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International top alum visits Aarhus BSS

She is among the 30 most influential businesswomen in the US. She received the 2018 Women’s Board Award. She is an alum from Aarhus BSS. And you can meet her at the management conference Om Ledelse ‘19 in February.

2018.12.17 | Amanda Ringberg

Press photo: CSM Bakery Solutions

 

Marianne Kirkegaard, 50, is a busy woman with an international outlook. She is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the international company CSM Bakery Solutions, which is headquartered in the US city of Atlanta and encompasses 8,500 employees, 34 factories and 45,000 customers in 100 countries.

She assumed the top position in 2016 and in the same year, she featured on Insight Success’ recognised list of the 30 most influential women in American business and industry. At this year’s Women’s Board Award, she won the title of Danish board woman of the year, and once again, she is featured on the Danish newspaper Berlingske’s annual list of the 100 most influential women in Denmark.

Marianne Kirkegaard is an alum from Aarhus BSS and earned her Master’s degree in Economics and Business Administration in 1993. She started her career in Unilever, has worked at Carlsberg and Coca-Cola and in countries such as Sweden, the Netherlands and Eastern Europe before moving her family to the US to join CSM Bakery Solutions.

The Danish roots

Even though Marianne Kirkegaard is a CEO on the other side of the Atlantic, she still knows exactly what is happening on the Danish market as a board member in Dansk Supermarket and AAK.

Working on the Danish boards is important to Marianne Kirkegaard, and she is motivated by being able to offer Scandinavian businesses the benefit of her international experience.

“It’s difficult to maintain a Danish network when you’re away from Denmark, so to me it’s a way of maintaining an affiliation with my home country,” she said in an interview with Berlingske when she was appointed board woman of the year.

At the award ceremony, Thomas Thune Andersen, head of the jury at the Women’s Board Award, emphasised how Marianne Kirkegaard’s choice of career can serve as an inspiration. “Marianne’s career path shows how having the guts to work outside Denmark can strengthen your career as a board member. Still, not many women take this leap. This makes her a role model not just due to her professional skills but also due to her personal choices.”

Feedback and diversity

Along with her focus on multicultural management, Marianne also has an eye for the different trends in the industry. As a leader, she also places particular focus on feedback; it is through dialogue with colleagues and customers that she expects to develop and improve herself.

“I recognise that I’m not a specialist; I am surrounded by people at CSM who know more than I will ever know about a specific topic, and the opportunity to lead them as a team to collective success is so inspiring,” she said in a interview with Insights Success when she was listed as one of the 30 most influential businesswomen in the US in 2016.

Gender is not a key issue in itself when it comes to Marianne Kirkegaard’s leadership. However, she values the opportunity to surround herself with a diverse group of colleagues in terms of age, ethnicity and sexual orientation. As long as they have been hired due to their professional merits and not just to meet a quota.

“We need to broaden our outlook and think of diversity as being more than gender related,” said Kirkegaard in the interview with Berlingske.

"Om ledelse 2019"

On 7 February, Marianne Kirkegaard is back at Aarhus BSS to take part in the management event “Om Ledelse -’19 - Det personlige lederskab”. Here she and a number of other female senior executives will share their personal management experiences and observations.

Read more about Om Ledelse 2019

Sources:

"Årets bestyrelseskvinde: Vær modig og tag beslutninger, selv om du ikke er 100 procent sikker" (Berlingske, 27 January 2018)

"Marianne Kirkegaard: ”It Comes Down to One Word”" (Insights Success, 28 October 2016)

"Marianne Kirkegaard er vinder af Women’s Board Award 2018" (Press release, Lederne 26 January 2018)

Marianne Kirkegaard, President and CEO, CSM Bakery Solution (csmbakerysolutions.com)

Alumni