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Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow

“Talentville is a place where creative people cluster. A community where growth and prosperity are driven by productive and talented people. Talentville is an inspiring community, one that embraces new ideas, new cultures and, not least, new residents. It is multicultural and multifaceted. Talentville is an achievable vision for the future - Talentville is the city at the end of the journey.� Advisory Board, International Community

Insight& Influence

Insight& Influence

Talentville of Tomorrow


Insight& Influence

Insight& Influence


Talentville of Tomorrow


Insight& Influence

Talentville of Tomorrow

Talentville of Tomorrow




Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow



Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow

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Insight& Influence

Talentville of Tomorrow

Public service

Talentville of Tomorrow






On the Road to Talentville What does it take for a city, a region or a nation to attract, embrace and hold on to the best global talent? The kind of talent who can strengthen足our economy and our businesses in the global marketplace; who can contribute to a prosperous society of knowledge and innovation; who can enrich our culture and create gateways to the world around us? International Community has been working on this question since 2008 as a common platform for businesses, educational institutions and public authorities in Business Region Aarhus. Our aim is to promote growth for businesses and strengthen the international profile of the region by developing best practices for attracting, receiving and retaining global talent. International Community has become a beacon for global mobility and an important prerequisite for growth in Business Region Aarhus.


In this magazine, we will share our experiences, ideas and visions together with a wide range of stakeholders and collaborators within politics, business, public service, education, research, culture and our international network. We will do this in the context of focusing on the place where we believe we are heading.

In short, Talentville is the city at the end of the journey. We believe that International Community can play an important role in lighting the way to Talentville. In times of global economic change, an aging population, financial instability and weakening growth, we believe that getting to Talentville is more urgent than ever.

We call this place Talentville. We hope you will join us on the trip. Talentville is a place where creative people cluster. A community where growth and prosperity are driven by productive and talented people. Talentville is an inspiring community, one that embraces new ideas, new cultures and, not least, new residents. It is multicultural and multifaceted. Talentville is not Utopia, it is not fiction. We see Talentville as an achievable vision for the future if the decision makers and practitioners who make the laws, lead the businesses, define the cultural and social institutions and set the public agenda are ready to meet the challenge.

God rejse! Advisory Board, International Community





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Public service fast and flexible

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Information in English

International Community Lighting the way

Tiny Maerschalk Project Manager, International Community

The recipe for success in dealing with global talent includes partnerships, pragmatism and best practice solutions. Established in 2008 to promote economic growth and strengthen the international profile of the region, International Community has built up a long CV - in spite of being just three years-old! “We have built up an extensive network and we know the needs and challenges of the expats very well by now. Where we detect a need, we promote an initiative,” says IC project manager, Tiny Maerschalk, International Community.

Partnerships make it possible In keeping with the mission to promote economic growth and strengthen the international profile of the region, one of International Community’s most important objectives is to help link public and private sector organisations with local authorities, institutions, companies and associations. International Community supports its partners by providing best practice experience and advice, marketing and networking. It is an extended HR service for businesses dealing with global mobility. “Our approach is very ’hands-on’ and pragmatic and our philosophy is that there is no need for big expensive solutions. We try to find fields where little effort makes a huge impact, without compromising quality and ambition,” says Tiny Maerschalk. “There is an increasing awareness in society and amongst the different stakeholders that we must cooperate if we want to be competitive in the market for global talent.”

Broad involvement counts Strong support from local authorities has been present from the beginning, as International Community was born out of need.

“Involvement of local institutions is necessary to assure sustainability in our work. International Community has neither the financial resources nor the physical facilities to lift this task alone. We act as a facilitator, as an ’expat expert’, assisting our local partners and drafting the frameworks for new initiatives or organising activities,” explains Maerschalk.

More than a social network Since 2008, the initiatives and activities launched by International Community have been numerous and widespread. One major achievement was establishing the first ‘One Stop Shop’ in Denmark, which made contact to Danish authorities much easier for foreigners and the companies that employ them. Today, this initiative has developed into four public International Citizen Service centres nationwide. “International Community is much more than a social network for expats in Eastern Jutland. We collect and promote best practices amongst our members and partners, primarily the businesses. We also try to create more public and political awareness of the need for a solid framework for attracting, receiving and retaining international talent,” says Maerschalk. More IB-certified schools, tailor made language courses and a national talent strategy are amongst the goals.

Wide-ranging activities International Community operates out of a recently renovated, rustic warehouse in the harbour-area of Aarhus. A small, but very dedicated, staff, with years of expat experience themselves, take care of a wide-range of activities. Conferences on Danish culture and history, guided visits to companies and associations, seminars on networking or on job hunting for spouses and practical assistance programmes are just a few of the activities. International Community also publishes a weekly newsletter in English announcing events in the region and runs an on-line community,

InterCom, for internationals and businesses alike. Behind the scenes however, a lot more is going on and the visibility and demand for International Community’s services are increasing every year. International Community actively participates in the public debate towards a more positive approach to foreigners in Denmark, which, in recent years, has focused largely on low resource immigrants. According to Maerschalk this does not reflect reality, because at present the majority of the foreigners coming to Denmark are skilled employees who work and contribute to society.


International Community In early 2008, Aarhus Municipality, Vestas, Terma, Danisco, Aarhus University and Erhverv Aarhus united their efforts to promote economic growth and strengthen the international profile of the region. The European Social Fund has provided its support from the fall of 2008. International Community has since become the leading network for internationals in Eastern Jutland and an important partner for businesses, public authorities and institutions. Today, there is more than 2,300 members counting companies, institutions, associations, expats and Danes. International Community is the lead partner and coordinator on a new frontrunner project for attracting and retaining global talent in all 19 municipalities in the Central Denmark Region in 2012-14. The project has a budget of 30 million DKK, partly financed by the European Social Fund.

top 10 challenges

top 10 trends

• Immigration law and public registration procedures.

• Cultural diversity acknowledged as an economic asset.

• Housing – short term/long term.

• Competitive talent strategies.

• Access to international schools.

• Internationals in top management and boards of directors.

• Social integration with Danes.

• Tailor-made welcome packages.

• Language barrier.

• S pouses perceived as a valuable resource in the labour market.

• Spouse employment. • Tax level. • Perception of internationals as a resource in local society. • R ecruitment and retention to small and medium sized companies. • Knowledge sharing on receiving and retaining internationals.

• C lubs and associations interested in attracting internatio­ nals. • R etention of international students/researchers already in Denmark. • Network building between stakeholders. • Creation of inclusive company cultures. • Short term recruitments.

Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


By Morten Østergaard, Minister for Science, Innovation and Higher Education

International talent enriches Denmark If Denmark was a football team, I would say that we’re actually quite good at attracting young foreign talents. But we’re not so good at retaining them. The majority leave the country when they’re finished on the training pitch of Danish universities. Too few become part of the team in the Danish labour market. Even though there’s nothing wrong with a good practice it is on the playing field that results are brought home. We’re missing a golden opportunity, because they could be a great asset to the Danish labour market. They are talented; they contribute with international skills and understand Danish culture. I would like to stress that the government wants to follow a new path in relation to Denmark and its international outlook. Our ambition is for Denmark to be an open nation that uses the opportunities presented to us by globalisation. Talented international students and a qualified workforce shouldn’t face a red card when they choose Denmark. They should be met with trust, recognition and opportunity. This requires an effort on the part of educational institutions, businesses and, naturally, also from politicians. I want to extend the current Greencard scheme so that international graduates have ample time to find a job and settle down in Denmark. Moreover,


the bureaucracy and time taken to review and process residence permit cases should be minimised. Danish businesses must also help create solutions and be willing to offer student jobs to international students. I believe that forging a connection with Danish businesses while still studying is crucial for international students considering staying and working in Denmark. Integrating international students with their Danish counterparts is also an important task for educational institutions. A new study shows that many foreign students find it difficult to make Danish friends. I believe that institutions can do more to promote cooperation and interaction between Danish and international students. Danish educational institutions are already good at attracting students. Together we must make an even better effort and ensure that the path to working in Denmark is an uncomplicated one for international graduates. If Denmark was a football team - and a team that pursues success - we would have to attract and hold on to more international talent. International talent helps Danish educational institutions advance to a better league. They improve the competitiveness of Danish businesses and strengthen the internationalisation of Danish society. In short – we need them more than they need us.

Morten Østergaard Minister for Science, Innovation and Higher Education

Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


Talentville in the heart of Central Denmark

Bent Hansen Chairman of the Central Denmark Region

Jacob Bundsgaard

“The Central Denmark Region is very pleased to be among the first movers when it comes to making it easier for the companies in our region to attract and retain international employees.

