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nordic business INTERVIEW WITH Ã…SA BERGMAN, CEO OF SWECO / WOMEN IN PRIVATE EQUITY & TECH
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CONTENT Follow the Nordic direction
20 The secrets of succesful leadership Meet Ă…sa Bergman, the most powerful woman in Swedish industry
Women should not be afraid of joining the Private Equity Industry They should embrace it
Globalising out of the Nordics Are top executives exporting a Scandinavian leadership style?
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20 years after the bridge: Copenhagen/Malmรถ: Still chasing the ambition of a European powerhouse
We need to get excited about sustainability
The future of hotels in the Nordics: Petter A. Stordalen shares his sustainable visions for the Nordic hotel industry with daughter Emilie A. Stordalen
Dreaming of Unicorns and reaching for the Stars Meet the Nordic start-up scene
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Dear Reader Welcome to the first edition of Nordic Business. This magazine was created in a great collaboration of experienced and competent business journalists and highly insightful experts, with the vision of gathering and sharing information and insights relevant to Nordic leaders. Nordic business leaders face many of the same demands, such as transforming Nordic companies into more agile entities while still creating sustainable growth. Fortunately, many businesses in the Nordic countries are already performing really well each on their own, but when they convene in various categories, they are capable of reaching great flying heights internationally. That is why it is essential that we stay informed of developments across our Nordic neighbours and see the opportunities for expanding and continuing our strong cross-border cooperation. With these words, we hope that with Nordic Business you will gain even greater insight into Nordic commerce and industry. Julie Brix Editor & CCO
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FOLLOW THE NORDIC DIRECTION Scandinavia has long been rated at the top of global lists for best livability, happiness, restaurants, gender equality, education and the environment. Chris Shern would therefore like to see the Nordic leadership model replace the more traditional “command and control” style as the best option for the future. By Sandra Carpenter, Scandinavian Traveller
Collaborative, communicative, trust-based and focused on people. That’s the basic DNA of the Nordic leadership model. In an increasingly fast-paced digital world, it’s also the one we need to adopt for the future, says Chris Shern in his new book, Return of the Vikings: Nordic Leadership in Times of Extreme Change. As an American who has spent 23 years working in a variety of leadership roles in the Nordics, Shern has a strong “outsider on the inside” perspective. He is married to a Dane, but in a recent interview in his Copenhagen office, Shern said he will forever be an outsider in the country he calls home. He belongs and does not belong. “This perspective has changed and molded me,” says Shern, “and resulted in the book, which is a culmination of my career and experiences. I was fortunate to come into SAS, a very
Scandinavian company, and have the opportunity to work and live in Sweden and Denmark, as well as internationally.” Shern co-authored the book with Henrik Jeberg, a Dane living in San Francisco who has had a similar career experience and who gives an “insider on the outside” perspective. Together, they have examined Nordic leadership as a model for the future. They don’t however, just rely on their own experi- ‘There’s a rich heritage of the Nordic people as explorers, navigators, trendsetters and political and educational innovators’ C ences. Instead, they interviewed almost 50 people with various perspectives on Nordic leadership. “THERE’S A RICH heritage of the Nordic people as explorers, navigators,
There’s a rich heritage of the Nordic people as explorers, navigators, trendsetters and political and educational innovators
“People prefer to work for Nordic companies because you are treated with trust,” says Chris Shern.
CHRIS SHERN’S ADVICE TO ORGANIZATIONS
trendsetters, and political and educational innovators,” says Shern. “The methods, values and leadership practices of the Vikings are woven into the DNA of international businesses founded in the Nordics.” Characteristic traits of Nordic leadership include trust, collaboration, respect, equality, listening, feedback and creative thinking as well as communication and access across the corporate hierarchy. Interestingly, this same DNA is also part and parcel of most startup companies today. Telling it as it is, without embellishment, is part of the Nordic way. Where trust is the norm, honesty and directness can cut through boardroom politics. Responsibility goes hand-in-hand with trust. “With a trust-based organization, leadership can be more collaborative and communicative,” says Shern. “To delegate something to a colleague,
As a leader, you need to be true to your values and ensure that they’re aligned with those of your organization. In the past, you could hide behind power, information and knowledge. You could be good at managing a situation. But to lead in times of extreme change and uncertainty, I think it is increasingly important to be more human – and to be more human, you have to know who you are. You have to be authentic. Regardless of what business you are in, you have to play a greater role in your community. It’s about fidelity and being loyal to your tribe – your family, community, organization and the world.
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you have totrust them. To have a flat organizational structure with a low-power distance, you have to be able to trust your colleagues with the information you give.” SHERN FEELS THAT he learned to be a leader and not just a manager during his time at SAS. But it wasn’t till he began working in Milan that he started seeing things in the Nordics with even more of an outsider perspective. “I was impressed with what I saw, from how leadership handled a crisis, to how everyone is included in decision making. And I noticed how the Nordic countries lead the way in many global measurements. I began wondering why this was happening and realized that maybe the Nordic countries and their approach to business, leadership and society will be more relevant in the future than the traditional command and control models from American business schools.” One of the interviews Shern and Jeberg conducted was with Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo, who ascribes both his success and his leadership style to his desire for inclusion and collaboration. As chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, he tries to create an environment where others can flourish, but one in which he simultaneously ultimately takes responsibility. “My ideal orchestra is a collective of informed, active and motivated musicians where everyone knows their place and function and can feel free to have an influence on the whole institution,” says Oramo. Danish businessman Jens Moberg provides another interesting example of a Nordic working approach. After quickly progressing through the ranks of Microsoft in Scandinavia, he went to Seattle and was given responsibility for the North American sales force and for presenting a new strategy. “A lot of people would call an external consultant to hammer out the new strategy,” says Shern. “Instead, the first thing Jens did was to travel around visit the sales force and talk to them, asking what their challenges were, how they should be fixed. Five weeks later, he told the organization, ‘You don’t work for me, I work for you. I don’t have the answers, but together we have the answers and together we will figure this out.’” Culinary entrepreneur and founder of the New Nordic cuisine philosophy, Claus Meyer, also has a Nordic leadership style. “When he meets people, he likes to try to find where his dreams meet theirs,” says Shern. “He seeks that human connection.” NORDIC LEADERSHIP HAS stood the test of time. For almost 400 years, the Vikings dominated Europe. While they have the reputation of being fierce fighters, Shern says they were technologically advanced, innovative, agile or flexible in their approach to society and encouraged women to play a large role. The Vikings were guided by a set of values. “The book is structured around these virtues and give us a lens through which to consider Nordic leadership. The virtues are an inspiration for the future,” says Shern. And Shern is confident that Nordic leadership has export success. “In anything with business, you have to make adjustments for cultural differences. Who doesn’t want to be respected or listened to? In my experience, people prefer to work for Nordic companies because you are treated with trust.” And in times of change and in an increasingly complex and fast-paced, digitalized world, one person cannot own all the answers and knowledge, says Shern. “You have to be able to get the impressions of many people to understand how to navigate. It is increasingly important to get consensus and have a collaborative approach.”
WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE DOES Chris Shern Born: Amery, Wisconsin, a rural town in west central Wisconsin Lives: Copenhagen Family: Married to Helene. Two adult children. Career: Started in the US as a management trainee for SAS in Seattle and New York. This brought him to various leadership roles in Denmark, Sweden, Italy and internationally. After 23 years, he chose a new direction and is now the managing director for IME, a business foundation working with executive education and leadership development. Published Return of the Vikings: Nordic Leadership in Times of Extreme Change in May 2018 with co-author Henrik Jeberg. Motto: “With every adversity comes a seed of equal or greater opportunity”
VIKING VALUES: NINE NOBLE VIRTUES The Vikings were guided by a set of values, a sort of 10 Commandments that were called the Nine Noble Virtues or the Viking Virtues. They are a codex for how to live a better life and include courage, truth, honor, fidelity, discipline, hospitality, self-reliance, industriousness and perseverance. The virtues give us a lens through which to consider Nordic leadership, says Shern. It’s not about building an empire or amassing power or wealth, but about being a better person for the greater good.
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TAG HEUER CARRERA CALIBRE HEUER 02 Chris Hemsworth works hard and chooses his roles carefully. He handles pressure by taming it, and turning it to his advantage. #DontCrackUnderPressure was coined with him in mind.
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Meet Åsa Bergman, the most powerful woman in Swedish industry.
THE SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL LEADERSHIP By Flemming Østergaard
From an early age, Åsa Bergman was an extrovert, never hesitating to take a stand, with a strong sense of justice and equality for everyone, always eager to defend the weak – just like Pippi Longstocking and Greta Thunberg, one might be tempted to say. It was no surprise that she took on an education in Civil Engineering from Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology – at the time a far more male dominated line of work than today. Today she is CEO of Sweco, a leading architectural and engineering company in Europe with around 16,000 employees and activities in 70 countries. Over the years she has received several awards. In 2012 she was awarded the prestigious prize Leadership developer of the year by the Swedish Organisation for Managers, Ledarna. In 2017 she received The Leading Women Award from World Business Council for Sustainable Development, an accolade that recognizes the leadership of women who are working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. And in 2019 she was named the most powerful and influential woman in Swedish industry by the Swedish business magazine Veckans Affärer. Core values of leadership “When I started out as a young engineer in the early nineties, I got to work as a project manager, which involved getting consultants, designers, contractors, etc. to deliver. It was not easy, because there was so much work for everyone.
That made me very interested in how to get people to perform – and choose to perform – in line with what you had as your goal and responsibility. It led me to think a lot about human behaviour and what drives, motivates and engages people,” says Åsa Bergman. She mentions a survey based on 1,500 interviews with Scandinavian managers in which the core values of successful leadership boil down to three central features that are in full alignment with her own values and experiences. Firstly, a high level of employee involvement in decision making. Secondly, a very short distance between manager and employees. And thirdly, a great freedom of responsibility, which provides the employee with sufficient space to take initiative, be creative and work independently. “I think the strongest characteristic of my leadership is my high focus on creativity. Made possible by establishing the platform for motivation and performance – having engaged people and teams around me. It’s about being clear on goals, about listening to people, being transparent and honest in order to create trust and a safe atmosphere, a safe working environment. If you have that in place, people dare to think and test new things. They make decisions and really stretch their performance in a way they don’t, if you are too hard in your ways or even scare them. I strongly believe that the mix of competencies and personalities creates the foundation for more creativity and motivation and will take your business or team further than anything else. I always try to create that kind of an environment, where everyone feels that they can
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Åsa Bergman, CEO of Sweco, a leading architectural and engineering company in Europe with around 16,000 employees and activities in 70 countries.
company, you are planning and designing the sustainable cities and communities for the future. You work in project teams with those creative processes, and engineering, technology, architecture and environmental competencies are for everyone, very purpose-driven and meaningful. So, I think it’s up to us to be better at explaining what various types of education can lead to, if we are to motivate more women to take on technical studies. Working towards a more sustainable society is a strong trend, providing many interesting jobs all over the world.” Education alone does not pave the way for young women with leadership ambitions – even in the Nordic region, the most equal region in the world, there is still a long way to go on gender equality on management levels. What is Åsa Bergman’s advice to an ambitious young woman? “Choose something that you are passionate about. Something, that you would like to work with, that you really like, and that you know you’re trained for. Then stick with that and focus on the performance and the contribution and be yourself – bringing the best of you into the workplace. If you find yourself in a company where you don’t feel that you belong, then search for a new company. It’s everyone’s own responsibility to create those kinds of roles, where they thrive.” contribute. An environment in which they feel they are important and are being listened to, because that makes people step forward to contribute even more,” Åsa Bergman points out. Equality She is a strong advocate for equality for everyone, not least gender equality, and has transformed Sweco into one of Sweden’s most equal companies, with women holding 50% of top management positions – quite an accomplishment in the engineering business still dominated by men in the Nordic countries. Not just on corporate levels, but also in young people’s choice of study. In general, there will be an increasing need for people in engineering, science, technology and mathematics in the future, but statistics show that overall, women are more interested in people compared with men, who are more interested in things. How can we stimulate more women to choose education programmes like engineering? “I think that we haven’t been that good at explaining what you actually work with, because it still tends to be the general perception that engineers only do very technical stuff. But the thing is, when you work as an engineer in our
Visions for the future Sweco plans and designs the communities and cities of the future – this includes sustainable buildings, efficient infrastructure and access to clean water. These are topics supported by an increasing awareness on all levels in society – from consumers to politicians, from school children to company executives. In fact, the Sweco business vehicle is driven by all the sustainable demands. But the challenges – climate change, dwindling resources and numerous environmental threats – are enormous. What are Åsa Bergman’s visions – is human civilization up to the task? “I’m a positive person. We have the solutions to transform societies and lead them onto more sustainable pathways. We will be able to leave behind fossil fuels, we can increase energy efficiency much further, we can have clean water with new technologies, we will work towards a more circular economy. In fact, I think the business of the future will be much more circular regarding the use of resources. We will also see more digital, more intelligent cities, where we do things in a smarter and more sustainable way. So, I am positive we have the solutions. It’s more a question of putting them into play. And in that regard, we have to speed up the pace, as we don’t have much time. And we will do our best to support that development at Sweco,” Åsa Bergman says.
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COMPANIES MUST LEAD THE WAY IN SUSTAINABILITY The financial industry is increasingly looking into ESG issues when estimating a companyâ€™s value and potential before investing.
