challenging. Have clear expectations of what the employee has to do. Offer a thorough introduction to the company, however, avoid information overload. Prepare a programme where necessary information is given bit by bit.

We are ready to help Bestseller has a number of apartments that the international employees can rent or the company can help find apartments elsewhere. “In general, we make sure that they know that the Mobility Department is ready to help them whenever they need it. We know that once you get settled well and your home is in place you make a better effort at the job and that is in the company’s interest,” she says.

English. Consider changing the corporate language to English. Make signs, bulletin boards, memos, invitations, instructions, posters etc. in English in order to make the work environment more welcoming to international employees.

The Mobility Department also prepares management in the international employee’s department for what to expect when adding global talent to their team. “We haven’t done many social events ourselves yet. Instead we encourage our expats to use the existing networks like International Community, Expat in Denmark and the local business association in Herning, Brande and Ikast because building a network is important,” Tine Hagenau says. BESTSELLER has offices in Brande, Tranbjerg, Stilling, Horsens, Haderslev and Copenhagen.

Prepare other employees. Prepare all the other employees in your company that an international employee has been hired in order for everyone to adapt. Perhaps agree on speaking English at meetings and at lunch in order to make the employee feel as welcome as possible.


How to retain


This is how they retain global talent Energy trading company Danske Commodities has undergone exponential growth over the last few years with international employees playing an important role. But how does the company retain international talents ? Danske Commodities is a company with rapid growth. As a pan-European energy trader, new markets are constantly opening up, demanding cultural awareness and greater language skills. Attracting global talent has played a huge part in the company’s success already and Danske Commodities keeps adding new initiatives to retain that asset. “At Danske Commodities our greatest asset is our people,” says Linda Rasmussen, People & Communications assistant at the Aarhus-based company. She adds : “To ensure continuous growth we invest in the continuous development of our people. And to stimulate the innovative culture of Danske Commodities we also invest in creating good working conditions for our people.” “We feel it is important to have a good start here and that everyone knows and lives the company’s values,” adds Linda Rasmussen. “We have created an internal school, dcAcademy, where we offer introduction courses about the different business teams. Everyone – Danish and global talent – gets the opportunity to learn more about Danske Commodities and how we can create synergies with each other.”

Guided tours of Aarhus Socially, the company welcomes its international employees under an initiative called “New in Aarhus” whereby international employees can expand


their network. Events have included a guided tour of the city, pointing out places of interest. Spouses have also been invited to join a historic tour of Aarhus with both events ending with dinner and a beer at a local café – the best way to get to know a place ! “It turned out to be a huge success. They felt very comfortable talking to each other and getting tips on how to integrate into Danish life,” adds Linda Rasmussen.

Rewarding initiative The company’s latest initiative is to hold monthly lunch meetings for internationals in order to build relationships and promote cultural awareness in the workplace. “We hope these meetings will inspire new events suggested by people themselves. As a company we will definitely support them and set it up, but we want them to take the initiative,” she says. Danske Commodities has also arranged for employees to undertake free Danish classes on a twice-weekly basis with instructors from Lærdansk. Linda Rasmussen adds : “Our corporate language is English ; however, it is important for everyone to understand the little things at lunch or a comment spoken in passing. We provide language and communication skills training since we try to keep our employees happy and so that we can benefit from their expanded knowledge and skills.”

How to Retain

My family’s well-being will keep me anywhere A good job with great conditions is important to Australian Alan Thompson. However, to make him stay in Aarhus everything has to work out with the family too.

“The job is of course also keeping me here. I’m very satisfied with the conditions in my contract and with the company rewarding a job well done,” the 32-year-old says.

