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16 a v i s f o r co p e n h a g e n b u s i n e s s s c h o o l – h a n d e l s h ø j s ko l e n cbs observer 1 september 2008 29

inaugural interview
By Bjørn Hyldkrog
Photo: Rie Neuchs

Things have changed already. Only geogra- concrete suggestions on how to improve cate their students to meet the demands of to attract extremely smart and industrious
phically, but still. If you are looking for the CBS. The exercise has given me a wonderful tomorrow. In my experience this traditionally employees while maintaining a tight focus on
President’s Office, it’s still on Solbjerg Plads’ body of raw data that I can and will use, says upheld schism does not necessarily always the companies’ customers and being efficient
fourth floor, but now it’s on the other side Johan. apply. The business leaders that I have talked in how they use and leverage resources.
of the building. It’s smaller. And in it, on the Johan. The answering mail-address to his to think much more long term – in the big That means getting involved and getting
desk, there’s a personal computer… sorry, a e-mail was johan@cbs.dk. This did not go picture; megatrends and decades ahead, rather more of CBS’ stakeholders to involve them-
MacBook Air – something closer to heresy unnoticed by the mail’s recipients. But there than just the here and now. selves. This stance comes clearly to expres-
than change. That’s new too. was no intent of having anything read into it. - They are asking us to think long term; sion on the back of the CBS business card,
And of course there’s Johan Roos. CBS’ new - I didn’t even think about it. It makes not on how to improve quarterly earnings but CBS’ new president has had made for himself.
president – a wiry, gesticu- sense. I’m Johan, that’s how to improve society in Gone are the CBS’ presti-

‘ ‘
lating Swede projecting a what I expect people to the long run… and they are gious accreditations and
mixture of approachability (...) I’veuncovered a call me. I consider myself expressing worry that we We invest a lot in memberships: EQUIS, PIM
and sharp focus. Today is whole slew of desires on a first name basis with are too concerned about research, and so we and CEMS, stating the qual-
his first day at work – as and even demands – and everyone at CBS expect on the here and now and too ities others consider CBS
should, but we must
President of CBS. So that’s I’ve especially noted the the most formal occasions, focused on the next accredi- to have. Instead you find
new too. And it leads to Johan comments. tation or ranking. We have
never forget that teaching CBS’ promotional pictures
input from perhaps our is at the very heart of our
the unavoidable but almost to focus on both; of course, of students and employees
unanswerable question:
most central and innovative Going to change it is our task as a univer- commitment as a university. with “JOIN US” writ large
- Why I took the job? I stakeholder, our students. A change in the top man- sity to strike a balance, but I consider the somewhat in the middle. And again
thought it was a unique Now the challenge agement of any organiza- the next Financial Times- artificial distinction we the students are especially
opportunity. I have chosen is to weigh them up tion is something that ranking could reasonably make between research targeted:
to have the broadest pos- against each other. almost by definition spells be claimed to be just our and education a major - Yes, it’s an invi-
sible career in business aca- changes for the organiza- version of the quarterly academic dilemma(...) tation. On behalf of CBS I
demia and once resigned tion; Changes in strategy, in earning focus in corpora- am asking others to join us
a fantastic professorship priorities, in structure. And tions. That’s very important – as students, participants,
to develop and lead a small research organi- all over CBS, management, employees and stu- in a day to day perspective, but it’s not where faculty, support staff, corporate partners,
zation. Opportunities like this do not grow dents are guessing at what those changes will our strategic focus should be. alumni… The invitation comes with a mes-
on trees, especially in this region, they are be and mean; for CBS, for themselves. sage: We treat our stakeholders and our facili-
unique. It just made sense to say yes when - Will there be changes, and does CBS need Joint ventureship ties with respect, and we expect that respect
the headhunter asked me if I was interested. I to change? Of course there will, and of course Regarding possible organizational changes, to be mutual. We will do our utmost to act
am truly excited about this opportunity, Johan it does. And this is not new – as far as I can Johan Roos refers to the views expressed by like a professional service firm, but CBS also
Ross answers. tell CBS has changed substantially over the Alfred D Chandler, Harvard professor of busi- has the right to demand an equivalent profes-
last decade. Change is just about the most ness history, in “Strategy and Structure” as far sional behavior from our beloved students,
Getting ready discussed and studied subject in any larger back as 1962: First Strategy, then Structure! says CBS’ President.
Johan Roos was appointed to the position of organization, be it in business or elsewhere - Many people at CBS tell me that our orga- Johan Roos writes, reads and answers
CBS’ new president on December 1st, 2008. and there is a reason for that, Johan points nization can and should be improved. That e-mails. He is actually a very heavy e-mail
He has spent the last three and a half months out and elaborates: may be the case, but such considerations will user. As a consequence he has already
here at CBS as “incoming president” with the - For me, any future change must be based have to come after we have reviewed and received his first electronic student complaints
Cavalli conference room as his temporary on a coherent understanding of who we are made adjustments to our strategy. You orga- and other individual contacts. No matter how

