Lancaster MBA Wanted To Understand Corporate Lingo
Norwegian Morten Overgaard says he needed to build his people skills after nine years in supply chain
When Morten Overgaard joined Lancaster’s full-time MBA back in 2009, he wanted to understand what senior managers had been saying in strategy meetings at his former employer, Swedish firm ICA
Overgaard, who is currently a management consultant at UK firm Coriolis, says he “Didn’t always grasp the business language” at retailer ICA, where he rose fast as a supply chain specialist. Talk of “business process re-engineering” and “strategic responsibilities”, at committee meetings made him curious.
He also wanted to work on his people skills. “Logistics is male-dominated,” he says. “It affects how you speak and behave with people. It’s pretty rough.” Though Overgaard could have done pretty well without one, the MBA was the right thing to “Normalise myself and assume a position according to my ambitions.”
Overgaard grew up in Bergen, Norway. After an advanced degree in organisational and administrative science, he headed to the UK’s Cranfield School of Management to take its prestigious MSc in logistics and supply chain management.
He returned to Bergen in 1999 and, after a stint at agricultural equipment manufacturer AGCO, was hired as planning and distribution manger at ICA.
He was responsible for all procurement and outbound distribution to clients, and making day-to-day improvements to all aspects of logistics operations. He quickly assumed control of forecasting for all ICA operations across Norway.
The firm supplies ICA-branded food, beverage and household products to over 600 ICA outlets in Norway, ranging from convenience stores to hypermarkets.
Over nine years he worked in four positions within the firm, ending up attached to the headquarters as “Supply Chain Optimisation Manager” for Scandinavia. It was here that he started participating in those mysterious discussions about strategy, which prompted him to apply to Lancaster for an MBA.
“I didn’t want to stay in the company once I’d reached my potential there. I wanted to leave while I was at my best… I’ve always wanted to learn”.
It was Lancaster’s emphasis on soft skills that attracted him. “That was something that intrigued me,” Overgaard says.
“As mangers we focus on three things: systems, or IT; processes, or how to utilise resources; and people. I’d focused academically on the first two but I wanted to strengthen the third. People are the most important resource.”
His experience at Lancaster was invaluable. The workload was high, as he expected. Being in a classroom with 17 or 18 nationalities was a “brilliant insight” into cultures and businesses he wasn’t familiar with.
Despite catching swine flu, Overgaard also took the opportunity to enjoy England’s cheap beer, apparently one third the price it is in Norway.
Most importantly, the Lancaster MBA helped him do what he’d long felt was the best career for him: management consulting. He is now working for Coriolis, a London firm specialising in productivity improvements.
Overgaard is also enjoying Lancaster’s alumni life, as he only had time to absorbs “10 to 20 per cent of it” while he was on the MBA program.
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