Monday the 22nd of November Mayor, Lars Krarup spoke as the last guest lecturer in the Thought-Leader Series second season. It was an exciting day for me personally, since it is not every day you get to meet the mayor.
Lars Krarup has been mayor for 9 years, and was when he was elected, among the youngest mayors ever elected in Denmark. Lars is daily responsible for 9000 employees which he only can describe as a mouthful. However he finds his job very interesting and assured the audience and I, that there was never a day looking like the day before. One of the problems you are facing when you have 9000 employees is that you don’t know every single one of them, and therefor does Lars also put an honor in personally welcoming new employees working at the city hall.
Even though Lars Krarup today is a well-respected and popular mayor, the story of how he ended up at the city hall is far from usual.
Lars carries around a scare on his hand from the time he was a trainee to become a butcher. That was where his career started, at the local butcher, where he was taught a lot about sales and service. The important aspect was to treat the costumers with respect and please them, so they would come back.
At some time Lars looked at himself and realized that it was time to try something new and he became a sales man for the Danish Beer Brand Tuborg. Within Tuborg, Lars advanced and grew to become a key account manager for Tuborg, and was later selected for the team, which mission was to merge the two sales departments of Tuborg and Carlsberg. This was where Lars got the interest for strategy and leadership and when offered the position as CEO of the Blue Fox (Herning Ice Hockey), the answer was yes.
At Herning Blue Fox Lars learned about the difference between black and white. In the word of sport there is only one thing that counts: “TO WIN”
It was very much a coincidence that Lars was elected the mayor of Herning. And looking back at Lars’s career, everything has seemed to be randomly coming to him. This was also one of the messages he wanted the students to understand. Lars does not really believe in career planning but he has been really successful with the things he has accomplished. Why this is so is according to Lars himself, that when he is confronted with a task, he goes all in. As he said: “There are no easy ways to continuous success.” By this should be understood that you might be lucky to be elected the mayor, without any particular efforts. But to remain successful as mayor for 9 years, it takes hard work and effort.
“There are no easy ways to continuous success.”
As Mayor, Lars Krarup is today using one of the first lessons he was taught as a butcher trainee: To sell a good service so people will come back. Because even though Lars is working for a public institution, he prefers to see it as business that needs to make a profit to survive. Therefore is Lars also putting a great honor in employing the greatest people to do the job, even though they might be smarter and brighter than himself. This approach is also what have lead Herning to be one of the most successful regions in Denmark, where the distance from though to action is very short.
The meeting with Lars Krarup was a great experience and both the students and I learned more about the system and the man who makes Herning a great place to live.