Foto: Martin Dam Kristensen

Mayor of Aarhus “As the main growth centre in the Central Denmark Region, Aarhus works closely with other cities in the region on common challenges. One important challenge is ensuring future growth in our region. The ability to constantly remain attractive for international talent plays an important role in this. These days, the three P’s are decisive when it comes to growth: People, places and perspectives. To ensure growth, cities need talented people who are attracted to interesting places with perspectives for themselves and their families. This is why it makes perfect sense for us to team up with central actors in working with attracting and retaining international talent – be it students or employees. And, not least, to make their stay here pleasant and full of perspectives right from arrival until saying good-bye.”

At the same time, we are very aware of the fact that we have to continue our effort to integrate not only international employees, but also their families, because we know that the well-being of the whole family is important for their decision to stay in Denmark. It is possible that – due to the financial situation – most companies do not have the same acute need for international employees as they did not long ago. But in a few years when the baby-boomers retire and we lack specific skills, we will be requiring talented international employees! We have to prepare ourselves for that situation – if we are not attractive to this group, we will fall behind in the worldwide competition for a talented workforce.”

International Community’s Results

International Community’s Recommendations

• P artnerships: International Community is a strategic partner in Aarhus Municipality’s Education and Talent Strategy 2011-14 and Knowledge to Growth 2010-17-30.

• P oliticians must focus on creating a national talent strategy to promote competitiveness and support economic growth. The strategy must deal with how to attract and retain both Danish and international talent. A national talent strategy must address the fields of education, immigration, tax and public service and focus on measures to bring a more internationally oriented focus to Danish society. All relevant stakeholders at national, regional and local levels should be involved in the elaboration of this strategy.

• I nfluence: International Community continuously strives to influence national, regional and municipal decision makers. More than 70 meetings have been organized with ambassadors, ministries and regional and municipal institutions. • M edia: Since 2008, International Community has appeared in more than 200 articles and features in papers, trade journals, TV and on the internet. • C ooperation: International Community works closely with Expat in Denmark and The Consortium for Global Talent, which is a joint initiative between 19 of the largest Danish and international companies in Denmark. The consortium aims to attract and retain skilled global professionals in Denmark by improving conditions for this target group.

• P oliticians and opinion makers should always involve expats in their strategic policy planning and surveys. • F aster and more flexible procedures for issuing a cpr-number to internationals. • M any small steps today are better than a single big step tomorrow. Policy makers should, therefore, focus on initiatives and activities where little effort and expense can have great impact. Easy access to web information in English and more icons and street signs in English are just a couple of examples.


Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


Anna Marie Stenbæk

International talent:

Vice President for Corporate Human Resources, Danfoss

Part of the company strategy For Denmark to ensure long term growth and remain one of the world’s most competitive nations, organisations must begin to think even more strategically about international talent, researchers say. Simply put, companies need to create a talent strategy that focuses on ensuring cultural diversity, innovation and a focus on foreign markets – a process that is already underway in some of Denmark’s largest international companies.

”It is a very natural development because companies are expanding abroad and thinking about their workforce on a global basis,” says Sarah Gade Hansen, Senior Advisor at the Confederation for Danish Industry. “Companies have factories in China, management in Denmark and markets in the United States and therefore it is imperative to think of the workforce as a shared organism. A global workforce strategy and a strategy for recruiting the best international workers is an extremely important tool today.” This observation is supported by an ongoing research project undertaken by Professor Anne-Marie Søderberg of Copenhagen Business School, entitled Cultural Intelligence as a Strategic Resource which examines how a dozen Danish companies are dealing with the process of internationalisation, see the box page 9.

Diversity at Danfoss With 110 sales companies and 24,000 employees worldwide, Danfoss is one of


Denmark’s largest international companies and the perfect example of a company facing the challenges associated with a global workforce. To address these challenges amongst other things, Danfoss introduced a new global recruiting policy in December 2011 with the intention of increasing diversity in its leadership. The new policy, according to Anna Marie Stenbæk, Vice President for Corporate Human Resources, will focus on bringing new international talent and more women into Danfoss’ management teams in the future. ”We haven’t drawn up concrete percentage goals, but we expect that our new recruiting policy, which is being implemented globally at Danfoss, will encourage diversity in the entire organisation and also increase the percentage of international leaders here in Denmark as well,” she says. Stenbæk says that today about 5% of management at Danfoss are non-Danish, but

Insight& Influence Talentville of tomorrow Tomorrow -Talentville

Business Business

Cultural diversity a valuable resource

The research project Cultural Intelligence as a Strategic Resource, by professor Anne Marie Søderberg of Copenhagen Business School, examines how managers and employees at nine Danish companies and three public institutions experience and cope with cultural differences internally. Danish companies increasingly operate and collaborate globally. It becomes more important to be culturally knowledgeable. The aim of the project is to provide tools to managers and employees to deal with cultural challenges and use cultural diversity as a resource and a platform for a more creative and innovative approach to problem-solving and knowledge development. that this number must increase in the future in order to remain competitive and globally oriented. In addition, it is important to signal to all Danfoss employees – the majority of whom work outside of Denmark – that being Danish is not a prerequisite for attaining a top position at Danfoss.

New approaches Danfoss has had a system of rotating employees to various global positions for the past several years, sending both Danishbased employees out and bringing key leaders from other countries in – especially from places like Asia. This will continue, but entirely new approaches have been added with the new policy, says Stenbæk, such as a practice that the final three candidates for any given management position must consist of varying gender and nationalities. According to Stenbæk, the most important part of recruiting these new leaders for Danfoss is that the organisation remains focused on offering them professional and career

challenges, and for many this means working in a truly global, multicultural organisation. The availability of an international school nearby also counts and therefore Danfoss has been actively involved in its establishment. “Our experience is that international employees quickly see the advantages of the flat leadership structure, with a high degree of trust between leaders and their staff, characteristic for a Scandinavian company,” Stenbæk says. “Many of the international leaders actually take the Scandinavian leadership culture with them when they move on to new challenges so we are not that concerned that we will loose our Danfoss culture.”

The research pinpoints the importance of including international managers in strategic considerations, such as the elaboration of corporate values. One of the conclusions from the project is that multicultural teams are often more creative and innovative - when managed appropriately. Another conclusion is that in order to get the most out of international employees’ experience and knowledge, support from upper management and a proper company strategy in the field are required. The message from Søderberg is clear: when handled with care and cultural intelligence, cultural diversity is a valuable resource. The results from the research will be published in the spring of 2012 in the book Global Collaboration – Intercultural Experiences and Learning.


Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


Smaller Companies

Bigger Challenges In Talentville, not only big companies are hunting for global talent.

Small to medium-sized workplaces, which make up 60% of the Danish private job market, are also looking to internationals for help. For these businesses, recruiting and retaining the right people is a key to growth and export, but can also be an abyss of administrative and practical work. ”It has taken much more time than we anticipated,” says Kenneth Graabek Johansen, CFO at CLC Bio in Aarhus. ”I think by far the most demanding task was actually doing a relocation package for each new employee, because people have very different views on what it means to move to a new country. There is a big difference between hiring in- or outside the EU, for instance Germany versus Canada, which is our most recent scenario,” he says. CLC bio is in many ways a model growth company. Founded in 2005, it develops highly specialized software used to analyse data from DNA samples. Ninety-eight percent of its revenue comes from outside Denmark and CLC bio has offices in some of the world’s most important biotech hubs, like Cambridge, Massachusetts. Of its 80 employees, 50 sit in Aarhus where 7 are highly specialized international employees, Johansen says.


”We decided that we needed to upgrade last year and make one of our employees into a part-time relocation expert,” Johansen says, adding that smaller companies considering hiring internationals should consider the same. He says that hiring people from outside the EU’s Schengen countries is particularly difficult in terms of administrative work. “Dealing with the immigration authorities is a big challenge, it would be very nice that if we had a system that actually could track the status of an application along the way.” At Flintholm Global Telemarketing, Director Michael Flintholm says that because his company primarily hires people who already have work visas the administrative burden is not too demanding, but he recognizes the effort required in creating a robust international environment.

background and they include students, expat partners and other foreigners permanently settled in Denmark. ”Growth companies like us, are always looking for the right employees – it doesn’t matter where they come from,” says Johansen, CLC Bio. ”But the competences required are so specialised that we have to look globally. It is amazing how much time the small details require. We couldn’t even setup bank accounts for one of our employees because the system at the bank we were working with couldn’t handle him being a foreigner. That made it impossible to get a telephone, public services and everything else. So be ready for the small things and focus on the long haul.”

