IE Business School doesn’t just graduate Bachelor, Master and Doctoral students, but every year many professionals come to IE for short, non-degree courses, to do a skills update, and get a fresh perspective on how to manage their responsibilities.  Recently, IE’s Director for Europe, Joël McConnell (JM), had the chance to catch up with one of our most interesting recent graduates of the Executive Summer School (ESS) program, Mads Young Christensen (MYC), and below is the interview transcript.  Mads’ work in the public sector in Denmark is of particular interest given the intersection of technology, public services, and current trend towards the “greening” of cities, municipalities and indeed, countries as a whole.

JM: Mads, tell me about the work you’re doing today as Head of Growth and Sustainability for Holbæk Kommune. Denmark is a reference country for technology, innovative public policy, and design. What are you working on today, and what can you share on the concept of Green Country? Tell me about what aspects of robotics, AI, and other technologies are on the radar of public sector professionals today, and how governments are using these technologies to better care of their citizens.

MYC: Our City Council just decided to strengthen the focus on green initiatives. So right now we are working on “greening” a broad variety of the areas my department is responsible for. Alternative energy is a focus as well as more non-fossil transportation and mobility services. Protecting the nature and bio-diversity is another area that we are looking to enhance.

In my view, ‘green’ and technology go hand in hand. We have to use technologies such as robotics, AI and big data to become greener and at the same time run an efficient city infrastructure. A green city is also a smart city, and a concrete focus is how cities are managing waste. In Holbæk the citizens divide their waste and garbage in different categories like plastic, bio, paper, metal etc. so we can either reuse the waste or better dispose of it.

JM: You’ve also completed executive courses at Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics, in addition to having done your Masters Degree at Copenhagen Business School.  What stood out for you, with regards to the ESS at IE Business School? What aspects of the experience at our campus in Madrid did you most enjoy?  And perhaps most importantly, how did the content you saw in the ESS help you with your most recent transition into your role as Head of Growth and Sustainability?

MYC: What stood out for me at IE was the knowledge and focus on the importance and the influence technology and data has on executive management. I think its tough to be a leader today without having the right technological insights. I spent a lot of time talking to my colleagues about the changes data and technology will have on our citizens and the way we do business. The course at IE definitely increased my knowledge and understanding of data and technology driven companies.

And Madrid is such a lovely city. The weather and food was excellent, and we all had a great time visiting the Reina Sofia Museum of Contemporary Art where we got to see the famed Guernica by Picasso, and the Jean Nouvel addition – which is quite an interesting addition to the historic Francisco Sabatini building.

JM: You also mentioned that one thing you found particularly useful from the class mix was that you were able to share ideas and understand the perspective of private sector professionals. You mentioned specifically the opportunity you had to share contrasting perspectives with the CEO of Toyota Spain, who was a fellow ESS participant.  Form a broader perspective, how can the public and private sector best work together today to ensure resources are being consumed more responsibly?

MYC: Yes I really enjoyed the different backgrounds the participants in the course had. It gave the discussions a broader perspective.

I think the private and public sector depend on each other, and in my opinion the stronger both sectors are the better. I mention waste management earlier, I think that is a good example where the private sector manufacturers and the public sector waste management authorities need to work together more closely. Another example is mobility: we need to be able to connect the different types of transportation with each other, to create a cohesive transportation experience for commuters.

JM: As you know, IE Business School will have a full delegation at the Thinkers50 European Business Forum 2018 in Odense, Denmark – a city known for its leadership in the area of robotics. What are some of the other centers of excellence in Denmark today, that are serving as global references? What are a couple of things you suggest travelling business people should really make the effort to see on their next trip to Denmark?

MYC: In general I think Denmark is a great country to visit to learn more about social welfare and health technology. If you have an interest in green cities, Denmark has a lot to offer as well. But the one thing I always show guests who come to visit us is our biking culture and infrastructure. In Denmark, it’s just as likely you’ll see kids ride their bike to school as you are to see an executive riding his or her bike to work.

IE Business School will have a full delegation at European Business Forum 2018, and IE professor Andrew McCarthy will be speaking together with Javier Goyeneche, Founder and CEO of Ecoalf.  You’ll be able to meet representatives from our Corporate Relations and Talent and Careers Departments, as well as attending IE alumni.

Learn more about the European Business Forum and get your tickets via