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By Flemming Østergaard
Recently ECB, the European Central Bank, published some interesting research about finance and decarbonization. The findings in the working paper suggested that if a country wants to decarbonize its economy, it should not only promote green finance initiatives such as green bonds, but also develop its equity markets. Because economies that receive relatively more of their funding from stock markets than from credit markets generate lower carbon emissions per capita. Increasing the equity financing share to one-half globally would reduce aggregate per capita carbon emissions by about one-quarter of the Paris Agreement commitment, the researchers estimated. Carbon emissions are only part of the global agenda concerning sustainability. Many other environmental topics are in play, as well as social and governance matters. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the 169 targets presented by the UN in 2015 can give you a good impression of many of the problems we are dealing with. Highest ESG focus in Europe In this transformation of the global economy companies play a very important role. So does the investment industry. In recent years we have seen a boom in the number of investment funds focusing on sustainability topics. And the public and political interest in the subject has never been higher – not least in Europe and the Nordic countries in particular. An interesting report based on an extensive survey among 613 asset owners across the world, representing more than EUR 19 trillion in assets, was presented by UBS/Responsible Investor in 2019. One of the observations was that the highest proportion of asset owners already active in the ESG space exists in Europe (82%). European asset owners predict that systemic
environmental factors (climate crisis, biodiversity loss) will be more material to their investments in the next five years than financial factors. The survey also revealed that a majority of asset owners claiming focus on ESG do actually walk the talk, when it comes to integrating ESG into the day-to-day work with their managers. Nordea: The financial sector must lead the way This is also the case at Nordea, the largest bank in the Nordic countries. The focus on sustainability is highly important in the investment processes. But it’s complicated, and common standards are lacking. “It is difficult, and I think each sector needs to have their own legislation and full alignment to decide what’s the best possible option for that sector. But one thing that I think will be a very strong contribution going forward is now where we are seeing more legislation and also voluntary commitment in the financial sector. We’re connected to all sectors. So, if the financial industry as a central and key player starts to have tougher demands, both voluntarily and through legislations, then that will trickle down, and it will affect all our customers and all the companies we invest in. So, I think we need to lead the way, but it can’t just be up to the banking or financial services sector. The other sectors need to have their own specific targets,” says Anders Langworth, Head of Group Sustainable Finance at Nordea, the largest bank in the Nordic countries. He further adds: “Looking a few years ahead, I hope, and I think, that we will stop talking about the sustainability options. And that every sector and our sector are setting more clear and precise targets to achieve, because it will never be possible to say that in 3, 5, or 8 years’ time, everything needs to be sustainable. We will still have fossil fuel, well, probably always a part of the energy mix. And then some people would say, well, that’s not sustainable. So, if we as a large
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Anders Langworth, Head of Group Sustainable Finance at Nordea.
bank are investing in 5000-6000 companies worldwide, we will have some investments in fossil fuels to some extent, most likely. And does that make us a completely unsustainable bank? I wouldn’t say so. No, not if we can show the transition and a decrease in those investments and significant increase in more sustainable options, and clear targets of what we want to deliver. And that is what I would like to see on a sector level. More clarity and hard facts of what we want to do – not just talk about ambitions.” One of the problems of identifying and rating companies on their ESG efforts concerns the lack of data. Financial data is easy to get and is well defined by accounting standards, but that is not the case with ESG data. And even if companies declare to be ESG focused, it is often necessary to visit them to make deeper inquiries. “The lack of data is the common problem for all sectors in our efforts to be able to really measure everything that we need to measure. We need to do a lot of company visits. Not just at HQ, our team also pays visits to factories or
other parts of the company to really get a good impression of the company’s ESG efforts in practice. A company can write good reports about it, but we need to go out there in the field before we decide to lift the company into one of our sustainability funds,” says Anders Langworth. Sustainable transitions take time Hilde Jenssen is Head of Fundamental Equities at Nordea, a team consisting of 25 people located in Stockholm and Copenhagen, and is highly focused on the selection of stocks for the several specialized sustainability funds. “We have a long-term perspective when looking at companies to invest in, our investment horizon is 3-5 years. And that is important, because a lot of the sustainability factors take a relatively long time to play themselves out,” Hilde Jenssen says. She points out that another important part of Nordea’s approach to sustainable investments is to have a say in the companies, once the investments are made.
nordic business // 27 Hilde Jenssen, Head of Fundamental Equities at Nordea, sees a lot of interest from investors in social impact as an interesting investment opportunity in developed markets.
“We want to help push in the right direction, if you will – help businesses to improve their sustainable strategy, whether it’s about corporate practices, production methods, sourcing methods, or if it is connected to their social impact – something that has historically been important for our investments in emerging markets. However, social impact is also an interesting investment opportunity in developed markets, and we see a lot of interest from investors in this area.” Find the winners when they are lagging behind Bottom line is: The really interesting companies are not those who already have very high ESG ratings, but those who are on their way. Hilde Jenssen provides an example. Hawaiian Electric is a utility company based in – Hawaii. You would think that would be a perfect place for solar and wind energy. It is, but the company – that holds a monopoly position as an energy supplier for the entire group of Hawaiian Islands – has in fact imported petroleum in order to run their power plants. “Due to their monopoly, they were not the fastest horse out of the barn to commit to the investments needed to make the transition. So, we engaged with the company and also teamed up with an activist value investor, who was also very much advocating for renewables. Together, we were able to work with the company to make the timeline much shorter for them to transition,” says Hilde Jenssen. This example might give the impression that sustainable investing is an easy task, but that is definitely not the case, Hilde Jenssen points out. It is a world of shades of grey, and the lack of common standards makes it even harder. “In each country in Europe, for instance, there is basically a different ESG label. If you have an ESG fund, and you want to market yourself in Belgium, then you would have to have the Belgian label. And if you are going into the German market, then you need the German label. The issue is that some of these labels have very conflicting views of the world. So, for instance, in Germany, they will exclude nuclear, however the French push for nuclear as a way to produce energy without any CO2 emissions. As a result, it puts an asset manager in a difficult situation, when you have to navigate among these conflicting country labels. What I’m hoping for is that we will move towards one standard. But I’m also realistic. I think, given each specific country’s political and strong commercial interests in this, it’s going to be very, very difficult to have one label covering all of Europe. That’s what we’re dealing with. But I do think there will be some extent of consolidation among these labels. The first sign of this we saw in December, when the EU reached a deal to define sustainable investments. A final taxonomy is currently expected at the end of 2021 with implementation in 2022,” Hilde Jenssen says. Get inspired Not every company is listed, quite the opposite, actually – most companies are not listed on stock exchanges. Obviously, this does not mean that unlisted companies cannot learn from large cap listed companies with successful strategies or banks’ ESG valuation methods. The large companies are those who have the greatest resources for employing ambitious ESG strategies. And SMEs, listed or unlisted, should find inspiration here. Imitate what works to the extent it is possible in your company. Or as the famous composer Igor Stravinsky allegedly once said: A good composer does not imitate. He steals.
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INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS
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Thomas Fischer has been CEO of the Scandinavian consulting firm Valcon since 2012. Thomas has extensive experience with design and execution of major strategy transformations in leading international corporations, including development of operating models and optimisations across the entire organisation to ensure support and execution of the company strategy.
HOW SHOULD NORDIC COMPANIES TRANSFORM THEMSELVES TO ENSURE BOTH AGILITY AND SUSTAINABLE GROWTH IN 2020? By Thomas Fischer
By now, we have all heard and felt that we are living in a world that changes at an unprecedented speed and offers us unprecedented complexity and volumes of information. We feel this as individuals and as companies. This speed and complexity challenge the way we structure and lead our organisations, and it is a challenge that is top of mind for all CEOs. The same speed and complexity are perhaps also some of the reasons why our employees today are not simply satisfied with interesting job tasks and career development. They seek meaning with their work. They seek purpose. They want to feel that they are part of a greater good in a world where we are finally beginning to see that we need to pull together to go in the right direction. So where does that leave you as leader? The good news is that I would argue that, as leaders in Nordic companies, we have a built-in advantage in our DNA that can help us overcome these challenges. Because many of the answers to the challenges facing us today are in the way we lead our organisation and in our people. Nordic leadership is very much about flat hierarchies, ethical values and autonomous employees willing and able to think and act independently. And these are the very things that will enable your organisation as a whole to sense and respond to the constant inflow of new information and new technological opportunities.
Your task as a leader is to ensure a meaningful purpose for all and then empower your people (and yourself) to navigate according to this purpose. Involve your people in the development of your organisation and accept the fact that there is simply not enough brainpower on the executive floor alone to sense and respond to the rapid inflow of new opportunities and challenges. You need everybody on board. It is all about enabling your organisation to exist in a state of permanent readiness to be able to navigate in the unprecedented complexity and volumes of information that we are facing today. I recognise that this is easier said than done. I would recommend that you begin by ensuring that your organisational platform is in order. You need robustness in the sense of simplicity in governance, structures and processes, clarity in roles and responsibilities and effectiveness in deliveries. Otherwise, efforts and energy are wasted on inefficient procedures and methods; energy that would be better spent on innovation and development. More importantly, you need to constantly balance your organisational robustness with your organisational adaptivity. You need robustness but not rigidity. This balancing act will be my recipe for success in 2020.
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Anders Stubbe Arndal, Managing Partner in the leading Danish law firm Kromann Reumert, is specialised in the regulation of energy companies. Over the last 20 years, businesses in the power and natural gas supply industries have experienced dramatic changes to their governing conditions. Anders Stubbe Arndal has taken a central role in the resulting development that these businesses have undergone, both in terms of ownership, corporate structure, operation and in terms of the green transition.
IN WHAT WAY WILL THE GREEN TRANSITION AND INCREASED CSR FOCUS AFFECT NORDIC BUSINESSES IN 2020? By Anders Stubbe Arndal
There is, to my mind, no doubt that the climate agenda which has featured so prominently in recent years will continue to fuel societal and commercial development in the Nordic region in the years to come. In Denmark, we’ve seen the passing of the first Climate Act, introducing an ambitious and broadly supported set of binding climate goals, and in a European perspective the EU’s recent agreement for climate neutrality by 2050 is another example of the increased focus on the area. With the EU 2019 climate agreement comes a need to step up green investments, and considerably so. The new climate goals and the green transition which not only the energy sector but indeed every sector of business and society will be facing in consequence of those goals call for massive investments, rearrangements and legislation. All of this cannot but impact Nordic businesses heavily. The financial markets, too, are adapting towards a greener profile, and investments in sustainable products and businesses are on the rise. There are several Nordic funds and foundations offering and specializing in investments in companies that contribute actively to pulling the world towards enhanced sustainability, e.g. by focusing on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Sustainable investments take note not only of the expected return but also of the degree to which elements such as climate impact, environmental issues, equal treatment of employees, general social responsibility, etc., are integrated into and supported by companies’ business models. Green transition and SDG are thus more than buzz words – they are increasingly actual competitive investment parameters. It will likely drive a meaningful and strong growth in Impact Investments. In 2020, Nordic companies should prepare for growing expectations from
employees, business partners, investors and customers when it comes to their focus on compliance and sustainability. The expectations go beyond merely complying with rules and regulations, implying also that companies take an active approach to sustainability and ethical standards – in the case of large companies accompanied by statutory reporting obligations. Focused and targeted CSR efforts that are deeply rooted in management and employee behavior cannot only serve as a defense against reputational damage and illegal acts. Used strategically, increased CSR and SDG awareness is also an opportunity for businesses to stand out in a competitive market. The increasing focus among businesses on CSR and sustainability should, of course, be reflected in their values and codes of ethics but is also driven by legal and commercial parameters. The requirements to be met by companies range from voluntary measures to both soft and hard law. In this respect, it may be relevant to look at different types of standards, including both legal requirements and non-binding guidelines, with the SDGs and the OECD guidelines as prominent examples. Both standards attract great attention these years, as do member-based organisations’ own standards such as Global Compact. There has been a clear trend in recent years of voluntary measures influencing legislators’ regulation of companies. Today and in the years to come, it is therefore of the utmost importance for companies to be able to document their efforts within both the traditional CSR area but also in respect of their work with and contribution to the SDGs– for commercial as well as legal reasons, and the demands on companies for greater openness and transparency continues to grow. Thus, financial statements and corporate policies and reports have become channels for companies to communicate their CSR, their green achievements and their work with and contribution to the SDGs.
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Lars Rebien Sørensen, former CEO of Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk, was selected by Harvard Business Review as the ”best-performing CEO in the world” for two years running, in 2015 and 2016
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Globalising out of the Nordics:
ARE TOP EXECUTIVES EXPORTING A SCANDINAVIAN LEADERSHIP STYLE? An exclusive group of Nordic business leaders have made it to the top of the international corporate world, either as top executives or in board roles outside the Nordic region. Does their international success stem from a Scandinavian leadership style that is increasingly in tune with global trends? And is it exportable?
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By Bibi Christensen
The concept of a Nordic leadership style, with a global potential to inspire, was given a definite boost when Lars Rebien Sørensen, then the Chief Executive Officer of Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk, was selected by Harvard Business Review as the “best-performing CEO in the world” for two years running, in 2015 and 2016. In doing so, HBR highlighted the company’s focus on a “triple bottom line” encompassing not just financial results but also environmental and social aspects, as well as Rebien Sørensen’s “distinctly modest approach to leadership - one that would be atypical in America but not necessarily in Scandinavia”. As if to prove the point, Rebien Sørensen greeted his initial selection for the honour by stating in an interview with HBR that he did not even like the notion of the “best-performing CEO in the world”. “That’s an American perspective - you lionize individuals. I would say I’m leading a team that is collectively creating one of the world’s best-performing companies,” he said, emphasizing a focus on teamwork and collective thinking that is considered very Scandinavian. But tellingly, the Dane explained that, while he has a “consensus-oriented” Scandinavian leadership style, he would also describe himself as “slightly more aggressive than the typical Scandinavian business leader”, having spent several years in the United States early in his career. Vikings on the Move The same could be said about other Scandinavians who have made it to the top of international organisations outside the Nordic region. While Lars Rebien Sørensen represents a Nordic tradition of building globally oriented companies - from furniture giant IKEA through energy company Equinor (previously Statoil) to shipping colossus A.P. Møller-Mærsk - other Scandinavians have ventured outside of these home-grown successes and made their careers in non-Scandinavian settings. To name but a few, the British low-cost airline EasyJet is currently headed
Pernille Hippe Brun, consultant and advisor on organisational development and leadership, advocates for the Nordic leadership style as a model for the future
by Swedish travel industry veteran Johan Lundgren, who previously worked at German travel giant TUI, while fellow Swede Ola Källenius was last year promoted from Head of Research to CEO at German automaker Daimler. From Norway, former Statoil CEO Helge Lund is now chairman of the British energy giant BP (and, incidentally, also of Novo Nordisk), having succeeded a Swede, Carl-Henric Svanberg, the former CEO of the telecoms company Ericsson, in this post. Among the world’s large sportswear makers, Germany’s Puma is headed by another Norwegian, Bjørn Gulden, who was formerly the CEO of Danish jewellery brand Pandora and German footwear retailer Deichmann. And his counterpart at German rival Adidas is the Dane Kasper Rørsted, who previously headed up Henkel, the German chemical and consumer goods company. In pharmaceuticals, the world’s largest maker of generic drugs, Teva Pharmaceuticals of Israel, is led by the Dane Kåre Schultz, who was once a contender for the CEO role at Novo Nordisk and later the CEO at another well-known Danish pharmaceutical company, Lundbeck. And just recently, Danish shipping giant A.P. Møller-Mærsk lost its Swedish Chief Financial Officer, Carolina Dybeck Happe, who has opted to take up the same role at U.S. industrial conglomerate General Electric. Similarly, former Mærsk CEO Nils Smedegaard Andersen, who is increasingly active on the boards of international groups such as BP and Akzo Nobel, was recently appointed the new chairman of Dutch food giant Unilever. These are just a few examples that point not just to a globalised world, or a traditional Scandinavian focus on being outward-looking, but also to the question of whether these personal successes reflect a Nordic leadership style that is increasingly in tune with global trends and thus has much to offer to organisations in other parts of our rapidly evolving world. In other words, is the Nordic leadership style exportable? Hybridising the Scandinavian way Among a growing body of literature and research on Scandinavian leadership, a book published last year by Pernille Hippe Brun, a Danish consultant and advisor on organisational development and leadership, explores this topic based on interviews with numerous Scandinavian executives who have made their careers abroad. In the book, “On the Move: Lessons for the Future from Nordic Leaders” (People’s Press, 2019), she states that the interviewees generally shared the same ideas of what they associate with Nordic leadership traits, listing them as: nurture and care; openness and transparency; responsiveness and a willingness to experiment; directness and a straightforward approach; inclusion and collaboration; and commitment and purpose. But the overall conclusion is that the Nordic leadership style “cannot be exported wholesale”. For instance, Nordic directness might grate in cultures that are less upfront, and the Scandinavian tradition of consensus-seeking, delegation of responsibilities and challenging authority does not necessarily work well in more authoritarian cultures. Rather, Hippe Brun concludes: “The Nordic leaders abroad serve as carriers of these ideas from the North. Part of the role they play, in collaboration with local colleagues in the overseas countries where they have leadership respon-
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Photo: STEVE MARCUS/Scanpix Denmark
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Swede Ola Källenius, chairman of the board of German automaker Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, unveils the Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR concept car during the 2020 CES in Las Vegas.
sibilities, is to seek out what works and what does not, what can be modified and what cannot. Their aim is to grasp the opportunities and identify the best possible solutions to the challenges that face organizations across the globe, adapting to the nuances of many different cultures.” She also suggests that, for reasons to do with Nordic history, Scandinavians are particularly suited for such roles because they are innately adaptable - to change, to different ways of doing things, and to different points of view. What follows, then, is what Pernille Hippe Brun calls “mixing and matching the Nordic leadership style with the prevalent local style”, a “hybridized” version that, in essence, is more about a Nordic way of thinking - “Nordic” as a state of mind. In doing so, Hippe Brun presents the Nordic leadership style as a model for the future, partly by pointing to similarities between Scandinavian leadership approaches and the organisational structures found in many modern startups across the globe, and indeed to the presence of many Scandinavians in Silicon Valley.