“At FGT we have many years of experience with this and we have learned there are three things that help,” he says. “We make sure everything takes place in English so no one is excluded; we try to be able to offer advice even if it isn’t directly related to work and we plan social arrangements outside of the office.” Flintholm says that on any given day, there may be 20 different nationalities represented at FGT’s offices in Aarhus. Employees work primarily on a part-time or contract basis, using their native language and cultural

Kenneth Graabek Johansen CFO, CLC Bio, Aarhus

Michael Flintholm Director, Flintholm Global Telemarketing, Aarhus

Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow

Public service Business

An international workforce contributes to economic growth Copenhagen Business School published a report under the guidance of Professor Jan Rose Skaksen in November 2011, which concludes that highly educated internationals contribute heavily to public finances:

Collaboration leads the way

• A highly educated international, who brings the family and stays for eight years, contributes with approximately 1.9 million DKK to public finances.

Large and small companies alike continue to face common challenges in recruiting and retaining top international talent in Denmark, but a common set of best practices remains difficult to define. Since 2009, however, Danish companies have begun combining their insight and influence to affect change. Arriving in Talentville will require a continued pooling of efforts and knowledge. ”The battle for global talent has intensified markedly in recent years as the innovation economy continues to evolve worldwide,” says Karina Boldsen, Director, International Mobility Development at Vestas. ”This is not specific to any one workplace or industry, it affects the entire nation and will have even greater effects on the Danish economy in the future.” Boldsen says this is why Vestas was one of the founding sponsors of International Community and why it has been active in initiatives like the Consortium for Global Talent, which consists of 19 of the largest Danish and Danish-based international companies. “If we talk about best practice, one of the most important things happening right now is that organisations are pooling efforts, because a number of the biggest challenges we face require the involvement of politicians, social institutions and various parts of the public sector,” she says. “These efforts help companies shape policy and share experiences and resources on how to best attract and maintain expat families to Denmark.” Vivian Høgh Jørgensen, global mobility manager at LEGO in Billund, says that LEGO considers itself more in the problem solving than best practice phase of the process right now. Over the past year and half, she says, LEGO has begun recruiting more top executives from outside of Denmark.

• An average highly educated international without an accompanying family, who stays in Denmark for sixtop years, contributes approxiand retaining executive talentwith from other “Another big challenge that we see very mately 900,000 DKK to public finances. parts of the world. often is that it takes two incomes to maintain the same standard of living that many of • An average highly educated international on special tax pro“It is fairly new family, that wewho are stays recruiting people our candidates can have with one income grammes without an accompanying in Denmark on a higher level to Billund. Earlier, DKK mosttoof in places like the US or the for UK,”three she says. years, contributes with approximately 650,000 the internationals were coming in as design“Explaining the tax system public and finding a finances. ers, young people who came with their backjob for the spouse is of utmost importance Read the report pack earlier in their career and they were for us. We are being challenged onfull this one at fairly easy to handle. They were just glad to quite a lot.” be working at LEGO and having it on their CV. Tailor-made solutions But our needs and the competition for top LEGO currently has about 250 international talent are changing, for sure.” employees in Billund, and 30 of them arrived Beyond Danish borders in 2011. Jørgensen says one of the reasons While standard best practices are difficult to best practices are so hard to define is that find among Danish companies, companies each type of job and each person has their in other countries are also facing challenges own needs. of their own. Studies from abroad suggest Jørgensen, who previously worked excluthat company strategies, internal workplace sively with LEGO’s international assignees culture and involvement of top management worldwide, took over responsibility for helpare more important to ensure success with ing bring international local hires to Billund retaining international employees than adjust last year. That was when LEGO began hering to a standard best practice. Read more in the box below. working more systematically with attracting

Recruitment & retention:

Six key principles A recent study involving researchers from INSEAD, Cornell, Cambridge and Tilburg universities examines 33 multinational corporations in 11 countries and recommends that companies focus on adhering to six key principles for recruiting and retention: 1. Alignment with strategy: Have a global talent strategy that supports the overall business strategy. 2. I nternal consistency: If resources are spent on recruiting global talent it should be matched by equal focus on employee retention, competitive compensation and career management. 3. Cultural embeddedness: Consider how well the employees and their family fit in

with the culture of the company. Skills are easier to develop than personality traits, attitudes and values. 4. M anagement involvement: Executive management must feel ownership to global recruitment and retention. 5. B alance of global and local needs: Consider whether the company’s talent policies and strategies are or should be consistent worldwide. 6. E mployer branding through differentiation: Establish talent management policies that are truly different from those of competitors in order to create loyalty and ensure retention. Source: MIT Sloan Management Review, Winter 2012

15 11

Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


Global Talent Race:

Watch out for multinationals in developing countries Global talent is becoming a scarce resource, and multinational companies all over the world are in hard competition. Talented workers are looking to emerging markets where the business, and the money, is to be found. By Sally Khallash

Over the past 30 years the global mobile workforce has tripled. This creates new growth opportunities for global companies able to recruit cheap professionals from abroad or move business units to emerging markets to take advantage of lower costs. Danish multinationals have been no exception. Today, talent is quickly becoming a scarce resource. It is a major growth constraint now and in the future. While we have heard of talent shortage in the industrialized countries, only a few in the West and in Denmark are aware of the threat of talent shortage in the new markets.

Talent goes BRIC Although China and India together account for 40 percent of the world’s workforce, they face a massive scarcity of labour. With company growth rates at three to four times higher than the GDP growth rate, the supply of skilled labour cannot follow, neither in quantity or quality. This means that emerging market multinationals are increasingly in need of their own talent and of skilled labour from abroad. Since companies in all BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) prepare for harsh competition they are increasingly trying to attract talent from local and Western competitors. Today, salary inflation has already reached the point where an investment banker is more expensive in Shanghai than in New York. China and India are now becoming net importers of skilled workers. The quality of the talent pool in Western countries is among the best in the world with USA ranked as number 1, Denmark number 2 followed by the rest of the Nordic countries. Often a multinational can get cheaper and better quality employees by recruiting professionals from USA or Europe than to hire locally.

What to do next? Danish companies will have to adapt to these changes by strategically adapting to a more complex world of talent mobility. More specifically, Danish companies need to: • Develop a strategic and flexible HR policy and practice close to the company core. • Employ a ‘defend and attract’ strategy protecting their company talent pool while at the same time recruiting internationally. • Anticipate more fluctuations in the quality of talent because of skill differences globally and invest more heavily in in-house training. • Go for the ‘unusual suspects’ often untargeted by competitors, e.g. high skilled female professionals or older, experienced workers. • Cooperate broadly with the government, municipalities, universities and other local companies in Denmark/Scandinavia to make our part of the world more attractive to skilled foreign labour. The global talent race has intensified to a degree that the burning platform is no longer in the distant future. It is burning our toes as we speak! Before we end up further back in line it is time to recognize our vulnerable position and start making changes to keep up with the global competition.

4 reasons why the global talent race is speeding up: 1. Demographic decline: Decrease in youth talent mass in the West and in emerging markets. In China, the number of 15-24 year-olds entering the labor force is expected to fall by almost 30% over the next 10 years.

Sally Khallash Founder of Centre for Global Talent Strategy, a commercial research centre studying the global talent mobility trends on a high academic level. In collaboration with Maersk Oil, Siemens Wind Power and Consortium for Global Talent, Khallash is planning a large research project on global employee mobility. Read more and sign up for newsletter at

2. High growth rates in BRIC countries: Emerging market education systems do not produce sufficient numbers of graduates to meet local demand. 3. Low talent quality in BRIC countries: The talent quality produced in emerging markets is often inadequate. Only 10-25% of the professionals are considered employable by the multinationals. It forces BRIC companies to invest in additional training – often up to a year – before the graduates are fully productive. 4. BRIC companies go for Western talent: The young workforce in growth markets has an average experience of 3-4 years. Multinationals are increasingly recruiting from the West, as westerners demand lower salaries and their level of quality and experience is higher.


Read about entr 12


Great perspectives for global talent When it comes to starting a business, there is no place like Denmark. Such was the conclusion a global study in 2010 by George Mason University, in the US, that compared 71 countries worldwide. Those working closest with Danish entrepreneurs on a daily basis share that conclusion and say that going the start-up route could provide a viable opportunity for expat spouses­with a dream of being selfemployed. “Denmark is the easiest place in the world to start a business,” Mogens Thomsen says. “Especially for foreigners!” Thomsen, who has been a consultant with the business-development organization STARTVÆKST Aarhus since 1995, turned his focus in 2010 to helping foreign entrepreneurs through a new initiative called Entrepreneurship in Denmark. Starting a business in Denmark takes about 10 minutes, he says, and self-employment offers great potential also for solving the challenge of expat partners finding employment in Talentville.

countries, requirements related to things like annual revenue and insurance make it difficult to maintain a business. Danish rules have very few requirements. Ninety per cent of the start-ups he works with are not “growth-oriented”, meaning they are one-person businesses. The majority of them are service-related, which makes the language barrier less of an issue.