Day one for johan@cbs.dk


base of operations. From there he has worked and where we are today. When we look ahead nize to support your intentions in the best heavy an e-mail user he is, though, it is an
intensely on familiarizing himself with CBS’ we have to consider our own desires and pre- possible way – something that should come impossible task to communicate with 18.000
humongous amount of activities, students, conceptions as well as what kind of change naturally. But we also need space to pragmati- people. So he asks that this be treated with
employees and external stakeholders, prepar- is asked of us by our stakeholders. I’ve cally seize opportunities and the trick is to respect and sense, so that he is only to be
ing for the task ahead. uncovered a whole slew of desires and even balance good intentions, effective implementa- contacted when relevant for CBS’ president.
- On being appointed, I asked Anders demands – and I’ve especially noted the input tion and necessary ongoing adjustments. Most - With the scale and scope of the task
Knutsen (Chairman of CBS’ Board of from perhaps our most central and innovative organizations can be improved in this respect, ahead, getting swamped with inconsequenti-
Directors, ed.) for a couple of months to stakeholder, our students. Now the challenge Johan points out and muses: alities would not be helpful. But it’s a great
warm up. I was offered to start at CBS after is to weigh them up against each other. Johan Roos has taken his place at the head of the table after three months of preparations and meeting just about everyone. - We have to learn to work smarter – the opportunity and a challenge. If I have a hard
Easter, and I have been here, meeting people Any more specific details than that are not question is how. Where can we find our inspi- time falling asleep these nights; it’s because
almost every day since then. This has been a forthcoming, not at this point in time:
CBS OBSERVER interviewed him on his first day at work as CBS’ new President – in English in order to reach everyone@cbs ration for developing our structure to meet of excitement, not because of worry or con-
real journey of discovery, says Johan Roos and - I am very wary of making firm statements our strategic challenges in the best possible cern. I am very excited about this, and I have
continues: of specific intent regarding CBS’ future and way? As I see it the university sector could looked very much forward to my joining you,
- You could call it management prepara- changes to come. Many people see much research projects. It’s the only way to get first tive that CBS is fulfilling its obligation to soci- lot in all kinds of programs in many places, - We have to get out of the thought frame learn a lot from large service companies and says Johan.
tion by walking around. I’ve met, talked with improvement potential at CBS and over the class results, Johan expresses and goes on to ety by offering great education. But it’s some- and in my experience teaching is also a great that the young have little to offer in the teach- consultancies. They have figured out how 1
and especially asked questions of students, next weeks I will consider the input given to elaborate: thing we could and should do better. Anyone research opportunity. ing of them as a university researcher. This
student representatives, department heads and me, discuss major patterns in our leadership - In research it’s crucial to – 1, be very, very who was at CBS’ Annual celebration in March is an extremely important discussion. As we
other faculty, support staff, union representa- team and return to the organization with a good at what you’re doing, and only then – 2, could hear a very clear message from Henrik Study the students speak, much of what we teach and the frame-
tives and management. I have also met with few initiatives that may result in adjustments look across the disciplinary boundaries. The Thorn, CBS Board member and ex-president Johan acknowledges that the most obvious work we teach it from are being fundamental- Curriculum Vitae – CBS’ President Johan Roos
external stakeholders such as our corporate in our strategy and structure. same goes for education. We have to be really, of CBS Students: The students ask for more research benefits come from executive educa- ly revised by the emerging social framework Status: Married to Dr Madeleine Roos (Svinhufvud), two sons (1993 & 1995)
partners, FUHU, DI, Danske Erhverv, ministers really good at teaching both basic, special- of our researchers in the classroom, excel- tion, this due to the participants’ experience, and basic life-competencies of teenagers just
and ministry officials. I have truly come to Disciplined diversity ized and general knowledge or we end up lent teaching delivered by excellent CBS- but his acknowledgement is anything but an living their lives. They are revolutionizing 2007-2009: Bo Rydin and SCA Professor of Business Administration, especially
understand and respect the scale and scope of From 2000 to 2006 Johan Roos was Managing educating jacks-of-all-trades-masters-of-none. researchers, invitation to neg- society, turning the world upside down. It Strategy, and Dean of MBA Programs – Stockholm School of Economics
the job. CBS is large in so many respects. Director of Imagination Lab Foundation, a It’s extremely important that graduates from Johan notes and lect the bachelor would be fabulous to see what we as teachers
