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7 Questions with David Hansen
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7 Questions with David Hansen
Name: David Hansen
Current title: CEO / President
Current organisation: Origio / CooperSurgical Fertility Solutions
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Cultural challenges and differences in risk profile across geographies
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Not planned. Started out as a FinTech entrepreneur, kick started the company in Russia, got an offer to move to a pharma company due to this experience. After 12 years in this pharma in 7 countries, I left to get full P&L responsibility in a US life-science company. From there headhunted to become CEO in a MedTech company.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Varies as I have employees in Asia, EMEA and APAC, so need to cross different time-zones. Not a very structured person, so I need to spend time carefully planning to ensure I fit everything in. Don´t want crazy work-hours, so net in a week where I do not travel, an average day would be: 1 hour of pure admin: price approvals, legal documents, 1 hour of exercise, 3-5 hours of meetings (now telcons) with customers, boards or employees (typically change projects), 30 mins coordinating my calendar/travels, 3 hours of emails, reading, contract work, and prep. 1-2 hours of 1:1 phone calls with key internal change agents to coordinate and let's say 30-60 mins checking out numbers or prep for presentations.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
a) How valuable it is to occasionally do a deep-dive of the balance sheet. Small adjustments in terms, especially in recurring revenue business, can make a massive difference over time. b) that during a crisis like Covid: double down on your commitment to customers, your sales channels, your suppliers, and your employees. Be flexible, stay close, keep a cool head, do not exploit the situation but instead be prepared to extend credits, and trust beyond what you would normally do. Support. Go the extra mile whenever you can, not only when you need to, use the idle time to get closer, and build trust, even if there are no transactions.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Can´t say I live it always, but it was a great eye-opener. Another one was "The First 90 Days''. Great toolbox for onboarding, even to keep questioning your business.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
I understand the question as how do I build my personal capacity, and how do I build the capacity of leaders around me. On the first note: be curious. Always. Try something new. Engage pro-bono in start-ups. you might learn something new. Keep reading and taking online classes to learn something new. EDX.ORG is a great resource. As to building better leaders in your org: Trust is the most important factor. If people feel they can trust you and that you´ve got their back. Always. then you are halfway there. Pick people for their talent and attitude. Select people smarter than you. Show respect for everybody. Show them they can be what they want to be - and help them make it happen. Organize around your talents. not around functional responsibilities. And move talent around, keep challenging them. Be approachable for everybody, be low key, but do inspire in words and action,, and make sure the whole team feels part of an exciting journey.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
What I have found is that when you commit to people in times of crisis, you will be plentifully rewarded with loyalty. In my time in pharma selling critical products for diabetics, we committed to the Russian and CIS markets even when it went belly up for 2-3 years. Competition just left, which was kind of cruel. We stayed in, lost a lot of money, but kept investing in relationships and trust. We asked for nothing in return. But turns out the next two decades customers would be loyal to us, as we were there here when they needed it most. If you always do what is right, things are probably going to turn out OK eventually.