Pizza with P&C A company working to make his life easier : Check ! Nice home with a great view in Aarhus : Check ! Quality daycare for his 14-month-old daughter : Check ! A rewarding job in his field of work : Check ! A mentality that his German wife and himself can relate to : Check ! Golf course close to his house : Check ! All in all, Australian national Alan Thompson can see himself staying in Aarhus and working at Danske Commodities for some time. “It has been my most positive work experience ever,” he says. The ability to retain international talent is important to Danske Commodities and the company work actively to secure their investment over time. As Alan says : “As long as my family is well and we can settle into a Danish way of life, I will stay here.” Alan Thompson, who has dual citizenship with Germany, worked for six years in Switzerland before moving to Aarhus in August 2012 with his German wife Ines. Working in different branches of trading for a number of years and specializing in energy, a job at Danske Commodities was very attractive to him.

Alan Thompson was pleased with the introduction he received at Danske Commodities – which was much more than he ever expected. “The very first day I arrived in Aarhus with my little van I stopped by the house of one of the people from the People & Communications (P&C) team. She had collected the key for the apartment she had helped me find in Aarhus. It was a Saturday night and I was invited in for pizza with her family. That was my very first experience with Denmark and it was very positive.” Ever since the P&C team at Danske Commodities has helped with a number of things. How is the sign-up procedure for daycare ? What is the deal with insurance ? And what kind of activities can you attend with your child ? He was also very pleased with the leadership team in Danske Commodities giving a very thorough introduction to the company and its values. “Leadership took time out of their busy schedule to talk to us about company values. I felt like I knew everything about the company after that and it made me feel appreciated. That really impressed me,” Alan Thompson says.

It has been my most positive work experience ever. – Alan Thompson

Danske Commodities Turnover went from 398 million EUR in 2010 to 818 million EUR in 2011. The number of employees went from 89 in the end of 2011 to 264 in the beginning of March 2013. Among the employees are 22 nationalities – 18 international employees were hired in 2012.


How to retain

The work-life balance leaves employees with time to do the things that make them happy. – Anil Mor

The good life the Danish way The famous Danish 37-hour work week leaves the 28-yearold doctor Anil Mor with plenty of time to socialize and enjoy leisure time activities – and he is enjoying the Danish life style to the fullest. There is no stress or hierarchy in the work place, his colleagues are nice and helpful and the city offers an abundance of opportunities. Indian Anil Mor decided to apply for a green card to Denmark after being recommended to do it by fellow student when he took his Masters degree in Sydney. Anil Mor did not really know what to expect of Denmark, but had a plan that sent him from Copenhagen to Aarhus. “My job plan was to find a job within six months in Copenhagen or else I would move on to the next big city in Denmark. It was impossible to find work in Copenhagen – even after sending hundreds of applications. Nevertheless, I had a great time in Copenhagen, where I quickly adjusted to life in Denmark and went to Lærdansk in Hellerup to learn the language and improve my job opportunities. Fortunately, I found work in Aarhus and really enjoy both my job and all the things I have time to do outside work,” says Anil Mor.

Just do what you have to do When Anil Mor first started his PhD at the Department of Clinical Epidemiology at Aarhus University Hospital he was surprised how laid back everyone was. “Everyone is so informal here. People even come to the office in shorts ! That’s not usual in India or even Australia. This can only happen in Denmark,” says Anil Mor.


In India Anil was used to working 70-80 hours a week in a very hierarchical work place, where the tasks always trickled down to the employees lowest in the hierarchy. “Here everyone is equal. On one of my first days I saw one of my bosses was cleaning the fridge and I thought that was very weird. I offered my help and

Work-life balance Work-life balance literally means prioritising between work (career and ambition) on the one hand and life (health, pleasure, leisure, spirituality and family) on the other. Danes enjoy a high degree of flexibility at work – often being able to choose when they start their working day and having the flexibility of working from home. The lunch break is often at a designated time each day, enabling colleagues to interact and eat together, thus getting away from their desks. There is a minimum 5 weeks’ paid holiday for all wage earners. The Danish welfare society is characterized by quality of life and a good work-life balance. Source :

How to Retain

I got the reply ‘no thanks – just do what you have to do’. And it’s up to me to get my job done. You don’t have to punch in and no one cares if I work two hours or 10 hours as long as I get my job done during the 37-hour work week. It’s amazing that people trust each other so much here.” Aarhus University Hospital made sure that Anil Mor got a great start in his new job by assigning him a person who could assist Anil with anything he needed help with.



