Translating and leveraging skills for use in another industry

Having worked at a senior level in the public sector for many years, Andreas Berggreen, current EMBA participant, took his opportunity to study at CBS as a way to bridge his transition into the private sector. Here is his take on how the challenges of the two sectors compare and how his studies are.

“When I was head of office at the Ministry of Finance in the 2000s, one of my most talented employees joined the Executive MBA at CBS. I could see how much she developed in a short time and how she gained strong competencies that were valuable within the Ministry, but also beneficial in a private company. Her experience convinced me I’d like to make a similar investment myself at some point in the future.”

Working with leadership and public sector IT challenges

“More recently I spent three years as CEO of the Danish Tax Technology Agency (UFST). As one of Denmark’s largest IT companies we had almost 2,500 internal and external employees working to get 235 IT and data systems to calculate and collect more than DKK 1,000 billion annually in taxes and duties. We also handled and analysed big data volumes and managed very large IT development programs for, among others, Customs, Property Valuation and Debt Collection.

“Looking back, it was a rather extreme experience with a great number of challenges to overcome. The most important task from a top management perspective was the creation of strong unity, willingness and ability to collaborate across the more than 100 people in the three management layers, as well as setting a clear strategic direction. It made it possible to ensure stable operations and at the same time outline solutions of the Tax Administration’s super-complex IT problems and legacy backbone systems. All in the context of Government’s very short-term funding horizon, an unlikely number of stakeholders and controllers and a constant need to explain and communicate every decision and deviation to the press.”

Targeted transitioning with CBS

“When I left this role in 2020, it seemed the right time to broaden my horizons and enter the CBS Executive MBA programme. I especially wanted to use the programme to translate and leverage my skills from 20 years in Government and Consulting for a move into a private company.

“I have found that most challenges in Private are similar to Public. Whether it is about leadership and strategy, financing and management procedures, IT architecture and AI enabling or waterfall versus agile, employees want competent and empathic leadership. And the business has to be transformed from something old to the new world of IT and data.

“The language spoken, on the other hand, is quite different; Private is very international and English, while Public is very local and Danish. Additionally, Private is about getting a return on invested capital by creating value for customers they want to pay for, whereas Public is about creating good solutions for citizens in areas where ‘good’ is often difficult to measure and payment is ‘invisible’.”

High quality teaching

“Having followed international leadership development courses at IMD in Switzerland, the CBS EMBA has been a very positive experience of how well an accelerated long term learning process can be organized. The CBS Executive MBA is positioned quite high in the international ranking of European MBA programs, but it is only after going through half of the modules that I have understood why.

“One obvious reason is that the teaching in the traditional MBA-subjects like marketing, accounting and financial institutions is super high quality, driven by academic ‘rock stars’ such as Jesper Rangvid. A little more surprising for me has been that CBS tops the European Super League in more ‘modern’ subjects related to digitisation and analytics. It’s really great teaching that spans deep insights and a rich language about the business implications of the digital changes that are hitting companies with a sledgehammer these years. I think CBS has especially managed to get a really good grip on the details of how ‘business and IT’ should merge on all levels in a company, how the dynamics of the platform economy work and how legacy backbone IT-systems can and should be replaced. I recognize most of the dilemmas from my own experience in UFST, and the EMBA has given me the tools and the language to start solving those in a private company.”

Adapting through COVID

“Like everyone, CBS has had to find ways to handle COVID-19, but it has still been possible to establish a strong network. From the turn of the year, the teaching went online, and not all teachers – or MBA students – found themselves equally comfortable in it. However, I think it fell into place relatively quickly, and since then the teaching has been absolutely fantastic. So, if there were to be another lock-down, I am confident CBS is ready.

“One of the best things about the EMBA has been the fellowship and learnings through the shared stories of the other participants. I have gained insight into the problems and solutions of many other industries, but also into other people’s reflections on leadership, work-life balance and career. It has been incredibly inspiring, and I have gained a large network that I will enjoy working with for many years to come.”

Get ready for the senior management level

“An EMBA does take a lot of time. And the yield is equivalent to the time invested. For me, it has been worth it, since I now feel prepared to take on managerial challenges in a private company. Also, CBS has arranged the EMBA in a way that is compatible with both having a career and a family, though most participants need to push their leisure activities to after the EMBA. In that sense, it is like being at the senior management level – and an experience I can fully recommend.”

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