CEO, Jem & Fix
Claus Petersen is CEO of Jem & Fix and has recently completed the Executive Board Program INSEAD. He has been in the company for 17 years, the last four of which as CEO. In addition, he holds two board positions internally in the group, as chairman and board member, respectively, as well as an unpaid board position in a self-governing institution for children with developmental disabilities and adults.
– I have partly worked as a top manager for several years and have in the last couple of years supplemented with a couple of board positions, and that was the reason why I wanted to raise my competence level within board work. Both to become more skilled in the field, but also to separate the role of CEO and board and make the roles more precise. I explored three different options, but wanted to go for the best, which could also work in parallel with a busy workday, says Claus Petersen and continues:
– The expectations for the training program were already high, but these were really met. The professors were extremely competent and tackled very relevant topics that were current both in relation to my position as CEO and my board roles.
Better tomorrow than today
The Jem & Fix boss points out three key learnings that have had a great impact on his experience of the program, which consists of a module in Denmark and a module at INSEAD in France.READ MORE...
– One of the most important things I bring home is that I have put into words the difference between a CEO and a chairman of the board. It has made me better equipped to change the cap, without shuffling the cards too much together. In addition, the topic, which was about reflecting on one’s own and other board members’ expectations and activities, was extremely relevant. Having an ongoing dialogue with your loved ones about whether you are succeeding with a view to continuous improvement. In the end, though, it was probably the session related to decision-making that mattered most to me. Getting to know the “traps” in decision-making and being able to take a 360-degree perspective on one’s decisions can be used in many contexts; he says and adds:
– In short, what drives me is that you constantly move and get better. That you are better tomorrow than you are today. It is probably in this context that the program has given me the most: that I have raised my competencies, both with a view to becoming a better chairman of the board and a better board member. In addition, I have laid the foundation for my future ambitions, which is about me aiming for a few more board positions.
Learning from other industries
But also from a network perspective, Claus Petersen feels that the program has made a positive contribution.
– It is not long since we came home, but we are already a group that has plans to meet again. I think I met a lot of exciting people who sit at a high level, and in addition, it has been extremely exciting to gain insight into other industries. It is certainly interesting with some completely new perspectives, and you can really learn something from that, he concludes.
Member of Parliament (MF) and former Minister
“The competencies I have built up through my political leadership, I also use in my board work. These include strategic sparring and raising awareness of Governance, Risk and Compliance (GCR) management.Many in my network, who are experienced board chairmen and CEOs, recommended INSEAD as the focal point of a board education, and this personal recommendation was important in relation to my choice”, says Mai Mercado.
“The level of the Executive Board Programme INSEAD was high and the returns large. I have brought back with me some very concrete tools that I can use directly in my board work. Here I would especially like to highlight the topic of “law & regulation”, the first module dealing with the legal framework for the board and the dilemmas that come with it. All in all, I feel that the board program has made me more focused and more adept at performing my board work. And then there is also a thing or two I can apply in the political world”, she highlights.
“The sparring with the other participants in my group, and the establishment of new and good contacts has been of enormous value to me. My board network has been greatly expanded, and this is an element that I greatly appreciate”, she concludes.
Claus Hviid Christensen
Claus Hviid Christensen is CEO of Nexus, Palsgaard’s independent innovation company. Palsgaard is a global company with 600 employees that has been supplying ingredients to the food industry for more than 100 years. The company has for a number of years experienced solid growth and at the same time gained recognition for its ESG / CSR efforts. Both Nexus A / S and Palsgaard A / S are owned by the Schou Foundation.
Claus has board experience from both private and public companies, and also invests in smaller, newly established companies. He also recently completed the Scandinavian Executive Institute’s board education, Executive Board Program INSEAD.
– It was my clear goal to get an education at the absolute highest level and at the same time strengthen my board network in Denmark. The interaction between the Scandinavian Executive Institute and INSEAD fully met all my hopes, he says.READ MORE...
Third visit to INSEAD
Claus Hviid Christensen has previously participated in several INSEAD courses, and this was his third visit to the business school in France.
– Every time I am especially impressed by the teachers’ ability to convey extremely complicated material in a simple and clear way. I doubt it’s done better anywhere in the world. In practice, there is an infinite amount of knowledge that you can use in your board work, and there are always opportunities for improvement. I think the teachers make a formidable effort to help the participants focus on how you as an individual can contribute to creating real and lasting value in the board. The learning is largely built around well-tried, instructive, and skillfully devised cases. This allows everyone to work with their own respective strengths and development points. The course in Denmark built up well for INSEAD. There were dazzling and instructive posts, but perhaps most importantly, it provided an opportunity to get to know the other participants quite well in advance, which made the course at INSEAD even more rewarding, he explains.
Important learning – and important network
The Nexus boss is in no doubt that he is coming home with a series of key learnings that can be used going forward.
– Overall, I established a useful framework to anchor both my management work and my board work within. I have been given several new tools, useful approaches, practical tips and advice that can all help to ensure greater efficiency in the work of the board. And – probably even more importantly – I have been able to utilize the full potential of the board even better, he says and concludes:
– There is no doubt that I will use my new skills to adjust on my approach in the various forums where possible. Of course, I hope that it gives rise to some interesting experiments, from which I can then learn even more. In this way, this process becomes just the beginning of a new journey. In addition, I am quite sure that I will actively maintain my contact with several of the participants, and I will thus not be surprised if one day I sit on a board same with one of them.
ESG Director, Arendals Fossekompani
Ingunn Ettestøl is director of corporate social responsibility and sustainability at Arendals Fossekompani, a listed industrial investment company that owns energy and technology-related companies that enable the green shift. Ingunn is originally a civil engineer from NTNU and subsequently has a doctorate in energy and the environment. The focal point for Ingunn’s career has always been in energy and the environment, and with her in her luggage she has several director positions in Enova and Agder Energi, before she joined Arendal’s Fossekompani about five years ago.
