Monday the 8th of November the CEO of EG A/S, Bjarne Aarup visited me at Aarhus University Institute of Business and Technology to speak at the Thought-Leader Series. Bjarne Aarup spoke about his career and bewitched the audience with a great story of journey that stated in 1985 at IBM after he finished his bachelor.
It was more or less a coincidence that Bjarne Aarup ended up at IBM but he expressed great satisfaction with his choice, and did also have 9 good years at IBM. He told about how he had been accepted to a trainee program at IBM, and how IBM made its employees feel like rock stars. He told about an experience where he together with a bunch of other IBM trainees had been flying first class to Stockholm and accommodated at first class hotel to celebrate their success. What IBM did was to make its employees feel invincible, and able to walk the water.
After IBM Bjarne Aarup totally shifted career track and went from bits and bytes to working with humans at Marcuri Urval A/S. It was a major change but it taught him a lot about how human beings act and behave in different situations. The experiences were very valuable and had taught him treasured lessons that he is using in his daily job as CEO of EG A/S.
In 1997 Bjarne Aarup was invited to join what was then called EDB Gruppen A/S, as “Intellectual Capital Manager” which might have been the fanciest title Bjarne Aarup has ever possessed. Since 1997 he has been an important part of EG A/S and was in 2005 announced the CEO of EG Denmark.
EG A/S is one of Denmarks largest providers of IT solutions and employs 904 people with a yearly turnover of 924 million. EG was originally owned by IBM but was in 2008 sold to the capital fund Nordic Capital. Bjarne Aarup explained how it was easier to be owned by a capital fund, than being listed on the stock exchange. Because the capital fund is more flexible and has a longer perspective on its investment, then the stock exchange expecting a short term yield.
EG A/S wants to be Denmark’s best workplace and does a lot to let the employees find a good balance between private life and work life. As Bjarne Aarup said: “The employees must be inspired in there private life, so they can inspirable at work.”
Bjarne Aarup finds great excitement in strategy and has been working a lot with strategies such as the Blue Ocean Strategy, Balance Scorecard, and Value Proposition. He mentioned that EG A/S has worked so much with choice of business models, that they can see if a business is making money or not. However Bjarne Aarups favorite strategy that has turned EG A/S upside down is LEAN. It is very hard to implement new strategies and often you spend a weekend in some fancy conference facility preparing and setting up the employees to operate with the new strategy, but Monday morning everything is as it used to be. Therefore is it also very important to implement a new strategy fully in all departments.
EG A/S has been very successful with the implementation of LEAN and Bjarne Aarup expressed that is was one of the best strategies he had ever worked with. He had been very surprised with results and it is amazing how fixing of small annoyances can change the efficiency percentage radically.
Every week every department is meeting for a short blackboard meeting where all small irritations and things that can be improved are broad up. One is quickly found to solve the problem and the employees are back to work happier and more focused than before. After the fully implantation of LEAN in the organization, EG A/S experienced a 25% increase in efficiency. Bjarne Aarup told that when you fix small problems like a door being locked that could be unlocked you make people think of what is important instead of, why the door is locked.
Bjarne Aarup ended his lecture with telling about his involvement in different networks. What to be noticed here is that he uses his networks as education with real life cases from other companies. As he said “Education is much more fun and interesting when you have experiences from the real business life, which you can connect with the theory.”
Bjarne Aarup held an inspiring and exciting lecture, and the attending students have positively commented with huge excitement.
The next Thought-Leader Series will be the Mayor of Herning Lars Krarup, who will be speaking the 22nd of November at AU-IBT.