Soren Schoennemann already worked for Jabra back home in Denmark when he felt it was time for a new challenge. He wanted to move countries so took the initiative to speak to his boss about the possibility of an internal move. Schoennemann had a secret top two: San Francisco and Sydney. When a new role came up in the Sydney office of Jabra, for an ANZ position, he could not pass it on.
It was not easy for Schoennemann's wife, a senior PR consultant for Microsoft in Denmark, to give up her job there, but the whole family followed the dream all the way to this side of the planet. A few months later, they could not be happier about the decision.
Schoennemann is Jabra's new managing director for Australia and New Zealand and says he is excited to expose this market region to some of the learnings he brings with him from Denmark. In fact, he says, when it comes to ways of doing business, ANZ and the Nordic countries are not all that different. "It may be a bit more relationship-focused here, but that is good. It is about people doing business with people, but also about the money. We need to combine the best of both worlds. Let's be honest, companies are in business to make money," says Schoennemann.
"At 37 years old, you want things to happen. I want things to happen for myself and my career. I put my hand up and asked the CEO to discuss my career progression, and the possibility of international experience. We realised it was good for me and good for the company," he says.
At the time of his appointment, Mark Leigh, president of Jabra Asia Pacific, said that the company is gearing up for a period of "aggressive growth" in the region that that Schoennemann was "the right person for the challenge".
While finding his feet in this new market and getting adjusted to a new lifestyle, the new managing director is also launching a new partner sales programme, the "Devices make Experience" programme, which the company unveiled last month. The company has also extended support to its key system integrators with the 360 Sales Support Programme to shift focus from reactive support to proactive services.
Schoennemann is, therefore, a busy man. He says his attempts to "adapt the Nordic way of doing business to ANZ" have been very well received so far and believes the experience will remain a positive one, as the company gears up for more changes. Jabra is tailoring programmes specifically for Microsoft, Cisco and Avaya partners.
The new managing director says he is not happy with the number of partners in New Zealand and will definitely focus on bringing more resellers on board this year. "We're pretty well covered within the traditional market but we have not really done the best job we could within the ICT market," he adds. He also sees a big opportunity in convergence markets, as BYOD and mobility play an ever-increasing role. "We need to persist now and show the business opportunity for resellers. The significance of the mobile worker will take off in the next couple of years," he adds.
"Selling headsets is a very reactive game. Now with these programmes, we are agitating the market in a more pro-active way," says the new MD. "There is good momentum in the New Zealand marketplace."
Are you married? Kids?
Married to Mette Schoennemann, with two kids: Cecilie, 3½, and Frederik, 7 years old.
What are you currently reading?
Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
Who is your mentor? Or someone you admire professionally?
Our CEO Mogens Elsberg, former global director for Microsoft Dynamics. I admire the CEO of Lego, Joergen Knudstorp a lot for his visionary strategy and work with a global brand but just as much for his leadership style (may not be known on this side of the world).
What would be the best advice you could give to someone in the same business as you?
Be honest and open of your intention with your business relationship. Be true to your company and brand – integrity of you as a person is paramount in your and corporate success. Spice it up with hard work and a focused approach on the things that matter.
Can you describe the professional path that led you to the job you have now?
A clear sense of direction on a professional /career level. Clearly making the commitment to myself on what I want to achieve and by when. Analysis of what it requires in terms of skills, experience and network. The stop "talking about it" and "start doing it"…
When you were little, what did you think you would be when you grew up?
I had various dreams, spanding from policeman as my father, to teaching /presenting for young college student and then the successful business man. At the end of the day, I found that it does not matter what you do as long as it makes you happy and content. Unfortunately my love of materials things led me into a direction where I earned more than being a public servant.
Do you have any favourite sports?
Golf and skiing for leisure, running to stay fit. Soccer for social fun
What's your favourite gadget?
I love all gadgets. Current investment is the backpack for my GoPro Hero video camera for skiing, mountain biking and diving. It makes me feel young and inspires me to push my physiological belief of what I think I can do/should do.
And your favourite website?
www.jabra.com obviously. Great new design.
What's your drink of choice?
Gin and tonic any warm day of the weekend!
What do you think has been the single most important advance in technology?
Telephone. The modern world is and will be built on communication. The telephone was the breakthrough in modern communication (setting aside telegraph communication).
If you weren't in technology, what would you be doing?.
I’d like to believe that the industry is not of importance. As long as it’s fast moving and a dynamic environment you are part of. I am actually not super interested in the deep technical stuff of things, just a keen user and demanding customer.
What do you like about the IT industry?
Exactly this. Its fast moving and dynamic. You meet great people with enormous energy and enthusiasm of their respective products/services.
What do you love the most about your job?
The people, the partners and the opportunity we have together.
What is going to be your focus with Jabra in NZ within the next 12 months?
I wish to invest in the NZ marked to a level where we stand close to the key partners that handle the contact centre space as well as key partners for voice enabled unified communication services/products.
What do you consider to be your major strengths or skills?
My experience from EMEA where I headed up the most mature region in our perspective. I know and come with best practise on a business level – on top of this I am a great guy that know life is more than work and headsets (thank goodness).
How do you keep the work/leisure balance?
I make sure that I am home everyday before 6:30pm so I can spend a few hours with the kids before they go to bed. I also make sure that the weekends are set aside for the family – and making sure you are fit so you have the energy to work hard and focused when you are at work.