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I Left Brazil For Denmark And The Copenhagen MBA—Here’s Why You Should Too

Flat hierarchies, equality, and a focus on responsible management—that’s what drew Jessica Lucas to Denmark and the Copenhagen MBA. Now, she wants to launch a career in Scandinavia


By  Thomas Nugent

Mon Sep 24 2018

Jessica Lucas hails from Brazil, where she worked for French company Danone for four years before drafting a plan to scale new heights in her career. That plan revolved around an MBA, and once she’d narrowed down her choices, there was one clear winner.

Copenhagen Business School—ranked among the top five globally for sustainability in the Corporate Knights Better World MBA ranking—prevailed. Jessica says Scandinavia and Denmark pose a stark contrast to her native Brazil.

“When you think about the Nordic countries, and Denmark specifically, people talk a lot about equality in gender, but also about the flat hierarchy,” she says.

“I really wanted to experience that, something that is different from my experience in Brazil. In Latin American countries hierarchy is a very big pillar, and we’re very far away from equality.”

Fatima Dhaif, Copenhagen Business School MBA’s admissions manager, admits that is a trend among the Latin American applicants she speaks to.

“Denmark offers a contrasting culture since work organizations tend to be flat, the degree of autonomy high, and the quality of life high,” she explains.

“Many Latin Americans are also interested in furthering their skills in sustainable business practices and Danish companies are notably at the forefront of this very important field.”

Copenhagen Business School prides itself on the ability to produce international MBA graduates who launch successful careers in Denmark after graduating. Indeed, about 50% of graduates remain in the country for work after their MBA.

Fernando Sasdelli, who also hails from Brazil and graduated from Copenhagen Business School’s MBA six years ago, is a case in point. He now works as a senior associate for innovation at Danish energy company, Ørsted, at the forefront of renewable energy.

The Waldemar Schmidt scholarship—set up and named after the former CEO of Danish conglomerate ISS—promotes this to students of Brazil—which it prioritizes—followed by students from Latin America and Asia. It awards successful applicants one-third off their tuition costs.

Waldemar Schmidt wants students to be able to leave the Copenhagen MBA and build businesses and jobs in their home nations. The GMAT is, of course, a vital part of the application process, but emotional intelligence (EQ) is also integral.

Strong emotional intelligence allows students to develop the mentality to be the responsible, amiable leaders of the future. Jessica says this goes further than environment responsibility, to the people you are working with and the eventual footprint you’re going to have as a company.

On The Copenhagen MBA, the small classroom—43 in Jessica’s cohort—allows students to become better acquainted with their peers, build relationships, and to form closer bonds with faculty. Her fellow students were key to her development, says Jessica.

She adds that they all go to Copenhagen Business School with the same ambitions—“flat hierarchy, equality, and a focus on responsible management,” she explains. “They are things I already believed in, but here it’s the core of the MBA.”

The professors who lead them mimic those ambitions. Jessica points out economics professor, Marcus Asplund, as one. She also highlights the Managing Sustainable Corporations class as a key indicator of where your education at Copenhagen Business School lies.

“It’s a great mix of academia and the real-life corporate perspective,” she explains. “We didn’t just discuss utopia and the way we wish things were, but also the way things work and how we can make a change!”

Jessica adds that the MBA showed her how good results can be for a business by having different people work together with one unilateral goal, and how rich it is to have multiple perspectives when tackling a real-life business issue.

It is possible, she says, to be a responsible manager and to have good business results at the same time—it is not a choice between the two. That’s the idea the MBA at Copenhagen Business School wants to preach, and Jessica is not ready to end her education just yet.

“There’s a lot I can learn here, and I plan to stay in Denmark for some while,” she concludes, “but it’s learning that I can also bring back home whenever I decide to go back and help my country get better!”

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