Mogens Thomsen Consultant, STARTVÆKST Aarhus

”I call them nomadic businesses, because a lot of the expats and foreigners living in Denmark are globally mobile,” he says. ”The businesses that have the best chances are those a person can take with them later on if they leave.” Arne Vesterdal, Director at Incuba Science Park in Aarhus, works full time with start-ups and echos Thomsen’s opinion that selfemployment is a viable route for expats, their spouses and other foreigners. He sees Danish language as being a very small barrier. ”If you are selling directly in a B2B situation language is not a problem,” he says. ”In fact, in some cases, it might give an edge of exclusivity.”

Arne Vesterdal Director, Incuba Science Park, Aarhus

Thomsen points out that in many other

Isaac Thomas Co-founder, QA Functions

Isaac Thomas from India initially came to Denmark to work for a bank, but later decided to start an IT company. About starting a business in Denmark he advises: • Be ready to wait a long time for results. • Use all contacts in your network – but don’t “abuse” them. • Publish your self whereever possible. • Take part in community events to meet new people. • Create a good website that shows the service you provide. • Learn Danish.

Read more about entrepreneurship

• Make a thorough market study before you start.


How to get started Frenchman Brice Bedos recently started his own bike messenger company, Velopak, in Aarhus. Bedos was surprised how easy it was to start up and urges everyone to give it their best shot.

“The first point of advice I would give to potential entrepreneurs would be not to be afraid of starting up your own business in Denmark. It has been so easy to initially set up a business in Denmark in contrast to other countries where the red tape can swallow you and drown you in administration. Organisations such as Entrepreneurship in Denmark and STARTVÆKSTAarhus are more than willing to bend over backwards to help you,” says Bedos.

“I would highly recommend to foreign entrepreneurs the necessity to learn basic Danish, which is essential in understanding and taking part in the day-to-day running of a business, but also important in order to fully enjoy the Danish life style. And again, what makes it easier to learn Danish is the fact that you are taught Danish free of charge for the first 2-3 years of your potential residency here. What better or easier way to attract potential entrepreneurs?” Bedos asks.

The language barrier is often mentioned as an obstacle when settling in Denmark, especially if you want to start a business, but according to Bedos there is plenty of help to be found.

While Velopak is still in its infancy, Bedos is optimistic about the future; “I enjoy doing what I have always dreamed of doing”, he says.

Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


Vox pop

What should we focus on?

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Ulla Kjær - Senior HR Man

ager, Arla Foods

• Thorough introductio n to the company, the new position, the Danish lab our market and Aarhus in order to introduce the new employee the bes t way possible to his or her new surroundings. • Create an extra ”life line” in the company by providing a colleague who can act as a sort of buddy or mentor to the new em ployee. • Assure the best pos sible support to the spo use: Practical help with job search etc.

International Community’s Results

International Community’s Recommendations

• I nfluence: International Community seeks influence and cooperations through meetings with companies, business councils and ­relevant organisations. Since 2008 more than 75 meetings have been held with, among others, Danish Industry, Vestas, Djurs Windpower and AmCham Denmark.

• B usinesses should create a talent strategy that includes a plan for working with international employees and their families in everything from recruitment to retention to leaving.

• M orning Seminars: Every other month, representatives from private and public businesses as well as educational institutions discuss the conditions for international employees. Fourteen seminars with an average of 40 participants have been held. • S pouse Community: A network for accompanying spouses of international employees, which meets at least once a month. The meetings focus on how the spouses can become an active part of society, either through voluntary or paid work or entrepreneurship. More than 40 meetings have been hosted. • A dvisory Board: International Community’s Advisory Board consists of both public and private companies as well as educational institutions. The members act as ambassadors for the project in their own networks. • C V and cover letter seminars: International Community has in collaboration with Work in Denmark arranged 13 open seminars, where the accompanying spouse is introduced to the Danish labour market and learns how to write a CV and application suited for Danish companies. • C onferences: International Community has held two conferences, which focused on talented, international labour: ‘Insight & Influence – Corporate Seminar on International Labour’ in March 2010 and ‘Insight & Influence – Talentville of Tomorrow’ in February 2012. Both conferences included participants from educational institutions, companies and public and private organizations. • R esearch: In 2009 International Community conducted a major study of international labor among 45 companies and 386 expatriates. The results are presented in the booklet ‘Insight & Influence - On Sustaining International Talent’. In 2011 collaboration with Aarhus University on expat research project.

• B usinesses should also focus on how to exploit experience and qualifications that go beyond the strictly professional, which Danish employees have acquired abroad or that foreign employees can offer. • C ompanies should provide both an internal professional mentor and also a social mentor to the families of each foreign employee upon arrival. • D anish language and culture courses should be offered to employees­ and spouses during working hours. • L arger companies should actively work to mentor smaller companies and share their best practices on how to attract and retain international employees. • T o influence public opinion, companies must communicate the economic, social and cultural benefits that highly talented, motivated and educated foreigners bring to Denmark.

Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow

Public service

Internationalized public service Denmark will increasingly need to recruit highly qualified labour from abroad. Effective and simple administative procedures and easy access to the labour market is key. If we want the internationals to stay for a long time, it is particularly important that the public service offers tailored language courses, and considers the needs of accompanying spouses and children.

This is one of the conclusions of the report ‘Recruitment and retention of highly qualified labour’ published by Frederik Thuesen, Mette Kirstine Tørslev and Tina Gudrun Jensen, The National Centre for Social Research (SFI), November 2011. It is a comparative study of recruitment, retention and integration experiences and best practises in Denmark, Norway, United Kingdom, Canada, and The Netherlands. It mainly focuses on what has been done upon the foreigners’ arrival, their contact to authorities, language and culture acquisition, family wellbeing, as well as integration into the local community and society in general.

Administrative procedures The report concludes that to assure effective administrative procedures in connection with immigration it is necessary to have simple and manageable regulations as well as sufficient resources. It is also an advantage, when the authorities collaborate with specialized regional centres and create one stop shops on a regional, and eventually on a local level as the International Citizen Service in Denmark. Centres assist companies and internationals all over the country. This service is a frontrunner compared to services in the other countries in the report.

Labour market access Best practice experience regarding access to the labour market suggests availability of sufficient information on job vacancies and bridge


building institutions which can create contact between highly educated internationals and hiring companies, like it is known from Canada. It is essential that the requirements for education and qualifications, in some fields regulated by law, are reasonable and transparent.

Public language courses Public sponsored language courses tailored for highly educated foreigners are also important. They are already implemented at various locations in Denmark. The courses are especially important as international talents might have little incentive to learn a small language. Knowledge of the local language is essential for social integration of highly educated internationals as well as for their opportunities on the labour market, concludes the report.

Public service to families Typically, spouses in particular need easy access to language courses. Often, they also need assis­ tance from the authorities, private companies or NGOs to find their way to the local labour market, which might be crucial for the whole family’s wellbeing. Moreover, it is equally important to assure sufficient places in international schools, according to the SFI report. Read more at

International Citizen Service Aalborg

International Citizen Service Aarhus

International Citizen Service Copenhagen

International Citizen Service Odense

Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow

Public service


Borderless citizen service The Citizen Service Center in Aarhus helps newcomers with nearly all the practical details of their life; from registering their address to obtaining a driving license to finding a dentist. Head of Citizen Service Lene Hartig Danielsen envisions a future of the citizen service for internationals based on three goals. ”First, over the past couple of years, Aarhus and the six neighbouring municipalities have established a framework for cooperation in a number of areas,” she says. ”I think it is important that we can continue to build on this framework because internationals need a unified experience. They don’t care where the borders of one municipality end and the next begin.” As an example, Danielsen points out that over the past two years the seven citizen services have developed a welcome pack in English, which focuses on the specific needs of international families. The pack is distributed through libraries, citizen service offices, educational institutions and workplaces

and include not only practical information, but also goodies like free tickets to cultural institutions, sports and leisure events. ”30 % of the information in the package is municipality specific and 70 % is general information that we have developed together and can share,” she says. ”I would like to see this go regional to continue to build on the framework concept.”

single CEO to a family with teenagers. We need to be even better to see needs from the citizen’s perspective – from the outsidein and not the inside-out.” Flexibility also implies offering online services to internationals for them to prepare their arrival in Denmark and to be able to stay in touch after they have gone home, adds Danielsen.

