Meet Thomas Christensen
CEO of Nordija
Thomas is from a small town in the middle of Denmark. He moved to Copenhagen to study, and after living there for some years and with a stopover in London, Thomas moved a little north and settled in Kongens Lyngby, where Nordija is also headquartered.
Early on, Thomas knew that he wanted to be a programmer and studied Computer Science at Niels Brock business college in Copenhagen. He envisioned that he one day would develop computer games, and at least the interaction with video came through, considering what Nordija produces today. To develop a passion for spreadsheets, Thomas took an MBA at Columbia and London Business School.
Thomas has been with Nordija almost since its inception in 1998.
Why and how did you join Nordija?
I was at a bachelor party and shared my experience on developing software with Steffen Jensen, who had already started Nordija and needed a hand. My first task was to develop a small game that worked as an advertisement for candy. My only game to date.
It was early 1999, and the Dot-Com bubble was still working its magic. Anything was possible, and we wanted to help traditional businesses bring their services online. I took on a role as CTO and designed everything from e-commerce solutions over a project planning tool for agile software projects to a TV portal - which we turned into the successful product we offer today.
What is your role at Nordija?
I have had almost every role during the years we have grown. Today I try to make myself redundant in the sense that I want to bring motivation, strategy, and vision to the table, which in the end makes my end product less visible. I still do the occasional Clutch Shot, but more often, I see my colleagues pick it up, and that makes me feel I have succeeded.
Most of my time in recent years has been spent on doing business development, branding of the company, and setting the course, but I also enjoy being at the front. Attending tradeshows and talking to partners, customers, and colleagues means everything to a company like Nordija and me.
It s okay to fail. It´s okay to celebrate success. I do both well.
What would you consider as the most significant accomplishment in your carrier?
You mean besides building a company together with a bunch of smart people, developing a software product that is sold globally, without venture capital, and at the same time preserving the “people first” culture surrounding it?
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” as Peter Drucker mentioned and that is indeed why we have survived and succeeded in our market. Culture can only be nurtured. Not controlled, or it dies.
I often notice that my colleagues are looking out for each other. I know other companies take pride in focussing on individual performances and it is seemingly in opposition to the family-like culture we have developed. I see colleagues stepping in and carrying each other at times and that kindness just has more stamina than a short-term focus.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
I like to ski. Unfortunately, Denmark is very flat, so whenever there is an opportunity to be close to a mountain, I volunteer to go. Mostly alpine skiing. At Nordija, there is a tradition to go skiing when teambuilding.
I also enjoy sailing and have sailed since I was around 14 years old. I have a boat that I share with a friend. Every summer me and my family take it out and sail around in the Scandinavian waters.
I crossed from Tonga to Auckland in New Zealand as a mate on board the sailing vessel, Oceans of Hope that went around the world to raise awareness on Sclerosis (oceansofhope.org), a project that Nordija has been supporting for several years
In the last couple of years, I have also started helping other smaller startups with what I have to offer. Not all are successful, but that is the risk in that game. It’s far from The Apprentice, Dragons' Den, or Løvens Hule, but it’s fun and rewarding in other areas, and I learn from it.
Looking forward to connecting with you.