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Meet the new chairman of CBS: An opera freak with a vision of making sustainability a core value

Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO of PensionDanmark, is the new chairman of CBS' Board of Directors. (Photo: Anne M. Lykkegaard)

He goes to the opera as often as he can, is concerned with the climate crisis, and is interested in how new digital technologies can change CBS. Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO of PensionDanmark, is the new chairman of CBS, and CBS WIRE met him for a chat about what we can expect from him over the next four years. One of the first thing on his agenda is to make sustainability a core element of CBS’ upcoming strategy. 

News |   27. Aug 2019

Anne Thora Lykkegaard


Most days, you can see all the way to Sweden from Torben Möger Pedersen’s office at Langelinie Allé. But today, a seven-story cruise ship blocks the view. And, as if that wasn’t enough, a DFDS cruise ship with daily departures to Oslo is parked on the other side of his office.

Torben Möger Pedersen is the CEO of PensionDanmark and on July 1, he took over the position as the chairperson of CBS.

But what can staff and students of CBS expect from him? What does he see as his most important task? And what does he think CBS should focus on over the next four years? We also asked him what he cooks for dinner, what he likes to do in his spare time, and if he’s into any TV series at the moment.

When asked what he thinks CBS can offer him in his position as chairperson of CBS, Torben Möger Pedersen twists the questions and says:

“I’d rather ask: What can I offer CBS? CBS is one of the most important universities in Denmark. We produce graduates who are sought after in and outside of Denmark, and we produce world class research that offers solutions to challenges in companies and society at large,” he says and continues:

“What I can offer is experience, commitment and hard work. I’ve been connected to CBS for many years. I’m an Adjunct Professor. I’ve been part of establishing the Pension Research Centre, PeRCent, and two of my kids have studied International Business and Politics here. Also, my wife graduated from CBS. Furthermore, I have experience from the Board of Directors at Aalborg University and other boards, including being the chair of Danish Society for Business and Education (FUHU) which founded CBS back in 1917.”

Digital disruption and sustainability on the agenda

Torben Möger Pedersen is going to chair the Board of Directors at CBS for the next four years, and as he puts it, that’s not long if you consider the challenges and potential facing CBS.

Therefore, he sees that it’s his most important task to make sure that CBS’ transition into an era dominated by digital disruption, globalization, life-long learning and the need to deal with the climate crisis is going to be as smooth as possible.

“Right now, we’re beginning to see a break from the traditional path taken by students. Soon, many bachelor graduates will want to explore the labor market for a couple of years before returning to CBS to finish their degrees. And they might even come back later in life for further education. That’s one thing,” says Torben Möger Pedersen and continues:

“Another thing is that digitalization is going to disrupt how and what we teach. In my opinion, every graduate from CBS needs to have basic digital skills, as well as digital business sense.”

Solar panels are installed on the roof of PensionDanmark. In the reception, a board shows how much electricity they’re producing.

“I’m very much concerned about the climate challenge and the Sustainable Development Goals, and I want this to be an integrated part of CBS’ fundamental values, and that CBS plays a crucial part in solving the challenges we’re facing. For example, by identifying the great business opportunities in this area. Doing good and well at the same time,” he says.

Does that mean you want this to be an integrated part of CBS’ upcoming strategy?

“Society rightfully expects that companies, organizations, as well as universities address these matters. As a business school, CBS has a central role to play in the transformation to a greener economy. So, sustainability is already one of the very important perspectives we will be addressing in the strategy process,” he says.

More partnerships and collaboration

In previous interviews with members of the senior management, CBS’ poor funding has been mentioned as a major challenge that needs to be dealt with on an ongoing basis. Torben Möger Pedersen agrees and adds that, in particular, private funding, should be increased.

He suggests that CBS, more than ever before, should establish partnerships and collaboration with other educational institutions and businesses in order to strengthen not only the graduates, but CBS’ position too.

“CBS delivers research-based teaching, and to secure that in the future, we need to be better at attracting private funding. CBS already delivers excellent research within number of fields. All areas of research should continue to set ambitious targets and benchmark themselves with their global peers,” he says.

Last summer, CBS and KADK (The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation) launched their new master’s program, and Torben Möger Pedersen would like to see more collaboration like this.

“CBS has a lot to offer, so engaging in partnerships with, for example, DTU, ITU and the natural and health sciences at the University of Copenhagen would be very beneficial to our students and meet business demand. I recommend that we focus on establishing deeper and better collaboration with the technical and natural sciences, as I know is also a priority for CBS’ president Nikolaj Malchow-Møller,” he says.

The Board of Directors are meeting for a seminar on August 28 where they’ll discuss the outline of the process for making CBS’ next strategy, which will cover 2020 onwards.


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