"I am usually taking the metro to and from work, which is natural to me. But some of my Czech colleagues were very surprised to see that the General Manager took the subway and not a fancy car. It was insanely interesting. It showed me that there are some interesting cultural differences between people here in the Czech Republic versus Denmark, and that they have certain expectations of how management should be like."
That was one among many memories that Jakob Sassersen, now Global Head of Data and AI in NNIT, recalls from his first days as the General Manager of NNIT Czech Republic.
From Graduate Program to Global Head of Data and AI
Jakob's journey with NNIT has been full of surprises, challenges, and fun. He has been with NNIT for 15 years, gone through 12 different positions, moved from Denmark to the Czech Republic as the General Manager (GM) of the local office, and grew the team from 50 to 250 people.
His go-getter attitude defined NNIT Czech Republic's culture back then and its expansion now. "It motivates me to see things happen," Jakob said, "whether it is seeing customers succeeding, improving the way we do operations, company performance, or seeing colleagues grow - I like to set things in motion and see it flourish."
When Jakob joined NNIT in 2006, he was part of the Graduate Program in Denmark, working as a consultant within test management and business management. After a year, he became the team lead of the program. Then, his career took off. The following year, he got promoted to Executive Assistant to the then-CEO Per Kogut, developing business strategy, governance, and business case development. From then on, he has always been in management roles.
His career reached another level when he moved to Prague, the Czech Republic, in 2014 to lead the local office as its General Manager. Employees who joined the company during this time still remember how the Czech office used to feel like a start-up. It was growing fast, attracting people from all over the world, which entailed lots of fun (but important) discussions about the company language and dress code.
Embracing diversity and inclusivity
"There are many humorous things in the Czech culture," said Jakob. "For example, it was extremely common to walk around with flip flops and socks at the office. "There is no problem with that. However, I was like, 'you don't have shoes on in the office?' So, we had a lot of conversations about these dress codes because we have people from so many countries. I would say we found a great compromise, considering the fact that we had colleagues from more than 30 countries."
In the beginning, the difference between the Danish and Czech cultures also brought out many surprises for both sides. Some people were also surprised to find Jakob, their GM, taking the subway instead of driving. Others said it was the first time they could just enter the GM's office and talk to him directly.
When the management first introduced Friday Bars to the Czech office, they had it in one of the meeting rooms. Jakob recalled: "Some people were like, 'You're drinking at the office?' Of course, it's not okay to drink at the office. Of course, we can go to a pub. But we'd lose half of the people along the way because then people would go home. So, it was easier just to say, okay, we meet at four o'clock on Fridays, once a month in the meeting room."
They would have different cultural themes for these Friday Bars and combine them with board games, which is a long-time passion of Jakob. He could play board games non-stop for days. The diversity at the Czech office not only brings about unforgettable moments like this, but also new brings new perspectives on matters.
It’s all about the team
"It's always about finding the right team to handle the different challenges," said Jakob. "An element to success is having the right people around you. I think that's how we have succeeded in the Czech Republic and how I've overcome my challenges in the past. I've had people around me who covered for my shortcomings, since there are a lot of them."
Now, Jakob is heading the global team within Data and AI in NNIT. His team is looking for experts mainly with AWS as well as Microsoft BI. If you are the expert that we are searching for; a go-getter who wants to set things in motion and challenge the status quo, but you are wondering if NNIT is the IT company for you, here is what Jakob said:
"If I look at Data and AI, it is very much around making a mark in society because we're working for Life Sciences and Healthcare mainly. Those are the two biggest segments that need NNIT's support in AWS. We are speeding the process of getting drugs to the market. We are building platforms for the Life Sciences business to make faster, better, and more accurate decisions that could actually impact people's lives. That's a huge commitment to join. And you'll be supporting the journey. In the big picture, you're a part of a revolution that is changing the world and making a big mark both in Europe and many other places around the world. That's why you should join NNIT - because we do have a chance to make a mark."
Do you want to make your mark? Apply through our career site and join NNIT.