‘Hire the right people and foster the right culture’

In our ongoing feature series on Denmark’s entrepreneurs, The Local speaks with Mark Thorsen, whose company helps its clients make educated decisions when taking out loans, finding the right green energy sources and purchasing a long line of other services.

'Hire the right people and foster the right culture'
Mark Thorsen is the CEO of AW Media, which is behind numerous sites include the green energy marketplace GreenMatch. Photo: Submitted
Mark Thorsen founded AWM Network in March 2014 as a way to help users navigate often complicated and non-transparent markets and industries, giving them the information and comparisons they need to make well-informed and high-value buying decisions. Clients that sign up for AWM’s listing services are secured significant, international growth, and are delivered a large volume of high quality leads for a fixed price per potential customer. 
There are four businesses under the flagship company: (serving the B2B segment), (serving the renewable energy market), (financial services) and (a market research firm). In total, AWM serves 150 clients in seven markets and its staff speaks eight in-house languages.
How did you come up with your business idea?
Six years ago, I founded AW Media, a consulting business in the online marketing field, which now specializes in high value, complicated and competitive markets. Through this business, I gained in-depth knowledge of almost every high-value service and product that typically requires human contact prior to a sale.
As I am very ambitious, I couldn’t accept some of the growth limitations this business had. For example, as a specialist, even if you see a secure investment for a client, it can take up to two years to convince them to take the final step and if you lose a client, all your work goes down the drain. 
I knew that I wanted to mix the knowledge I had accumulated through AW Media with the key competencies and break down such scaling barriers. This sparked the idea to launch an international customer acquisition company.
What were the initial challenges? How did you overcome them?
Money was the biggest challenge, as we are self-funded and fast growing. It is a very tough combination. We could grow a lot faster but we have to keep an eye on the cash flow and expenses. It has also been, and continues to be, very expensive to build the technology behind our business. I have been injecting capital and using all the profits from AW Media to develop our product so far. 
How has the journey been so far?
The most interesting part of our journey has been to build the team and to work with as many bright, positive and motivated people as I can attract. I am in awe of the talent we have here. I have skipped my own salary more than once to take on a new employee that I just had to have on the team. And while it sounds like a cliché, the company's success really belongs to my team. We have, among others, blue chip clients like Saint Gobain, Merrild Coffee, Canon, etc. Our successful launch in Britain – one of the most competitive online markets – has been a milestone. 
How has becoming an entrepreneur changed you personally?
I love what I do. I had always been looking for a venture with potential that could help me settle down and focus, and I think this is definitely it. Usually I would bounce around, looking for new opportunities, but this time I am all in. I am in a constant feeling of flow, with the business fitting perfectly into my ambitions and competencies. Also, fortunately, I have many senior people around me whom I can rely on – to run my businesses well.
Any other personal reflections and/ or message to budding entrepreneurs?
My philosophy is to hire the right people, foster the right culture and to invest in continual learning and technology – the rest fixes itself. Once the people and culture parts have been taken care of, you have to allow them the freedom to do things their way.
Sparsh SharmaSparsh Sharma holds a Master's in business administration and a Bachelor's in electrical engineering. After having worked in the top Indian media companies, he decided to come to Denmark in the fall of 2012 to study at Aarhus University and later worked at Lego. A Danish green card holder, he is currently looking for marketing or consulting opportunities globally, while working as a freelance journalist for The Local Denmark and blogging about his experiences in Denmark. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparsh_s

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Ten ways to improve your chances of finding a job in Denmark

Job searching in Denmark can be a daunting and lengthy process with many hurdles to overcome. The Local spoke to Kay Xander Mellish, author of 'How to Work in Denmark', for her tips on submitting a successful CV and application.

Ten ways to improve your chances of finding a job in Denmark

CVs in Denmark often have certain aspects of layout, presentation and content in common. By writing a CV that sticks to some of these recognisable customs, you may improve your chances of catching the eye of a potential employer.