It is worth noting that some of the Nordic leaders mentioned above have a management style that, in their home region, might not be considered particularly Scandinavian. Kåre Schultz, for one, has been called “un-Danish” in his approach, earning the moniker “hard-Kåre” for his brash style during his time at Novo. It has been suggested that his particular style is actually more suited to a non-Nordic company and that he was not a good match for consensus-seeking Novo Nordisk for this very reason. He might agree with those who see the Nordic leadership style as soft and lacking a killer instinct that is more prominent in the United States, for example. And so, we have Mr Schultz’ former boss at Novo Nordisk, Lars Rebien Sørensen, the world’s former “best-performing CEO”, suggesting that he is actually “slightly more aggressive than the typical Scandinavian”, yet still emphasizing his Nordicness in other ways. It is mixed and matched, Nordic style.
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WOMEN SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID OF JOINING THE PRIVATE EQUITY INDUSTRY - THEY SHOULD EMBRACE IT
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Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix
Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae has been chairman of the board in numerous corporations including more than ten owned by Private Equity.
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Private Equity has historically been a sector dominated by men. That is a paradox, say three investment-savvy women; Private Equity is one of the few industries where you are measured on your quantitative results – nothing else.
By Nikolai Steensgaard
The Private Equity industry is subject to the same imbalance seen in other finance-related businesses. As you rise on the career ladder and step into number-crunching offices, the dark suits rule. There are a lot of men – and very few women. That might not be very surprising, but you could very well make the argument that it is a paradox. In contrast to other industries, who are dominated by qualitative leadership goals and thereby subject to opinions and prejudices, Private Equity is different. This industry is all about good investments. Measurable and quantitative results show who is performing best. This is basically an essential difference which should interest women with professional ambitions in finance-related industries, say three savvy women with extensive management experience in Private Equity. One of them is Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae, who has been chairman of the board in numerous corporations including more than ten owned by Private Equity. “In Private Equity the creation of value is central. A large part of the job is the ordinary formal stuff like organization and corporate governance - but in reality, you don’t spend as much time on that compared to other board related tasks. The focus is on making good business. And that appeals to me,” says Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae. “In hindsight, my work with Private Equity owned corporations is one of the best things in my career. Women are often measured differently from men. They might have a different management style. But if you are measured only on your results, then the management style becomes irrelevant. The goal is simply to make a profitable business. That is fantastic.” Too Few Women Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae is a true Nordic businesswoman. She was born in Finland, got her Strategic & Marketing Manager university degrees in Sweden and then began an impressive business career leading to several noteworthy executive positions all over Europe. Around ten years ago, she chose to focus on a career as a board member – her name appearing on the board in corporations such as SAS, Sunset Boulevard and recently BoConcept. Several of her positions as a board member or chair
have been in corporations owned by Private Equity, and this gives her a unique insight into what makes the business tick. Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae wish more women would consider the world of Private Equity. While more women are choosing the industry, there are still way too few, and this creates a problem which is not easily solved - women will not feel drawn towards a business where you know beforehand that you are going to be the exception. “It’s the same challenge you have when you look at corporate finance or the banks. There are just too few women. One central problem is that you - as a woman - might feel different. You are the odd one. You might end up getting special treatment, but that is not what you want. You want to be a colleague. It’s the same well-known problem you see in other industries,” says Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae. However, things are improving. Women are increasingly becoming a more natural part of the Private Equity industry. While the result-orientated environment emphasized by Sanna Suvanto-Haarsae should attract more women, there are additional reasons why it ought to attract women with professional ambitions. Observational Facts Rikke Kjær Nielsen is a Partner at the Nordic investment fund EQT. Her area of focus is mid-size corporations, and she is not hesitant to designate her position as “the best job in the world”. She highlights the learning and inspiration she has experienced since touching down in Private Equity ten years ago, when she was in the beginning of her thirties. “You basically work with some of the most interesting companies possible. You mirror yourself in the most inspiring management teams, learn from some of the best boards around and use advisors who are the best of the best,” says Rikke Kjær Nielsen. “If you encounter a problem in a company, you are responsible for solving it. But you also have colleagues to help you do it. It is an enormous privilege to work with people like that at a young age and it is extremely inspiring. This is the message I think we need to send as an industry.” That is an observation that Christina Grumstrup Sørensen recognizes and supports. She is a Senior Partner in Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners,
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Photo: Claus Bech
PRIVATE EQUITY NEEDS MORE WOMEN While exact numbers are not available, the international organization Level 20 assesses that women only represent five percent of the senior positions in the European Privat Equity industry. Level 20 is a nonprofit organization backed by 49 Private Equity funds. Its goal is to increase the percentage of women in the industry to 20 percent through events, networks and information. The Nordic organizations representing the Private Equity industry also try to improve the situation. For example, the Danish Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (DVCA) organize summer academies targeting young women interested in knowing more about the business. Sources: DVCA, Level 20
Rikke Kjær Nielsen, Partner at the Nordic investment fund EQT and Christina Grumstrup Sørensen, Senior Partner in Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.
which controls several equity funds targeting infrastructure and renewable energy. She emphasizes that the Private Equity industry is exciting and fastpaced, but also that it is one that requires skill. You must basically embrace working with rows, columns and mathematics – and not be afraid of joining a number-fixated industry. “Numbers are basically the easy part of my responsibilities. They are tools. They are observable facts you must relate to and crunch. I do that every day working with investment cases because it gives you a tool to compare things – and thereby create results. And that is the central point for our investors,” says Christina Grumstrup Sørensen. Stereotypes Still Exists Speaking about the mathematics in Private Equity, we touch upon one reason often mentioned when it comes to identifying why the sexes choose different industries. A classical argument is that men are naturally more orientated towards mathematics than women. But that is a myth. Young women in the Nordic countries often chose mathematic courses and when they do, they perform just as well as their male counterparts – if not better. But the stereotypic story exists and that has consequences. Not only when corporations identify preferred candidates to a position – it begins much earlier. Having to choose an educational program these myths often affect the decisions made by innumerable young people. That is a problem, we must address according to Christina Grumstrup Sørensen. “The myth goes that in Private Equity it is all about black suits and hard calculations. It is a giveaway that you cannot work in this industry, if you are
afraid of numbers, but most women aren’t. Furthermore, my job is basically to improve an investment – and I do it through working with people. And that should appeal to a lot of young people – men as well as women,” says Christina Grumstrup Sørensen. Important Diversification Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae agrees. We must address the myths about Private Equity. Not only in order to get more women to choose an educational path which leads into the world of Private Equity - but also to the secure the future of the industry. “Diversification is important today. Not only regarding gender – it also concerns religion, home-country and more. Today the industry is dominated by a homogenic group of people, and that might become a problem. You need new angels on problems. Small differences and perspectives are extremely valuable when decisions have to be made,” says Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae. It all begins with securing diversity among the industry employees – including having more women. Rikke Kjær Nielsen, Partner at EQT, believes that one of the best ways to achieve that goal is to communicate better. “Private Equity isn’t the solution to all the World’s problems. But as a form of corporate ownership it is unique. We need to improve our efforts to tell the story of the jobs we provide, the wealth we create and the welfare it provides,” says Rikke Kjær Nielsen. “We won’t improve the balance of men and women in Private Equity by saying to young women: Come work for us. We will only improve it by telling what we are doing every day.”
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Disruption, digitalisation, transformation, agility, etc. The buzzwords are many – and if we truly believe that the world is changing as fast and radically as many want us to believe – then we should also expect that the way our boards operate should change equally dramatically.
HOW FUTURE-PROOF ARE OUR BOARDS? To investigate this topic, Valcon, the Scandinavian management consulting firm, and Board Network, the Danish Professional Directors Association, conducted a quantitative survey among 265 Scandinavian board members, supplemented by in-depth interviews with selected notable board members. Here is what we learned on a few selected topics that we believe are critical to the success of future board work.
Are boards sufficiently focussed on organisational capabilities? So here is the real dilemma: the world is changing fast. Hence our companies must change fast and, in many cases, radically. This requires an organisation that is both robust and agile. This is critical for strategy execution. But is it a real board issue? Or is it something that is and should be solely the domain of the executive team? The jury is still out on this one. In our survey, all questions relating to the board’s focus on the organisation scored the lowest. Only 32% of respondents strongly agreed that the board focuses on continuous improvement and development of the organisation. Only 34% strongly agreed that the board focuses on the organisation being purpose-driven – a topic most research indicates is imperative for organisational engagement. Only 32% of respondents strongly agreed that the board focuses on effective and transparent processes, structures and roles. So, an important topic. But a board topic? We heard conflicting point of views on this. Some interviewees stated that organisational capital (agility, ability to execute, empowerment, motivation and engagement, etc.) should be left to the
executive team. Others think it is an important board topic but find it hard to contribute to it in a meaningful way. Statements also pointed to conflicting views and probably a need for development of tools and processes for how the board can address this topic: • “ When strategising, we not only discuss ambitions but also organisational abilities to execute” • “We still do not know as a board how to address these things” • “We need to discuss sustainability and organisational purpose much more” • “A s board members, we need to understand company culture. This is hard, but we need to collect first-hand input” • “In reality, very little development has happened in the way we discuss organisation” • “We are cautious not to become too operational with respect to the organisation. That is left for the executive team” What does all this mean for the way the board operates? During the interviews, there were many reflections on the cooperation between the board and the executive team as well as the division of responsibilities between the two. On the one hand, the boards seem to take on a larger role in defining the future and, not least, in translating this into tactical plans. On the other hand, accountability clearly needs to reside with the executive team. Perhaps as a consequence of this, the working climate in the boardroom and especially between the chairman and the CEO was stressed by many as extremely important. There is no doubt that the cooperation between these two levels of the organisation has become increasingly close and therefore needs to be successful.
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Poul Skadhede, Chairman of the Board in Valcon.
It was also stressed that the boardâ€™s new and more hands-on role with involvement in the actual tactical plans makes it increasingly difficult to also find time to focus on other important aspects such as future trends and developments. There was general consensus that the executive team is not to fault for this but rather that it is a question of behavioural changes in the boardroom. Speed and executional power in the boardroom were articulated by many as topics for improvement. Translating trends into actions, ensuring swift organisational responses, etc., was seen as insufficient. Changes in the way the board operates also requires for the board to look at their own composition to verify whether this is still optimal for the new role of the board. Diversity in the boardroom was repeated by all as a prerequisite to succeed, which should not come as a surprise to anyone. However, it may be more surprising that the trend that we see towards â€œprofessional board members of age +50â€? is being strongly challenged by some. Some call for much younger board members, whereas others have the view that board members without their own executive responsibilities (elsewhere) rapidly lose relevance. In conclusion: boards are on the move! Ways of operating are changing, and the role of the board itself is changing. But there are still topics to be further developed. The strategic role of identifying future needs and the strategic approach to organisational development and oversight are still immature. These topics probably need further development for boards and companies to become truly future-proof!
Green energy, troubled airlines, money laundering andâ€Ś secret cash payments to criminals carried in plastic shopping bags? These were only some of the themes that led these five individuals to chart the highs and lows of 2019 in the Nordic business world.
UP / DOWN
WHO WERE THE WINNERS AND LOSERS IN NORDIC BUSINESS IN 2019? By Bibi Christensen
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Giving Elon Musk a run for his money Peter Carlsson, of Swedish electric battery maker Northvolt, knows a thing or two about impossible tasks, having worked for Elon Musk at electric car giant Tesla. Just three years since starting Northvolt with former Tesla colleague Paulo Cerruti, 49-year-old Carlsson raised more money than any other European start-up in 2019, adding 1 billion euros from investors such as IKEA, Goldman Sachs and BMW to build battery farms for electric cars. Carlsson plans to capture at least a quarter of the European market by 2030. Elon Musk, watch this space.
Hello, Goodbye The award for most spectacular career jump goes to Carolina Dybeck Happe, who left less than a year after joining Danish shipping giant Mærsk as Chief Financial Officer. The next destination for the 47-year-old Swede: U.S. industrial giant General Electric, with the same job title, but adding a heap of challenges in what Fortune calls “one of the toughest turnarounds in corporate America”. The magazine predicts Dybeck Happe won’t remain unknown in the U.S. for very long.
A great disrupter flies off “I am way overdue,” declared Norwegian Air founder Bjørn Kjos in July, when he announced that he was stepping down as CEO in a year when many in the industry predicted the troubled airline’s demise. Kjos, who is 73, remains much admired for disrupting the industry and building Norwegian Air to one of the world’s most well-known air carriers. Yet many now question his aggressive push for growth which came so close to bankrupting the company.
Stranger than fiction Norway’s Kjell Inge Røkke has a talent for landing on his feet even in the trickiest of situations. In one of the country’s most watched court cases in recent times, Røkke, 61, who is among Norway’s wealthiest business figures, faced down a blackmailer nicknamed “the Torpedo” who claimed to have done many a dirty job for Røkke over the years, accepting secret cash payments for his “services” in plastic shopping bags. Røkke emerged victorious, though not unruffled, adding yet more colourful details to an already adventurous and at times contentious career.
Åserud, Lise/ Scanpix Denmark
Banking trouble Allegations of money laundering are surely not on any banking CEO’s list of favourite things to deal with. And in the end, such allegations proved too much for Birgitte Bonnesen, 63, who was spectacularly sacked as Swedbank CEO after more than 30 years at the bank, and just one hour before the annual shareholders’ meeting. During the Dane’s three-year stint as CEO, she was the “Queen of Nordic Banks” and one of the few women at the very top of Scandinavia’s financial sector.
Photo: Karin Törnblom / IBL Bildbyrå/Scanpix Denmark
The flamboyant Norwegian entrepreneur Petter A. Stordalen has an intuitive sense of striking deals that have more than paid off.
Photo: ARC/JEAN-BERNARD SIEBER/Scanpix Denmark
Swede Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, was known as being very structured and disciplined.
Lars Larsen, founder of JYSK, was a great example of the Danes’ tough negotiator skills
SCANDINAVIAN MANAGERS ARE NOT ALL THE SAME When it comes to management, the differences between Scandinavian countries are sometimes overlooked. The best solution, says an expert, may be to have an inter-Scandinavian management team.
Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix
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Kirsten Weiss, author of the book “Living with Vikings”, suggests using the best Nordic skills by creating a management team with a Swedish CEO, a Danish COO and a Norwegian CFO
By Carsten Steno
Is there such a thing as Scandinavian management? Ask management experts, or even investors, and they seem to be in no doubt: Yes, there is an unmistakeably Scandinavian approach to management which is characterised by three core elements: a high degree of employee engagement in decision-making, a flat hierarchy with little distance between management and employees, and extensive delegation of responsibilities to employees. This is a style of management that requires a great deal of mutual trust and management by objectives where the way to achieve these targets is not necessarily dictated by the top management. Culturally, this style of management is conditioned on the Scandinavian welfare model which places a strong emphasis on equality. And it is a model of management that works. Nordic companies perform on the bottom line. In recent years, private equity funds and other international corporations have been investing heavily in Scandinavian companies – and they do it because it pays to do so. To people looking at the region from outside, it may not be easy to spot the differences between Scandinavian countries as far as the style of management is concerned. Honesty, self-reliance, responsibility, equality, efficiency, respect for others, tolerance and an emphasis on harmony are words typically used by foreigners to describe Scandinavians. They are efficient, well educated, well-behaved and rational. They have merged the best of capitalism and socialism in creating societies with equal opportunities for all, where few have too much, and fewer have too little. But while Scandinavian managers do undeniably share more similarities than what might separate them from each other, it is still important not to underestimate just how differently Danish, Swedish and Norwegian business people actually do things. And these differences are deeply rooted in Scandinavia’s individual national cultures. Different approaches Traditionally, Danes are often thought of as the merchants of Scandinavia. It is a country with an advanced agricultural sector but few natural resources, so Danes have had to trade their way to wealth since time immemorial. Danish business people are known as tough negotiators who may not always be completely honest. They focus on short-term financial results. They can also be somewhat undisciplined and anarchistic, preferring to avoid long-term strategies. If something does not work, try something else. Everything will work out fine in the end. The Swedes, meanwhile, are the industrialists of the North. Sweden has its natural resources and great forests, and it takes patience and organisational skill to make something of these gifts from mother nature. So, Swedes have used their natural resources to create a magnificent manufacturing industry, with companies such as Volvo, Saab-Scania, Elektrolux, ABB, SKF, and many others. This tends to make the Swedes very structured, well-organised, punctual and disciplined. Internally, Swedish companies will always seek to reach a consensus in making major decisions. This takes time but shows through when it comes to implementing decisions, as these will then be backed by the entire organisation.
Norwegians take risks Within the Nordic trinity, Norwegian business people have entirely their own way of doing things. Norway is a young nation, gaining independence only in 1905. For this reason, Norwegians like to make their mark. Their culture is also shaped by Norway as a country of tall mountains and a long shoreline. Historically, they have always lived off the sea, whether navigating as sailors or harvesting its riches as fishermen, doing whatever it takes to land their catches. Then came the 1970s, bringing rich discoveries of oil and gas beneath the sea and turning Norway into one of the very richest nations on the planet. These experiences have shaped Norwegians as business people. They are traditionally described as strong-headed individuals with a knack for making money. They are fast decision-makers and very opportunistic. A good example would be the flamboyant Norwegian entrepreneur Petter Stordalen who could be described as the quintessence of a self-made billionaire, making a success of himself with an intuitive sense of striking deals that have more than paid off. Not all Norwegian business people are the same. But many are willing to take great risks, as exemplified by Bjørn Kos, the founder of Norwegian Airlines. The best of all worlds – a Scandinavian team Admittedly, such traditional characteristics of Danish, Swedish and Norwegian business people are hugely generalised and do tend to verge towards caricature. Yet such cultural differences have at times been a contributing factor when inter-Scandinavian mergers fail. In the 2000s this was true with the three great Nordic food retail cooperatives which merged under the name of Coop. They split after just four years. Similarly, the merger of world-famous Danish brewer Carlsberg and the brewing operations of Norwegian food giant Orkla was dismantled after lasting barely three years from 2001 to 2004. While conflicts did arise partly from strategic disagreements, cultural differences are also said to have played a major role. But Scandinavia’s corporate history also has great examples of successful inter-Scandinavian mergers. One obvious example would be the airline SAS which continues to operate as a significant player on the European market in the face of major challenges. Another example is Arla, a global food giant which was created through a Danish-Swedish merger. Yet another is the inter-Nordic banking giant Nordea which arose through a merger of Danish, Swedish and Finnish banks. Kirsten Weiss, a writer, journalist and publisher of management literature, shares the view of many in pointing to Scandinavian managers as having more things in common than what might separate them. “You have to be aware of the differences and work with them, but rather than focusing on these, it is preferable to create your management teams using the best skills to be found among Scandinavian managers. And that would be a management team with a Swedish CEO, a Danish COO and a Norwegian CFO,” she says.
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BEST NORDIC BUSINESS PODCASTS The number of podcasts has grown significantly in the recent years and the numbers seems to be continue increasing. In 2009, Apple released an advertising campaign titled “There’s an App for That”. This memorable campaign aimed to showcase how many apps Apple devices offered their customers. 10 years later, one could update the phrase to, “There’s A Podcast for That”. With all the new podcasts, it can be quite difficult and overwhelming to get an overview. Therefore, it is likely that there will be more companies who choose and provide the best podcasters to ensure good content, recommendations and a simple overview to the listeners. An example is the Danish company Podimo, which is having selected podcasts played and published via Podimo’s platform. According to a 2019 survey by the Danish “Slots- og Kulturstyrelsen”, every 4th Dane (between 15-75 years) listens weekly to podcasts for an average of 2 hours and 18 minutes. The younger Danes in particular, have adopted the newer media, as almost every 2, between the ages of 15-34 years listens to a podcast every week. ”Besides the younger Danes, it is especially the highly educated who are more likely to listen to podcasts than Danes with a shorter education”, says Anders Kauffeldt, Slots- og Kulturstyrelsen, in a press release.
The rising trend is supported by figures from the commercial radio house Bauer Media, which as one of the major podcast providers has grown from having 50,000 monthly podcast listeners in 2018 to 280,000 podcast listeners in Denmark in 2019. Sweden in front in the Nordics Listening to podcasts was in 2018 most common in Sweden where 27 percent of respondents listened to podcasts on a weekly basis. The share in Norway and Denmark was equal to 23% for both countries according to a Statista survey. Especially Spotify is used by the Swedes as a podcast platform according to an analysis by the analysis company Mediavision. For the first time, more than 40% of podcast listening in Sweden was via Spotify in Q3 2019. By comparison, Apple accounted for 33%. In a recent interview with Time, Cecilia Qvist, Global Head of Markets at Spotify, told that Spotify right now has more than 250,000 podcasts. Over time Spotify expects that 20% of the content on the platform will be non-music. Nordic Business loves podcasts as well, and we wish to share some of our favorite Nordic ones with you!
MILLIONÆRKLUBBEN (DK) BUNDLINJEN (DK) “Bundlinjen” is a weekly podcast about the actual events in Danish business. The host Magnus Barsøe interviews experts and prominent Danish business profiles every week and discusses the most relevant and exciting business stories of the week.
This podcast is one of the most popular In Denmark. Every week the panel discusses investments, share values, stocks and equities and though it is an advantage to have some knowledge about investment, the conversations are both informative and easy to listen to.
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FRAMGÅNGSPODDEN (S) The pod describes itself as the largest interview pod in the Nordic countries. And with an average of 100,000 weekly downloads and 500,000 weekly plays (source: poddindex.se) they are probably right. In the podcast the host Alexander Pärleros meets the most successful Swedish people, entrepreneurs, sports profiles and artists. You will hear their exciting and inspiring journeys from how it all began to date. Valuable take-aways, routines and tips mixed with entertainment and exciting stories.
STORMKAST (N) Stormkast is hosted by Petter Stordalen, CEO at Strawberry and Nordic Choice and Per Valebrokk, Partner at Storm Communications. The conversations between the two experienced business professionals is characterized with a great energy and they succeed in selecting and interviewing inspiring business profiles every week. Their natural curiosity and in-sights on the evolving landscape of the Nordic business, strategies and media is clear and very inspiring.
UNDER FEMTON (S) “Under Femton” is based on interviews under 15 minutes. A very well thought concept, as the target group is business executives who are typically busy and would like to be inspired and updated quickly. The host Henric Smolak succeeds in interviewing interesting and inspiring profiles and the tone of voice and atmosphere is good and pleasant to listen to.
FUTURE FORECAST (N) Future Forecast is the only podcast in English. The host Isabelle Ringnes is Norwegian-American. She is truly tech savvy with years of experience from Silicon Valley and the tech start up environment. She interviews business professionals from some of the most leading companies in the world. The pod has a very professional tone of voice, and it is inspiring to listen to her conversations with the guests as she has a great insight to especially the Tech-companies all over the world.
NORDIC START-UPS ARE DREAMING OF UNICORNS & REACHING FOR THE STARS Even though the Nordic countries combined have produced a high number of Unicorns, individual companies are as different as the countries they come from. But their ambitions of becoming billion-dollar corporations are all the same. Meet the Nordic start-up scene. By Nikolai Steensgaard
nordic business // 51 Christian Brøndum, CEO of Planday. Photo: Maria Albrechtsen Mortensen/Scanpix Denmark
The start-up fever has gripped the Nordic countries. Looking towards progressive centers such as Silicon Valley, London and Tel Aviv, Nordic intrepid and tech-savvy young entrepreneurs have embraced the buzzword and are beginning to place the region on the global map of start-up hotspots. The ambitions of the new start-ups are high. Many hope to become the next Unicorn; an industry name given start-ups who reach a billion-dollar value. That label has historically been one that mostly American companies have been able to get, but this has changed. Today, Nordic tech-startups are reaching Unicorn status. An ecosystem of knowledge and venture capital has been established making the new generation of entrepreneurs bolder and more ambitious. One of the Nordic companies with sky-high ambitions is Planday. The Copenhagen start-up has built an advanced, multi-functional online employee scheduling app and received close to USD 60 million in investor capital. It is a truly international tech-company with more than 200 employees and offices in Europe and USA. Planday CEO Christian Brøndum has an ambition to become one of the next Nordic Unicorns. He has seen the Nordic start-up ecosystem develop over a decade, and notes that the Nordic tech-entrepreneurs have firmly embraced the international mentality essential for having global success. “The mentality of the new generation of entrepreneurs is amazing. A lot of them have realized that growing a business today isn’t just about conquering your national market. The new generation of entrepreneurs are born global.
That is a central change of the mindset which makes the uture look very promising for Nordic Start-ups,” says Christian Brøndum. A highly specialized discipline Christian Brøndum is a keen observer of the start-up ecosystem. He points towards the accumulation of knowledge among founders as being a central reason why things are picking up speed right now. “Modern entrepreneurship is a highly specialized discipline. It’s one you don’t master just by getting a business school degree. Modern entrepreneurship builds on the knowhow you get when you start a company with global ambitions and you scale it,” he says. “There has been an explosive development over the last decade. Especially in Stockholm, where successful entrepreneurs in some cases are building their third or fourth company. It’s also happening in Copenhagen, even though we might be at a level where the Swedes were a few years ago. But it’s still very positive.” There are good reasons for the Planday CEO to highlight Sweden as the Nordic country which has the best start-up track-record. Sweden have by far the largest population in the Nordic region and is historically a highly industrialized country, having given birth to corporations such as Volvo, IKEA and Ericsson. Today these brands are supplemented by new tech-names like Spotify, iZettle and King Digital Entertainment. Several noteworthy reports about the Nordic start-up ecosystem have been written recently. They add up to a fascinating story about how far the Nordic
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A young man wearing Tobii Pro Glasses 2 drives a car. Since John Elvesjö noticed a sensor tracking his eye movements in a lab experiment, the technology he developed with Henrik Eskilsson and Marten Skogo has helped disabled people use a computer by identifying where they are looking on the screen. Photo: HANDOUT/Scanpix Denmark
Region” by Copenhagen Economics. It names the 15 most valuable VCbacked Unicorns in the Nordics over the last 20 years and values them at USD 74 billion. The drivers behind innovation The Copenhagen Economics analysis is partly built on another very thorough report, it was involved in creating. The report was funded by four Nordic venture capital associations and has its own website, Nordics.vc. The report underscores that the Nordic Countries have come a long way. It concludes that no other region has produced as many Unicorns per capita as the Nordic countries have in recent years. This fact is also apparent when it comes to the density of the so-called scale-ups - a definition for high-growth companies. Today, the Nordic region outperforms the rest of the European continent. The Nordics are home to nearly 1,000 scale-ups. That amounts to 3.4 scale-ups per 100,000 inhabitants. In terms of scale-up density, it is far ahead of the European average of one scaleup per 100,000 people. One of the companies experiencing high growth which is mentioned in the report at Nordics.vc is Tobii. The Swedish start-up was an early developer in eye tracking technology. It started as a three-man startup in 2001, grew fast and eventually became a publicly traded company in 2015. Today it employs 1,100 people and has a Market Cap of nearly USD 2.7 billion. John Elvesjö is a co-founder of Tobii. He left the company management a few years ago and today focuses on building new start-ups through the venture firm Brightly Ventures. In the report he explains why he thinks Sweden and the Nordics have produced more billion-dollar exits per capita than any other region. “It’s a mix of many things. The culture is right, people are ambitious, people are also caring for their life outside of work, who we involve, how we question things - the culture is just right. That’s the most important driver behind innovation and entrepreneurship here,” says John Elvesjö. “But of course, you have more tangible things, like government support, the infrastructure of higher education, communication, they’re all in place. The VC market is big and available for many, so that helps a lot.” Even though Sweden stands out as the Nordic country with the most vibrant
Venture capital has been instrumental in creating the Nordic Unicorns. Here is a list of the most valuable VC-backed companies the Nordic countries have produced in the last 20 years, using a methodology by Copenhagen Economics. A different methodology could produce an even longer list. Company / Country / Estimated value (spring, 2019) HMD /Finland / 0.9 bn. euro Tradeshift / Denmark / 1.1 bn. euro Bambora / Sweden / 1.3 bn. euro Unity / Denmark / 1.3 bn. euro iZettle / Sweden / 2.0 bn. euro Mojang / Sweden / 2.2 bn. euro Klarna / Sweden / 2.6 2 bn. euro Sitecore / Denmark / 4.2 bn. euro King Digital Entertainment / Sweden / 6.2 bn. euro Skype / Sweden / 7.6 bn. euro Zendesk / Denmark / 8.0 bn. euro Genmab / Denmark / 8.2 bn. euro Supercell / Finland / 9.1 bn. euro Spotify / Sweden / 23.6 bn. euro Note on sources: The market value is based on market cap when available - when not, market values are estimated based on earnings from annual reports and dealroom.com
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start-up community, the rest of the region is not far behind. Finland also shines brightly. Its thriving software industry builds partly on the knowhow created when we all had Nokia mobile phones in our pockets. When the smartphone arrived Nokia suffered, but Helsinki quickly progressed into being a major global hub for smartphone games. Remember Angry Birds, Best Fiends and Clash of Clans? All these games are from Finland.
