CBS will soon welcome its new president, Nikolaj Malchow-Møller, so the hunt for a new chairperson of the Board of Director has begun.
Karsten Dybvad, newly selected chairperson of Danske Bank, is leaving an empty seat, so what should CBS be looking for in a new chairperson?
We asked Majken Schultz, Professor of Management and Organization at the Department of Organization, Alex Klinge, Equal Opportunities Officer at the Inclusion and Diversity Council, Bent Meier Sørensen, member of the Academic Council, and Thomas Skinnerup, student representative in the Board of Directors.
We’ve summed up their answers in seven words: daring, defender, the best, buzzing, quirky, international bandwidth and CBS flair.
A university is multifaceted. You have a large group of students, researchers, teachers and administrative personnel with a huge array of duties. All this must be accounted for by the new chairperson.
“It’s important for the chairperson to become acquainted with CBS’ situation, how we compete with others, and what are values at CBS in our research and education. You wouldn’t hire a chairperson for the board of Carlsberg who doesn’t have an interest in beer. And in terms of CBS, a chairperson must understand that it’s important for CBS to contribute to society and take business in society seriously,” says Majken Schultz.
“Our new chair also needs to be attuned to a changing student profile with shifting expectations about their educational journey. Only a forward-looking, innovative, diverse and international study environment will persuade the best and most quirky brains to join CBS for the benefit of CBS and society – be it Danish or international,” says Alex Klinge and adds:
“If CBS fails to attract the best students from the widest possible pool of talent, in terms of ethnicity, gender, social or geographical origin, we’ll no longer stay innovative or relevant.”
“CBS needs someone who knows what it’s like to be a student. This person not only has to develop CBS as a brand, but also as a place to work and study,” says Thomas Skinnerup.
CBS is one out of eight universities in Denmark, and it’s the one with the poorest funding. Therefore, CBS needs a chairperson who can create the right kind of buzz in society, among politicians and in the business sector, according to Majken Schultz, Bent Meier Sørensen and Alex Klinge.
“We need to get strong supporters. And that’s something that the President of CBS and the chairperson do together. But we haven’t always been successful at this, and this is where a chairperson can play an important role,” says Majken Schultz and continues:
“Whenever industry speaks, it’s almost always about new technologies and life science. They have to talk much more about CBS.”
“To develop and support CBS’ strategic position vis-à-vis other universities and in direct negotiation with the Ministry, and take part in the public debate about research and higher education,” says Bent Meier Sørensen about some of the coming chairperson’s most important tasks.
“One key qualification is that the new chair should be well-positioned to secure the continued solid backing of CBS by business and industry, so that our key contribution to Danish society as a business university becomes widely recognized,” says Alex Kling and explains:
“The best help CBS can get in order to drive its agenda with politicians is a continuous stream of positive testimonials from major businesses and organizations.”
For more than two decades, CBS has made a strong effort to become a university that is recognized globally by attracting researchers and students from all over the world. This should be acknowledged by the new chairperson, argues Majken Schultz.
“It’s important to remember and respect that CBS is an international research institution. International with a big I in this case. It would be good to have a chairperson who understands the dynamics of the international research community and has some international bandwidth,” she says.
Thomas Skinnerup explains that the current board only has one international member: Arvid Hallén from Norway.
“Diversity is important, and I think it would be great to have more international input in the board,” he says.
Being a chairperson is about having the guts to do something out of the ordinary.
“CBS should look for courage in a new chairperson. Together with Senior Management, the new chairperson should set a distinct strategy for CBS and develop something of a creative contrast to other Danish universities as well as to our Ministry. Central to this endeavor is our Business in Society strategy, which must be linked to our recognized profile as a business university,” says Bent Meier Sørensen.
“We need someone with vision, who can guide the way together with the president and have ambition in terms of where CBS should be placed nationally and globally. And we need someone who knows about the political system, so they can defend CBS in times when the political winds are not in our favor,” says Thomas Skinnerup.
Thomas Skinnerup points out that the composition of the Board of Directors is very mainstream. Therefore, it would be a good idea to shake it up a little.
“The business industry is well-represented in the board, and everyone’s either a cand.merc-degree or some sort of economist. I suggest we get someone different. Quirky. It would be great and a breath of fresh air. I don’t think we need to look for another C20 director,” he says.
Fake news and falsities have become part of the daily news. What we seem to need is clarity and researchers are often the ones we turn to for this. Or is it?
“There’s a need to continuously defend the freedom of research and the freedom of expression of researchers,” points out Bent Meier Sørensen as one thing the chairperson should be prepared to do.
Alex Klinge too has noticed a change in the way universities are viewed in society.
“She or he should also arrive with a clear appreciation of the changing role of universities in society. Not long ago, the perceived role of universities underwent a radical change when they were being shanghaied into the role of bolstering the nation in the growing global need for innovation, sustainable solutions, etc. Now we’re entering into an era where facts are being fabricated and truths distorted. Revisionist historians were treated as freaks on the periphery; now their audience and patrons are growing,” he says and continues:
“In principle, that ought to strengthen our position as a research- and fact-based university, and, I might add, as an educator, that can shape the ethical and moral standards of our graduates. Unfortunately, the opposite may well be the case: Who needs university when the truth is being negotiated in external media?”
Senior Management currently consists of ¾ men, and two of the ten members of the Board of Directors are women. Will CBS look for another man in the row of men that have been taking up the position as chairperson? Or should they choose another gender?
“We only have one external board member who’s a woman. I think there are a lot of qualified women for the job, and picking a woman would send a strong signal that CBS actually takes the debate about more women in top positions seriously,” says Thomas Skinnerup and continues:
“If there are two equally qualified candidates left and one of them is a woman. I would prioritize the gender parameter.”
“The current appointments would be an obvious opportunity to create a more balanced gender distribution at the very top of CBS. This question is already central to CBS’ current strategy in relation to its faculty, and it would send a strong signal,” says Bent Meier Sørensen and continues:
“Also, there’s no lack of competent, female candidates, and CBS should as of today be a very attractive organization to get involved with, both as a board member as well as the chairperson.”
“I think we should get the best candidate. But for sure CBS has big issues when it comes to diversity. So, yes, it would be better to have a woman as the chairperson. It’s not supposed to be a criterion of success, but CBS as a whole does have a big issue. It’s important to add that no woman wants to be chosen on the basis of her gender, but because she is the best person for the job,” says Majken Schultz and adds:
“I trust there are plenty of qualified candidates.”