Hygge: The Danish concept that’s inspiring this Indian MBA student

After getting a taste of Denmark via his Danish employer, Sahil Saeed became enamored by the Scandic country’s way of living and working. He eventually found his “hygge” at Copenhagen Business School and found the perfect balance between cherishing the “little things” while chasing big dreams.

In short

The Copenhagen MBA

Sahil Saeed comes from a background in chemical engineering, which he studied as a bachelor’s in his native India. Having started working as a Process Engineer in a pharmaceutical company back home, there’s nothing to suggest he was ready to uproot his life and move halfway across the world. But sometimes the smallest details in life can make the biggest difference.

The company that Sahil worked for in India is a Danish firm, which meant he had the opportunity to work from their Denmark headquarters for six months. It was an experience that was ultimately life-changing. He fell in love with the Danish way of life and made a promise to himself that he would return as soon as possible.

“It was a breath of fresh air for me, coming from such a conservative working culture back home in India,” he tells MBAGRADSCHOOLS. (04:53)

“That’s when I realized the work-life balance and the whole way of working in Denmark – how different it is to India. That’s when I started to think more about an MBA and why Denmark would be a potential location for me to get my MBA,” he adds. (01:32)

An MBA: Opening doors to new locations and new careers

Sahil may have had his heart set on living and working in Denmark, but moving there from India was never going to be straightforward. Being accepted into the MBA program at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) enabled his move to Denmark – and the next step of his life.

“First and foremost the MBA actually enabled me to change my location, so now I’m working in Copenhagen and that would have been very difficult to do if I did not have a Danish degree,” he explains. (11:09)

But the MBA was more than just a ticket to Denmark. The skills he gained during the program allowed him to change job function and explore a totally new area of work. It’s something that simply wouldn’t have been possible without an MBA.

He says, “Because of my MBA I could make the transition from process engineer to validation lead. So I could use all the stakeholder management or higher-level business skills to look at the bigger picture.” (00:41)

A unique approach to diversity and sustainability in the Copenhagen MBA

The international class at CBS opened Sahil’s eyes to new cultures and new ways of thinking. But it wasn’t diversity for diversity’s sake. Meeting people from so many different countries taught him things he never would have learned otherwise.

“In general it helps you to broaden your worldview,” Sahil tells us. “For me, as someone coming from Jaipur in India, I would not necessarily know what the challenges are if you are a fishing company in Iceland, for example, but I got to learn that while doing my MBA here.” (14:00)

There may have been a dizzying mix of nationalities in his program, but Sahil never felt like a statistic. The small class size and personalized attention meant he was truly able to benefit from the diversity of his cohort.

He explains, “At the CBS MBA, you get to meet all these different people from different nationalities, different professional and cultural backgrounds. It’s a small cohort – only 35 people – and you don’t feel like a number in the class because it’s very personalized and very hands-on.” (02:36)

Much like their approach to diversity, CBS’ focus on sustainability made it feel like a core part of the program rather than a box-ticking exercise. It’s another feature which Sahil believes makes the Copenhagen MBA a unique program:

“The [Copenhagen] MBA is quite different from any other MBA program in the world, in a few aspects. One is sustainability. That comes from the national focus on being green, and that trickles down into the academic institutions as well. I remember we started off with a six-month course just on responsible management and how do we include sustainability as a core part of business and not just something that you do.” (12:44)

Finding your "hygge"

Ultimately, though, it’s the Danish way of life that continues to hold the greatest appeal for Sahil. It’s half a world away in both distance and culture from his native India, but he couldn’t feel more at home. He refers to the Danish concept of hygge to describe the way of life of his adopted country.

“There is this concept in Denmark called “hygge.” It’s a Danish word and basically the closest translation is to just relax and be in the moment. And that’s what reflects in society [here] in general,” he says. “[The mentality is] you go to work, you come back and then you have a life of your own. I’ve seen work days end at two or three in the afternoon so you have your whole day ahead and you can pursue other passions. It’s just the Danish mentality of keeping things light and living in the moment.” (10:00)

Although hygge is an ancient Danish concept, it’s a relatively new one to Sahil. By broadening his horizons and following his instincts to Denmark, it seems he has found his own hygge in Copenhagen.

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