Which career path did you imagine for yourself when you were younger?
"When I was young, I imagined a career as a CFO. That was "the thing" from I was about 15 and I really wanted to go in that direction. When I achieved that, at a very small scale in AP Møller-Mærsk, I found out that the job as CFO was perhaps not the career I wanted to pursue in the long term.
I found it very interesting, but I was also difficult to make a difference. 20 years ago, the CFO at a company was looked at differently than today – he was an accountant without much influence on the company. Today, the CFO is an absolute crucial part of the business. In Denmark, we have great CFOs. A great example is Jens Lund in DSV, who has played a significant role in developing the company."
Which part of your education have you used the most in your career?
"I have consistently tried building an educational base that builds on top of my initial training. I started out studying economics at Aarhus University (cand. oecon). I remember thinking it was pretty hard seeing the purpose of some of the lectures – and to put it mildly, the focus on the students was not the primary thing.
I sometimes say that the best thing about it was that I got through it. Since then, I have taken courses at Harvard, Insead, Oxford and lately, I have tried boosting other competences, for example through board courses to be ready for the next part of my life.
That being said, I think that your education is very important in the beginning of your career. You use the skills you have learned at university. But the higher you get in the hierarchy in a company, the more you use your social intelligence and that is not something you learn at a university."
Which part of your CV represent the biggest changes to your career?
"I think going from the CFO track to the finance track back in 2000 was the largest change for me. After three years in a CFO role, I figured out that I wanted to work with customers, and I found out that the financial industry was the right choice for me.
I could put all my energy and skills into first equity research, and later I could combine management roles with my knowledge of the financial industry. Lately, I have decided to see if I can use the skill set and energy to build something new, hire people and join various companies as a chairman, board member and investor. It’s the same skill set you need: human behavior, energy and determination to succeed."
Which leader in the business has inspired your career the most?
"People who have done what they set out to do.
I have recently taken action on a life-long dream of mine. I always wanted to give something back to the industry, which is why I have founded the “High Potential Mentor Programme by Tue Østergaard” where the focus is on inspirational leaders.
I have collected 12 young people from a diverse base of industries with the common ambition of making a career. The idea is to inspire them to get the most out of their corporate lives and to signal that it’s okay to have ambitions. Although the mentor programme primarily focuses on me sharing my knowledge and experiences with the 12 young people, they give me great insights into how young 20-somethings think and act today.
Being 49 years old, I feel that I need to be on top of the young people’s mindset. So, I collect my inspiration everywhere, not just from corporate life."
What occupies you the most right now?
"I have many ambitions in life, and I am very grateful for being invited into new companies. I enjoy my role as Chairman of Solitwork – a Danish IT software company with strong international ambitions. I have invested in Homey Media – and the guys there are fantastic at hiring the right people in the company.
My role as a board member in Greenmobility gives me a lot of fun: a Danish-based green company – what’s not to like. I am also involved in Datapeeps as an advisory member, and I write columns in Børsen about my favorite topic: Danish equities.
And then of course there is the establishment of HC Andersen Capital, being a 100 percent digital company providing Digital IR for small and mid-cap companies in Denmark. This is just for fun and it is a new way of communicating with the stock market. It gives me a lot of energy. As you can see, all I do is digital and green, which for me is the right thing to do with very good and ambitious people."English Edit: Nielsine Nielsen