The brand-new CEO of Carlsberg Germany, SIMON MOSEGAARD FIBIGER, a recent arrival in Hamburg, raises a glass to the city and takes the club! questionnaire.
- How many people work for your company in Hamburg,Germany and worldwide?
Hamburg: 400, Germany: 740, Worldwide: 40,000.
- Which market changes and challenges do you anticipate for the nextfew years?
“Even through crisis times, beer is resilient”. In the past ten years, beer has grown its share of total alcohol spend in Germany, but the demand for beer is changing. People drink less alcohol, and they prefer beers that are easier to drink. Disposable income has become tight. As brewers, we are under pressure due to higher production costs. However, we see the beer glass as half full, not half empty. Also, the pandemic and its challenges have helped us evolve with new, digital ways of working and technologies.
- Which characteristic do you value most in your employees?
“You are not stronger than your team”. I value people who understand the fact that no one is stronger than the team itself. I also value people who get things done. We are a relatively small team, so I rely on fewer people who execute and love to see things happen.
- Are there any technological developments that will influence your business growth?
“Technology must be a means to an end, not an end in itself”. It starts with our strategy and then the technology follows. Our revolutionary Draught Master system is a good example. It is the biggest innovation in draught beer in 50 years.
- How do you recruit the right people?
“We are a people business”. From our brewers to our frontline sales, we rely on attracting and retaining the right people to continue to be a high performing organization. But the reality is that there is a competitive hunt for the right people. We aim to offer an exciting job, but also to create a corporate culture in which employees feel connected, driven by our common purpose and empowered to make a real impact. We use online channels such as our Carlsberg Germany Career site and social media.
- What was your team’s last business achievement that still makes you proud?
“Long term success is a result of short-term achievements”. I am proud to see our innovations in store, with real impact for our customers. Like this year’s Somersby Orange Spritz or Holsten Edel that have long-term potential and short-term success.
- Where do you take business partners who are visiting Hamburg?
“We live by our brands”. As a harbour city with a neighbourhood character, Hamburg has that special flair. So, when the opportunity arises, I like to show business partners the home of our great brands, Holsten and Astra, and demonstrate how closely these brands are linked to the city’s heritage.
- Are there any differences between the working life in Germany and that in your home country?
The work cultures of India and Germany are, indeed, very different. Most notably, in Germany, companies put a lot of effort into creating a good worklife balance. Indian work culture has been improving in that regard, but the change is rather slow-paced.
- What is your idea of a perfect free weekend?
During Corona, I started camping in the woods with my kids, something we still do, but with better equipment and in any season. It is a great way to unplug from work and recharge together with my kids.
- Does your company support a particular charity?
“We brew for a better today and tomorrow”. Corporate social responsibility is an integral part of our DNA. One example is the Holsten Vereinsehrenamtspreis, which we award in conjunction with the Hamburg Football Association (HFV). Every year, Holsten honours volunteer activities in Hamburg soccer clubs with €15, 000 prize money in recognition of the important charitable work done in sports clubs every day.
- What did you want to become when you were a child?
I wanted to become a chef and restaurant owner. Growing up in a restaurant that was what I wanted to do. I still love cooking, but I abandoned the dream of becoming a chef when I moved to Munich in 2003 to intern for Infineon. This is where I got hooked on corporate business, and where I was introduced to working on a truly global team and culture.
- Did you have a mentor who helped you in your business life?
One of my previous bosses and today one of my mentors gave me good advice: seek operational experience. In my role as a key account manager, I learned to work directly with customers, and connect with colleagues across the value chain. This is something I pass on to my mentees: learn as much as you can early in your career. Move across functions, markets, and roles to understand the business from more sides. This helps you to connect the dots in more senior exec roles later on in your career.
- Which methods have you found useful?
“It always comes down to execution”. At Carlsberg we have defined 3 As – Alignment, Accountability and Action – to foster a healthy performance and execution culture. The method works as a simple reminder for everyone to ensure proper alignment with other people in the organization before going ahead. It then brings you to accountability on what we have aligned. And it always ends with action. Each “A” comes with a set of expected behaviours we encourage throughout the Carlsberg organization.
- What drives or motivates you?
I have a positive attitude that we can always do better. Deliver better results. Do better as a team. And it motivates me to lead the team towards that. A team that is diverse with different functional experience, different tenure, and methods, which all helps to continue to develop the business. To me that is my fuel for keep on going, also when times are tough,and when we collectively face challenges.
- What do you particularly like about Hamburg?
Coming from Denmark, I really enjoy the waterfronts and how the areas along the Elbe are opening up for people to live in the area. I like going out for a beer there or occasionally for a run. And I am also still eagerly exploring the different areas of Hamburg, although I already have a big (Astra) heart for St Pauli.
- You can choose anyone: Who would you like to have dinner with?
My wife. Four children under 8 and both with a busy job means compromising. I would dine with my wife somewhere nice in Hamburg with a freshly poured Holsten or Astra.
SIMON MOSEGAARD FIBIGER
The Danish business expert has a degree in finance and international economics from Arhus and Frankfurt. After working for Infineon and Jyske Bank, he moved to McKinsey and then joined Carlsberg Denmark as business development & strategy consultant in 2010. He became global vice president sales for the Carlsberg Group, and in January 2023 was appointed CEO of Carlsberg Germany.