Second, Danielsen envisions citizen services in Talentville providing more ”soft” support. ”In Talentville the municipality should act like a gracious hostess. This could mean developing services around town in partnership with local businesses, volunteers and clubs to introduce newcomers to buddy programmes, get them involved in local clubs or simply help them make friends,” Danielsen says. Third, more flexibility is her vision for citizen services, meaning much more differentiated service to the individual than today: ”It means that we can be flexible and humble enough to meet the needs of anybody from an employee with a pregnant spouse, to a

Lene Hartig Danielsen Head of Citizen Service, Aarhus

Assistance to international jobseekers Vibeke Jensen, Director at the Employment Administration (Beskæftigelsesforvaltningen) in Aarhus believes the following initiatives would improve chances for qualified, foreign labour to find work in Denmark: 1. Network: Extension of the Job Centres’ network in private and public companies. The network should be open to internationals who wish to find a job – for instance, through work placement or company events. 2. Entrepreneurship: Development of special programmes for entrepreneurship for foreign workers, for instance, in e-commerce. 3. Job clubs: Establishment of so-called ‘job clubs’ by involving professional organisations for internationals to meet Danes working in the same field.


Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow

Public service

Perception of public service Public services and authorities are relatively easy to deal with for internationals in Denmark, according toThe Expat Study 2010 by Oxford Research A/S and The Copenhagen Post.



Having a family doctor assigned

Registrering my address (Folkeregistret)









Obtaining social security (cpr) number



Finding a school for my children




Dealing with Danish embassy in my home country




Obtaining a work permit




Finding day care for my children



Dealing with one stop shops



Registrating my car

34% 30%

Dealing with the Danish Immigration Service

Finding public information in English


Communicating with tax authorities

23% 0%

International Results InternationalCommunity’s Community’s Results

35% 35% 38% 36%

29% 21% 31% 35% 38% 41%



International Community’s Recommendations

• O ne stop shop: Establishment of a place for internationals to get help with all the practical aspects of life in Denmark, which opened in December 2009 in Aarhus. The initiative is now carried on by the government in the four International Citizen Service Centers in Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense and Aalborg. More than 1,500 people have used the service since its opening.

• T he public services should promote greater awareness of the need for internationalization to all citizens.

• W elcome pack: The Citizen Services in the seven municipalities of Business Region Aarhus have developed a welcome pack together. More than 4,000 welcome packs are distributed yearly.

• P ublicly-funded efforts to support smaller businesses should create a one stop shop to assist with challenges regarding foreign employees (e.g. with relocation service).

• O nline: The website has been developed in cooperation between the Citizen Service units in the consortium. Seven municipalities now offer an English entrance to the relevant authorities. More than 5,000 people visit the website every month.

• E mployment assistance programmes targeting unemployed skilled foreign labour should be tailored to the individual and include entrepreneurship advice.

• L anguage courses: More than 130 employees in the seven municipalities have received language training in English, German and Polish through a competency development course.

• J ob centres, business and professional organisations should work together to create better opportunities for skilled foreign labour in the Danish job market.

• M unicipalities should take the role of a hostess by providing a better framework for welcoming foreigners – for instance, by setting up buddy programmes for newcomers. • I mprove service and information in English:,, public web in general, online registration, forms, signs, icons, etc. • P ublic services must take into account the specific needs of various international target groups.


Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


Headmaster Anders Østergaard and students at Langkær Gymnasium, Tilst

Schools are going global Integrating accredited international programmes into public schools has been one way Danish communities have begun to offer accredited international education without the expense and effort required to start an entirely new school. In the fall of 2008, following an outcry from businesses about the lack of international schools, a new law made it possible for Danish secondary schools (the equivalent of college-preparatory schools, known as Gymnasiums) to offer the International Baccalaureate programme. The IB certification enables both international and Danish families to enroll their children in a programme in which academic credits can be easily transferred, and which is recognized by universities in over 140 countries. And since 2008, the number of Gymnasiums offering the IB programme in Denmark has doubled. “One of the most positive things that have happened in regards to internationalizing Denmark is that the Ministry of Education approved applications for international programmes – especially in the smaller areas,” says Helle Fjord, who works with recruiting international talent to the Ikast-Brande area for Siemens Wind Power. Helle Fjord, who played an important role in establishing a new international primary school in Ikast-Brande, says that the availability of both primary and secondary international education has strengthened 18

Siemens’ ability to bring international talent to Denmark. “We have a number of German employees and have previously been in a situation where families lived either in the border area or in Haderslev (in daily commuting distance) so their children could attend the local German school,” she says. “Fortunately, there are now other options.” For Anders Østergaard, Headmaster at Langkær Gymnasium in Aarhus, which started its IB programme in the fall of 2011, the benefits of the IB offering apply to Danish families, too. “Our ability to offer the IB programme has, especially for those Danish families who think internationally, become important,” he says. “If they have been abroad, or they plan to go abroad for their company, the opportunity is there to get into this programme. It has really contributed to improving global mobility.” There are currently 53 students in the IB programme at Langkær Gymnasium, of which 1/3 are Danish, 1/3 International and 1/3 from mixed families (one Danish, one foreign parent) permanently residing in Denmark. “We also have good contacts to the international primary programmes in the area, such as the Aarhus Academy for Global Education, so there are good opportunities for families in the Aarhus area to get an international education all the way through,” Østergaard says.

Aarhus Academy for Global Education Aarhus will soon be able to offer full international baccalaureate accredited programmes of highest quality. Aarhus Academy for Global Education (AAGE) opened with kindergarten/preschool in autumn 2011 and has initiated the process for obtaining IB accreditation for the Primary Years and Middle Years Programmes (kindergarten - 10th grade) from August 2012. These programmes will prepare international children for the Diploma Years in the IB. 80-110 children are expected to enroll as of August 2012. Read more at

International schools and IB programmes As of February 2012, there are 22 international basic schools in Denmark. They are private elementary schools (1st – 10th grade) approved by the Ministry of Education for education in other languages than Danish – either for the whole school or for divisions within it. Three schools are located in the Central Jutland Region – in Aarhus, Viborg and Ikast. Twelve private and public upper secondary schools (high schools) offer IB programmes in Denmark. Four are located in the Central Jutland Region – in Aarhus, Grenaa, Ikast and Struer.

Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


Kristian Thorn


Deputy Director for Research and Talent, Aarhus University

Aarhus University currently enrolls 4,000 international students out of 34,000. One in five PhD students are recruited outside Denmark and the university counts 77 nationalities among the scientific staff. In 2009, the University opened an International Centre, which focuses specifically on helping non-Danish students and staff.

Fuelling the motor of the Talentville economy Education, research and knowledge exchange. At universities, these three concepts are known as the triple helix, and they have defined how universities think about their work for decades. In Talentville, that may be changing. ”We are, as far as I know, the only university in the world that has added talent development as a fourth pillar,” says Kristian Thorn, Deputy Director for Research and Talent at Aarhus University. ”For us, it is going to get a focus equal to the other three in the future.” The concept of talent development, Thorn explains, means recruiting and incubating young researchers from all over the world in the coming years. The hope is that these researchers will later go on to help broaden the university’s network worldwide – both in academia and in the private sector.

explains. “All universities need to focus on something they do better than anyone else and Aarhus would like to be among the best places in Europe for young researchers to develop and push the knowledge frontier forward.” Thorn adds that the university is focused on young researchers because it is among them that the newest ideas often take shape. The most visible part of the talent development effort, he says, will take the form of the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies. “In Denmark we spend three percent of GDP on research and twothirds of the research effort is undertaken in the private sector. So these students will be the innovation motor of our future economy. Our strategy is as much about educating researchers that will go out into the private sector as it is teaching them to be academics,” Thorn says.

