How Jan Vels Jensen Got Ahead

“It is also a profession that is very open to thinking outside the box and requires you to walk the fine line between tactical and strategic marketing.”

Name: Jan Vels Jensen

Company: Borland

Job title: EMEA Marketing Director

What made you want to get into brands/advertising/media/marketing?

The simple fact that you can influence people’s minds and change behaviour. It is also a profession that is very open to thinking outside the box and requires you to walk the fine line between tactical and strategic marketing. Marketing-driven companies can be really energising as those responsible for marketing are leading the way.

How did you get into the industry (including relevant qualifications and professional training)?

I started at Oracle Denmark as a pre-sales consultant and very soon found out that my interests were in marketing. It is such a diverse science and involves a broad range of skills.

What was good and bad about your first job?

The good thing about my first job was that everything was new and challenging with a high adrenaline rush. I do like to operate outside my comfort zone; it makes me feel alive and I thrive on new challenges.

List your jobs to date:

Sperry Univac: Sales
Oracle Denmark: Sales and marketing
Oracle: Director of World Wide Marketing
Licenergy: VP marketing
Docent: VP marketing & alliances
Macromedia: Director of EMEA marketing
Borland: Senior Director, EMEA marketing

What were the best and worst, and why?

The best was Docent. It was a start-up and we had to build everything from scratch. I loved working on the worldwide branding for a Silicon Valley company. I did this with a very talented team from Denmark called PeopleGroup. We had great fun and made a huge impact on the business. If you handle branding correctly, it not only promises to change mindsets but also gives you the opportunity to deliver on the promises you make.

My worst job was my first position in California, especially the first six months. It took longer than normal to adjust as corporate America operates quite differently from its European counterpart. Like many professionals in their early career, I learnt this the hard way – by making mistakes in the beginning. The key thing is to make sure you learn from mistakes. Nobody wants to make the same mistake twice.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

I cannot say there is one person who takes the prize on the marketing side. I am however a big fan of Jack Welsh former CEO of GE. If you manage a business by his rules and ethics you can only stand to win. I live by his rules as closely as I can each day.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

Worldwide branding of a Silicon Valley start up that is run in Europe. This was a rare opportunity.

On what do you base your success so far?

I suspect that the secret of my success so far has always been my energy and passion combined with my structured approach. I consider myself a streetwise marketer. I am creative and love thinking outside of the box but science is also a part of the marketing mix; it’s important to build your infrastructure and processes to manage your business. Without it, there is a danger that you will not achieve what you set out to and you will jeopardise your marketing investments.

What are your ambitions?

I would love to be VP marketing for a Danish brand name! B&O, Carlsberg or Lego!

Change one thing about your job:

Like most marketing professionals will tell you – more budget to do bigger kick-ass campaigns!

Change one thing about your industry:

Email free days to free up time for deeper thinking.

Change one thing about the world:

More holiday allowance.

What is your favourite brand?

Apple by far! It’s cool! I respect it because it is holistic and the brand promise matches the delivery. This is by far not always the case for most brands. It starts online and it ends at the final stage where you unpack your selected goods. The packaging alone is second to none – ever tried to unpack a mighty mouse from Apple? Pure pleasure. Only trouble is I wish I had bought Apple shares some time ago

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