Today marks our first official day for the Nordic Family Enterprise Global Immersion, and what an exciting day it was! The group started off with a visit to Maersk Tankers, a Danish shipping company which is wholly owned by the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group. To those unfamiliar with the company, A.P. Moller-Maersk (also known as just Maersk) is one of the largest family-owned businesses originating from Denmark, and is a conglomerate which focuses on transport, logistics, and energy. It is also the largest container ship and supply vessel operator in the world.
At Maersk Tankers, the group met with Columbia Business School Alumnus, Christian M. Ingerslev, who graduated from the EMBA program in 2011. In this intimate gathering at the Maersk headquarters, Mr. Ingerslev shared with the group about his 20 year journey at Maersk, starting from his beginnings at the company right after his high school graduation, to working with the current CEO of the A.P. Moller-Maersk, Robert Maersk Uggla.
Apart from talking about the company’s rich history and forward-looking strategies for 2018 and onward, Mr. Ingerslev had also spoken about his experience working for a family businesses, and how it had shaped the person he has become today. When asked about the best thing about working for a family business, Mr. Ingerslev had mentioned that what had impressed him the most was the family’s dedication to their company values. Mr. Ingerslev has seen family’s strong commitment to the companies values far-reach and influence decisions from the executive board, all the way to managers for their individual vessels. Whether refusing bribes to speed up costly processes, or having to let go of executive members in the company who do not necessarily align with the company’s core values, the family has always been fully dedicated to what they believe in. Similarly, Mr. Ingerslev had mentioned that apart from sticking to one’s values, he had also seen significance in recognizing these values when making key decisions for the company. He has seen how every decision made by the family had been a reflection on their core values, and how it had positively impacted the longevity of the company and also created a positive perception of stability for Mr. Ingerslev and other employees within the company. He shared insights into finding success as a non-family manager.
After the meeting with Maersk Tanksers, the group was treated to a typical Danish lunch at the Nyhavns Færgekro restaurant. We ate Smørrebrød, which consists of pieces of bread with a variety of typical Danish toppings such as smoked salmon and a variety of cheeses. The restaurant was located in Nyhavn, a canal and entertainment district, which began as a fishing port in the 17th century.
In the town of Veksø, 45 minutes outside of Copenhagen, the group met with Hatla Johnsen, a 7th generation member of a family business. She welcomed the group to her farm, Egedal Gaard, which she purchased in 2016. She currently lives and works at Egedal Gaard with her family, running her farming business and a new start-up focused on online education. Ms. Johnsen spoke about her family business, the Scandinavian Tobacco Company, founded in the 1860’s. She mentioned how despite being a part of a growing family of over 30 members, none of them were working in the business; they had decided to hand it over to professionals to run. The family continued on as majority shareholders. The family decided to sell the company in 2008, with differing opinions within the family as to where the business should go. With a large amount of liquidation once the company was sold, Ms. Johnsen and her family had decided to set up a family office to take care of their various remaining assets and investments, which her siblings and mother continue to grow.
Tomorrow the group will be meeting with Copmer, one of the largest brokering companies in Europe. It will also be the group’s last day in Denmark before heading to Stockholm.
– Marty Lopez’18