“My supervisor or my mentor took really good care of me from day one and supported me at every point. He is Danish and he and his family have become very good friends of mine. This summer we will go to Skagen together with his family on vacation. This could never happen in my country,” says Anil Mor.

Leisure time overload Anil Mor is very happy with the colleagueship at his office. He enjoys going to the Friday bar with his colleagues, eating breakfast together once a week and having lunch together with everyone, which according to him never happens in companies of the same size in India. However, when Anil Mor and his colleagues leave the office most of his Danish colleagues go home to be with their families. “At 16.00 everyone is out the door to do their thing. Many of my colleagues need to pick up their kids, but I’m here alone and don’t have these obligations, so sometimes I hang out with the other singles from work or other people in my network. Aarhus offers plenty of things to do. Since I arrived here I’ve taken up kayaking, fitness, running and floorball,” says the Indian doctor. He adds: “Moreover, I’m a member of the Youth Goodwill Ambassador Corps which is a global network of international students working on a voluntary basis to promote Denmark as an attractive study and work destination.” According to Anil Mor Denmark’s reputation is slowly becoming more attractive to international employees and their families and he is happy to be an ambassador of the country.

Reviews. Hold quarterly reviews to make sure that the international employee is thriving both in and outside the workplace.

Family. Stay focused on the family. If the accompanying spouse is not thriving, the chances are that they may decide to leave before planned.

“When I talk to international colleagues about Denmark, it becomes obvious that many come here to enjoy the good life and not just to earn money. The work-life balance leaves employees with time to do the things that make them happy,” Anil Mor says. Skilled spouses. Most spouses of international employees hold a master’s degree or higher, have great language skills and a great understanding of foreign markets. If possible use your network to help them find they feet in the Danish job market in order for them to stay.

Recognition. International employees add diversity to the work place, create growth, improve innovation and bring new ideas to the table. Make sure you continuously recognize their visions and ideas and meet their expectations by keeping the job interesting and challenging.

Networking. Participate in networks with other companies that work with international employees and International Community in order to learn from other people’s experiences and stay up-to-date with the latest knowledge in the field. 28-year-old Anil Mor has plenty of time to enjoy leisure time activities.


How to say see you later


It’s like an addiction Over the past 17 years Jean-Marc Lechêne has been working his way through five different countries – recently arriving in Aarhus. Expat life has become the Lechêne way of life. “It’s like an addiction,” the Vestas COO says. Five times during the past 17 years Jean-Marc Lechêne has said goodbye to a workplace in various countries. Instead of going to his hometown Paris he went to work in another country. That makes him what researchers by definition call a circular migrant. And as he says : “It’s like an addiction.” To him goodbye has not been sad – only the beginning of a new adventure – like the one he embarked on in July 2012 when he became Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Vestas in Aarhus. He, his wife and their four children left Paris 17 years ago – and have not returned for good since. Even with sacrifices – for instance his wife settling for less of a career – Jean-Marc Lechêne and his family would not have been without their own “tour de globalism”. “The last 20 years have been fantastic. The world has truly become global. The economic situation has changed and we have sort of lived that change from the inside. Globalization builds links between companies and countries and breaks down the barriers that used to exist in the world. We have developed a lot of wealth and that is good. But now we also see the flipside with the structural crisis in the southern part of Europe,” he says. In his early years he worked in Germany and Mexico. However, when he left for China in 1995, exploring was his driving force. “I was curious. The world is fantastic and big and I wanted to see much more of it,” he says.

