The Future of Denmark

February 26, 2014  //  By:   //  Featured, ON CAMPUS  //  No Comment

Review of CBS Case Competition’s Panel Debate 19.02.14 

As kick-off for the huge CBS Case Competition this week, the organizing committee had invited students at CBS to a panel debate, where some top executives from the Danish business elite discussed the future of Denmark. As moderator, the team had picked Clement Kjersgaard - an excellent decision, if you ask me.


When the doors opened, SPs01 was decorated with light blue carpets on the floor and by every seat there was placed a bottle of water, some sweets, a schedule for all events in relation to the Case Competition and a clicker. At 3.30 pm, the event started with an introduction from one of the Case Competition organizers and then the winner of a car, BMW 1 series, (for rent for 5 days) was drawn together with the sponsor, Alphabet.

The floor was then taken over by Clement Kjersgaard, who shortly presented the six participants:

-       Arla‘s Torben Nielsen (Director Business Development)

-       BCG‘s Ian Colotla (Partner and Managing Director)

-       Deloitte‘s Anders Dons (Chief Executive Officer)

-       VELUX‘s Jacob Schambye (Chief Commercial Officer)

-       Saxo Bank‘s Martin Ernst (Senior Vice President)

-       Carlsberg‘s Mads Junget Madsen (VP Transformation and HR Strategy)

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After the short presentation, Clement opened the debate by informing us how the Danish society and its performance compared to other countries has changed quite dramatically since the start of the financial crisis in the fall of 2008. Before the crisis, Denmark was no. 1 in several different parameters but now we are behind some of the neighboring countries, and we are facing an increasing competition from emerging markets and especially the fast growing China.

How should Denmark win the competition in the future and remain as one of the best performing countries in the world? asks Clement.


Deloitte’s Anders Dons was clear in his approach. Denmark simply needs to improve its educational system, starting in the primary school and onwards. Ever since the crisis,  companies have stopped hiring every graduate who comes a long; now the candidates need to be extremely talented and fit into firms’ cultures to even get the job.

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Carlsberg’s Mads Junget Madsen agreed on the fact that Denmark should educate more talents in the future, especially in CSR and innovation because Denmark has a competitive advantage in these areas. He made another interesting point about the need for telling people that it is a good thing to take some risks. Denmark needs someone to fool around with some ideas because some of these ideas can be the next big thing in the future and people learn from hands-on experiences.

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Saxo Bank‘s Martin Ernst had an interesting view on what makes Danes really special; we do not just accept a “no” and we do not stick to the status quo. Later in the debate he also underlined that Danish students will be surprised about how useful they are when they start in a full-time position.


BCG‘s Ian Colotla focused on the increasing global competition and he focused on the fact that Denmark has a clear strength, when talking about innovation and knowledge-heavy industries as the pharmaceutical industry. He also mentioned that an education is primarily needed to get the fundamentals right and then you start building on that when you enter a company as a graduate. His last point in the debate was: “If you have passion for what you are doing, you will be successful.”


VELUX‘s Jacob Schambye’s talked about the growing problem Denmark has about competitiveness because Danish goods are costly and our efficiency is not at the top. There is only one area where Denmark is cheapest and still really effective; top management. In the future, Denmark needs to improve its primary school by adding more classes, which would create more time for hard work in school without downsizing the time for playing and having fun, which he believed was important for the development of creativity. Innovation should also be prioritized at the top because it is an area in which you always can invest more in – it will never be too much.


Arla‘s Torben Nielsen focused on the industries in which Denmark has competitive advantages in, and has dominant players. The industries he mentioned were Arla’s own industry, fast moving consumer goods and the pharmaceutical industry with players such as Lundbeck and Novo Nordisk. He underlined the fact that Denmark needs to accept that we cannot compete with dominant global players in all industries and we should therefore focus on the industries where we are the top performers.

This panel debate was without a doubt one of the absolute best events I have participated in. The moderator, Clement Kjersgaard, was great at posing interesting questions throughout the whole debate, and the participants in the panel had valuable points to add to the discussion about the future of Denmark. From my view this event should have six out six stars, because I have nothing bad to say about it.

6 out of 6

About the Author :

Mathias is born in the Southern part of Jutland and in the summer 2013 he moved to Copenhagen with his girlfriend to study BSc. in International Business. When not studying he follows the financial market, while dreaming of becoming the new Warren Buffett.

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