Denmark is one of the world’s oldest monarchies with a history that stretches back to the Viking Age around the year 1000. Danish society rests on the foundation of
the Danish Constitution of 1849, and the political system has since been characterized by broad solutions across the political divide. Denmark is often cited as one of the world’s best countries to live in. The strong welfare state ensures economic equality in society and the virtual non-existence of corruption, while polls repeatedly show that the Danes are among the happiest people in the world. In Copenhagen we met one of them: Ian Brindley, General Manager Sika Denmark.
What comes to mind first when you think about working in Denmark? What makes this little country special?
Denmark is recognized for its social balance, equality, low levels of corruption and high transparency with universal welfare services such as free healthcare and free education. Modern design and great architecture can be found in all aspects of daily life. The infrastructure is highly developed and constantly being improved. One of the most important things for Danes is to live a socially balanced life and prioritize time with their families and friends. All this makes Denmark a special country and also a very likeable country.
What are your personal secrets for leading a team?
It should probably stay a secret, and perhaps you should ask my team! It is important that we all feel part of Sika Denmark, and strive to achieve our common goals. That requires each team member’s full involvement and engagement. Ensuring that each person can use their talents and further develop their strengths helps to build a highly motivated and energized team focused on success. Clear direction, authentic leadership and stable decision criteria are key in order that people can orientate themselves. We operate in a fast-changing environment with constantly new conditions, requirements and regulations. Each individual needs to understand common values and principles in order to focus their energy and steer the boat in the right direction.
Denmark is currently one of only five nations in the world that live up to the UN target of committing 0.7 percent of GNI to development assistance. Do you think this impressive achievement can be kept up in the future?
Denmark is among the top five countries, together with its Scandinavian neighbors Norway and Sweden. Our neighbors have an even higher GNI, and it is about more than just a calculated indicator. It is more the Nordic approach in general, which is why I’m confident that there won’t be any major changes in this respect. But let’s hope that other countries increase their GNI and maybe even push Denmark down in the rankings. You can’t say fairer than that.
Copenhageners are avid bikers and cycling has a great tradition. Can Denmark serve as a role model for sustainable living and leading the transition to a green growth economy?
Denmark is well on its way to reaching a goal of 50% clean energy by 2020, with data showing that 39% of the country’s electricity consumption was covered by wind in 2014. The country aims to become independent of fossil fuels by 2050 and that requires a broad range of innovative technologies and an ambitious policy framework to support them. This is why the USA rates Denmark as the second most attractive country for their European investment spending after Norway.
Sika can offer many different systems and technologies which support the ambitious way Denmark is going. The wind energy business is already a very important field of activity for us today. As for bikers and cycling, Danish people are getting lots of fresh air by being one of the most bicycle-friendly populations on the planet and the weather is never an excuse. Public transportation is outstanding and the Metro in Copenhagen is completely automatized, even working with driverless trains. A new Metro ring with 21 new stations is scheduled for completion by 2018. An estimated 130 million people will use the Metro yearly. We are very proud to be an important supplier to this impressive project.
How about the construction market? Where exactly does Denmark need Sika?
Challenging infrastructure projects call for high-quality functional systems. Long-term experience and technical know-how are key elements and the construction industry demands a reliable supply chain. We can look back on over 50 years of expertise in Denmark, but being a part of a big group like Sika also spells numerous benefits for our partners. If our local know-how for a specific detail is not sufficient, we can get support from experts in other Sika sister companies. This is of immense value to our customers.
Are there any new trends in the construction sector that you can see?
As in all countries, more and more importance is being attached to sustainability.
But we are also witnessing a trend toward faster construction and greater flexibility
in building use. Denmark is investing in infrastructure and welfare. Water-tight underground structures become more important with higher life expectancy. Tunnels such as Fehmarn Belt, Metro stations and car parks are built underground, but most of the country is at sea level. For a company like Sika it is a good investment to build up waterproofing capability and expertise.
Where is Sika Denmark heading?
Sika Denmark wants to be the number one when it comes to services, quality and know-how. We have many excellent systems and high-quality products which fit Danish market requirements, including waterproofing membranes, Waterbars and the ComfortFloor range, which combines design with comfort and delivers a great work or leisure environment. We want to be a step ahead of the competition in bringing new products and solutions to the local market.
What do you personally enjoy most about living in Denmark?
It is clearly a very attractive mix of many different things: Creative people, modern life style, public design, sexy fashion, progressive technologies, and a leader when it comes to innovation. The low level of administration and the family support infrastructure are outstanding. According to the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International, Denmark is still the least corrupt country in the world.
What do you wish Denmark for the future?
The balancing act of success in business and happiness in private life is challenging. With increasing competitiveness, this balance comes under more and more pressure. I wish that for Denmark, its creativity and innovative spirit can help reduce the cost gap. I’m looking forward to seeing many fantastic new designs and to learning about new ways of thinking and I hope to witness many other countries adopting the Danish approach.
Visit Sika Denmark for more information.