How to advance your career in Denmark

For many of us, it can be important to have a successful career and not just a job. Human resources expert Nancy Rasmussen gives some advice for moving up the company ladder.

How to advance your career in Denmark
Meet with your manager often to discuss future goals. Photo: Colourbox
For everyone who wants their work to be more than 'just a job', it’s important to dedicate some time to career development, in which one continually improves and gains new skills, perhaps with the goal of moving to new and/or higher positions over time.  
Some companies have focused a lot of time on succession planning and talent management and thus have fairly clear and robust processes. Other companies are still working on enhancing their ability to identify high-potential employees and create a better process for ensuring proper career development. Regardless of which type of company you work for, one important thing to remember is that you should take charge of your career, instead of waiting to be recognized for your efforts. Be proactive. 
Performance management
Many companies have performance management processes throughout the year to measure how you are doing against your goals and objectives and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for the year. While this activity is not necessarily about career development, active participation in the performance management cycle can give you a good opening to speak to your manager about your career. It also gives you some insight as to how you are seen by your employer.  
Some things that you can do to progress your career development goals are: 
  • Be engaged and involved in setting your annual goals and objectives. If you have aspirations to move up the ladder, try to suggest certain goals for the year. Many companies will look to see that you are working at a higher level already before moving you to a position with more responsibility.
  • Have regular meetings with your manager to get feedback and discuss your performance. All too often, we forego our regular one-to-one meetings due to busy schedules, or talk only about issues pertaining to daily work. Try to use the time with your manager to get feedback or express your thoughts about your future possibilities. If you aren’t getting enough time on this, bring it up. 
  • Explore opportunities for formal training and development. Come up with a list of suggested courses and give reasons for how they fit into your role or future plans, rather than waiting for suggestions from your manager. 
Personal Development Plans
Many companies have a separate process in which employees give input to their personal development plans. This can happen around the same time as the performance management activities, often using the same system.  This is your official chance to give input on what you want in terms of your overall development and career. Create short-term and long-term goals (for example, moving into a new type of position, becoming a manager, etc.) and discuss whether they are feasible and how to turn these goals into reality. 
If your company does not have a formal process, why not just make a personal development plan and share it with your manager? It’s important that you take action when it comes to your career, even if it is just jotting down some thoughts on your goals, your current skills, and what future skills/experiences you would like to acquire in order to meet those goals.  
Career programmes
Some companies, especially large international ones, will have some kind of career advancement programme. It could include spending some of your working time learning about a different part of the company while still doing your regular job. On the one hand, your manager probably needs to nominate you for such a programme based on your performance and potential, but on the other hand you can always express interest. The more vocal you are, the better chance you have of being remembered when these opportunities arise. 
Everyone talks about networking and how important it is, but many people still feel a bit uncomfortable with it. But networking within your company is a great way to get to know people and find out about interesting new opportunities. So take the opportunities that come, such as team breakfasts or events after work to build a strong network within your company. Networking is not just about making contacts, but about building relationships. It’s often easier to get your next role or opportunity from someone who knows you and can vouch for you.  

On a totally different note, I will be taking a bit of a pause from this column, probably until the end of June, as I am in the middle of some pretty intense Danish exams. In the meantime, please write in and let us know what you’d like to hear about in this column. What haven’t I written about that would interest you? Is there anything you would like to hear more about? 
Nancy RasmussenNancy Rasmussen is currently employed as a Change Management Consultant, supporting IT projects. She has more than 12 years of experience within large, international companies. She writes this column in her free-time in connection with NemCV. This column is not affiliated with her current full-time employment. 

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‘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