1. Length

“Keep it to one excellent page, or two if you’re more senior. I’d say if you’re aged 30 and under, one page will be enough. Only add the jobs that are relevant. Employers don’t want to hear about that restaurant server or babysitting job if it’s not relevant to the role,” Mellish said.

2. Format

At the top of your CV, a paragraph describing your experience, skills, education and character is a common way to lead into a CV. This text can be adapted depending on the job you’re applying for and how you want to present your skills.

“Add three adjectives about yourself that you can support with an example, rather than ten adjectives with no story. For example, say you are innovative for this reason. People don’t like hot air in Denmark,” Mellish said.

Aside from the profile text, chronological lists of qualifications, relevant employment history and other relevant experience should be kept brief enough to fit the one to two pages.

3. Show your personal side and a photo

It is expected that applicants include a section about their hobbies, even family situation on their CV in Denmark, as well as a photo, to give a sense of who they are as a person.

“Danish employers are interested in you as a human, more so than employers in other countries so include information about yourself, including your age and your hobbies.

“Choose a good quality photo that is not too serious but shows you looking friendly and approachable,” Mellish said.

4. Story telling

“Think in terms of story telling”, Mellish advised. “Pure letters and numbers don’t mean a lot to employers in Denmark, they need to know what projects you’ve done, what role you played and what kind of person you are through your CV.

“So rather than writing ‘I have these grades’, it’s better to say ‘I worked on this project, it took this long, I achieved this'”, Mellish said.

5. Hit the ground running

Mellish called this “plug and play”, where you show you will slot right into the company and get going with the role.

“When employers are reading your CV, they want to know what you can do on day one of the job. Sell your ability to solve someone’s problem. You need to give the impression you can add value straight away.

“In Denmark the average length of time in a job is two and a half years, because you can take your pension when you move, so employers don’t want someone they need to spend time training,” Mellish told The Local.

READ ALSO: Five tips for writing an effective Danish CV

6. Teamwork

“Group work is very important in Denmark, more than individual achievements. So talk about your teamwork and how you worked with a group to produce a good business result. It shouldn’t be ‘me, me, me’ – that’s a turn off,” Mellish said.

7. LinkedIn

“People in Denmark love LinkedIn so you need a fabulous LinkedIn profile with a good picture. Before anyone calls you for an interview they’ll have looked at your LinkedIn profile.

“In your profile, include the storytelling, explaining the projects you’ve worked on. If your job involves a uniform, I recommend wearing it in your LinkedIn photo so people get that impression of you right away. Your background photo should also be work-related, not rainbows or puppies. Use it to tell the story of who you are,” Mellish advised.

8. Unsolicited application

This is when you approach a company or department you would like to work for, without a job being advertised. The Danish term for it is uopfordret ansøgning. 

“Many people make contact on LinkedIn and ask to meet for a coffee, where they chat and rather than pitch for a job, they ask if the person knows anyone looking for someone like them. Danish employers welcome this and many people are hired this way,” Mellish said.

Another way to network is to join a union, Mellish advised. They often have career events but can also help read your contract when you get a job offer, or help with any problems in the workplace. 

9. Ring the recruiter

The phone number of the hiring manager will often be in the job advert. Mellish advised finding a quiet place to ring them from and spending ten to fifteen minutes asking some good business questions.

“This also helps you work out if you might want to work for this person,” Mellish said.

“Send your CV within 24 hours of the phone call and mention you spoke to them in your application,” she added.

10. Patience

“On average it can take six months to find a job in Denmark. If it’s under this, you’re lucky. If it takes a year, it’s not you, it just takes a long time because employers are looking for someone to fit into their team.

“I wrote 100 letters, I got ten responses, three interviews and one job which I had for eight years,” Mellish told The Local.

“Danish employers are not always good at getting back to you. If you don’t hear anything, just keep applying for other jobs. If you sent an application on June 1st, you could send a follow-up email on June 15th, then you’ll have to leave it and move on,” she advised. 

Kay Xander Mellish’s book ‘How to Work in Denmark’ offers both job-searching advice and tips on how to succeed in the Danish workplace.