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MBA Careers: How I Started A New Life In Denmark After The Copenhagen MBA

In 2014, Meng Hua Aw was one of 80% of full-time Copenhagen MBAs to find roles in Denmark after graduation. He moved over with his family from Singapore

Wed Jul 19 2017

Meng Hua Aw arrived in Denmark with his wife and daughter, with no knowledge of Danish and no personal or professional network to speak of. At that point, he’d never worked outside of Asia.

Denmark has been consistently ranked by the World Bank as the easiest place to do business in Europe. It’s among the World Happiness Report’s happiest countries in the world.

After 12 years in finance, Meng decided to pursue the full-time, triple-accredited MBA program at Copenhagen Business School – where 90% of MBA students are international – determined to start a new career in Denmark.

After graduation, he landed a new job in the Danske Capital division of Fortune Global 500 firm Danske Bank – one of 80% of full-time Copenhagen MBA students to find roles in Denmark in 2014.

How? Networking. Most jobs in Denmark are found through personal networks. Throughout the year, the Copenhagen MBA careers service hosts networking events with leading local industry figures. These opportunities also arise through case competitions, where MBA students work on strategy projects for real firms.

The Copenhagen MBA network is the biggest in Scandinavia – 1,400 alumni representing over 80 nationalities.

Residence permits also mean international MBA students in Denmark can usually bring their families – their partner and children under the age of 18 – over with them as well. Since joining the Copenhagen MBA, Meng’s family has settled into the Danish way of life and its emphasis on healthy living, social consciousness, and work-life balance.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at Copenhagen Business School?

For starters, I preferred a European business school with a one-year program. Having read and been told so much about the Nordic model and their egalitarian societies, I was intrigued by the opportunity to study, live, and potentially work in one of the Nordic countries.

Since Copenhagen Business School was the only Nordic business school to offer a full-time MBA in English, it was a pretty straightforward choice for me. The small class size, solid reputation of the program, and faculty were important considerations for me as well.

How did the job at Danske Capital come about?

I was introduced to my current job through a fellow parent from my daughter's kindergarten, whose childhood friend's brother recommended me to a senior figure within the organization.

Since 70-to-80% of jobs in Denmark are secured through networking, developing both personal and professional contacts is extremely important. In this regard, the Copenhagen MBA’s career services team did an excellent job in organizing relevant workshops, company visits and providing great advice and resources in supporting our job seeking endeavors.

Would you be where you are today without the Copenhagen MBA?

I doubt it! It would have been a tough ask for me to land a job in Copenhagen from Singapore directly.

Pursuing the Copenhagen MBA provided the conduit and platform for me to transit into the job market in Denmark especially since I had no network in Denmark to speak of prior to relocating to Copenhagen. Furthermore, being part of the program gives you potential access to secondary networks and contacts from your course-mates other Copenhagen MBA alumni.

How have you adapted to a new life in Denmark?

All things considered, I think we have adapted pretty well – even though our Danish still requires a lot of work! My seven-year-old daughter, on the other hand, apparently speaks very fluent Danish and without any hint of an accent! Also, the fact that most locals speak English fluently means that you can normally get by without being proficient in Danish.

At the workplace, there is definitely more of an emphasis on maintaining a good work-life balance. Many Danes I know work very hard and focus on being efficient at work which then allows them to devote more time and energy to their families and personal interests. The quality of life on offer and family friendly environment have played a big part in easing our transition into life in Denmark.

What advice do you have for international MBA students looking to do the same? 

Start the networking process as soon as possible. This may not come naturally to many of us but if you can overcome the initial apprehension, it is really about asking someone for twenty minutes of their time for a coffee and a brief introduction.

The wider you are able to cast your net, the more options and opportunities you will have eventually. People in Denmark are very willing to help point you in the right direction.