Denmark (Copenhagen Business School) “Education is the best investment you can make. No one can take it away from you”
I knock on Anna Thomasson’s door at exactly 1300 hours.
I know she has a military background, and in the military, you want to be punctual.
”I’m sorry to interrupt you in the middle of ‘frokost’ (‘frokost’ is Danish for lunch and Swedish for breakfast). It is somewhat confusing,“ I say to her. Anna knows.
“I grew up on the Swedish west coast where a lot of Danes went on holiday. So, I was already taught as a child that ‘frokost’ is lunch in Danish and not breakfast,” she says and smiles.
A few weeks ago, Anna Thomasson crossed Øresund to replace her position as vice dean of education at Lund University of Economics with the position as dean of education at CBS.
“CBS is a recognised and fascinating university. But what is good can always get better. Our vision is to continue offering the best education programmes and delivering the best graduates and for that we must evolve. One of CBS’ special focus areas is Nordic Nine, which is a concept of CBS’ students acquiring nine special capabilities enabling them to build bridges between the business community and society at large and reflect on new solutions.”
What are your thoughts about the Nordic Nine initiative?
”I think it is visionary in a very appealing way. It is much in the spirit of the university to not just focus on a narrow discipline but to assume a holistic perspective. Especially critical thinking is important for our democracy. This has always been in the spirit of the university, and we must keep this fire burning. We have a great responsibility, because many of the graduates we deliver will take on leadership roles in the future.”
Got to know herself in the military
Anna Thomasson is 45 years old and is from Lund, where she began her research career with a PhD in public sector development at the University of Lund. She then became an associate professor and a vice dean and is now dean of education at CBS.
If we go back even further – 1997 to be exact, she also chose to do services in the Swedish military at the age of 20 even though doing military services was not mandatory for women back then. She wanted to prove to herself that she could do it and demonstrate to society that women can add significant value to the military.
What did you learn about yourself in the military?
The most important insight was that we are capable of more than we think. When we get to the point where we are completely out of energy, we are in fact able to push ourselves even further. That is good to know about yourself.
Driven by sparking other people’s commitment
We talk about the impact of education, and as dean of education Anna Thomasson clearly perceives education as something very special:
”Education is the best investment you can make, because no one can take it away from you. These are the words of one of my teachers when I was a student. And I have adopted that statement into my work. That is also why our work here at CBS is so important. At the end of the day, we do devote our time to the future possibilities of our students.”
Anna Thomasson’s research and career have centred around learning and commitment, which leads us to asking her the essential question:
What motivates you?
”I have always been interested in how people and especially people in groups, organisations, function. Natural science often has clear rules, but people and organisations are not regulated in that sense. So, you really must think about the different needs of people and what is the proper way to go. We are all different and we engage ourselves differently. This makes it interesting to work with education and the quality of development – because, you work with all sorts of things at the same time. This kind of problem-solving motivates me,” she says.