Kelsey Frandsen, alum of the Full-Time MBA (class of 2021) and Corporate Sustainability Specialist at Pandora, identifies how sustainability has been the red thread of her career and how the Copenhagen MBA’s offering of diverse perspectives is a unique and invaluable experience.
What was your professional background before embarking on your MBA journey?
I worked at One Earth Future Foundation which ran an impact fund in Somalia. We helped finance small and medium-sized enterprises with the goal of creating more jobs for Somalis. My focus was on Environmental Social Governance (ESG) and the fund’s mandate was to promote access to finance, as it can be very difficult for Somali entrepreneurs to obtain funding, especially if they are a first time borrower.
Why did you choose the Copenhagen MBA?
I researched various programmes but the way that sustainability is taught within the Copenhagen MBA peaked my interest. It is taught holistically and emphasizes the importance of innovation. The concept of sustainability seemed a lot closer to the business community here, which is a testament to Copenhagen in general. It is a tight-knit community that aims to benefit the collective. Businesses that visited us during the MBA showed a genuine appreciation for sustainability and demonstrated real action. Sustainability has been the red thread of my career and it has guided my motivations.
What Concentration did you study and how does it impact your role now?
I was enrolled in the Governance & Sustainability Concentration while I was interning at Pandora and this was a great experience because I was able to apply learnings from the classroom directly to my internship. It taught me to pay attention to trends, to keep my eye on the future of the industry, and understand the importance of future-proofing businesses.
When you are working you can’t help but become really focused on what’s happening today which can limit how you think about the long-term. During the concentration, there were MBAs and Executive MBAs from different backgrounds with varying sustainability experience. Some were just beginning their sustainability journeys and asked important questions that challenged the practical implications of the principles we were learning about. It was insightful to hear my peers’ perspectives and the challenges they faced implementing sustainability into their business models, and where they saw opportunities for innovation and improvement. The concentration opened my eyes to the different ways in which sustainable business practices can be developed and implemented across industries.
How did you secure your internship at Pandora and ultimately your role now?
The careers team connected me with an alum of the Copenhagen MBA who worked at Pandora. This connection proved to be valuable as it resulted in my internship and consequently my role at Pandora today. Once I was in the internship, I expressed my interest to stay. Fortunately, they were expanding the sustainability team and I had skills and background they were looking for to build out their team.
What does your role as Corporate Sustainability Specialist at Pandora entail?
Sustainability is increasingly becoming a strategic business function. It is embedded throughout the business, so I really enjoy working cross-functionally with finance, procurement, retail, marketing, and every other part of the business. Coming out of the MBA, you establish a foundation for understanding all aspects of the business, it is fun to put these skills to the test and speak the language of each domain. I like that my work is purpose-driven and hopefully changing the world for the better.
What did you enjoy about your MBA experience?
I quite enjoyed Andreas Rasche’s courses because he is knowledgeable about the trends and regulatory environment in the field of ESG. He’s a great contact to have to stay in the know with what is coming down the pipe.
Meeting people from all over the world was a wonderful experience because you get diverse perspectives in the classroom. When you are in a specific industry or role, you sometimes find yourself in an echo chamber so it is refreshing to be able to hear and understand different perspectives. You automatically have a built-in network of alum and peers that you connect with personally and professionally so you feel supported, and this is crucial when you are relocating from another country. It’s a completely unique situation and I feel lucky to have experienced it.
What do you like about living in Copenhagen?
I moved from Colorado which is a landlocked state so it is really nice to live by the water. I love biking everywhere, the fresh air, and the great cafe culture, especially now that the restaurants are open and all restrictions have been lifted. The lifestyle here gives you a strong feeling of independence.
What is a piece of advice that you would give to MBA considerers?
When you are going for an MBA, you will quickly realize that networking is important. Even if you unsure of what you want to do, you should be proactive and reach out to your network from the beginning because that is where the opportunities lie. As a student you don’t have as much skin in the game, so people are more willing give you advice and help with your professional development. An alum told my cohort to always say yes to a beer, and I’m glad I followed this advice. The connections I made with the MBA community were just as valuable as what I learned in the classroom.
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