“When we talk about research talents, we generally refer to individuals who are in the PhD to post-doctoral phase of their careers,” Thorn


Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


In Talentville, they speak Danish too “Everyone speaks English, so you will have no problems.” It’s a refrain nearly all expats hear before coming to Denmark. And then, the everyday realities set in. “There is no getting around the fact that Danish is still the primary language spoken in the hallways of many Danish companies,” says Charlotte Rønhof, Research Director at the Confederation of Danish Industry. “And that can be difficult, because so much of the informal knowledge and social intelligence gets lost. Not to mention the social isolation that it can bring for spouses who are at home.” Research supports Rønhof and stresses the importance for knowledge workers and their families to learn Danish, or at least to learn a little. To address this need, and help debunk the myth that “English is enough,” the municipal language school in Aarhus, LærDansk, has begun working directly with Vestas and other international companies and expats to create a model for how language learning might look in the Talentville of Tomorrow. “The idea behind our cooperation is that we come to the international families, right where they work and we provide all levels of instruction - from beginner to advanced - and to give the participants a chance to learn a lot about the Danish society,” says Birgit K. Hansen, Principal at LærDansk. A 2011 study by the Danish National Center for Social Research concluded that language education is par-


ticularly important in smaller countries, like Denmark, Norway and Holland, and that public funding is an essential mean to make it happen. In Denmark, all expats have the right to free language education for up to three years, but accessibility, has been an issue, Hansen says. That is why in the spring of 2010, windmill manufacturer Vestas began working with LærDansk to develop in-house language courses for Vestas’ approximately 500 international employees in Aarhus, Randers and Ringkøbing. “Our international employees are very busy and take their work very seriously, so it was important to find a way to bring it to their doorstep,” says Maibritt Hayden, who helps support the nearly 500 international Vestas workers in Denmark. “The classes are held from 4:30pm to 6:30pm in the early evening, just after working hours, and there are workshops and internet learning sessions beyond that.” The programme is free for Vestas, and there are currently about 120 people enrolled, including spouses. The project has sparked similar programs at Arla Foods, Bestseller and Siemens and LærDansk is open to working with all companies in the region with a need for language teaching, Hansen says.

Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow

Persistence is a

door opener


South African David Farr came to Denmark as an accompanying spouse in 2006 and applied for no fewer than 100 jobs before a software company employed him.

“Without Danish language skills on a semi-fluent and understandable level, I don’t think that finding employment is a realistic goal at all, but this is the same in most parts of the world. If you want to work in Denmark, you have to learn the language, there’s just no way around it, it’s the key success,” says Farr. “I became more independent and confident in my every day life generally because the more you practice and learn, the easier it is to communicate and express yourself so that misunderstandings become minimal. Maximum expression brings out your personality and character,” Farr continues. According to Farr, it is important to stay positive and persistently knock on the door, because those who knock the loudest will stand the best chance of realizing their ambitions. Farr’s advice on how to get a job and learn Danish also include: • Network with Danes – it also helps you learn the language. • Try to imagine how you come across to a prospective employer and ask yourself: “Would I hire that person?” • Be open to criticism. It should be seen as good advice. • Don’t waste your education or experience - it counts just as much in Denmark (in most cases) as it does in your homeland. • Don’t devaluate yourself. • Lean on friends, family and Danish institutions who have something positive to offer. • Exert pressure on any opening door to get what you want. “Finally, remember that no matter which country one chooses to move to, taking the first steps towards learning language and culture will go a long way towards a good future there,” Farr concludes.

Fabrice Loudet Senior Software Developer, Novicell ApS, Højbjerg Frenchman Fabrice Loudet came to Denmark in 2007 and has found it easy to settle in - with good flight connections within reach. He is one of the co-founders of the dance club Aarhus Lindy Hoppers. Fabrice’s advice is: • First and foremost, you must enroll in a Language Center. Danish language courses give access to a network and a place where you can get the answers to all your questions as a newcomer.

David Farr Technical Consultant, EDI-Soft Danmark A/S, Aarhus

• Go online! There are lot of websites with useful information both in Danish and English. • Continue your hobbies and join local associations.

International Community’s Results

International Community’s Recommendations

• I nternational Community actively promotes access to international high-level education and supports certified International Baccalaureate education (IB) from kindergarten till university.

• M ore IB certified kindergartens, schools and high schools. The goal should be no waiting lists for those seeking an international education. • Recognition of the IB diploma at Danish Universities. • Increasing internationalization of the Danish public school system. • B etter possibilities for relevant paid student jobs to foreign students – also in small and medium sized companies.


Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


Foreign researchers flock to Danish universities • 9,900 foreign researchers applied for jobs at Danish universities between 2007-09. • Out of 3,300 vacancies, 604 were occupied by foreign researchers. • Six out of ten applicants for posts as lecturers or professors were foreign. Source: Report by UNI-C for the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education, 2011.

Foto: Lars Kruse/A U-Foto

Prof. Flemming Besenbacher is not afraid of the future

How to keep the gardens of Talentville blossoming As the Director of the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO) at Aarhus University, a big part of Besenbacher’s job is attracting the world’s most talented­students, researchers and scientists to the Central Denmark Region.­And he still sees some practical challenges that must be met in order to keep the gardens of Talentville blossoming. “Seen from the University’s and my personal point-of-view, the most important thing that attracts the world’s best researchers is the quality­ and commitment of the research institution itself,” he says. “Researchers can compromise on a number of things, but not their work itself. Research excellence comes before anything else, and all the practical challenges of moving to a foreign country are only a distant second.” And the biggest of those challenges for the 160 Ph.D. students who study at iNANO, around 30% of which are international students, is simply finding a place to live. “This is very different from schools in the United States, for example, where campus housing is readily available and students can just move right in,” Besenbacher says. “Finding a room for a Ph.D. student is often very difficult in Aarhus and the rent prices, in my opinion, are in many cases too high. To deliver on our ambition of creating the best environment for researchers, having a more centralized campus with better housing would be essential.”


As International Community’s previous studies have shown, finding jobs for spouses is a problem for all expats, and one Besenbacher confirms researchers also struggle with. To solve this, he uses his personal network and International Community, but could imagine a more formal model for finding jobs for spouses and partners. “The other big thing is that Denmark has, for a period, acted as though we didn’t like foreigners, which is ridiculous because Denmark needs “brain gain” from bright talented scholars from aboard. If we educate them and invest in them, it is a waste of money and opportunity not to try to keep them in Denmark,” he says. Besenbacher suggests politicians reconsider visa rules for students that will allow them to stay longer than six months after finishing their study programme. This means they will have better opportunities to secure a permanent job in Denmark. In the last three years, he says, he has experienced a noticeable improvement on the part of the university and the surrounding community in helping international students. The International Centre at Aarhus University has made a big difference. There are now rooms and apartments for international Ph.D. students on campus, and Dale’s Café (named after the Nobel Prize winning economist Dale T. Mortensen, who works at Aarhus University) acts as a natural meeting point for international students and faculty. “We are certainly becoming more professional which also means that I don’t have to wait at the bus stop on Sunday evenings any longer when new students or researchers arrive,“ he says, laughing.

Prof. Flemming Besenbacher Director of the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO), Aarhus University

Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


Jakob Vels Fuglsig HR/Communication Specialist at DuPont, Nutrition and Health Division “The most important thing for us when we need to attract international staff is first and foremost that we internally offer an attractive workplace with challenging opportunities in a global organization,” says Fuglsig. “It is also important that we can showcase a city and a region that thinks globally, which is a necessary way of thinking in a business like ours. For us it is also important to have easy access to information about activities outside work like events, leisure activities and spouse activities and in such cases we often use International Community.”

International Community’s Results

International Community’s Recommendations

• I nfluence: International Community works closely with educational institutions in the area to support their ambition to attract and retain international talent. Some of those have included VIA University College, Aarhus University and the Aarhus School of Business.

• A bolition of residence permit fees for foreign researchers when applying and renewing permits. • T hrough close cooperation with businesses, preparation of foreign researchers and students for labour market after finalizing their research/studies in Denmark.

• P artnership: Aarhus University has developed a strategy for internationalization focusing on graduate students and researchers.­ International Community supports this strategy by ensuring the framework for international employees and their families. This is – among other things – reflected in the university’s strong ranking among the world’s universities. • I nternational Community has worked toward improving the taxation scheme for foreign researchers.


Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


How to crack the cultural code As Denmark grows more multicultural, a stronger awareness of Danish cultural identity and openness towards others becomes more important. The media is a key player. “The reason Denmark why has developed a reputation for not accepting outsiders isn’t because Danes aren’t open,” says anthropologist and author Dennis Nørmark. “It is because Danes lack a cultural understanding of what it means to be Danish.” Nørmark, who works as a business consultant­at the Living Institute in Aarhus, says that when it comes to accepting new­ comers, the most important thing is how well the social codes and unwritten rules are explained from the very beginning. In Danish culture – contrary to many other cultures – there are not so many religious characteristics nor a clear social hierarchy for the newcomer to relate to. On the surface, Danes are a relatively small and uniform clan, which, according to Nørmark, may be the reason why social norms are very informal compared to other cultures. “We act as if we are all in the same family,” he says. This code of conduct can be diffuse and hard to grasp for a foreigner and may even be seen as impolite.