Co-founder of Xeneta, Patrik Berglund has raised USD 30 million in Investments so far. Photo: Xeneta
The co-founder and former CEO of Tobii, John Elvesjö, focuses today on building new start-ups through the venture firm Brightly Ventures. Photo: Tobii
Trustworthiness and loyalty Every Nordic country has its strengths. The report from Copenhagen Economics shows that the majority of venture investments in Denmark is targeted at Life Science. In Finland 45 percent goes toward software, in Sweden Life Science and tech investments are equally high, while in oil-rich Norway the highest amount of venture capital goes towards the energy sector. But these statistics can be misleading. Norway, for example, is much more than oil and natural gas. An interesting example is Xeneta. The company is an ocean freight rate benchmarking platform that brings price transparency to the shipping industry. Xeneta was founded in 2012 in Oslo by Patrik Berglund and Thomas Sørbø and has raised USD 30 million in investments so far. Patrik Berglund explains that even though Norway is not perceived as a traditional start-up country, he does not see any reason why it should not be. His plan is to continue building his company with a headquarter in Norway. “There are many benefits from staying here. The country is perceived as a shipping nation, even though we don’t have any container shipping lines. So that’s sort of a paradox, which we played to our advantage. Norway is also perceived internationally as a trustworthy country which is valuable when working with proprietary data. You also see a great level of loyalty amongst employees here, which is valuable,” says Patrik Berglund. “On top of that, we’ve been able to attract exceptional talent. Out of our 90 employees, about 10 are Norwegian and the rest are from more than 35 different countries. I hate the notion that it’s not possible to build a tech company here - there’s plenty of arguments to stay here and build a great company.” The Nordic countries have come a long way. From being somewhat of an entrepreneurial backwater 20 years ago, the region is presently well on its way into the start-up premier league. Today there is no stopping the new generation of Nordic entrepreneurs from reaching for the stars and dreaming of Unicorns.
Further reading Nordics.vc: The website hosts a thorough report describing the development of start-ups and venture capital in the Nordic countries. The report was funded by four Nordic venture capital associations and partly written by the economic analytics bureau Copenhagen Economics. Copenhageneconomics.com: The publications on the website of Copenhagen Economics contain several reports that consist of extensive analysis of the venture capital and start-up scene in the Nordic Countries. Risingnorth.org: Rising North was an impact fund of 1.5 million euros granted to support the Nordic startup ecosystem through pan-Nordic initiatives during 2016 – 2018. The website gives in-depth information about central topics and describes the policy recommendations the governments of the Nordic countries were presented with.
Photo by Alexander Abero on Unsplash
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The world is moving towards a more sustainable path. It’s a long and challenging process and the corporate world must take the lead along with consumers and institutional investors. All global challenges must be addressed as they are interconnected.
WE NEED TO GET EXCITED ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY By Flemming Østergaard
It has become an essential part of the zeitgeist that companies must take responsibility in paving the way to a more sustainable society. But what is a sustainable company anyway? “Mostly companies themselves define it. We have some indicators that you can use, and initiatives like the Global Compact, certification systems and so on. But there is no neutral authority that would say, this company is sustainable. Surely, some companies are more sustainable than others. But we are talking more about a continuum here, as it is a tricky subject with a lot of grey areas. So, I think, it is more a question of – if your company can be viewed as more sustainable than others, then you have a competitive advantage,” says Andreas Rasche, professor at CBS in Copenhagen, specializing in sustainability issues. The power of consumers and investors Companies can help the world move onto a more sustainable path, but the consumers also have a tremendous power and responsibility. “We can change our consumption behaviour. But research shows that there is a significant gap between what consumers say they do, and what they actually do. Very few of us are willing to pay extra for more sustainable products and services. Research indicates it’s only about 15% of consumers who are willing to pay a price premium for sustainable goods and services. But I think it basically means that companies need to work on policies to make it easier for consumers to connect to this debate and provide them with the information that they require in order to make informed decisions.”
Another important group with power to strengthen the sustainability agenda are institutional investors. Investors are always trying to avoid risk and the focus on ESG has become so strong, mostly in Europe, that it has become too risky to ignore. “The more we know about the sustainability topics, the more we know about climate change, water sustainability, or the social topics – like human rights violations and child labour – the more we know that they actually hurt companies. They expose them to litigation risk and reputational risk, but also operational risk. And that’s why I think institutional investors can and should put more pressure on companies to really work on the sustainability agenda in a more serious way.” There is substantial evidence that it pays for a company to have a focused ESG strategy. A meta-study by Hamburg University in collaboration with Deutsche Bank covered more than 2,000 studies of the relationship between ESG and Corporate Financial Performance and concluded: “The business case for ESG investing is empirically well founded, such that investment in ESG pays financially and appears stable over time … At worst, investors in ESG mutual funds could expect nothing compared to conventional fund investments.” A new way of thinking Well-defined rules or not – it is an enormous task to change the course for the human population. It requires a new way of thinking. We are still using GDP as the primary measure for economic activity on a national level. A measure well-known to be inadequate in many ways, e.g. it does not account
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for pollution, depletion of resources, destruction of habitats, climate balance, etc. The so-called externality costs are absent from the equation – as they are in companies’ accounting reports as well. How do we deal with that? ”We have the tools to measure such externalities. The problem lies with the politicians rather than the companies. When you talk about aggregate measures, like GDP, we need a political willingness to use the analytical tools that we already have. And that political will is just not there yet. I mean, just look at Madrid and what happened there – governments cannot even come up with a very basic consensus on climate change. So, we are a long way from politicians modifying macroeconomic indicators in a way where they would account for the full cost of doing business. But the important message is that in terms of the analytical techniques, we are there, we could do it,” Andreas Rasche says. The ugly truth is that if global warming were to be taken seriously in view of the potential costs, there would be no hesitation in addressing the challenges with huge investments here and now because in the end it would be far cheaper, he points out. But the discussion of climate change is still ongoing – some members of the public as well as in powerful political positions still doubt the validity of the claim that continuous emission of
Andreas Rasche, professor at CBS in Copenhagen, specializing in sustainability issues
mainly CO2 makes the climate warmer and more unstable by amplifying the natural greenhouse effect. The neglected issues However, it seems like a convenient excuse, as numerous other threats seem to be largely ignored – threats that cannot be rejected. Like, for instance, the plastic pollution of the oceans, the global mass death of insects and the incredible loss of biodiversity for the past 50 years. An extensive report by IPBES in May 2019 estimated that since 1970 we have, on average, seen a 47 percent reduction in the extent and physical condition of natural ecosystems around the world – and 1 million species of animals and plants are now facing extinction in the coming decades. Why is it only climate change the public and politicians seem to be focused on? “It has a lot to do with the attention by people and the media focus. The climate crisis got a face through Greta Thunberg in recent years. It’s gotten much more attention by political parties and investors. I think the public discourse around climate change is getting bigger and bigger. And this is then reflected in the attention that we give to the topic. Whereas other topics – like biodiversity, ocean acidification and the use of fresh water are other big topics that are not much discussed. Often these topics remain rather technical, and it will take some time to translate them into language and images that lay people can completely understand. People generally don’t put much attention to the immense loss of biodiversity, for instance, because they don’t know what a balanced ecosystem looks like. What really concerns me with the high focus on mostly climate change is that policymakers might draw the wrong conclusions from that and neglect other important challenges. Basically, we need a lot more information and education in all these highly important topics.” The SDG Index global ranking for 2019 puts Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway at the top – respectively, 1, 2, 3, 8. Does this mean that Nordic companies as such are better at achieving sustainability goals and policies than other countries and regions in the world? “Yes, they are, from a pure data perspective. But we should not forget that the Nordic companies start from a different base line. The companies operate in societies, where some of the problems relating to inequality, corruption or labour related problems are already addressed through hard law regulation and the general model of a welfare state with free health care, free education, etc. This situation differs from many other countries, also highly developed ones. So, what I’m trying to say is that the base level is a different one and that we need to take this into account. And that’s why I think, we should not get too excited about Nordic companies being among the world leaders in sustainability, although it is clear that Nordic companies have on average very well-developed practices in the area of corporate sustainability.” Furthermore, the “sustainable Vikings” are predominantly found among the very big companies. In smaller and medium sized companies, the ESG levels are often nothing to write home about, the professor adds. Everything is connected Another important issue is the lack of understanding of how global sustainability challenges are interconnected. “When we look at sustainability, we see a problem, for instance, carbon dioxide
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Mariners send message to save the oceans from ocean acidification due to fossil fuel emissions. Photo: Redux/Scanpix Denmark
Source: Pacific Marine Enviromental Laboratory
emissions, and we say let’s reduce that. This is how it works with the SDGs. The topics are very often treated like silos by policymakers and by companies. But we need a systems mindset, we need to understand that all the SDGs are interconnected. A systems mindset would look at the positive synergies, but also the trade-offs between different problems. We need to educate people in this kind of systems mindset, and once it is deeply ingrained in how we make decisions, we would slowly move away from the silo thinking, because the silo thinking is not getting us anywhere. It might look good on paper, if we make progress on some of these indicators. But we can easily create negative effects in other problems areas, often without knowing,” the professor points out. The interconnections are numerous. At least two billion more people in 2050 make several goals harder to reach. For instance, achieving food for all could impact efforts to conserve and restore ecosystems. Efforts to end hunger and achieve food security could involve agricultural practices that limit the availability of clean water and renewable energy. Increased agricultural
production, if not sustainable, can also result in deforestation and land degradation, jeopardizing long-term food security, as a report by ICSU on SDG interactions points out. Silo thinking is not just seen in the way we approach the global challenges – it is also a widespread phenomenon in the way companies work. “When I talk to executives about sustainability matters, I often end up in a situation where the executive says, well, I cannot really answer that question, but I have someone in my organization who can. There is a tendency to isolate sustainability, to make it a separate part of the company. And that is not the right way. Executives should focus on how to deeply weave the ESG agenda into their organizations, for instance by educating employees, training them and making them excited about the sustainability agenda. And it is much easier here in the Nordics to get people excited on these matters than in other countries. Nordic companies should use the opportunity to do exactly that,” says Andreas Rasche.
WHAT IS BIODIVERSITY AND WHY DOES IT MATTER? Biodiversity describes the rich diversity of life on Earth, from individual species to entire ecosystems. The term was coined in 1985 – a contraction of “biological diversity” – but the huge global biodiversity losses now becoming apparent represent a crisis equalling and quite possibly surpassing climate change. Deforestation, poaching, industrial farming and pollution are some of the ways in which the planet’s natural ecosystem are being disrupted – with devastating results.
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Sustainability has become an important issue and matter of reputation for hotels.
Petter A. Stordalen, hotel owner of Nordic Choice, has implemented the core values: People, Planet and Profit in the Nordic Choice Hotels chain.
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THE FUTURE OF NORDI C HOTELS I S GREEN AND CUSTOMI Z ED By Jens Kisker & Julie Brix
Customers across the globe increasingly expect a sustainable use of energy, water and textiles, as well as social and environmental responsibility throughout the supply chain. Sustainability is also crucial to ensuring long-term business prospects and profitability. Current indicators suggest that consumer demands and regulatory requirements are changing the business landscape for hoteliers, pushing them towards responsibility and implementation of sustainable business practices. In addition, the publicity created by marketing, recognition and awards can increase demand or even make new markets available to hotels. One potential future market may be the very one that is increasingly vocal about demanding sustainable practices. By promoting and adhering to sustainable practices, hotels can protect the very reason why guests come in the first place. The social and environmental practices appear altruistic to the general public, and this perception, coupled with positive PR and financial stability, can increase both demand, goodwill and, ultimately, the general asset value of the hotels. Using attention to inform about values There are many ways of working with PR in the hotel industry. And if the overall goal is to get the most attention and publicity in the media, there is probably no one better at doing so than Petter A. Stordalen. When it comes to new projects and events, he has a way of putting himself center stage with his personality and flamboyant style. In a classic example, when plans for a new hotel at Copenhagen’s old Post office were presented, Petter Stordalen appeared in a red and white blazer, mimicking the colours of Dannebrog, the Danish flag, and played a video of himself skiing in true James Bond style, partying late into the night and rappelling down the side of one of his hotels. It made the headlines in the Danish press, creating awareness. And it is part of the strategy. As the owner of nearly 200 hotels with 16,500 employees, mainly in the Nordics, Stordalen is also an enthusiastic voice regarding sustainability and Nordic values. At Nordic Choice, his hotel group, the defined core values are People, Planet and Profit. In that order. According to Petter Stordalen, it is no use simply to focus on profit. “You can expand and buy hotels, but you cannot copy culture,” he says.
ABOUT PETTER A. STORDALEN Petter Stordalen, 57, recently generated yet more headlines when he became part of a group taking over the Ving Group of travel businesses after its previous owner, UK-based Thomas Cook, filed for bankruptcy. He is best known, through his Strawberry investment group, as the flamboyant owner of the Nordic Choice Hotels chain. Stordalen also owns a large portfolio of commercial real estate, a 12.5% stake in the Hurtigruten passenger shipping line, 50% of a large public relations firm, Storm Communications, and he recently went into the publishing sector in Denmark with his newly started company, Strawberry Publishing, which has already picked up several best-selling authors from competitors in Norway and Sweden. He began his career as a strawberry seller, hence the name Strawberry. Today, Nordic Choice Hotels is the largest hotel chain in the Nordics with 190 hotels and 16,500 employees in Scandinavia and some of the Baltic countries. In 2010, all Nordic Choice hotels in the Nordic countries were environmentally certified according to ISO 14001.
