Francois-Robert Lauwers had never worked abroad before relocating from Belgium for his MBA. Less than 12 months later, he landed a job at Maersk, the $47 billion company ranked by Forbes as the largest in Denmark. He’s not alone: in 2014, 80% of graduates’ post-MBA roles were in Denmark.
Now, Francois-Robert cycles into work every day at the Danish shipping giant’s Copenhagen headquarters, where big data is driving strategy and decision making. As solutions architect, he designs the company’s internal computer software, helping to manage its data and ensuring the software responds to its business needs.
He says that an MBA at Copenhagen Business School opened the doors to a career in Denmark.
What stood out about the Copenhagen MBA careers module?
We were treated as individuals.
Even before the MBA started we had a Skype call with our dedicated career coach (career services manager Claire Hewitson) to understand what we expected from an MBA.
During the year, she helped us to understand what we really wanted for the future. We had one-on-one meetings as well as class workshops on how to write a CV, how to perform in an interview and how to make our own elevator pitch.
We also had company visits and Maersk was one of the companies I came to know during my MBA. I got the job there in June, and graduated in August.
How else did you profit from your MBA experience?
I proved to myself, and future employers, that I could perform out of my comfort zone and in another country. That certainly helped to find a job abroad.
I was used to working in an international context before my MBA. But that unique, experimental laboratory of, I think 18 nationalities out of a group of 37 people in total, pushes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to develop your soft skills.
What advice do you have for MBA students looking to work for Maersk?
It’s an international organization and you have colleagues from all over the world. You need to have that curiosity for how business is done in other cultures and different leadership styles.
You need to show you can do more than only applying technical expertise. It helped that I could talk, not only about coding and software, but also about the broader business.
How is big data shaping the way businesses operate?
In the projects I’m involved in, more and more decisions are based on data instead of gut feeling.
It’s no longer just IT people working with data. People all over organizations are trying to work with data and finding their own conclusions in very creative ways.
Would you recommend MBA students pick up data analytics skills?
Yes. Data needs interpretation and you need to know how to use it. Sometimes you need to make a sanity check on the data and it’s important to understand how the data’s collected, what it’s showing and what the pattern is.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at Copenhagen Business School?
I was looking for a program where I would meet other people with professional experience.
The Copenhagen MBA had a very diverse group with people of different nationalities, cultures, educational and professional backgrounds. I also found its small class group and its focus on leadership very attractive.
Why did you decide to settle in Copenhagen?
Denmark is known for a good work-life balance which is something that I really appreciate. And the focus on sustainability, the investments in renewable energy and the good public transportation make Copenhagen a special place to live.
Being able to travel around the city by bike is very normal here. You’re never alone. It’s a very nice feeling and something that I haven’t seen elsewhere.