In December 2020, Kasper Søndergaard Andersen was appointed senior vice president of NNIT’s Projects, Applications & Consulting unit (PAC), and he became a member of NNIT’s group management. Now he’s ready to share his story and vision for the future – not least that NNIT must continue to develop as a workplace.
Kasper Søndergaard Andersen describes himself as very outgoing, a real people’s person who recharges in the company of others and particularly at social gatherings. ‘Togetherness and being there for each other is a real creative force,’ he says several times during the hour-long interview, on which this article is based, and he also repeatedly states that this is equally important at home and at work.
‘It’s important for me that people conduct themselves respectfully, that we speak in a respectful manner, and that as colleagues we find a way to be something together. We need to have a respectful, balanced, but also open and honest dialogue. It’s OK to push each other’s limits a little when we need to move forward, as long as we remember to huddle together again afterwards. No one figures everything out by themselves and the more we play to each other’s strengths, the more we can achieve.’ This is Kasper’s answer to the question of what is important to him as a leader, adding a plea that this article does not lose itself in too much detail about strategy and ‘leadership speak,’ but also focuses on the person Kasper.
Addicted to cultural experiences and socialising
While talking to Kasper Søndergaard Andersen, it quickly becomes evident that he likes to go a bit deeper than what is usual for a professional meeting. In his spare time, he likes to be with his family and friends – to spend time with them and be in the moment when playing or leading conversations.
Socially, he enjoys ‘a pint of lager more than a glass of Chablis’ as he puts it. At home, he spends time with his girls on their terms, reading children’s literature or watching a kid-friendly movie at the theatre. On that rare occasion when he actually has time to himself, he likes to read the paper, a book or watch a film – preferably on a historical topic, and he describes himself as ‘an all-consuming culture junkie.’
He brings his personality into work too, where the ambition to be present in the moment is also clear – ‘being something together and being there for each other is something I’ve tried to cultivate in all the teams I have worked with,’ he says and elaborates: ‘It is important that we have meetings and discussions, so we can search for possibilities, be curious, and develop our business together. I rarely join a discussion to win. I am thoroughly disinterested in who is right. But I want to bring everyone on to the playing field – those who are very set in their ways and beliefs and those who are almost invisible and need to be encouraged to give their input. The more we play to each other’s strengths, the more we can achieve together.’
The team as the driving force to achieve results
Kasper orients himself towards people and relations, not at the expense of results, but as a way to achieve results. He is open and honest about being driven by ambition on his own behalf as well as that of his team.
‘I am very “people-oriented,” I go to work to be with people and to be something for people. We need to achieve results together, that’s a given, and the target is very clear: 5% annual growth and 10% on the bottom line, but we cannot achieve that without working together,’ he states and continues: ‘I am in Zen when I have eight meetings about eight different topics during the course of a day and something interesting is born out of those meetings. When I can feel my colleagues, when I’ve had a busy and varied day, then I usually drive home happy.’
He sees his new role as responsible for PAC first and foremost as a people manager’s task, centred on his ability to attract, retain, and develop people, and this really motivates him.
He feels his appointment comes at an interesting time when his job is to drive development and growth, and while he is humble in the face of the task at hand, he believes he can contribute to ensuring the right steps are taken – through a balanced approach to people and clear targets.
‘We need to release some endorphins, and we need to feed off each other’s energies and I believe that we have the right foundation. I get a lot of energy from my management group consisting of both new and old NNIT people bringing our own individual experiences and perspectives when it comes to business and workplace development. In that sense, it’s a very diverse and dynamic group. It is kind of a “new deal situation”, which excites me. That is what I joined for.’
You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs; we must dare to make mistakes and learn from them. There is an ’I love a big fat mistake’ sticker is mounted at Kasper Søndergaard Andersen’s kindergarten – but he thought it made so much sense, he took a photo of it with his phone. It reminds him that the PAC team’s goal is not to avoid mistakes but to learn and develop.
Winning teams and winning solutions
Asked about his plan for PAC, Kasper Søndergaard Andersen promptly responds that, despite a challenging 2020, NNIT is on the right track. The overall strategic direction focusing on ten ’winning solutions,’ ’proven concepts,’ ’fit for purpose’ and ’first time right’ is right, he doesn’t want to change that, but he wants to empower it and execute accordingly.
The PAC team needs to go deeper, and they need to come up with a detailed plan with clear targets and corresponding named responsible persons. The plan is to establish accountability on the way to achieving the big goals, as well as developing the right tools and processes to drive growth via the winning solutions focus.
Of course, this will also require PAC to look at their organisation: ‘If we are serious about bringing our winning solutions to market, then we need to become more empowered, and we might need to focus even more. We need to focus on getting the good stories about NNIT out there in the marketplace and for that, we need special competencies; the right mix of old and new resources, of experienced and inexperienced talent, who will become a super dynamic team together. We need to think more along the lines of sales and growth than internal sup optimisation. And we need to remember that we are part of value streams that go far beyond our own teams. This goes for NNIT, but certainly also for our partners and the industry as a whole.
‘Finally, we need to bust some dust – which brings me back to my point about remembering to tell the good stories internally and externally. Working to find and communicate the answer to what it is that makes NNIT a super cool place to work, that is worth joining and staying at, is super important. I really think that is key to achieving long-term success.
‘I gave my management team a book for Christmas: Stories That Stick. I’d like to encourage a new mindset – thinking of stories as tools. Basically, we’re a group of individuals who are bound together by a collection of stories, and if we tell the right stories, we’ll get very far in terms of creating a value-driven universe that people want to join.’
Kasper Søndergaard Andersen’s own story is indeed a good NNIT story – of a former NNIT senior consultant who is now heading up NNIT’s PAC unit, responsible for projects, applications and consultancy services – and who after almost 12 years is still developing on the job and with NNIT.
‘I am supremely happy about my NNIT journey. And I believe we’re at a very interesting point right now. We have momentum in many areas, and there’s a sense of springtime in the air, including giant potential for growth both nationally and internationally. It won’t be easy, but I believe that we will succeed – together,’ Kasper Søndergaard Andersen finishes.