The power of SoMe As more and more young people are starting to form strong attitudes towards and demands for sustainability, it is also important for hotels to keep in mind that today’s hotel guests can start a shitstorm within just a
nordic business // 60 Petter A. Stordalen knows how to get attention from the press. When plans for a new hotel at Copenhagen’s old Post office were presented, he appeared in a red and white blazer, mimicking the colours of Dannebrog, the Danish flag, and played a video of himself skiing in true James Bond style, partying late into the night and rappelling down the side of one of his hotels Photo: NIELS AHLMANN OLESEN/Scanpix Denmark
few minutes. “Today, social media plays a big role, and it will increase in the future. For my daughter and her generation, the news on social media spreads among thousands in a short time. That requires the hotels to think about sustainability and the environment in almost every aspect. It is no use that rainforest wood has been used for the beds. If it spreads through social media, it can have major consequences for the choice of hotel,” says Petter Stordalen. And speaking of his daughter, Emilie A. Stordalen is someone who also knows the hotel industry well despite her young age. The 28-year-old is a Marketing Manager at the Clarion Hotel The Hub in Oslo and holds degrees in hotel business and strategy and marketing from the U.S. and London. When asked in an interview with Norwegian newspaper DN.no what her visions are for the hotels of the future, she saw many exciting possibilities: “A lot will be about digitization and multi-branding. My generation has a completely different awareness of the choices we make. We have much
more information and are better at dealing with this information. And the sustainability issue means a lot more to us. We (Nordic Choice) will create different brands based on those needs, “ she said. In particular, she sees a growing focus on the individual needs and preferences of hotel guests. “At Nordic Choice we have 2 archetypes: Anders is 50. When he checks in, he wants to meet a person at the reception. He prefers going directly to his hotel room, eating his dinner at the hotel and maybe working out a little bit. His stay is typically associated with work. “Amanda is 25 years old. She does not want to meet anyone in person, and she prefers to check in via an app or other electronic device. “Today, 70% of our revenue is from “Anders”, and our entire hotel empire is built around him. But it is not him we should focus on in the future. And that’s where technology can help us, because we need to be able to meet both. Especially the younger customers will have demands and wishes for the technological offerings. All the power lies in the hands of the customers – that’s why digital insights are important too,” she explained in an interview for the podcast “Under Femton”. If you can’t beat them, join them A prominent example of a disrupter in the hotel industry is Airbnb. Airbnb is an online marketplace which lets people rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests. Airbnb takes a 3% commission of every booking from hosts, and between 6% and 12% from guests. Since the company launched in 2009, it has grown from accommodating 21,000 guests a year to helping
ABOUT Emilie A. Stordalen Emilie Anker Stordalen is Petter A. Stordalen’s eldest child (28). While her father is often in the media, she remains less well known to the public. But when Petter Stordalen announced that he had split the Strawberry Group into 4 equal parts between Emilie, her two brothers (Henrik and Jakob) and Petter Stordalen himself (+ 0.1%), this suddenly meant taking on part of the huge responsibility of running more than 200 hotels with 16,500 employees and her share of an empire worth an estimated 25 billion Norwegian kroner. She is a Marketing Manager at the Clarion Hotel The Hub in Oslo and holds a bachelor’s degree in Hotel Business from Cornell University in the US and a master’s degree in Strategy and Marketing from Imperial College in London. She has worked as a project manager in the digital company E-berry, which is the tech company of Strawberry Holding with more than 200 employers. Prior to this position she worked as a consultant at Deloitte.
Petter Stordalen gives his children (Emilie, Henrik and Jakob) 25 billion. Here they sign contracts in Stockholm in 2018. Photo: SANDBERG MAGNUS, / Aftonbladet / IBL Bildbyrå/Scanpix Denmark
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GREEN KEY Hotels in the Nordics can benefit from a sustainable profile in several ways. One of the most common green labels is the Green Key. A Green Key certified hotel has to fulfil a number of criteria. Below are some of the typical improvements a Green Key hotel may be required to make.
Typical energy improvements:
Other typical environmental improvements:
• Changing to energy-saving light bulbs/LED • Saving energy by using sensors and timers • Using less energy by controlling heat and ventilation • Using less and better air-conditioning • Using solar, wind or other green energy • Improving the insulation of the buildings and the windows • Buying energy-saving electronic equipment
• Changing to water-conserving technology • Reducing and recycling waste • Promoting the use of public transportation • Using fewer chemicals when cleaning and when maintaining green areas • Educating staff on environmental issues • Advising guests on environmental issues • Buying organic and climate-friendly food and products
six million people a year find a place to stay, and currently lists a staggering 800,000 properties in 34,000 cities across 90 different countries. At the Hotel Skt. Petri in Copenhagen (which is owned by Nordic Choice) they decided to “join them, if you can’t beat them”, so they now also offer their hotel rooms via the app. In doing so, the hotel is aiming to ensure its presence on a platform that reaches the same target audience. According to Emilie A. Stordalen, it is about reframing your offerings in a new setting. “It’s like offering a short-time stay in an apartment as well, just with the housekeeping included.” She also thinks it is important to look at the possibilities instead of being afraid of disruption. “We are also thinking about the possibilities of using the hotel rooms in other terms. It could be as a “showroom” for various products. For example, an agreement could be made with IKEA regarding their beds. This way our guests could sleep and at the same time test IKEA’s beds in our hotel rooms instead of testing the bed for 5-10 minutes in the shop.” Emilie Stordalen also thinks there is a new era for FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). This could be called JOMO, the Joy Of Missing Out. “What about digital detox hotels? Where mobiles and tablets are collected on arrival? But it is incredibly difficult to be more specific about what the future will bring,” she suggested in the interview with DN.no. Sustainable hotels also attract employees Though having a green profile is increasingly important to guests, it also adds value for the staff. The Green Key labeled hotel chain Comwell was recently surprised to see how great an effect the green transition has had on its employees’ job satisfaction and engagement in the company. Without intending to, they may have found an important key to retaining employees; something that the entire industry might benefit from and yet another important and strong argument for starting the green transition. “When we receive job applications from potential employees, one of the arguments for wishing to work with us is our green profile. In our job satisfaction survey, the engagement score has also increased,” says Mai-Britt Jensen, HR Director at Comwell. And finally, the employees are also very positive about recommending us as an employer, she concludes.
Mai-Britt Jensen, HR Director at the Green Key labeled hotel chain Comwell, was surprised to see how great an effect the green transition has had on the employees’ job satisfaction and involvement in the company.
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Peter Stordalen is the owner of nearly 200 hotels with 16,500 employees, mainly in the Nordics, and is an enthusiastic voice regarding sustainability and the Nordic values. Photo: Linda Kastrup/Scanpix Denmark
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Photo by Philip Kock on Unsplash
THE ELEGANCE OF MEN
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JIL BLAZER Blazer in wool stretch poplin Slim fit, notch lapels, two-button closure, straight jet flap pockets, side vents at back. Price DKK 2.800,-
FILBRODIE SHIRT Shirt in cotton blend stretch twill. Extra-slim fit Classic collar. A straight cuff with adjustable width Button holes in both ends of the cuff. Price DKK 800,-
TIDO TIE Tie in plain structured silk. Width: 7 cm Price DKK 500,-
LITT VEST Waistcoat in wool stretch poplin and vicose back. Slim fit. Five-button closure. Two pockets. Price DKK 1.400,-
HERRIS PANTS Trousers in wool stretch poplin. Slim fit. Low rise Slim leg. Knee lining. Price DKK 1.200,-
SINTER SHOE Classic Oxford shoes in calf leather. Lace-up fastening.Toe cap. Made in Portugal. Full leather interior. Full leather outsole. Separate half rubber outsole. Price DKK 2.200,ALL ITEMS FROM TIGER OF SWEDEN
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Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash
WOMENS BUSINESS CLASS
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RUMA BLAZER Blazer in wool-stretch. Regular fit. Above-hip length. Two-button closure. Peak lapel. Soft, slightly wider shoulders. Slanted welt pockets with flaps and one chest pocket. Cutlines at front. Slit at cuff with two concealed buttons. Fully lined. Premium quality fabric from Italian weaver Marlane. Price DKK 2.700,-
AME SHIRT Shirt in cotton stretch. Slim fit. Hip length. Placket with visible buttons. Cuffs with buttons. Double yoke. Chest darts. Price DKK 1.000,-
MI STRECH DRESS Flattering dress in compact stretch-jersey. Contoured fit. Above-knee length. Concealed zip with button and loop. Round, seamless neckline. Seamless arm opening. Draping at upper front and one side of waist. Long contoured seams at back. Full stretch lining. Price DKK 1.700,-
XERO SHOES Pumps in calf leathe. Pointy toe. 8cm calf leather heel. Full leather interior. Leather outsole with half rubber Price DKK 1.500,-
ALL ITEMS FROM TIGER OF SWEDEN
CRISTIN TROUSERS Trousers in soft cottonblend. Extra-slim fit. Zip closure at front. Side panel at leg. Cutline detail at back yoke and front. Price DKK 1.300,-
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20 YEARS AFTER THE BRIDGE:
COPENHAGEN/MALMÃ– STILL CHASING THE AMBITION OF A EUROPEAN POWERHOUSE
When the Oresund Bridge linking Denmark and Sweden opened in 2000, expectations were as high as the ambitions to integrate the neighbouring areas on both sides of the Sound. But after a flying start, integration has ground to a halt. While businesses across the region have made their share of effort, new initiatives are needed to kickstart optimism.
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By Carsten Steno
Expectations ran high when the Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria officially opened the combined bridge and tunnel across the Oresund strait between Denmark and Sweden on 1 July 2000. Now Greater Copenhagen, Malmö and Lund, along with the large catchment area for these three cities, would merge into a great new European metropolis. Businesses across the Sound would bloom, and Copenhageners and SouthSwedes would gain an identity of their own as citizens of the Oresund region. As Jens Kramer Mikkelsen, then the mayor of Copenhagen, said of the 16-kilometre combined bridge and tunnel across the Sound: ”We are not building a bridge – we are building a thousand bridges.” But 20 years on, the reality is that it did not happen. The Oresund region does not have anything close to the level of political awareness which it held back then. At the national level, the governments of Denmark and Sweden rarely discuss the Oresund region. Previous ideas about coordinating legislation on labour markets and taxation to promote integration have not been realised. Things are somewhat better at the regional and local level, but authorities here have a more limited mandate for making decisions. To the extent that some integration has taken place, this has been primarily driven by the market and the business sector. But while the vision of a merged conurbation across the Oresund remains a
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Johan Wessmann, CEO of Oresund Institute, has high hopes for an Integrated Labour market across the entire Oresund region. Photo: News Øresund
vision only, new initiatives are required to force the Oresund region back up high on the agenda of both politicians and businesses. This is what Nordic Business has found in a status check ahead of a jubilee that is sure to be celebrated with pomp and circumstance and lofty speeches. Commuting has peaked When it comes to visions and lofty words, it is always essential to look at the practicalities. Exactly how integrated is the region that comprises Greater Copenhagen, Malmö-Lund and the surrounding areas? The most easily measured factor is how the bridge is actually used. In 2000, when the bridge opened, just over 5,000 cars per day crossed the Oresund link. In 2018, that number had increased to just over 20,000 – largely in line with the prognoses made in 2000 by the operator behind the Oresund link. The number of rail journeys across the bridge, which in the first year reached some 2 million, peaked in 2015 at 12 million, or some 32,800 individual journeys per day. Out of these passengers, about 18,500 were estimated to be daily commuters traveling across the Sound to work. In 2000, there were roughly 4,000 commuters, rising to a peak of 25,700 daily commuters in 2008 before dropping again, for a number of reasons. Before the 2008 financial crisis, there was a substantial increase particularly in the number of Swedes gaining employment in Copenhagen. But since the financial crisis, the job market in the Oresund region has changed. Both sides of the Sound are seeing shortages of the same type of workforce. Another factor is that border checks have increased, extending the journey time to 35 minutes. These border checks were introduced in December 2015, initially in the form of ID checks at the Copenhagen Airport station at Kastrup, and later with spot checks on the Swedish side. Towards the end of 2019, Denmark introduced additional random ”crime checks” on the Danish side of the bridge crossing. Danes have also stopped moving to the Malmö/Lund area to live, reversing a significant trend before the financial crisis, when house prices in Copenhagen shot up, making the housing market in the South of Sweden far more attractive to Danes. Today, some 19,000 Danes live in the wider Skåne region in the South of Sweden, while about 12,000 Swedes live in Greater Copenhagen. Development driven by markets and businesses While integration, as measured in traffic numbers and commuters, first
grew and then stalled following the financial crisis, there has been a marked increase in business integration across the region. The Oresund Institute, which analyses the Oresund region on behalf of private organisations as well as local authorities, concluded in a 2018 survey that the proximity between Denmark and Skåne has prompted many Danish companies to set up Swedish subsidiaries in Skåne. Companies in Skåne now have some 453 Danish board directors and executives, about as many as there are in Danish companies in the Stockholm region, a much larger area by far. The Oresund region has seen a particularly strong development in the pharmaceutical sector where the five biggest companies reached a record total turnover of 171 billion Danish kroner in 2018. Skåne in particular has attracted more pharmaceutical companies since the bridge opened, dominated by Novo Nordisk, LEO Pharma, Baxter Gambro, Lundbeck and Coloplast. Today, the Danish-Swedish life-science industry in the Oresund region comprises more than 350 companies with over 44,000 employees. The Danish-Swedish venture fund Sunstone has also become a major active investor in new start-ups in the region. And the number of patent applications from the area’s pharmaceutical companies set a new record in 2019, as did their exports. However, Søren Bregenholst from Novo Nordisk, who is chairman of the Medicon Valley Alliance, stated towards the end of 2019 that it would require greater strategic coordination between Denmark and Sweden – both at the corporate and political levels – to see the pharmaceutical industry in Medicon Valley expand further. One of the hoped-for drivers of regional integration across the Oresund that initially raised expectations the most, before the bridge was built, centred on the research and educational efforts across the seven universities that are based in the Oresund region. Initially, it was hoped that a larger Oresund University would emerge from these, but it never came to fruition. The most tangible expression of collaboration across the Sound within the research field has been the establishment of European Spallation Source, or ESS, a multi-disciplinary research facility based on the world’s brightest neutron source. It is aiming to start its user programme in 2023. ESS is a European Research Infrastructure Consortium with 13 member countries and research facilities being set up around the University of Lund, while its data centres are to be located in Copenhagen.
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VEHICLE TRAFFIC OVER THE ØRESUND BRIDGE (daily average)
Forecast May 2000
TRAIN JOURNEYS ACROSS THE ØRESUNDS BRIDGE (numbers of passengers)
Source: Øresundsbron and Skånetrafiken
Photo: Klas Andersson/Ritzau Scanpix
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Since the bridge opened, the respective port authorities of Malmö and Copenhagen have also merged into one single operator, and Copenhagen Airport at Kastrup has seen a massive increase in traffic – not least due to the growing number of passengers from the South of Sweden. On the cultural front, there is also considerable collaboration between theatres, opera houses and museums across the Sound, although, as yet, there are no joint institutions pulling the strings together. Why integration has stalled The futurologist Uffe Paludan, who has specialised in the Oresund region, points to a number of reasons why the region has not yet become what many hoped it would be: • First, the Oresund crossing was initially conceived as an intercontinental infrastructure project linking Sweden and, in particular, the city of Gothenburg with the European continent. That project was largely driven by Per Gyllenhammer, then the CEO and chairman of Volvo, and could only be realised once Denmark had built the Great Belt Link between the islands of Zealand and Funen.
• T he idea of the Oresund region originally came about as an extension to the intercontinental project but has not found major support among government institutions, and in the Swedish capital of Stockholm there has never been any real interest in developing Skåne which, by Swedish standards, has tended to be considered a ”fringe area”. • While not much was happening on the political side, the market took over, but the market-driven development has stalled since the financial crisis. • Since then, Danish politicians have seen promoting the Oresund region as less attractive due to increased border checks and growing media attention on Malmö as a crime-ridden city plagued by immigration. At the same time, political cooperation has been hampered by the decision to close down the so-called Oresund Committee in 2016. Among other things, this Committee served to manage large sums of European Union funds for so-called inter-regional projects which were beneficial to integration in the Oresund region. Today, inter-regional cooperation is held back by Sweden’s administrative regions having a bigger mandate to make decisions and raise taxes, while Denmark’s administrative regions now primarily deal only with the hospital
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The futuroligst Uffe Paludan, who has specialised in the Oresund region points to a number of reasons why the region has not yet become what many hoped it would be.
