Signe Cederstrøm - EMBA

Succession through the lens of an EMBA

Signe Cederstrøm with her father Finn Cederstrøm. Photo Credit: Resino Printing inks.

Tasked with taking the reins of her father’s internationally-renowned ink business, Signe Cederstrøm knew that she needed to gain more of a theoretical springboard to succeed. The EMBA at Copenhagen Business School provided her with just that.

Building a leader

Resino Inks A/S is a family-owned Danish company that produces inks and coatings for printing. Today, Signe has been the CEO at Resino for three years but has worked with the company for almost 11. She started the process of succeeding her father around six/seven years ago.

“My father got some offers for buying the company,” says Signe, “But they wanted to move half of the employees to outside of Denmark. We decided against this eventually in favour of keeping the business in the country and in the family – so it was up to me.”

However, with an educational background in humanities to build from, Signe felt she needed some practical experience, “I spent some years working in the company to get my head around things. I enjoyed it and got a solid understanding of how our company ran, but (aside from a few shorter courses that I had taken previously) I realised I needed a more well-rounded education, more suited to the business world and leadership. That’s why I took the EMBA at Copenhagen Business School.”

Benefits of CBS

The EMBA programme’s flexible structure was also a deciding factor. As Signe says, “One of the reasons why I chose CBS was because I needed to fit it around my family and home life.”

The EMBA has been designed to correspond with the demands placed on business leaders. For Signe, this was hugely advantageous and provided her with the faculties to take over seamlessly from her father; “I think I’ve gained a lot of great knowledge to bring along to my company after the programme. Every time I learnt something new, I brought it back and we discussed implementing it into the strategy,” says Signe. “My learnings also encouraged a lot of good discussions, not only with my father, but also with the management team and the board. At this stage we’re halfway through the full transition from my father to myself – but I think we’re managing exceptionally well, we’re in a good position now.”

Broad perspectives

The EMBA gave Signe a wider understanding in relation to executive leadership as opposed to being limited to one department’s specialism. As Signe says, “I gained a lot of theoretical knowledge that relates to my individual company, but at the same time, while working with my peers, I achieved a comprehension of the world beyond Europe. Plus, for myself I began to increase my awareness of all areas of the company, because as successor it was all relevant to me: from marketing to innovation and from production to distribution.”

Sustainability

CBS’s emphasis on sustainability became hugely relevant to Resino. As Signe says, “My learnings about sustainability become more and more applicable each day. Especially the environmental element – we’re essentially in the chemical production industry so the whole eco-emphasis on reusable packaging, an ethically conscious supply chain and lower emissions is high on our agenda. It’s also becoming increasingly important to our customers.”

The impact of the sustainability module is clear, and alongside an emphasis on building on their ESG commitments and reducing environmental impact, Resino is also the corporate sponsor of The Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations.

“It’s important for leaders to instil these values throughout the company,” says Signe, “It’s that constant questioning; how can we make a positive impact? How can we navigate the news, requirements and regulations? How can we embody and demonstrate our corporate responsibility?”

Corporate governance

EMBA participants pick from a range of innovative Concentrations, which provide the awareness and the tools to move their companies forward. Signe took the Sustainability and Governance Concentration.

“Corporate governance was also really relevant to me as, in our family business, you can confront a lot of issues with respect to governance. When you’re both an owner and a CMO but you have a professional board, there can be a lot of difficulties to work around so it was very valuable for my company.”

Women in leadership

Signe is just one of a growing number of women whose leadership career has been enriched by the EMBA. By gaining both the theoretical understanding and practical strategies, her company has accelerated under her management. While women in leadership roles could still see improvement, a recent study by Diversity Factor revealed that women now hold 13.7% of executive positions compared to 9.9% in 2019, an increase of 38.4%.

Studying during the pandemic

Signe undertook her EMBA predominantly during the pandemic and while this impacted her learning environment, it was surprisingly a blessing in many ways. As she says, “While we missed out on study trips and face-to-face networking, it was actually a benefit because there weren’t so many other things to juggle. I had more time to study at night, I didn’t have to cancel plans on the weekends, we had to stay home and so there was less prioritising and less sacrifices made in the end. In many ways it was helpful.”

The future of Resino

Signe is still in the process of improving the business strategies and preparing for her father to entirely step down and retire. Although, they’re also forced to adapt, as Signe explains, “Now we’re looking to expand some areas and find new directions for the business because we’ve lost a lot of our turnover from Russia. So we’re recovering from that at the moment. But with the backing of my learnings from the CBS EMBA, I’m confident that we can take this challenge head on and come out the other side with business improved.”

Click here to download a brochure OR click here to request a virtual meeting.