Talent in bridging cultures His first job was in a software company in France working with many different nationalities. “I quickly found out that it was easy for me to bridge the cultural differences, interact with international customers and develop better connections,” Jean-Marc Lechêne says.


This discovery sent him on an international quest, a quest that somehow also alienated him from his home country. “Living and working abroad gives you an open mind and widens your perspective. It’s like an addiction. People staying at home seem stuck in their way. When I go back the French are just French and nothing more,” he says. This global state of mind has also become natural for the four Lechêne children. Using social media they are able to stay connected to their friends no matter where they are and the children become a part of a global community instead of a local one. He sees the value of that, but also the problems.

Circular migration and the Vestas welcome What is circular migration ? According to researchers circular migration is used as a triple win discourse promising gains for host countries, home countries and migrants themselves, promising accelerated economic growth, remittances, relative high wages and brain gain, by means of full circles of migration : immigrants should be able to come, go and come back again, with few restrictions and making use of contemporary transnational networks.

The Vestas Welcome Vestas welcomed him and his wife with an introduction course shortly after his start in Vestas on July 1st 2012. “I learned more about Denmark in that one day, than I could have on my own in half a year. I must emphasize that the welcome Vestas gave us was very good,” he says. His wife started Danish classes and is very pleased with them – even though the language is difficult. They have chosen to live by the harbour on Langelinie, Aarhus. “One of the first things we did upon arriving was buying two bikes. So we bike when we go downtown or swimming in the club,” he says.

Photo : Jan Kejser.

How to say see you later



Ambassadors. International employees can become ambassadors for your company and Denmark for life. Make sure that departure is taken care of in a respectful manner and offer your assistance concerning practical issues.

Jean-Marc Lechêne is originally French, but he hasn’t worked in his hometown Paris for 17 years. Instead, the world has been his workspace, recently arriving at Vestas in Aarhus.

A more cohesive world “Our children grew up being global. They ask ‘where are we from ?’ and ‘what are our roots ?’ The good side of globalization, though, is that it gives a more cohesive world, it bridges nations and prevents us from isolation,” he says. Personally, he feels the need for settling down and stopping the circular migration coming closer.

Feedback. Document why your international employees decide to leave by conducting exit interviews – preferably face-to-face or else by questionnaire. Otherwise it is difficult to know if they are leaving to pursue new career opportunities, are unhappy in the workplace, if the family cannot settle, etc. The feedback can be used to improve staff retention and organizational development. Share this knowledge with other companies.

“When I retire I want to have a place where I can receive my grand children. But where will that place be ? My children will most likely live all over the world, so how will we decide,” he says. Retirement, however, is far away. Now, he is employed by global energy company Vestas in Aarhus. Working in global change management for several years, Jean-Marc Lechêne was interested in creating a whole new Vestas as a Chief Operating Officer working together with the rest of the executive management team. “We are reinventing Vestas and that is great. It’s going to be a whole new Vestas,” he says.

Circular migration. Accept that many international employees are career expats. They will most likely seek new opportunities in order to realize their career goals. It is part of their mentality and does not necessarily mean that your company has failed.

The Lechêne family Jean-Marc Lechêne is a circular migrant – or as some say, a career expat. In his adult life he has worked and lived in seven different countries : Mexico, Germany, France, China, USA, Canada and Denmark. For the past 17 years he has not lived in his home city, Paris.

The multicultural children The Lechênes have four children aged between 19 and 27. His daughter lives in New York and works as an architect. He has three sons : One in Montreal, Canada who became an American citizen when the family lived in the US for seven years. Two sons live and study in different places in France.

Keep in touch. Stay connected with international employees. Adopt an ‘alumni’-inspired strategy that both improves fruitful circularity in expat careers and help your company maintain access to a qualified talent pool even when the employees stop working for you.


SMEs should benefit from the skills of international employees – Michael Flintholm

Michael Flintholm, director Flintholm Global Telemarketing.