It has been 20 years since the Oresund Bridge was inaugurated by His Royal Higness Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Her Royal Higness Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden with visions of creating a new, joint region. Photo: Scanpix
sector. Since a change in Danish business regulations in 2018, the country’s regions are no longer allowed to fund and engage in efforts to promote business. This is another factor which hampers cooperation across the Sound. A new metro line may inspire renewed optimism According to Paludan, new initiatives are therefore needed to boost the Oresund region. Hence, in 2016, the idea was born to establish a new metro line between Copenhagen and Malmö. The rationale behind the idea was regional but also driven by expectations of an increase in commercial cargo traffic moving across the Oresund rail link, once the so-called Femern tunnel between Denmark and Germany comes into operation around 2028. Such cargo traffic will put a brake on passenger rail travel. Also, a metro between Copenhagen and Malmö would bring the journey time down to a mere 20 minutes. It remains unclear, though, if such a metro line between Copenhagen and Malmö will actually materialise and whether it would make the region more dynamic.
Local authorities in both Copenhagen and Malmö are heavily in favour of the idea, but the funding has not yet been secured, although calculations show that a metro line could be built at less than a quarter of what it originally cost to build the Oresund bridge. In recent years, political cooperation across the Sound has taken place within the scope of ”Greater Copenhagen”, an organisation that was originally set up as a promotional collaboration between the Municipality of Copenhagen, the Capital Region of Denmark and Region Zealand to address the fact that the Oresund region has not found wider recognition on an international scale. The intention is now to promote a wider ”Greater Copenhagen” spanning the entire East of Denmark and South of Sweden in order to compete with urban areas such as Hamburg and Stockholm. A wider political dimension has since been added, with the two Swedish regions of Skåne and Halland joining the organisation. A stronger common job market is needed In total, the ”Greater Copenhagen” organisation now encompasses 88 municipalities and four regions. Yet it is still a work in progress. Since it was set up, two executive secretaries have had a go at running it before moving on to other jobs. And while the organisation is now getting a new Director with a mandate to speak on behalf of ”Greater Copenhagen”, it remains unclear whether this will change anything. Johan Wessmann, Chief Executive of the Oresund Institute, thinks that political cooperation across the region is now going through a transitional phase of finding a more definite form through the ”Greater Copenhagen” organisation. Among other things, he has high hopes for a so-called labour market charter now being developed by the 88 municipalities participating in the ”Greater Copenhagen” collaboration. The purpose of this charter is to lobby decision-makers at the national level with an overarching vision of creating an integrated labour market across the entire Oresund region. Today, there are many barriers. For example, a U.S. scientist with residence and work permits for Denmark is currently not able to work in the South of Sweden, something that ”Greater Copenhagen” is seeking to change. ”Greater Copenhagen” also points to efforts to boost cooperation in vocational training as well as promoting STEM skills and access to STEM education. STEM is short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – all skills that are in short supply throughout the region. Johan Wessmann also supports the idea that a metro line between Copenhagen and Malmö would boost the region, while stressing that there is a tendency in Denmark to overlook the development going on in Malmö itself. In fact, the Swedish city has been attracting more skilled workers and more financially strong tax payers, as demonstrated by the wealth of new housing projects which have sprung up on the Malmö harbour front. Helle Ahlenius Pallesen, who is Chief Executive of Oresundsadvokater, a network which offers legal assistance to companies and individuals in the region, is even clearer in expressing her view. ”We need a positive boost. I think it needs to come from all the many large companies in these regions which are looking for skilled labour. That can happen by making the labour market work better across the Sound, for instance. They need to demand that politicians make it happen by passing the necessary legislative changes or coming up with new arrangements. That would create renewed optimism in the region,” says Helle Pallesen – who, by the way, lives in Malmö but works in Copenhagen.
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It is essential to solve the problems that are holding back the creation of a dynamic Oresund region, lawyers on both sides of the Sound say.
LARGE COMPANIES NEED TO PUT PRESSURE ON POLITICIANS By Carsten Steno
To create a renewed sense of optimism in the Oresund region, it is essential for large companies and business organisations on both sides of the Sound to pool their resources in pushing politicians to solve the problems that are hampering the creation of a fully integrated labour market. This is the firm view of Helle Ahlenius Pallesen, Chief Executive of Oresundsadvokater, a network of lawyers on both sides of the Sound offering assistance to both companies and private individuals on legal matters in Denmark and Sweden. Helle Ahlenius Pallesen, who has headed the network since 2006, points to a lack of progress in making the regional labour market more flexible, despite political promises to do so since the Oresund bridge opened in 2000. As an example, it is not possible for an American scientist with residence and work permits in Denmark to also work in Sweden, if employed by a company with offices on both sides of the Sound. And if he were to be granted a work permit in Sweden, his Danish employer would be required
to pay substantial social security contributions in Sweden, as the Swedish system is funded differently to what is seen in Denmark. There are many such issues making it difficult to create a fully integrated labour market, and that is a great shame, Helle Ahlenius Pallesen says. She remembers seeing a lot of optimism before the financial crisis about developing the Oresund region, but it faded around 2015 when the refugee crisis led Sweden to impose border checks. At first, anyone travelling from Denmark to Sweden was checked, and rail passengers had to leave one train and move to another at Kastrup station, making commutes a hassle. Today, border checks are based on random checks and thus easy to navigate, and additional spot checks on the Danish side do not seem to cause much inconvenience. But for many, there is probably a greater sense of fear and pessimism that politicians might bring back more stringent border checks, she says. Helle Ahlenius Pallesen also stresses that much more could be done to address the challenges facing both Copenhagen and Southern Sweden in getting a sufficient supply of skilled workers, through joint efforts in
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Helle Ahlenius Pallesen, Chief Executive of Oresundsadvokater, points to a lack of progress in making the regional labour market more flexible, despite political promises to do so since the Oresund bridge opened in 2000.
vocational education, greater flexibility, mutual recognition of skills and upskilling of the workforce. Many positive stories about Malmö are rarely told She lives in Malmö herself and adds that optimism in the Oresund region is affected by an unfortunate amount of negative media coverage of the Swedish city – especially in Denmark – and not least about gang crime in Malmö. “But, actually, there are many positive stories about Malmö which are rarely told. The city has changed a lot in recent years. It’s a great place for commerce and culture, for instance, and the Swedish krona is relatively weak, making it attractive for Danes to shop and settle in Skåne,” she says. The Oresundsadvokater network does not engage in political work. Lawyers in the network focus on helping clients solve problems in relation to the existing legislation. And although Denmark and Sweden share fairly similar legal traditions, there are major differences to be found in the actual legislation. This applies to areas such as buying and selling a home. In Denmark the
seller’s property agent must act as advisor to the seller only, while the buyer must have their own advisor, as Denmark does not allow agents to represent the interests of both seller and buyer. Sweden, in contrast, requires property agents to represent the interests of both seller and buyer, which changes the whole negotiation process. In Denmark the buyer and their agent will usually seek to push the sales price down, while in Sweden the price is often pushed up. There are similar differences in other areas of civil law across the two countries’ legislation – such as divorce, division of property and parental rights. Helle Ahlenius Pallesen points out that the laws of the Nordic countries were actually more uniform before the Second World War. There was more of a tendency for Scandinavian countries to follow each other in shaping new legislation such as sales laws. Today, much of the legislation in Denmark and Sweden is driven by the European Union, and of course there are many similarities in these areas, but for regulation outside the scope of the EU there is a greater tendency for both countries to “go their own way”, rather than seeking a common Nordic route as in the past.
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INSPIRING NORDIC WOMEN IN TECH By Julie Brix
The Nordic countries are some of the most gender-equal nations in the world, and the regionâ€™s booming tech scene has captured global attention. Yet the gender gap is still a huge issue â€“ particularly in certain fields, like tech, where women are traditionally underrepresented. Some of the key drivers for girls wanting to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills is having role models and support both at home and in the classroom. It is easier to imagine a career in the field if you see someone you can identify with who has an exciting role, has done groundbreaking research or founded a tech startup. The number of girls interested in STEM skills almost doubles when they have role
models, compared to those who do not. Girls with role models are also more passionate about STEM subjects and are more likely to imagine themselves working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Fortunately, there are already many Nordic women who have successfully entered the tech industry and can take the lead as role models for future talent! On the following pages, we have selected 10 truly inspiring Nordic women in Tech who have already achieved great respect, impact and results, while coming from very different backgrounds and spanning a wide range of expertise within the tech industry.
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Helena Samsioe (S), 33 Founder and CEO, GLOBHE
Photo: Tobias Björkgren
Cecilia Qvist, 46 Global Chief for Markets, Spotify As Global Head of Markets, Cecilia Qvist oversees Spotify’s global growth strategy – both in existing and new territories – with a focus on international expansion, product localization efforts and sustainable growth. Today Spotify, named one of TIME’s Genius Companies of 2018, has 217 million listeners and 100 million subscribers around the world. In 2018 and 2019, Cecilia Qvist led the company’s expansion into more than 18 new countries, including Romania, Israel, Vietnam, India and several locations in the Middle East and Africa. Spotify now operates in 79 countries. Cecilia Qvist serves as a member of the board of directors of Catena Media and a member of the advisory board of Webrock Ventures. In 2019 she was chosen as “The Most Impactful Director” by Swedish business magazine Veckans Affärer.
Tuva Palm, 45 Executive advisor & Founder, Evolvery Tuva is a technology and product focused strategy executive with great leadership skills and experience successfully growing and digitally transforming organizations and products at companies like Klarna, Nordnet and Oracle. She is currently active as an Executive Tech Advisor helping growth companies through their scale-up phases. She is on the board of directors in several expanding companies, such as Leo Vegas, Lunar Way, Regily, etc. Furthermore, she is a recognized speaker and lecturer on areas spanning tech trends, product management, leadership/career, etc. Additionally, many know her as one of the hosts of STHLM TECH, the largest tech meetup in Europe, where she discusses tech trends with investors on a monthly basis and gives feedback to pitching start-ups on stage. In 2018 she was number 12 on the list of ”Årets Tech-kvinnor”, or “Tech Women of the Year”, by Veckans Affärer.
Photos: f lickr · Wikimedia · LinkedIn · Twitter
Helena Samsioe is known as the Drone Queen for founding GLOBHE, Sweden’s global drone service provider in 2015. Samsioe has bootstrapped the company into a revenue-generating business, running the world’s first AI drone delivery this year. The firm’s patent pending identifAI service helps the United Nations and other humanitarian actors better manage and identify natural disasters. Helena Samsioe studied Information and Communication Technology as part of a master’s degree in Disaster Management. She has won a SKAPA award, one of Sweden’s largest innovation prizes created in memory of Alfred Nobel. In January 2020 she received the UAE’s Zayed Sustainability Prize, one of the most significant awards worldwide for affecting positive change and was awarded SEK 6 mio. to help further the aim of identifying and mitigating public health emergencies in the developing world.
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Denise Persson (S), 44 CMO, Snowflake Computing Denise has 20 years of technology marketing experience at high-growth companies. Prior to joining Snowflake, she served as CMO for Apigee, an API platform company that went public in 2015 and was acquired by Google in 2016. “Working in tech, you have to really love change. You’ll have to want to be a part of improving things and solving big problems. It’s incredibly fast-paced work, and you’ve got to love that level of change and engage with it every day”, she says. She holds a BA in Business Administration and Economics from Stockholm University and an MBA from Georgetown University.
Anita Schjøll Brede, 34 CEO & co-founder of Iris.ai Anita Schjøll Brede cofounded the semi-automated scientific review tool Iris.AI in 2015. The company raised $2.4 million in December 2017 and is today used by everyone from Denmark’s Leo Pharma to the University of Helsinki. In 2019 Brede expanded the business to launch Project Aiur – the “blockchain for scientists” – designed to democratize academia. A two time TEDx speaker, Schjøll Brede teaches Artificial Intelligence at the Singularity University. Brede is a board member at Norway’s Katapult impact tech accelerator and was previously CEO of startup incubator uLabs Venture. In 2018 she was included on Forbes’ list of “The World’s Top 50 Women in Tech”.
Isabelle Ringnes is co-founder & Chief Product Officer of Equality Check.it, a platform for crowdsourced anonymous rewiews about equality in the workplace She hosts the bi-weekly podcast Future Forecast, is a faculty member at Singularity University Nordic, a Board member of the investment app Kron and Dermanor, co-author of the book “Hvem Spanderer” and a public speaker about leadership, diversity in tech and exponential technologies. Isabelle holds a Master’s Degree in Media Management. In 2015 she founded TENK in 2015, a Technology Network for Women in Norway aiming to inspire girls to lean in and contribute to shaping our world’s future with technology.
Photo: Kristoffer Myhre
Isabelle Ringnes, 31 Co-founder, Equalitycheck.it
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Christine Spiten, 29 Senior Corporate Advisor,
Plastic & Circular Economy at WWF Norwegian engineer Christine Spiten cofounded the underwater drone company Blueye Robotics in 2015. Spiten was interning at marine giant Kongsberg when she first used underwater ROVs and was inspired to develop drones controlled by smartphones. Blueye Robotics has raised $6 million to date. The company’s Pioneer drones can dive to depths of over 150 meters (around the height of London’s BT Tower). Spiten took robotics classes at UFRJ in Brazil as part of her engineering M.Sc in Industrial Economics and Technological Management. She sits on the advisory board of environmental research initiatives REVOcean, Passion for Ocean as well as Norway’s government-led digital business board Digital 21. Christine holds a Master of Science from Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
Nana Bule, 41 CEO, Microsoft Denmark & Iceland Nana joined Microsoft in 2002, holding various leadership positions in commercial sales and product marketing. She has been part of the Executive Board since 2013 – most recently in the role of Director of Marketing & Operations (COO). In addition to her position as CEO at Microsoft Denmark, Nana serves as a board member of EnergiNet, Arla and Wonderful Copenhagen and is also a member of the DI Board of Directors and the Corporate Policy Committee. Nana graduated from Copenhagen Business School and Copenhagen IT University and holds a Board Governance qualification from IMD. She is also active within the startup ecosystem as a consultant for entrepreneurs and investors.
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Lene Sjorslev Schulze, 41 Head of US Operations and Business Development, BLUETOWN Lene Schulze has spent the past 15 years in Silicon Valley working for and advising startups and corporates, connecting them to this unique innovation ecosystem. Today Lene leads all US based activities for BLUETOWN. Her responsibilities include building partnerships with some of the world’s largest tech companies and driving new, global revenue opportunities. Lene started her career in Silicon Valley with the Danish government, co-founding their first Innovation Center abroad and, through that, building programs for startups including SCALEit, and joining Nordic colleagues to initiate the Nordic Innovation House in Palo Alto. Lene also teaches a course on Silicon Valley, Entrepreneurship and Innovation at INSEEC U, and she is on the board of the Scandinavian School and Cultural Center in San Francisco.
Mette Lykke, 38 CEO, Too Good to Go Mette Lykke is the CEO of the anti-food waste company Too Good To Go since 2017, where she leads more than 300 employees. Through the app, Too Good To Go connects its users with delicious unsold food from a variety of shops and restaurants all over Europe. The app has more than 12 million users and the service is available in 11 countries. Before joining Too Good To Go, Mette Lykke cofounded the sports app Endomondo in 2007, which was sold in 2015 for half a billion Danish kroner to the American sports brand Under Armour, where she was senior vice president until 2017. Mette holds a Master of Political Science and has previously been a researcher and journalist at Jyllands-Posten and a consultant at McKinsey from 2006-07. In 2018 she was elected to the publisher’s Gyldendal’s Board of Directors.