Ingunn has been a board member in several companies within renewable energy, including Wattsight, Powel and Markedskraft, and currently holds board positions in Volue and Arendal’s Fossekompani Pension Fund. She recently completed the Executive Board Program at INSEAD in France.
– The program has been important to me with a view to having good board competencies – not only in relation to my board positions, but also in relation to my job in Arendals Fossekompani which includes implementing good governance in the company. I had been recommended the program by former top management colleagues who have participated in the education, and then it was a natural choice for me, Ingunn Ettestøl explains.READ MORE...
Important dividends in both Norway and France
She highlights several important lessons that she has brought home from the program, which consists of a module in Norway and a module at INSEAD in France.
– One of the most important things for me was to get a review of good Norwegian governance. This was an important topic during the first part of the education in Norway. The review was a useful repetition of important things, and a confirmation that we work correctly with this subject area in Arendals Fossekompani. Module 2 gave me a very good insight into, among other things, decision theory and finance, which are very important topics in relation to board work. There is a high professional standard for teachers and professors, and I would especially like to highlight Enrico Diecidue in decision theory who gave a lot of important insight into how to get teams to make better decisions, says Ingunn and continues:
– It was an eye opener to gain insight into how important diversity in the teams is to make good decisions. I gained good knowledge about how to make sure to get the whole team involved, and how to facilitate good discussions, which in turn is associated with good decision-making processes and good value creation. I also gained important knowledge in the finance part: That you should not be afraid to ask questions even if you are not an economist, that you should trust your intuition and gut feeling, and make sure you understand what is behind the numbers.
Professional weight and «best practice»
Ingunn already feels that the new competencies have had a positive influence in her board jobs.
– After I came home, I have, among other things, been to a board meeting where we were to make some changes in the composition of the board. Here I could highlight things I have learned at INSEAD about recruitment processes. What you say gets a little more “weight” when you can refer to it as “best practice”, and not just something you have “invented”, she says before concluding:
– Also in a personal perspective, the program has given me important learning when it comes to prioritizing my time. One of the topics was that if you want to make a change, then you also must stop some of what you do. In the long run, I have ambitions for 1-2 more board roles, but it also means that I must prioritize differently, and that I have to think carefully before I take on new board positions.
CEO, Fiskernes Agnforsyning
Bengt Hilstad (38) is CEO of Fiskernes Agnforsyning, an 80-year-old organization in Tromsø, with its business areas well planted in fishing, logistics and real estate. Bengt has previously worked as an officer in the Armed Forces, trained as a graduate economist and worked for a long time in Management Consulting. For the past three years, he has led the group and two subsidiaries, and in addition he holds several board positions both internally in the organization and externally. He recently completed the Executive Board Program at INSEAD in France.
– Crucial to my participation in the board program was that I had been recommended INSEAD as the best educational institution at European level, and thus this program was a clear first choice for me. I wanted a boost in competence, not only in terms of the board jobs I have, but also in relation to my CEO roles, says Bengt Hilstad.READ MORE...
The lecturers were «rock stars»
For Bengt Hilstad, the benefits of the board program in this context were related to both the CEO roles and his roles as chairman and board member, respectively.
– I sit back with a very good return, and an experience of value in many dimensions. Of course, in relation to my roles as chairman and board member, but at least as much as CEO, and how to ensure the best cooperation and interaction between the management team and the board, he explains and continues:
– Purely academically, the level of education was at an extremely high level. The policy subjects that were brought up were essential, and the learning was done through cases very close to reality. The program had a good overall perspective, and it was well planned and extremely well implemented. The lecturers were «rock stars», both in academic terms, but not least pedagogically and presentation-wise. Despite long days, one was engaged and “far ahead on the chair” all the way. And then, of course, one of the important sources of learning was the interaction with the other participants in the education.
Important lessons to take home
According to Bengt Hilstad, he comes home with many reflections, as well as new models and tools that are directly applicable in relation to his own job situation.
– Should I highlight the most important learnings, one of them is clearly related to the need for process management and structure when you board a board. That you ensure a good anchoring of the framework for the board work and the good values - the background that is the basis for having good decision-making processes and good interaction. Secondly, I will personally strive to take a little less space and speaking time as chairman of the board – precisely to ensure better decision-making processes on the board, and thus greater ownership of these decisions. In conclusion, I have become more aware of the importance of structure, quality and efficiency in the input that the board receives from management – so that the work becomes more efficient and “to the point”, he says.
In relation to networks and relationships, the program has also made a positive contribution, is the clear announcement from the CEO.
– The new network means a lot. Getting to know so many competent participants from all over the country has been very inspiring, and I feel that I have gained some strong relationships, concludes Bengt Hilstad.”
“The Executive Board Programme INSEAD is a very inspiring board education at a high academic level. The program, both for the professional content, the teachers and the practical implementation, was really perfect.
Personally, I have an ambition, within the foreseeable future, to move from the role as CEO to a position as board member. In this context, the program has provided me with a good foundation for taking the next important step.
I have gained important knowledge about the corporate governance model, the legal and regulatory aspects, and the role of the Board of Directors in relation to the Executive Board. I also greatly appreciated the many good and tangible cases that were presented and not least the simulation, where we actually held a very concrete and real-life board meeting.
The sessions with Stanislav Shekshnia and the other professors at INSEAD are perhaps some of the best teaching experiences I have had, and internally within the group we also had some really good discussions and sparring about board topics.
In a network perspective, the program has been a great success for me.”