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Careers at McKesson Europe: Challenge is key

What is a typical career at McKesson Europe? With a series of employee portraits, we will shine a spotlight on different colleagues from different functional areas and locations. This time, Kristian Kjærsgaard talks about his career at Tjellesen Max Jenne A/S (TMJ) and what drives him forward.

Kristian, what’s your position at TMJ?

I am Head of IT and VBO Plus, a logistics service for our pharmacy customers that optimises the product ordering process. As a member of our local management team I am responsible for more than twenty employees. Currently, I also head the Nordic regional IT unit for McKesson Europe, which includes Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Can you describe your career path so far and what motivated you to take the steps you took?

Eleven years ago, I started my career at TMJ just when it had become part of our then so-called Celesio Group (today, McKesson Europe). In 2010, I took over a small team as Head of Market Development and entered  the local management team. In 2012 I became Head of Marketing, taking on responsibility for IT shortly after. For two years now, I have been responsible for both IT and VBO Plus.

I like a challenge and learning new things. These were and still are major drivers for developing my career and also myself. It is important to me to influence the business as a whole and to be able to support our people in developing their capabilities and talents.

What have been the major decision criteria for your career steps?

I would describe myself as business-oriented, open-minded, passionate and focused on high quality services. I perceive IT as a tool for delivering growth and as a driver of innovation, business improvements, cost efficiency and efficient processes. I am always on the lookout for possibilities to change something to the better and to drive TMJ into a better position. I think this personal motivation to improve and optimise has influenced many of my career decisions.

What is most interesting if you look back at your own career?

During the 11 years I have already been working for TMJ, the organisation has always adapted to new conditions and therefore developed into a new company. This was and is very exciting to be a part of. With the constant further development of our organisation, I grew into new roles with expanding influence and responsibility as well.

In your opinion, what are the criteria for a successful career?

I think you have to be curious and willing to adapt. And of course, be passionate about what you do. This affects others more than you think.

My personal motto is by the famous Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who said: “Målet er intet, vejen er alt”. This translates to “The goal is nothing. The journey is everything”.

You have to be aware of the journey itself and open to new paths and experiences.

Kristian Kjærsgaard

Did you plan your career path or did you follow opportunity?

I never planned my career path, but rather seized opportunities that opened up to me. My advice is to not be afraid to put yourself in the spotlight and interfere. So to speak I “challenged” TMJ to develop me: internal trainings and programmes have been crucial for my professional as well as my personal development and also my career as a whole.

To what extent do you think a career can be planned?

I think it has a lot to do with aligning expectations. If I had the feeling that TMJ had no expectations for me, I would not have been motivated to perform at a high level. Thankfully, they believed in me. I have been fortunate to have great superiors and always had a great dialogue on possibilities and an overall direction in which to develop. I see this as a kind of plan. But it requires an open mind and – at least sometimes – patience.

What’s next for you professionally?

I want to use my experience to further expand TMJ in the best way possible. I want to be innovative and engage in strategic challenges even more. Besides this, I want to keep growing by managing my teams: I aim to get people to work on common goals and often challenge the skills or strengths of each individual to enable them to give their very best.

What piece of advice would you give someone who is starting a career at McKesson Europe?

Do what you are good at and know your weaknesses and strengths. Challenge them both with an open mind. Be modest and respectful. In my opinion, integrity and hard work can beat the smartest theorist. Also, do some networking and get out of your comfort zone! Learn from others and see through their eyes to get a new perspective.

It's Sunday afternoon. Where would we find you?

On a bike trip with my three year old son and my wife off to some nature sites around Copenhagen city. Or when time allows for it, I love to go for long afternoon runs in the forest or by the seaside listening to my favourite music.