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To Go Click Design that makes a difference
Steel cup · DOUBLE-WALLED · · VACUUM-INSULATED · · FOR HOT AND COLD DRINKS · · BPA AND PHTHALATE FREE · · LARGE RANGE OF COLOURS ·
To Go Click cup in stainless-steel. Available as 0.2 l, - double-walled, 0.4 l and 0. 48 l - double-walled and vaccum-insulated. To Go Click 0.2 l EUR 29.95, 0.4 l EUR 34.95, 0.48 l EUR 39.95 Design: Stelton.
To Go Click keeps your coffee or tea hot for up to four hours. Think of the environment and bring your own cup. For life on the move.
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OSLO STOCKHOLM COPENHAGEN Exclusive apartments for buyers who do not compromise on location, high quality, stunning views and luxurious details
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OSLO President Harbitzâ€™ Gate 1 Exquisite and exclusive 5 room apartment. Exceptional standard, direct access from the elevator and beautiful classic details. New and top modern kitchen from 2018/19. All appliances are from Gaggenau. A mirrorplated partition behind the cabinets conceals an integrated flat screen. Underfloor heating and extra height to the ceiling. Size: 175 m 2 Price: NOK 23.900.000,For more details or inspiration, please visit: www.privatmeglaren.no
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Klara VĂ¤stra Kyrkogata 17 Corner flat with an international vibe in both design and feel. The fantastic location with floor-to-ceiling windows and the magical view of Stockholm combine to make this apartment unique. The absolute top level of accommodation. Modern living where you control everything from the apartmentâ€™s floor heating and lighting to the built-in speakers at the press of a button. Every detail is thought through for optimal form and function. Price: SEK 17.995.000,Size: 113 m 2 For more details or inspiration, please visit: www.esny.se
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ART - DESIGN - ANTIQUES
GIVE YOUR HOME PERSONALITY
MIX TRADITIONAL AND MODERN DESIGN GREEN SQUARE ANTIQUES
SUNDKAJ 161 - 2150 NORDHAVN, COPENHAGEN - T: +45 3257 5959 - WWW.GREENSQUARE.COM
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Galionsvej 9 Almost six meters to the ceiling, bright spaces and a luxurious interior with Boffi fixtures in the kitchen and in the two bathrooms. Underfloor heating in the entire two levels and everything in perfect working order. Luxury living in a divine apartment. No duty of residence. Size: 196 m 2 Price: DKK 15.500.000,For more details or inspiration, please visit: www.eltoftnielsen.dk
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This is Askman Design It is often said that great design perfectly balances beauty and function. A balanced design requires reďŹ‚ection and thoughtful choices, and when everything comes together, it makes a world of difference.
Tlf.: +45 49138833 www.askmandesign.com
HERMANN chair x STAR table
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RESTAURANTS FOR BUSINESS MEETINGS IN THE NORDICS
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Restaurant Marschal Hotel D’Angleterre, Kgs. Nytorv 34, 1050 Copenhagen K (Opening hours: 7.00-22.00) Michelin Star, Modern French with a Nordic touch Restaurant Marschal strives to make the dining experience appealing to all your senses, giving a modern urban touch to the culinary tradition of the historical place. The interior is luxurious, and you feel immediately welcomed when entering the beautiful surroundings. The atmosphere is warm, and the service level is very high and a bit formal. The dining card serves a broad variety of caviar, but if you prefer something less extravagant you can also choose between a broad variety from the A la Carte menu. Prices begins at EUR 32/DKK 240.
Nimb Brasserie Bernstorffsgade 5, 1577 Copenhagen V (Opening hours: 7.00-22.00) Intimate and relaxing brasserie experiences Nimb Brasserie stands for unspoiled taste relaxed quality. French favorites served for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a breathtaking view of Tivoli. Nimb’s restaurants attracts both hotel guests and locals, who enjoy a great meal in beautiful and intimate surroundings with a relaxing atmosphere. Nimb has also opened its own bakery which delivers fresh organic bread and pastries to all Nimb’s restaurants. The menu is French, and we recommend you try the lavish version of linguine with pieces of lobster, octopus, fried tomatoes, lobster sauce and Baerii caviar or the Guinea fowl breast a al coq au vin. It won’t let you down. Prices begins at EUR 23/DKK 175.
TRIO Axel Towers, Jernbanegade 11, 10th floor, 1608 Copenhagen V (Opening hours: 12.00-14.30 & 17.30-22.00) Aesthetic Nordic cuisine and design TRIO has a stunning view over Copenhagen’s roofs and is divided in 3 floors for a private dinner room, a lovely cocktail bar and the a la carte restaurant. The kitchen is characterized by an uncompromising focus on using the best Danish ingredients, aesthetics and flavors to go hand in hand in TRIOs own approach to Nordic cuisine. Especially the fried witch flounder and the tartare of dry aged beef are recommendable. For dessert one must try the clove ice cream with black pepper, ginger and chocolate foam. Prices begins at EUR 40 /DKK 300 for a 2-course menu.
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TheatercafĂŠen Stortingsgata 24-26, 0117 Oslo (Opening hours: 11.00-22.30) Historical and proud traditions When entering Theatercafeen you sense the historical proudness of the restaurant (and of Hotel Continental). The restaurant is elegant and nicely decorated with historical pictures on the walls. The service is very high and the Chambre Separee makes it possible to have a private dining room which can accommodate 10-36 guests for lunch or dinner. The menu card offers a variety of delicious and culinary dishes such as fermented trout, Asian pork belly sandwich and Argentinian wild shrimps. Prices from EUR 18/NOK 175,-
Mirabel Soerengkaia 163, Oslo 0194 (Opening hours: 11.00-23.00) Modern Mediterranean cuisine At Mirabel you immediately feel welcomed and though the impressive capability of serving up to 500 guests you sense a warm and intimate atmosphere. When having business meetings Mirabel offers their Chambre Separee which means you can have more privacy for a group of up to eight people, which can be recommended for business meetings where privacy is preferred. Be sure to have a seat next to the windows from which you can enjoy the nice view over Oslo Fjord, the Opera and the Barcode. The Business-dinning card offers 4 different menus with strong inspiration from the Mediterranean countries. The tasty garlic bread and the tender souvlaki are among some of the favorites of the guests! Prices begins at EUR 50/NOK 499 for a 4 dishes menu
Restaurant Christiania Nedre Vollgate 19 Inngang Stortingsgaten, Oslo 0158 (Opening hours: 11.00-22.00) High quality and great atmosphere Christiana restaurant (also called â€?Câ€? by the Norwegians) is beautifully decorated with nice furniture and covered tables. The atmosphere is warmth and the service high. The place is ideal for business meetings and the menu offers something for everyone ranging from delicious Sherry cooked blue mussels to a classic perfectly grilled hamburger with chipotle cooked onions. For a more Nordic dish, the smoked beetroot with biscuits, lentils, beetroot puree, ferrets, dried plums and rapeseed oil is highly recommended. Prices from EUR 17/NOK 165,-
New BR 05 collection
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TIME INSTRUMENTS FOR URBAN EXPLORERS
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The Strand Nybrokajen 9, Norrmalm/City (Opening hours: 11.30-22.00) Modern Scandinavian food classics in a decadent but relaxed environment The classic Radisson Collection Strand Hotel Stockholm has recently been given a new lease of life. Their hotel restaurant The Strand, has been designed by Wingårdhs architects and the premises have been designed in a mix of innovative elements and classic details. The Strand adjusts the menu according to season and uses organic and locally produced ingredients. The restaurant serves its signature dish, “The Strand Vintage”, but also more classic dishes like Swedish Meatballs or Skagen Toast. The service is great, and the food is very delicious and tasty. Prices from EUR 14/SEK 145,-
Aubergine Linnégatan 38, Östermalm, 11447 Stockholm (Opening hours: 11.30-23.00) Popular restaurant with a tasty menu and an unpretentious atmosphere At Aubergine there is a lot of life and the restaurant is well attended both at lunchtime and in the evening. The room is fresh and modern, and in the evening dark and intimate with candles. A perfect place for socializing and for a casual business meeting. The course of the day shifts between tasty dishes like e.g. pork with truffle dressing, caramelized onion & tomato and chicken with roasted root vegetables. It is also possible to select from the seasonally inspired menu where especially the Swedish dish; Veal meatballs with potato puree, raw stirred lingonberries & porter cream sauce is very tasty. Prices begins at EUR 13/SEK 130,-
Brasserie 360 Tegelbacken 6, 10123 Stockholm (Opening hours: 11.30-14.00, 17.30-22.30) French cuisine and the fastest Business Lunch in Town In Brasserie 360 delicious French style brasserie dishes are made by local produce. The Executive Chef Frederic Bertuit is of French roots and serves wonderful French dishes. The Brasserie 360 is perfect for business meetings as they offer “Speed Lunch” between 11.30-14.00. All you’ll have to do is to choose between the tasty meat, fish or vegetarian dishes! A mineral water, bread & coffee are included in the price and service. Very efficient and well-thought. If you are a truly fan of the French cuisine the Moules Frites or Le tartare du Sheraton are highly recommended. Prices begins at EUR 12/SEK 125,-
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SÅ ER ASTON MARTINS SUV LANDET – DBX ER KLASSISK ASTON KØREGLÆDE MED PLADS TIL LIVET
Den nye Aston Martin DBX er landet i Danmark og viser, hvordan Aston formår at forene det historiske med den moderne families ønske om plads, sikkerhed og luksus. Ren komfort fra det indre til det ydre.
DBX er en fuldblods Aston Martin, men samtidig et vidnesbyrd om, at den klassiske Aston Martin køreoplevelse godt kan kombineres i en høj bil med permanent 4-hjulstræk og over 500 hestekræfter.
Med luftaffjedring, elektronisk styring af undervognen og alle moderne komfort- og sikkerhedssystemer sætter DBX ny standard for kombinationen af SUV og glæden ved at køre bil.
Telefon 70 256 007 · www.astonmartin-copenhagen.dk Aston Martin DBX fås fra kr. 3.710.000 inkl. registreringsafgift eller på tryg og gennemskuelig privat-, erhvervs- eller splitleasing. Grøn ejerafgift: kr. 3.660 halvårligt – forbrug 10,1 km/l. CO2 298 g/km E
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BUSINESS EVENTS FEBRUARY Customer Loyality Conference 5 February | Göteborg
Customer Loyalty Conference is for those who want to know the latest in customer loyalty, CRM and CX. A day filled with lessons, concrete tips and lots of inspiration from the top experts and companies. www.customerloyaltyconference.se
Arctic15 5-6 February | Stockholm
Connect with movers and shakers of the Nordic tech ecosystem and experience Stockholm business scene in a new way.
PE Insight Nordics 5 March | Stockholm
The 10th edition of the leading Private Equity conference is the perfect place to hear insights from the leading experts of PE in the Nordic region and meet LPs, GPs, and PE/VC target companies www.pe-insights.com/private-equity-conferences
Nordic Business Travel Summit 2020 17 – 18 March | Stockholm
At NBTS you will get a taste of what’s coming and what you need to be prepared for in the Travel Industry 2020. www.dbta.dk, sbta.se and nbta.no
CISO Nordics Summit
High North Dialogue conference
19 February | Stockholm
18-19 March | Bodo, Norway
The CISO Nordic Summit will bring together leading C-level executives, analysts and solution providers to network and attend interactive agenda sessions on the latest business topics and trends within IT Security.
The High North Dialogue conference will provide the attendees with a different perspective on the future of the Arctic and discuss and develop ideas for the economic development of the Arctic region, with an emphasis on future scenarios, development cross sectors and governance needed in order to ensure sustainable growth.
MARCH Business Arena Malmö
Future of Mobility Conference 26 March | Copenhagen
The Business Arena Malmo features an increased focus on the Danish market.
Join Valcon and Cordence Worldwide for a presentation of cutting-edge viewpoints on mobility shared by executives from Google, Siemens Mobility and international autonomous mobility operator Holo
4 March | Malmö
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IN THE NORDICS Nordic Invest Camp 28 March | Copenhagen
Nordic Invest Camp is the annual event for anyone with an interest in investment. 1000 people are gathered in central Copenhagen for 12 exciting hours. More than 50 presenters tells about their investment strategies and how and when to invest in stocks, bonds etc. The atmosphere is casual and festive, but at the same time focused and serious. www.nordicinvestcamp.dk
MAY Board Briefing 6 May | Copenhagen
Board Briefing offers you an annual opportunity to get updated on the latest trends and developments in boards in 2020. A number of leading keynote speakers from Danish boards will contribute to making this the event of the year for board members. www.valcon.com/events/meet-thought-leaders
APRIL Nordic Place Branding Conference 2 April | Oslo
Nordic Place Branding Conference is about making a change in places. Real changes have a real impact. Who takes responsibility for making better places. This is the largest annual investment promotion, place development and marketing event in the Nordics.
14 May | Copenhagen
Get an overview across diverse areas, from the hot field of green investments to inside the minds of CFOs. www.treasury360copenhagen.confetti.events
600Minutes ScaleUp Executives 20 May | Oslo & 26 May | Stockholm
Nordic Ecommerce Summit
600Minutes CFO have the chance to exchange thoughts and ideas with your fellow business leaders might be the extra boost your organization needs. At the event, we bring together the needs of top decision makers and the offerings of solution providers, generating business opportunities for both parties.
23 April | Stockholm
Nordic Ecommerce Summit was founded to strengthen the Nordic region in the global ecommerce landscape by organizing the premier regional forum for digital commerce. The conference aims to inspire retailers to develop and foster innovation in their organizations, promoting continued growth. www.nordicecommercesummit.se
Copenhagen FinTech Week 25-29 May | Copenhagen
Copenhagen Fintech Week will feature attendees from all continents and have international keynotes and panels tackling hot Tech topics. www.cphfintechweek.com
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COMPETITION WIN THE SQUARE MALACHITE HOPE CUFFLINKS FROM ALEXANDER LYNGGAARD JEWELLERY. All you have to do is answer the following question:
In which Nordic countries is it possible to purchase jewellery from Alexander Lynggaard Jewellery? Please visit the website www.alexanderlynggaard.dk for information about the Danish and Norwegian retailers.
Send your answer no later than 20 April 2020 to: email@example.com
Please remember to write: "Competition" in the subject line.
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Next issue of Nordic Business Thanks for reading. We hope you enjoyed reading the Nordic Business magazine and would be pleased to serve you with even more great knowledge, updates, insights and inspiration from across the Nordic borders again.
Next issue: 7th May 2020 If you prefer to receive the next edition as an e-magazine - it is easy! Just send an email with the subject ”Sign me up” to: firstname.lastname@example.org If you have any comments or requests, please send us an email with the subject ”Comment” or ”Request” to: email@example.com
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Fully electric. Fully Porsche. Get behind the wheel of a sports car that is fully Porsche. Take control of the 761 hp Taycan Turbo S, and experience the electric capacity that moves you from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.8 sec. It is the technology of the future in the service of driving pleasure. See more about the new Taycan at porsche.dk Taycan Turbo S. Electric consumption, combined: 25,7-24,5 kWh/100 km. Range per charge: 388-412 km. Charging time at fast charge (DC): down to 22.5 min
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