Morten Øland – University of Copenhagen

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Travelling across the Atlantic with a garbage-can

Morten Øland, cand.mag in Film studies, PR & Communications director at the Danish designer company Vipp Inc. in New York.

Morten has a Master in Film studies from The University of Copenhagen. He now works for the Danish designer-company Vipp at their American department. After visiting the States twice during his youth, he knew that he wanted to return, and when the opportunity came up again, he decided to go for it.

Danish Design in The States

Morten was responsible for passing on the brand at the Scandinavian market for 3 years before he was offered to go to the States. In New York, a new department had recently been started where Morten would be able to develop the brand. Vipp is probably best known for its “iconic garbage-can with a lid that is pure in style”. Earlier in life, Morten had been to the states several times, partly at a high school and partly studying music in Los Angeles back in the 90’s. All of this made him long back.

" It’s definitely the general things from my education that I use, such as the analytic skills that one achieves

Morten Øland

At the American department, Morten works in an office together with two other Danish colleagues. Here they focus on developing the brand Vipp and the organisation in USA by using their experience from the European and Scandinavian market. To pass on the quality of the product and the history of its design is something Morten works with on a daily basis.

“From my experience, it’s something that people here value – that we have a historical reliability with a design that is based on high quality. This combination has been well received with the Americans, and that is something I work to communicate.”

Foundation build at the University of Copenhagen

Morten finished his Master in 2004, and even though he doesn’t work in the film industry, he still uses some of the basic things that he learned in his daily work.

“It’s definitely the general things from my education that I use, such as the analytic skills that one achieves. In my strategies, I use the ability to comprehend a large amount of material, which I have learned from my education.”

Balancing work and spare-time

Moving to the states doesn’t only bring challenges such as time-difference and new colleagues. It’s also a matter of adjusting to a very different work-culture.

“My experience is that a lot of people in New York build their identity on their many working-hours”, Morten explains.

" I like a job where the line between working and free time isn’t too sharp

Morten Øland

Also, the culture concerning business is different from the Danish one. Pro-activity is the keyword when creating an interest for ones products. More over, silence from the customers and media doesn’t mean lack of interests. But you need to be more insisting because you are a small player on a large market. But that’s also part of the excitement. It’s a professional challenge to work with a more commercial market like this.

Further more, Morten is motivated by the vague line between professional- and private life. “I like a job where the line between working and free time isn’t too sharp. I like working with something that I’m so interested in that I sort of live in it.”

Of course, leaving your social relations in Denmark does have its sacrifices. But Morten feels that it is quite easy to stay in contact with family and friends from back home. Morten’s girlfriend Frederikke has been dedicated in the process from the beginning, and now has a great job in the States within her field. They have always agreed that if the opportunity to move abroad came up, they would take it.

Experience and good advice

If you’re thinking of moving abroad, it is important to consider every aspect of the situation, Morten says.

“You are not just moving to a different culture, you are moving you’re whole life. And you need to be prepared and have the energy for this.”

Therefore, Morten explains, it is important to consider both the private and the professional dimensions before making a decision. At the same time, the chance might not come again, so that must be taken into consideration as well. But if it feels right, and you have the support from back home, you should go for it, Morten encourages.