a better world

“Making money is not the goal, it’s about using money to create a better world”

With a background in culture and the arts, Janne Villadsen is perhaps not your average CBS student. As the Program and Development Director of Denmark’s Heartland Festival, part of Janne’s role is to build partnerships between the arts and commercial sectors. Here’s how her EMBA is contributing and creating “A better world”.

My background in arts and culture is not a common route to business school, I admit. I stepped into management in 2017, and one of my goals was to help bridge the gap between companies and culture, and to encourage the corporate world to participate more in the art world. I had long thought that an Executive MBA could help me achieve this.”

A creative background

“In 2013, I started a creative agency called Force of Nature. Our main interest was in creating cross-culture initiatives and partnerships, and six months’ later, I also joined an arts platform called Chart Art Fair as Head of Communications. This double-headed role saw me work my ass off for ten years, and I oversaw a range of artistic collaborations and built relationships with a variety of commercial partners. There weren’t many people doing this in Denmark at the time and it was hugely successful.

“Following this, I became the Development and Communications Director of a cross-culture festival. Heartland runs once a year, but we have smaller collaborations with commercial partners that happen all year round. We look to create new art initiatives with brands such as Mercedes Benz, H&M, etc.

“When the pandemic hit and the festival was on pause, I took the opportunity to develop my business skills and knowledge. I wanted to learn how I could ‘fight from within’. I thought that if I could learn to talk their language, I could encourage them to be more involved in art and culture.”

A deeper understanding

“People within the arts industries are, generally speaking, quite bad when it comes to business sense and numbers. They aren’t very good at putting a price on their products or services and calculating their own value. I thought that studying at CBS would be a good opportunity to improve this – particularly as no one else is!

“I also wanted to develop my skills as a Director. I feel that I already have the soft skills around leadership through past experience and now I’d like to develop business management skills.

“I wanted a course that was internationally acknowledged and taught both an international and sustainable perspective. So I did some old-school research and the Executive MBA at CBS was the best choice. Ironically, I live in Copenhagen so had the best business school for me in my backyard. The convenience wasn’t a major factor in my decision, but it certainly wasn’t a negative.

“I started earlier this year [2021] in May and it is going really well – better than expected, in fact. I really feel that I am learning a lot and having a lot of fun. I’m enjoying learning about the dynamics at play behind a business and understanding a lot more of the commercial intricacies. It is so far away from where I normally work and the skills I’m picking up are invaluable.”

Taking business leadership into the art world

“I can certainly see that the Executive MBA is going to make a positive difference for me. I moved into management roles at an early age and now hold board positions at KulturERhverv and Copenhagen Photo Festival. I didn’t have special training or inherent abilities, so I felt the need to develop my directorship skills.

“I have now gained a more holistic approach to business challenges. By understanding the dynamics between revenue, expenses and margins, I’m now more aware of the impact of my decisions from a management viewpoint. From a personal perspective, business partners often show an acknowledgement, recognition and respect for the hard work that goes into completing an Executive MBA at CBS. I didn’t start this course to impress anyone else, but I can already see there will be positive side-effects that I didn’t necessarily foresee.

“Ultimately, I believe that responsibility is not something you are given, it is something you take. I am doing an Executive MBA because I want to take responsibility for making a difference. Making money is not the goal but understanding how to make money to create a better world is. The Executive MBA at CBS will help me hone these skills so that I can make a greater impact.”

Image credit: Ida Hermansen


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