Dane, know thyself ”Cracking the code to Danish society is hard; the Danes don’t even know what it is,” he says, “because the code is very, very subtle.” Nørmark believes, however, that Danes are


curious about their own culture, often to the point of being self-absorbed, but that their self-understanding is often wrong. ”A lot of Danes have unrealistic ideas about themselves,” he says. ”They see themselves as being funny and open-minded, but to the outside world they can seem shameless and rude. They have the idea that everybody in the world would want to be Danish if given the opportunity. And many have the idea that internationals come here solely because they want to learn how to do it the Danish way.”

Goodbye age of sameness Nørmark also recognises that Denmark has become a more culturally complex society in recent years and adds that this fact in itself may make it easier for Danes to understand their own culture in years to come. ”The age of sameness is over in Denmark. We are not the monoculture people we once were. Today we are divided more than ever by things like class and education and this has made our society more complex,” says Nørmark.

The role of the media According to Jens Otto Kjær Hansen, CEO at the Danish School of Media and Journalism,­ the media also play an important role in shaping cultural understanding. He says that by definition, the role foreigners play in Denmark is inaccurately conveyed in the media because the media’s general approach is to frame stories based on the unusual, frightening or surprising. ”This mechanism creates the danger of skewedness, sometimes almost of vicious circles – and certainly this can also be the case in the question of what Danes think about foreigners,” Hansen says. This is one reason that the Danish Journalism School has included courses that enhance awareness of how stereotypes, and national stereotypes in particular, are used in the media; where they come from, which role they play and how to minimise them.

Dennis Nørmark Anthropologist and Author

Jens Otto Kjær Hansen CEO, Danish School of Media and Journalism Foto: Torkil Adsersen

Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


Social networking in real life Members of Aarhus Canoe & Kayak Club.

In 2009, Ilir Shkoza was stunned to read that over 56,000 newcomers came to Denmark that year alone. It immediately set him in motion. Shkoza, a Chief Consultant for Denmark’s Gymnastics and Sports Associations (DGI) began digging deeper and found that these newcomers included everything from students to refugees to international knowledge workers. ”I know that for most people, building a social network in Denmark is centred around clubs and associations,” he says, ”and I asked myself how these people made contact to social and sports clubs?”

DGI’s size and reach, with 1.5 million members it is one of the country’s largest associations, he began drafting a plan that he hopes will help internationals build their social network, create tighter bonds to the local community and learn more about clubs in Denmark in general. The pilot programme, ‘Sportsguides’, which began in the fall of 2011 and is set to run for a year, has already educated 50 sportsguides from across the country. These sportsguides will now act as contact persons in their local communities for newly arrived internationals, helping them find a club and explaining the ins-and-outs of Danish social life.

What he found was a number of independent introduction programs running all over the country, many through churches or local clubs themselves, some through municipalities and others being administered by workplaces.

”The sportsguides are not just randomly chosen,” explains Shkoza. ”They are people who have a solid understanding of and involvement in local clubs and associations beforehand. DGI helps with courses in things like intercultural communication, practical information and understanding what it means to be a foreigner in Denmark.”

”But there was nothing taking place across Denmark,” he says. Shkoza got to work. Using

The programme has partnered with Work in Denmark and The Copenhagen Post to es-

International Community’s Results • I nfluence: International Community has inspired Rotary to establish a new local club in Aarhus: Aarhus International. • C ooperation: In cooperation with various cultural institutions, International Community has arranged a series of events. More­over, a free ticket programme has been developed across the seven municipalities in the Business Region Aarhus. More than 20,000 free tickets are distributed yearly through the welcome packs in the municipalities. • S eminars: In cooperation with the Danish University Extension (Folkeuniversitetet) in Aarhus, a number of English-speaking seminars on Danish culture have been organized. The offer is now firmly anchored in the University’s programme and a similar initiative is in the pipeline at the University Extension in Copenhagen.

tablish contact to newly arrived foreigners. In addition, it works with citizen service centres and programs like International Community to get in contact with expats. Reaching out to international families has proven a success for the Aarhus Canoe and Kayak Club, which, since starting in 2009, has grown faster than any other club of its kind in Denmark. Of its 246 current members, at least a dozen are expats who have come to the club after hearing about it through International Community’s weekly newsletter, according to club foreman Claus Pape. Pape says the international members have also helped the club grow, by translating its website, helping with practical tasks and even helping to arrange a kayak tour along the coast for newcomers during the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition in Aarhus in the summer of 2011. “The influx of internationals has given so much for the Danish members, too,” he says. “It really adds a dimension to our club that we couldn’t have foreseen.”

International Community’s Recommendations • M unicipalities, companies and associations should form partnerships to create awareness that more information and activities in English are needed. • T he media must work to better convey the need for talented foreign workers in Denmark. • C lubs and associations should work together to reach out to international newcomers and create a welcoming environment for them. • I nternational employees and their families should be aware that social life and networking in Denmark is often built around local clubs and associations.

• S ports clubs and associations: In cooperation with various sports clubs and associations, International Community has developed a list with advice on how to welcome new international members.


Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


Finding a home away from home It takes self motivation, effort and an open mindset to settle in a new country. In 2009, Monisha Gambhir appeared on the cover of the first edition of Insight & Influence. Today, she is a success story. Monisha speaks the language, has part-time employment and is a home owner with a growing network. ”Losing my sense of identity was a major problem in the beginning. As an executive nutritionist, I had for 13 years been very focused on my career in India,” Monisha says. ”Besides, I felt so limited in what I could do when I first came to Denmark, not speaking the language, not having anybody to consult on my possibilities here and how to get by. It was very hard,” she says. She thought for a long time of going back to India with her son, pursuing her career and becoming a commuting family. However, with her husband and son happy with their new life in Aarhus, Monisha decided to press on. ”First, I started studying Danish as if my life depended on it,” says Monisha. She realized it was the key to more confidence, a more comfortable life and to improving her pos-

sibilities for getting a job and expanding her network. Getting a job – although at the moment only part time – has changed Monisha’s life in Denmark. Apart from teaching Indian cooking at FOF, Monisha has been a nutrition guest lecturer at VIA University College and she is working for Lindberg International. Landing a job within her field is the next step. ”Working motivates me a lot. It gives me a sense of achievement, self-confidence, network and structure,” Monisha says. ”It is extremely important.” Changing the family’s housing situation was another very important step. Coming from a large home in Hyderabad, India, it was a shock to settle in a small apartment in Aarhus. Last year, Monisha and her husband decided to buy a house in Risskov and eventually found friends amongst the Danish neighbours. ”Most of our friends are other internationals here. I find the Danes very friendly, but it is not so easy to make friends, since they already have very established networks, often dating back to childhood,” says Monisha, estimating that it takes 2-3 years to build up a network.

Place Branding: Denmark

The work life balance By Bente Cordes

Why would an expat choose to relocate to Denmark? The weather is bad, taxes are high, Danes are known to be reserved, and everything is expensive! But still Denmark wants to attract expats and is able to do so. Bente Cordes Project Coordinator, International Community 26

Name: Monisha Gambhir, India. Background: Arrived in Aarhus 2009 as accompanying spouse to Rajiv Gambhir, anesthesiologist, Skejby Sygehus. Education: Nutritionist. Occupation: Part time teacher at FOF and Interview Manager for Lindberg International. Career Aspiration: Full time job within nutrition, administration, management or teaching.

”Nowhere is it easy to start a new life. In Denmark the language, climate and reserved mentality might be an extra challenge for newcomers”, says Monisha. “It is always hard to come as a spouse with no job or network waiting for you. Therefore, International Community has been important to me and especially the newsletter, the morning seminars and InterCom can make life easier for the accompanying spouses,” she says. Monisha’s recipe to self-motivation is to focus on what you are good at and use it to open the doors in Denmark. ”Be open, be flexible and be yourself”, she advises. “Be prepared that it takes time to learn and understand a new country and culture, but if you are open, the Danes will be open too.”

Monisha’s advice: 1. Learn Danish – as quickly as possible. 2. Network to find job and friends – meeting people can change your life. 3. Mobilise your self-motivation to be in Denmark.

