Name: Jesper Carvalho Andersen
Organisation: Green Equity
A poly-entrepreneurial Investor and Chairman with extensive experience in global M&A, turnaround, and growth within impact, fintech, cleantech, health, omnichannel, art and luxury, while on the board of corporations, institutions, charities, and funds.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Jesper's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
My biggest challenge in leadership has been to secure alignment in a well-defined corporate purpose. It is achieved through the continuous communication of a vision with a clear strategy and a value-based behavioural rule set, but the challenge is not only to define and constantly update it, but to walk the talk and making it a natural way of team working.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
In the 1990s, I was a consultant in a large London-based corporate identity consultancy, which was very strong in the UK and my task was to get international clients. In the beginning, it was all about sales, and I was mostly traveling to potential client on my own, but over time we became very successful, and my job changed into project and team management heading several teams for several international clients, which necessitated clear delegation and structured management communications. This was the beginning of my strong beliefs in the advantages of DEI-based teams and the benefits of DAO, which decades later has become the norm.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
As a non-executive chairman in several companies, sectors, and geographies, I have a very clear lay-out of my 5-day work week from 9-5 (stated in my email signature and whatsapp, slack, etc.; and as a minimal-footprint advocate, my work is based on as limited travel as possible, so most communication are by phone, Slack and email, while conflicts, brainstorming and disagreements are handled in video meetings – or eventually in personal meetings. While mornings are for report creations or other larger creations, throughout the day, my 45min meetings are based on clearly defined agendas. Mondays and Fridays are mostly for correspondence and preparations. Before work on Tuesday and Thursday, I play a couple of hours tennis, which is my preparation for my early morning weekend matches, so I am fully available for my family and friends after hours and in the weekend. This weekly setup gives me time to pursue my cultural and reading interests, while securing my 7 hours sleep every night.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
The challenges of management during the pandemic reminded me of the necessity for clear communications during crisis. As a turnaround manager for medium to large organisations for more than 25 years, I am well aware of the impact of personal leadership; however, it made me re-read my bibles of efficient personal communication from last century: Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” and the Blanchard principles of “Situational Leadership”. The more you know your direct reports and the more specifically you communicate, the more aligned your team is.
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?
The above-mentioned book, “The Medium Is The Message” by Marshall McLuhan was offered to me by the Danish Artist Erik Magnussen in 1995, where I together with the Founder and Chairman Steffen Gulmann was heading a turnaround of the leading Scandinavian design consultancy, 11 Danes. We were in a disruptive phase with several of the 11 Partners wanting to leave the group and the book made a profound impact on my way of communicating. The principles learned were essential to my career as a turnaround manager both in terms of the essential corporate cultural sustainability, but also in my personal verbal and written delivery of strategic messages.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
In line with my earlier mentioned Blanchard Principles of “Situational Leadership”, I have difficulties in believing in one measure fits all and I would much prefer to know the target person, before defining the message; however, perhaps by paraphrasing the 1975 quote by President Truman, it may be a suitable leadership guidance in all situations, sectors and geographies: “It's amazing what you can accomplish, if you do not care who gets the credit”.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
A meaningful leadership story, which still today makes me proud of the team results, is from a distressed turnaround of a Spanish subsidiary in Scandinavia. In 2004, the Chairman of a group with more than 50.000 global employees, had given me as the new CEO and the local management team only 6 months to secure economic sustainability of the subsidiary with more than 500 staff, after 6 years with constant annual EBIT results of minus 50%. Everybody was aware about the challenges which over the years had resulted in a very negative company culture. With a set of internal communication guidelines to empower staff to take positive action within clearly defined frames, not only did we succeed the 6 months deadline, but in 3 years only we brought the company to Scandinavian market leader status with 2500 staff and solid economic return.