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MY DANISH CAREER

MY DANISH CAREER

‘The easiest place to be an expat’

Retired Canadian ice hockey player, 33-year-old Brandon Reid, shares his thoughts on coaching in Denmark via his journalist wife, Jessica Scott-Reid.

‘The easiest place to be an expat’
Canadian Brandon Reid says the small town of Vojens has been the ideal place to start his career as an ice hockey coach. Photo: Jessica Scott-Reid
My husband and I always knew that ending up in Denmark was a possibility. After nearly a decade of living and working in Germany, Switzerland and Russia, we were open to wherever his hockey career might take us next. But when an injury abruptly forced him out of the game for good last season, it seemed our expat journey might come to an end. 
 
That was until Brandon was offered an opportunity to take on a new role within the ice hockey world, that of head coach and director of player development for the Division 1 and Under-20 teams of the Vojens ice hockey club in southern Denmark. 
 
Sitting down for The Local (with my wife cap off, journalist cap on), I asked Brandon to share his thoughts on professional life here in Denmark. 
 
Vojens Ishockey Klub is part of the SønderjyskE organization, one of the most successful teams in the Danish elite Metal Ligaen. What is it like coming into such a well-established club as a newcomer to the job, the team and the country?
 
Coming into an organization that is run so professionally was an easy adjustment, especially after working with many other European hockey clubs as a player. Everything was set up nicely for me and I’ve had a lot of help. The organization made me feel comfortable, which I’ve learned is typical of Danish people: making others feel welcome.    
 
Tell us about your job. How does being the coach differ from being a player?
 
As a coach, I no longer have to just focus on one job, I have 21 or so players that have 21 different needs, 21 different characters, and I have to find the perfect balance to mold it all together. Being a coach takes much more work. Before and after training, I don’t just get to relax at home anymore. That’s when a coach is doing most of the work. 
 
What is it like working with Danish players?
 
It has been quite easy; everyone speaks English. And because of the success I have had in my own career as a player, it helps, especially with the younger kids, to get them to believe in what I’m trying to teach. Danish ice hockey is getting so much bigger, the level is getting higher, and nowadays, maybe more than say ten years ago, these kids have that dream in the back of their heads, to make it to the NHL, and that makes my job that much more fun and easy. 
 
After growing up in Montreal and living in larger European cities like Dusseldorf, Hamburg, and Moscow, what has it been like adjusting to life in Vojens, a small town of 8,000 people? 
 
It’s been the ideal place to start my new coaching career. Living in Vojens, where so much of the culture and community revolves around hockey, it has helped me put all my focus, all my time and effort into coaching, learning everything I can and trying to become the best.
 
What’s the best thing about living and working in Denmark?
 
The best part is really just how easy it is to live here. With so much English, and such friendly people, it’s been the easiest place to be an expat. 
 
How long do you plan to stay in Denmark?
 
As of now, it’s for the one hockey season, until about April. My focus is really on reaching our teams’ goals, winning two championships with the U20 team and the Division 1 team, and then we’ll see what happens. That’s hockey.  
     
Jessica Scott-Reid is a freelance journalist, originally from Winnipeg, Canada. In addition to her weekly column for young professionals on Notable.ca, her work has also appeared in the Montreal Gazette, The Hockey News, and The Winnipeg Free Press. You can read more about her past expat experiences at German-Way.com, and find her on Twitter @JessLReid.    

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JOB

‘We wanted to make chocolate to reflect Denmark’s seasons’

Stuart Eve moved to Denmark with his family after his wife, an archaeologist, was offered a job at Aarhus University. Nearly four years later, he is the co-founder of a fair trade chocolate business in the Scandinavian city.

'We wanted to make chocolate to reflect Denmark's seasons'
A chance meeting at their children's daycare resulted in the Ørbæk and Eve families starting their Danish business. Photo: Stuart Eve

Eve still works full time at his day job, also in archaeology. But the sweet-toothed entrepreneur told The Local that Denmark provided him with inspiration to try something out of his comfort zone – starting his own business in a foreign country.

After meeting business partner Anders Ørbæk at the daycare centre attended by their children, the two began the project, initially producing the chocolate out of their own kitchens.

“That has now moved to the renting of a professional space, so that we can scale up production and also get all the relevant food hygiene certificates and so on,” Eve said.

The archaeologist said having Danish partners had been beneficial in the course of setting up a business in the Scandinavian country, even though the process itself was straightforward.

“Actually starting the business was a matter of filling in a few forms online and showing we had 100 kroner [13 euros] in the bank. However, I think without our Danish partners, it would have been quite hard – mainly because of the technical Danish required. My Danish is pretty awful – and there are a lot of financial terms that are difficult to translate,” Eve said.

READ ALSO: Danish: Is it really so hard to learn?

“So I think for us it was essential to have Danish partners. Also, the food hygiene rules and health and safety, while similar to the UK, are quite onerous – and again very technical.

“I run my own archaeology business in the UK, so that has set me in great stead for the financial and business side,” he added.

The startup currently sources some of its supplies from Eve’s native UK – one aspect that may be complicated by Brexit, he said.

“My secret dream is that the chocolate business will enable us to beat Brexit and stay in Denmark for a lot longer — but we'll have to see how it pans out,” he said.

 

Packaged up and ready to go #somerferie #chokolade #beantobar #chocolate

A post shared by Ørbæk & Eve (@oerbaekandeve) on Jul 3, 2017 at 2:40pm PDT

It was not just the administrative side that Eve had to learn on the hoof for his Danish-based business, though – the process of producing the chocolate itself is also new.

“I was eating some Ritter Sport one evening and wondered to myself how chocolate was made, thinking it must be some incredibly complicated industrial process. So I checked out a few YouTube videos and it turns out you can make chocolate in a coffee grinder – it tastes awful because it is so crunchy, but it shows the process. From there it was a matter of buying a bigger grinder and starting to experiment. We have so much to learn still, but people seem to like what we are producing so far,” he said.

The chocolate produced by the startup – which is both fairtrade and organic – is heavily influenced by Denmark’s nature and seasonal variations, including a quarterly subscription service which can be signed up for via a crowdfunding campaign.

“We have been trying to find a way to really represent the beauty and abundance of the Danish countryside and combine it with something that Danes really love – chocolate,” he said.

“Strawberries from Samsø for summer, hazelnuts foraged from the woods for autumn, etc. Between us we have six kids so the family always come in and help during the production days,” he added.

A longer term aim is to consolidate the new company – named Ørbæk & Eve after its co-founders – as a well-known ‘bean to bar’ company in Aarhus.

“Our main reasons for doing this are two-fold. First, we eat a lot of chocolate and have become increasingly concerned by the human and environmental costs of industrialised chocolate production – there are new reports about destruction of rainforest for cocoa plantations and slave labour in West Africa, for example. In order to not be complicit with this, I wanted to figure out how it was made – and to do it myself.

“Second, we have really noticed the differences in the seasons since we moved to Denmark, so we wanted to make chocolate that reflected and celebrated the different qualities of the changing seasons,” he said.

Eve, Ørbæk and their partners are currently spending evenings and weekends on the chocolate production runs.

“As things pick up, I suspect I will move to one dedicated day a week, but we have four of us working on it, so we can usually juggle the time,” he said.

READ MORE: The Local's 'My Danish Career' series