Perhaps Denmark’s biggest asset when competing for expats is its working culture. The society expects all professionals, including internationals, to find an acceptable work-life balance. An “acceptable” work-life balance is a personal definition, however, the simple fact that working hours are shorter in Denmark than in most western societies helps in at least giving time for personal interests. Having and taking time to the things you like – to live the life you would like to live – is important for the overall well-being of individuals as well as families. Whether you are into sports, literature, volunteering, cultural events, educating yourself or exploring nature, the Danish society provides space and time outside working hours. During working hours, efficiency is key. Being a society where innovation, design and high-tech corporations are the future, it is important that employees are able to focus on work when at work. Many corporations therefore invest heavily in constantly improving working environments and conditions as well as educating the workforce, well aware that satisfied and happy employees are more efficient and innovative. As an expat it is important to be aware of this way of thinking in order to gauge expectations for a work life and personal life in Denmark. Corporations expect efficient workers who perform at work, but who also make choices in their personal life that make them happy and satisfied. This natural focus on work-life balance may just be Denmark’s biggest asset in attracting global talent!

Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow


Family Life:

When going global:

Think local!

It is all about meeting the locals if expat families hope to make the most of their stay in Talentville, says Danish serial expat, Sara Halleløv Wesenberg. And if anyone should know, it is her. Over the last seven years, Wesenberg and her husband, Janus, have moved extensively, learning what it takes to create the perfect stay in a foreign country. “The one thing that characterizes the best places we have lived is that there is somewhere to go and to meet up – not just other internationals but also locals,” she says. “In places that are truly international, you can go out in the community and say, ‘hey I need some friends’ and not be looked at as an odd person. It is more acceptable and people still want to talk to you after you admit that.”

During their travels, Sara, who has a degree in computer science from Aarhus University, says that she took on the role of a stay at home mom for their two small children (now 3 and 6) while Janus, a physicist, was transferred every two years. The couple headed first to Colorado, USA while Sara was still pregnant with their first child, then moved to Oxford, UK and finally Singapore. “We had a wonderful stay in the US, especially, and I think this is because everyone, not only expats, are used to moving around there,” she says. “So there were hiking groups, play groups, and interest groups. In the US there are a lot of outdoor activities in general and where we were living in Colorado, it is the perfect environment for that kind of thing.”

Contact with the locals Establishing contact with the locals is also something Carlos Diaz, his wife and their four children have appreciated most since moving to Denmark from Chile. “In our case, sports and clubs have been a great help, to meet people, find activities for the kids and so on,” says Diaz, who lives in Skanderborg and is a Vice President at Biomar Group. “In my view, for Aarhus to become a real international destination, it will require a bigger international school, with better infrastructure and activities. That is maybe the most important issue for an expat family, maybe together with more possibilities to study or work for international spouses.”

International Community’s Results

International Community’s Recommendations

• E vents: International Community has organized a series of events for the whole family based on Danish traditions such as Carnival (fastelavn) and Christmas parties. Moreover, open events are regularly being arranged for the whole family – for instance LEGO DUPLO-day and an introduction to a children’s theater, Filuren.

• B oth companies and candidates must work to create honest expectations from the beginning - about both work and home life!

• F irst Tuesday. International Community has initiated the formation of a social network for newcomers. The first tuesday of each month the network meets somewhere in the city at various cafées. More than 30 meetings with the participation of more than 450 internationals have been organized.

• L earn some Danish! Everyone living in Denmark has the right to 3 years of free language instruction.

• S ports clubs and associations: In close cooperation with various sports clubs International Community has established a breeding ground for social networking. Collaborators include Bakken Bears, Aarhus 1900, Aarhus Canoe and Kayak Club and many others.

• E xpat families should take advantage of welcome packages, which are available in English.

• Use the one stop shop. • E xpats and their families should establish local contacts. Joining a local sports, hobby or common-interest club is a great place to start.

• O nline: More than 4,000 visitors click on each month (and 139 nationalities visit each year). Our website is the portal for everything you need to know as an international employee or accompanying spouse. • O nline Community: InterCom is International Community’s online network. More than 800 members network about cultural, social and professional subjects. • N ewsletter: International Community publishes a weekly newsletter to more than 2,300 readers about cultural events, association activities and news from various collaborators.


Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow -Talentville tomorrow

Conclusion next stop

Talentville 2

Next stop Talentville Opening up to skilled foreign colleagues, fellow citizens and new friends will not only contribute to further economic growth, but also enrich us personally, culturally­and socially.

As the statements in this magazine show, we already have a lot of knowledge and experience with internationals in many parts of the Danish society. There is great awareness of the challenges and needs for improvement and there is a strong will to overcome the obstacles. However, none of the individuals “pillars” of society - be it political, business, public service, education, research, culture or the citizens - can lift this task alone. Everyone must take responsibility. It takes all pillars to lift the construction! We must join our efforts to get to Talentville, a prosperous society of knowledge and innovation. We must leave all classical boundaries behind and forget the distinction between politics and business, public and private, big and small, Danish and foreign. It is necessary to open up and collaborate. Erhverv Aarhus/International Community look forward to becoming lead partner and coordinator of the new frontrunner project on attracting and retaining global talent, involving all 19 municipalities in the Central Denmark Region in 2012-14. International Community’s ambition is to continue to be the lighthouse for global mobility by providing support and guidance to all our partners and members. We will continue to work for economic growth by strengthening the international profile of the Region. I would like to thank the contributors to this magazine for sharing their experiences, ideas and visions. Now we have a catalogue of important building stones to take us further. Let us jump on the same bus and go to Talentville of Tomorrow!

Peter Kjær Chairman of the Board, Erhverv Aarhus


Insight& Influence Talentville of Tomorrow

International schools


Human resource & company network


Public Service

Practical information

Expats Network

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Spouse Community

Welcome pack

Expat Network

International Citizen Service

Insight magazin

next stop

Spouse Community


Expats Network

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Spouse Community


Expat Network

Human resource & company network

Go with International Community and meet new people through a wide range of events such as the monthly First Tuesday outings, lectures, family events, guided tours at companies, visits at cultural institutions, sports events, CV and cover letter seminars. A great chance to meet internationally minded Danes too.

Get a valuable professional network and learn and exchange know­ ledge and experience about the latest best practice on recruiting and retaining internationals at International Community’s morning seminars for companies.

InterCom Create an InterCom profile and meet other members, sign up for International Community events and other members’ events. Find new friends and aquaintences, job opportunities, join groups and share experiences.

Spouse Community Join a dynamic network guided and facilitated by International Community. It arranges social networking meetings and seminars for spouses of international workers.

Practical information Obtain practical information on living and working in Denmark from International Community. Go to to get information, sign up for the weekly newsletter and see the event calendar.

International schools

Welcome pack Public information from municipalities to internationals and their families making arrival and settling in easier.

Insight magazine Quarterly national magazine in English targeted at expats and accompanying families aiming to provide insight on life in Denmark. It covers a broad variety of themes including employment, education, tax and legal issues. Get tips on upcoming events and spare time activities.

International Citizen Service Go to the central point of access to all relevant authorities for foreign employees and their accompanying families, and for foreign jobseekers upon their arrival in the Central Denmark Region. Meet International Community in this one stop shop service and get practical information and an introduction to the network, events, seminars and social activities, organized by International Community.

IB certified schools from kindergarten till university.


Pakhus 13, Nordhavnsgade 4, Aarhus – home to Erhverv Aarhus/International Community

International Community Project Steering Committee Peter Kjær, Chairman of the Board, Erhverv Aarhus Jan Beyer Schmidt-Sørensen, Head of Business Department, City of Aarhus Lene Hartig Danielsen, Head of Citizen Service, City of Aarhus. Dan Skovgaard, Head of Industrial Board, Municipality of Favrskov Bente H. Steffensen, Director, Erhverv Aarhus. Advisory Board Karina Boldsen, Director, International Mobility Development, People & Culture, Vestas Wind Systems Bente H. Steffensen, Director, Erhverv Århus Ulla Gjørling, International Director, Aarhus University Christian Lausten Sørensen, Special Advisor, Aarhus Municipality Lene Skyttegaard, HR Manager, Danisco Lone Skriver Pedersen, Global Mobility Manager, Grundfos Bo Terp, Corporate Communication Manager, Bestseller Ulla Kjær, Senior HR Manager, Arla Foods amba

“We must join our efforts to get to Talentville, a prosperous society of knowledge and innovation. We must leave all classical boundaries behind and forget the distinction between politics and business, public and private, big and small, Danish and foreign. It is necessary to open up and collaborate.” Peter Kjær, Chairman of the Board, Erhverv Aarhus


© International Community 2012 Published by International Community Editor International Community Text input Støvring+Woodward Kommunikation ApS Layout Campfire & Co Printed in Denmark International Community Nordhavnsgade 4 8000 Aarhus C Denmark T: +45 8612 7200 F: +45 8619 2355


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