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Education means everything

For Michael Grosbøl, CEO of the successful family-owned company Mascot, education and continuing education are must-haves - both personally as well as in relation to the company. Now he is also the MBA Alum of the Year at Aarhus BSS

12.12.2017 | Michael Schrøder

CEO Michael Grosbøl, Mascot. Photo: Engin Erkus

In 1992 when Michael Grosbøl became an active part of the company that his parents had started ten years earlier, there was plenty of work to do for the then 23-year-old head of IT and marketing. At the time, the company, which produces workwear and safety shoes, had 17 employees in Silkeborg.

He needed to get an understanding of the basics as well as the processes and the quality. He also had to find out how to create growth, product development and new markets.

His educational background included a Master’s degree in Economics and English from the University of Southern Denmark. Later, he graduated as a bilingual secretary in German from Aarhus BSS.

His professional experience was minimal, and he very much needed to gain knowledge about all the things he was working with and the challenges that he and the company were facing.

For this reason, in 1999, Michael Grosbøl embarked on a two-year MBA degree programme at Aarhus BSS in parallel with his job as company CEO.

“I am naturally curious about theory, but I don’t want to learn theory for its own sake. I need to be able to apply it actively and in practice,” says Michael Grosbøl, who is currently CEO of a company with 2,300 employees distributed across three factories in Vietnam, one in Laos and the head office in Silkeborg.

“The theoretical foundation I’ve acquired has enabled me to better handle the challenges I’ve faced since. Both in terms of making the right strategic decisions in relation to, say,  product development as well as providing the answers that a CEO is expected to provide within practical change management,” says Michael Grosbøl.

“That’s why my education means everything to me. You might say that I’ve gone from being unconsciously incompetent to being consciously competent simply by reading up on what I didn’t already know.”

In 1999-2001, when Michael Grosbøl did his MBA at Aarhus BSS in parallel with his job as CEO, he put in somewhere around 100 hours a week.

“It was possible because I didn’t have any children at the time. Now my daughter is becoming an adult, and I’ve nearly got the time to study again,” says Michael Grosbøl, who at some point would like to do a higher doctoral degree in Business Administration.

However, first he must complete a major expansion of the Laos factory as well as the relocation of the company headquarters from Silkeborg to Pårup next to Ikast.

From the time Michael Grosbøl took the reins in the company, Mascot has developed into one of Europe’s leading companies within workwear. In 2016, the company’s revenue was DKK 767 million. The profits before tax amounted to DKK 125 million.

This performance has been honoured several times – e.g. with the Innovation Award presented to Mascot by the consultancy company Frost & Sullivan ahead of 700 European competitors, and last week with another award for European product leadership among workwear producers.

Now Michael Grosbøl can add the title of MBA Alum of the Year to the accolades.

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