Last week, our coursework was focused on Human Resource Management and Transformation. Given the current impact Covid-19 has had on the economy, countries and business alike have had to adapt by changing much of their ways of thinking and working.
It’s been just over a month since I embarked on the Copenhagen MBA. My classmates are as diverse in their nationality, age and professional backgrounds as they are in their ways of thinking. Pairing this unique mix of eager and dedicated students with brilliant professors and guest lectures has led to some of the most interesting and thought-provoking discussions of my life. As Covid-19 remains very present in Europe and across the world, I feel extremely fortunate to be able to attend classes and to have access to a quality education despite the pandemic.
One of the first courses we encountered in the MBA was Human Resource Management. More and more businesses are relying on HR for guidance. I believe the current crisis has shed new light to the power and importance of developing more robust and knowledgeable HR teams, and ensuring they have a more strategic involvement in businesses.
The Transformational Power of HR
Our professor Dana Minbaeva, who works closely with some of the world’s largest companies originating out of Denmark (Mærsk, Novo Nordisk, Danfoss, and more) and whose research is widely used and published, had invited a cast of superstar guest lecturers to speak to us. It was truly inspiring to listen the story of Ulf Hahnemann, Chief Human Resources Officer at A.P. Møller Mærsk, who started an ambitious transformative journey at the logistics giant. Ulf talked about iconic moves he pushed forward and the importance of sticking to your beliefs especially when it’s difficult to do so. He highlighted the fact that intelligence is randomly distributed across an organization, a reality that is often underestimated, and that great ideas do not only come from the top. To drive an organization forward, he also discussed the importance of empowering people so they can share their ideas. In his professional role, he held true to his philosophy.
Jesper Allentoft, International HR Executive and former EVP of Stakeholder Relations at Chr. Hansen, spoke to us about stakeholder management, talent management and leadership. Jesper stressed the importance of creating a narrative to translate how the performance of each employee contributes to global performance. It was great to hear about his experience, especially how he navigated through uncertainty and changes as his company underwent an IPO and, subsequently, a Private Equity Takeover.
The People Crisis
BCG calls the ongoing pandemic a “people-based crisis.” It was a true privilege to speak with Dorothee Gnaedinger (CEO of Mercer, Denmark) who shared her insights around the current environment and the perspectives of some of her clients. She challenged us intellectually, which led to a stimulating discussion around the position and responsibilities of CEOs and Heads of HR. We also had the chance to speak with Swati Seth from MKS Instruments who shared her take on diversity versus affirmative action, and the importance of inclusion as opposed to diversity for the sake of diversity.
As future leaders, we all hope to inspire, impact positively, and potentially lead similar transformations. Learning about some of the research around topics like human capital analytics, alignment and organizational fit has been really great. As we are still figuring out what the “new normal” is, there is no better time to learn how to transform Human Resource Management into a competitive advantage.
Alex hails from Lebanon, has lived in France and decided to move to Denmark with his family since it offers an unmatched quality of life. Most of his career has been spent in sales for S&P and Seismic.