Carlsberg’s new man in the hot seat in Malaysia

To most it was a surprise change of leading Carlsberg man in Malaysia… one day the MD was Mr. Mogens Jønck, the next day the name was Søren Holm Jensen. The announcement was made on 6 February and Søren Holm Jensen started on the 5th of March. There is still much mystery about what exactly happened and why Mr. Jønck left Carlsberg and it does not help much to ask Holm Jensen. “I don’t know the story either”, he claims.
Though Holm Jensen appears young as MD for what is probably one of the most important beer companies in Malaysia, he does not lack experience. Talking with him one quickly realises that he is extremely thorough and competent as well as energetic and optimistic about the future of Carlsberg in Malaysia. It seems obvious that the Carlsberg management believes in Holm Jensen’s potential… Malaysia is after all one of Carlsberg’s most important markets with the highest market share as well as highest profit margins.

The biggest challenge
“One of my main jobs will be to keep Carlsberg at the forefront of the Malaysian beer market”, says Holm Jensen indicating that the company has been under pressure not only from no. 2 in the market, Guinness/Anchor Breweries Berhad but also because of increased beer taxes. As seen in other markets, more people in Malaysia are also lifting a glass of wine to their mouths rather than a green labeled bottle.
“It is not my plan to make any major changes in strategies within the first 100 days but I will have to make some changes and that will be in close collaboration with employees here”, says Holm Jensen.
“My 3 main tasks for the first 3 months will be to develop a new management team, to get to know the company and employees as well as the
Malaysian beer market. Only then can I get to the point where I can confidently revise and finalise our visions and strategies for the future.”

New management team
The new MD’s job has not been made easier by CFO Tom Sand-Kristensen leaving for a job as MD at a smaller micro brewery in Denmark per 1 April having put forward his resignation some months ago.
“We’re also presently looking at splitting sales and marketing into 2 separate departments and are therefore right now looking to appoint a Sales Director and a Marketing Director. With this we will be following the set-up Carlsberg is using in most markets and I expect this to take place as soon as possible”, says the new MD who must be somewhat handicapped by not having a management team in the first 2-3 months at the helm of Carlsberg. It is not revealed whether the positions will be employed by somebody internally or externally.

On the go from the start
Holm Jensen is presently in KL on his own while wife Lone and two daughters Klara (4) and Nanna (7) are staying behind in Hong Kong until end of the school term. This gives the new Mr. Carlsberg ample time get to know the market and employees without feeling guilty of having several late nights a week.
“My way of getting to know the company, the employees and the market includes 1-on-1 talks with all key managers as well as multiple visits to outlets such as restaurants, pubs and bars”, explains Holm Jensen who is spending 2 days a week in the region visiting depots, wholesalers and customers.
Don’t be surprised if a stranger suddenly offers you free beer when you’re out and about… it could be Holm Jensen doing his own market research wanting to know your opinion about Carlsberg and beers in general.
Some of the plans for Carlsberg are in accordance with plans made before Holm Jensen arrived in Malaysia:
“As the first in Asia, Malaysia were launching the new Carlsberg Extra Cold. It’s a draft beer system that dispenses beer at minus 1° C and it will be available in many new outlets in 2007. You should also be seeing more of the Jacobsen Beer which was test marketed in 5 star restaurants in 2006”, says Holm Jensen.

The family will be joining
When the family arrives in KL towards the end of April their new home will be in Sri Hartamas and not Bukit Tunku where Carlsberg MDs traditionally have been living. At first the family was a bit reluctant leaving Hong Kong but the attitude changed after visiting recently.
“Personally I have been visiting Malaysia several times on project work and for conferences. We have also been here as a family on holidays and enjoyed both Langkawi and Kota Kinabalu tremendously,” confesses Holm Jensen who felt he knew a little about Malaysia because of this before accepting the job but realizes there is still much to learn and see.
“As a family we’re also looking forward to travelling in Malaysia as well as seeing more around this region where there are so many wonderful places. I also hope to have time enough to play some golf. As a beginner I need to spend some time to learn the game”, confesses the energetic MD who must be good at time management too! How else would he find time for golf, family, leisure travel as well as a high profile job as Managing Director for Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Berhad?

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