International employees create value in SMEs Since 2008 International Community has supported companies of all sizes in the Aarhus area in their effort to recruit, welcome and retain international staff.

Avoid the pitfalls

One of the smaller companies in Aarhus who has seen the potential in hiring international employees is Flintholm Global Telemarketing, and director Michael Flintholm is well aware what they bring to the table.

“Cultural understanding and awareness is really important when you want to make the preliminary contact. There are some very fine lines when it comes to cultural differences which can be crucial to failure or success.”

“Large companies are probably already aware of the potential of hiring international employees, but I think that small and medium sized enterprises do not always consider and are aware of the resources internationals can bring to their company. There are many spouses and other internationals connected to International Community, who have really interesting profiles and could for instance be employed for a part-time or contract based position.“

He adds: “We have a lot of projects in Russia at the moment and therefore we have a Russian employee, who handles these projects. She knows how the companies should be addressed and how to build the first relation. Besides, she knows the culture, so she is well equipped to navigate in the unspoken rules and avoid the pitfalls.”

Large benefit for small companies

Michael Flintholm finds it easy to get in contact with potential international employees. Often he just sends an e-mail to International Community – and then they spread the word to their network of internationals in the Aarhus area by their social media canals and newsletter.

According to Flintholm small to medium-sized enterprises, which make up 60% of the Danish private job market, often disregard international employees. For these companies, recruiting and retaining the right people can be key to growth and new export possibilities. “You do not have to be a large company to employ international staff. I think that more SMEs should benefit from the skills of international employees – especially if they are on the export market. They can get a temporary export assistant, who can make a strategy, explore new options on a specific market or give good advice on how the company can penetrate a new market,“ Michael Flintholm says.


Michael Flintholm emphasizes that it can be crucial to have an employee that not only knows the language, but also the culture in the country, when you want to pursue new contacts on a foreign market.

Easy access to a network of internationals in Aarhus

“Many of the internationals moving to Aarhus to work bring a spouse along for the journey. These spouses are often highly educated and have difficulties finding a job in Denmark. And we are more than happy to connect companies with internationals. That is why we are here,” says Tiny Maerschalk, project manager at International Community.

International Community is able to bridge the gap between international employees and the companies in the area. It is very important that we take good care of all internationals and not least their families so they feel welcome and are able to settle in well. Moreover, Aarhus Business Network and International Community’s experience and know-how help us move Aarhus in a more international direction. It is one of the most important tasks we are facing in the coming years – to lift Aarhus from being a city in Europe to being a European city. – Jacob Bundsgaard, Mayor of Aarhus

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY’S ADVISORY BOARD Karina Boldsen, Director, People and Culture, at Vestas Wind Systems Bente H. Steffensen, Director at Erhverv Aarhus Ulla Gjørling, International Director at Aarhus University Christian Lausten Sørensen, Special Advisor at City of Aarhus Lene Skyttegaard, HR Manager at DuPont Lone Skriver Pedersen, Global Mobility Manager at Grundfos Tine Hagenau, Head of Mobility Department at BESTSELLER Ulla Kjær, Senior HR Manager at Arla Foods

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY’S ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Bent Mikkelsen, Region Midtjylland Peer H. Kristensen, Visit Aarhus Maria Nørby, Styrelsen for Fastholdelse og Rekruttering Peter Kjær, A/S Schouw & Co. Karina Boldsen, Vestas Wind Systems A/S Tine Horwitz, Consortium for Global Talent Gert Nielsen, DJØF Birger Mortensen, KL Henrik Hansen, VIBORGegnens Erhvervsråd Carsten Hother Jensen, Infocenter Struer Bente H. Steffensen, Erhverv Aarhus

© International Community 2013 Published by International Community Editor International Community Text input Signe Jepsen Media Graphic concept Campfire & Co Photography by TTF Printed in Denmark International Community Nordhavnsgade 4 8000 Aarhus C Denmark T  : +45 8612 7200 F : +45 8619 2355