In your own words: Susie A. Ruff, CEO and Senior Advisor
“The picture is from Stanford University, where I took the Executive course “Customer-Focused Innovation” in 2012. The course included working in groups of managers from all over the world. We focused on Design Thinking and rapid prototype development based on real life needs. I really benefit from this method now, working with product development and go-to-market”. (Photo: private photo)
What were you like when you studied at CBS?
I was one of the first graduates of SPRØK (BSc in Business, Language and Culture), which was established in 1984. Then I completed my MSc studies in International Trade, as the degree was called back then. I was a curious student. I attended all lectures and classroom teaching.
I once participated in a fascinating and rewarding field trip to Tunesia. We gained insight into a completely different culture and economic life in terms of working with export and internationalisation on those parallels. We stayed under primitive conditions in a small village and were invited for tea by the villagers. Systems export was popular back then.
I was very goal-oriented and ambitious with my bachelor project. And I stayed focused during my master studies. I was one of the two first students to go to ESADE, Barcelona, to study for a period abroad, so I did my research for my master thesis in Spain.
I also had several student positions, for instance with a large organisation that developed payment systems and a successful Danish manufacturing company. And I also had to make time for social activities!
How did you get your first job after graduating from CBS?
Through my network! I wrote my SPRØK bachelor project for a medium-sized Danish manufacturing company with three other students. The company was facing some export challenges, which they asked us to examine.
The project was well received, and after a year studying in the USA, I was hired by their CEO to work with marketing and internationalisation.
Which moments in your career have been defining - and why?
Definitely the ones where I have had the chance to work internationally and establish contact to other nationalities and make results. Part of them were challenges, which seemed huge but solvable. For instance, when I was quite young and travelled the world as a regional export manager for a small manufacturing company and had to land distribution agreements and ensure export orders.
Another example is when I was an expatriate and deputy head at the Danish embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I assisted Danish companies in export and investment matters in markets under different conditions and behaviour than in Denmark.
Thirdly, I was in charge of establishing a unit as well as a framework, culture, and tools for innovation in a large public health organisation, and where public and private parties from the business community had to work together regarding innovative solutions for the health sector.
And last, but not least to start up my own business, ensure a steady customer flow, and create value for my customers.
What is the most valuable experience you gained at CBS that you still use in your daily work?
I have several valuable experiences! However, the most important one is the ability to work interdisciplinarily in a global context. I have lived in a lot of places abroad as a child and an adult, and I have always been interested in learning more about working in other cultures and how segments across country borders in fact are somewhat alike.
Another one is having learned about methodology and framework, which are used to solve many tasks.
Have you maintained a relation with CBS since you graduated?
Yes! I have several liaisons with CBS. Professionally, I am an external examiner in the International Business and Innovation and Entrepreneurship MSc programmes. It is very inspiring and means that I am in regular contact with CBS.
I also established close friendships during my studies at CBS that still last. And right now, I am in dialogue with a department at CBS about being guest lecturer in a new programme.