14 career paths through 100 years of business history

When CBS turns 100 years old here in 2017, around 85,000 alumni will be able to boast one or more degrees from the business school – and CBS takes pride in them, too. 14 alumni from the 10 decades since CBS’ founding have been portrayed in the new book ‘CBS through 100 years,’ which has been written to mark the centenary. The portraits can be read at CBS’ centennial website.


There are no alumni from the business school’s first five years. This is because there were no structured programmes that lead to a diploma or degree. The students were working professionals who paid out of their own pocket to participate in lectures and attended study groups.

The first Graduate Diploma programme (known as ‘HD’) was established in 1920, so it was not until 1922 that the first diplomas were handed out. Since then, much has happened with the business school. You can read more about the development in the book CBS through 100 years, written in occasion of the centenary year by Professor Kurt Jacobsen and Assistant Professor Anders Ravn Sørensen.

Through the past 100 years, CBS has educated a lot of different people, each with their own passion, driving force, and expertise. About 85,000 alumni, actually. There was, of course, not room for all of them in the narrative about our educational institution’s ups and downs, but it was possible to put 14 of them in the limelight. Those you can read about on CBS’ centenary website.

The common alum characteristic: passion was key

The portraits are a series of striking stories about a versatile group of alumni with very different backgrounds, historic times, and career paths. What unites the 14 selected alumni – from Denmark to abroad, from corporate to self-employed, from private to public sector, and not least from gender to gender – is that their passion was the key to their success.

A very good example of that is this year’s Distinguished Alumnus, Claus Meyer, whose first company was CBS’ own canteen in Dalgas Have, and whose many different projects since graduating from CBS all spring from his own passion for gastronomy.

As a woman it was, to put it mildly, a challenge to earn respect and get to the top in business in the first part of the 20th century. So it took passion in abundance to achieve what Ester Graff did in her remarkable 88-year long life.

Ester Graff got her Graduate Diploma in 1934 while working at Levers Sæbefabrik, later to become Unilever, and few years later she rose through the ranks to become Manager of the Propaganda Department. Along with her career, she was actively engaged in the Women’s Rights Movement and for a number of years she was President for the International Alliance of Women (IAW).

Not just historic, but also contemporary alumni

You will find portraits not only of historic alumni but also of contemporary alumni. One of the portrayed is Bo Nilsson, MSc from 1991, who from 2012 was first CFO, and later CEO for the digital payment group Nets where he was in charge of the stock market listing in 2016.

He began his career as an investment advisor with a specialty in mergers and acquisitions. From 2010 he used his experience to buy or buy into two smaller companies and later – after a number of years with growth through acquisitions, mergers, and innovation – get them listed on the stock exchange and sell them.

Good examples of lifelong learning and engagement

Many of the 14 alumni maintained their connection to CBS after graduating – among these Liza Klöcker-Larsen, who became a dean, the Lundbeck Foundation’s (Lundbeckfonden) CEO Steen Hemmingsen, who was an external examiner for many years, and Governor of the Danish National Bank Torben Henning Nielsen, who was an adjunct professor.

The alumni portrayed are widely different and contemporary products of each their time. Common to them is that they all posses or possessed an expertise and passion within their field, which created their unique career paths.

The portraits can be read on CBS’ centenary website or in the newly published book, CBS through 100 years by Kurt Jacobsen and Anders Ravn Sørensen.

The page was last edited by: Alumni // 10/20/2021