Aarhus and Eastern Jutland is home to many internationally-minded companies and
organisations that contribute to this area's internationalisation. This month International
Community gives the floor to CEO and Founder of PeddiGo Lene-Louise Steenfat.
Photograph: Inge Lynggard Hansen
Text: Lene-Louise Steenfat
There are three reasons why people voluntarily move to another country:
#1 Love. #2 Work. #3 A desire to shift the scenery and explore new horizons.
I moved to Berlin because of #3. I was a seasoned HR Exec and wondered if I could transfer my skills from a well-known and comfortable Danish setting to an entirely new environment? Moving to Berlin without having a job, I had no idea if it would happen for me? I spent 4 months going to Sprachschule, biking around, reading books, exploring beautiful Berlin and acting like a tourist before I started in my first position as HR Lead in Europe, which introduced me to the Tech Start-Up scene in Berlin.
The experience of working in the Tech Hub of Europe and in the Tech space taught me too many things to list. Still, I definitely learned that although the cultural barriers between Denmark and Germany are not massive, working within a multicultural environment, in the craziness of Tech Start-Ups with exponential growth and too many 25-year-old, caucasian, male CEO Founders that got funded too much and too soon for their sanity makes for a considerable challenge with people and culture.
I've had more 60 hour work weeks, than the 40-hour norm, and I've been tasked with reducing the workforce with 25% because of changes in the strategic direction. I've dealt with mental and emotional health issues among team members not coping well with the pressures of a hyper-growth culture. I've dealt with OfficeVibe employee satisfaction scores of minus 65 (on a scale from +100 to -100), and I've dealt with the consequences of a sexual predatory and fraudulent CEO that needed to be removed. In short, I'm exhausted!
But I would do it all again, as there are no regrets and a LOT of learning, and it got me started on my own journey as a Tech Founder!
Back to Aarhus
In Autumn 2019, I decided to leave my well-paid (and comfortable!) position as VP People & Culture to build my own Pet Tech business. The business plan for PeddiGo had been in my desk drawer for a long time at this point, and I decided it was time to do my own thing - and that there is really never going to be a "good time". I had seen what you can do with a tech business if you genuinely care about your users - and I had seen how (not) to build the team to make it happen! I teamed up with a very competent and experienced Co-Founder who was as excited as I was about the opportunity to create meaningful opportunities for pet lovers to connect when there is a need for trusting and caring pet sitting in home-like surroundings.
We wanted to establish PeddiGo in Denmark as we have domain expertise and knowledge of the DK market - and that's why I am back.
"There are no regrets and a LOT of learning, and it got me started on my own journey as a Tech Founder!"- Lene-Louise Steenfat
A piece of advice
On the topic of employment, I know from my experience working within Search & Selection in Denmark, before moving to Berlin, that language is very often a deal-breaker in the job hunting process, and I learned from my time as a Director in HR that prejudice and concerns about cultural diversity and internationalisation is still a massive barrier within some organisations.
I do, however, see trends shifting. And in a weird, backward way the Covid-19 Pandemic has progressed this shift with more companies becoming Remote First which makes it possible to live in Aarhus but work with a company based anywhere in the world.
Doing a random search on LinkedIn with a "Communication" job title and workplace "Remote", I got 76,776 results.
PeddiGo is an online platform where pet lovers connect when there is a need for high-trust, caring and committed pet sitting in home-like surroundings. You can sign-up as a pet owner or pet sitter on www.peddigo.com