Almost needless to say, Johan Roos has non-profit Swiss research organization in the CBS are exceptionally good at business disci- points out: level – to the and researchers could get out of integrating 2000-2006: Managing Director – Imagination Lab Foundation, a non-profit research
found the process positive, exciting and management field. At Imagination Lab he lead plines and then on top of that have the ability - We invest a contrary. their input into our bodies of knowledge. I foundation in the management field, Switzerland
enlightening. He has had his 100 days of the theoretical and clinical research pursued to offer other business relevant knowledge lot in research, In his mind am certainly going to experiment with this at
evaluating CBS. Now he starts his own first by a team of scholars with backgrounds in and capabilities. I am thrilled that we have and so we the young stu- CBS, Johan states. 1995-2000: Professor of Strategy and General Management – International Institute
100 days, after which it becomes reasonable philosophy, anthropology, sociology, psychol- the ability to complement traditional business should, but we dents have much for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland
to evaluate him. ogy, music and the management disciplines. competencies with psychology, sociology, cul- must never forget more experience Strategic stakeholders
This cross-disciplinary approach should be ture, languages, political science and philoso- that teaching is in living with In Johan Roos’ interaction with CBS’ corporate 1990-1994: Associate Professor – Norwegian School of Management (BI) in Oslo
Getting set in pretty fair accord with CBS’ profile as a phy. I am not familiar with any other business at the very heart and through the partners and the business community through
At this stage, asking questions and under- disciplinarily uniquely broad business univer- school that does this to the same extent. This of our commit- many new social the last three and a half months it has become 1988-1990: Swedish Institute PhD-stipendiate and post-doc researcher –
standing context is crucial for Johan Roos. As sity – so can we expect Business University as broad scope is a competitive advantage for ment as a univer- networking tools apparent to him that CBS is under close scru- William H. Wurster Center for Multinational Management Studies at
a consequence, he decided to send out a mail usual? CBS and one we have to safeguard through a sity. I consider of our time than tiny. Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, USA
to everyone@CBS in the beginning of July, - I am personally intrigued by CBS being constant focus on quality. the somewhat their elders. The - Our stakeholders are intently evaluating
asking CBS’ staff to suggest three areas to pri- more than a traditional business school. It’s artificial distinc- way they instinc- both us and our students. It is essential for us 1986-1989: PhD in International Business – Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden
oritize and three not to prioritize in the future. a part of the organization’s DNA, and it’s cer- Demanding insights tion we make tively orient to be aware of how our quality is regarded by
- I want to keep learning, and in order to tainly here to stay. With that said, in doing Johan is delighted to see this year’s number of between research themselves and them. I look very much forward to developing 1981-1985: MSc in Agriculture – Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
do that I have to get people to talk to me. research you have to be careful. You first of applicants to CBS’ study programs this year, and education maneuver in the our relationships with the private and public
More than 200 people have responded to the all have to be very good in your core disci- considering it testimony to CBS being a very a major academic dilemma. Research-based Internet-enabled environment that is having sectors further, Johan says and reflects: Publications: 37 scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals, ten books, eight edited
mail, and I have read and responded to all. plines. In Imagination Lab’s cross-disciplinary attractive university – not only in Denmark teaching as well as teaching-based research is a profound effect on society and how society - There is an old saying in business school books and 22 book chapters
Most started out by thanking me for asking, approach it was always an uncompromising and the region, but in all of Europe and other probably a good mental model for the future. works is a competence giving them a unique academia that the business community only
and most found it easier to up-prioritize than priority to get great scholars in the respec- parts of the world too. We must find a better way to bridge this con- insight into possibilities and opportunities that looks to have its short term needs satisfied Executive boards: Imagination Lab Foundation og Stavanger Innovation Center
down-prioritize and quite a few have given tive fields involved in any cross disciplinary - It’s a hallmark of quality and proof posi- ceptual and practical divide. I have taught a are terra incognita for most adults. while it is the universities’ mission to edu-

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