"I am into people and data"
Meeting customers is on top of the to-do-list for the soon to be Deputy CEO at VP. Maria Hjorth joins CEO Niels Olsen in early 2019 to drive commercial opportunities at the Copenhagen-based CSD.
“It is all about customer centricity. Not least in the financial community, and I will approach any given challenge with a fact-based and people-oriented style of work. I really enjoy digging deep into data to get a fact-based understanding of a problem. On the other hand the numbers are not the only true story, and I have learned that success in business often comes down to the people factor,” says Maria Hjorth.
The current CEO at Mercer Denmark will join VP Securities as Deputy CEO with a commercial responsibility on 1 February to work alongside Niels Olsen. The two of them were also colleagues in the Nordic investment bank Carnegie earlier this century, where Maria worked with mergers & acquisitions. Now they team up in the driver’s seat at VP Securities.
Psychology and economics
“During my years at Carnegie I learned that a merger may look like a perfect solution in the spreadsheet and nevertheless end up as a bad deal because of the human and the cultural factors,” says Maria Hjorth. Subsequently she added a MSc in Business Psychology at University of Westminster in London to a MSc and a BSc in Economics from University of Copenhagen. Maria Hjorth also has a series of management and leadership education on the CV as well as diplomas from Singularity University from 2017 and 2018. The career path is dominated by financial sector management positions including eight years at Danske Bank.
Steep learning curve
“I do not join VP with a detailed script or to-do-list for my work, and I am humble to join Niels and the management team. I have a plan for my first months, and it includes a very steep learning curve and involves talking to customers at all levels. I want a deep understanding of post trade services from a customer perspective, because it is the guiding light in everything that we do,” she says.
During her eight years at Danske Bank Maria Hjorth worked in investor relations and had a number of managerial roles within international Corporate Banking, Business development and internal communications.
The ambition for Maria Hjorth is to only engage in activities related to customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, revenue and profits. And she brings in some impressive results from Mercer Denmark, which in five years was turned around with growth in revenue and bottom line and at the same time Maria managed to spearhead increasing customer and employee satisfaction.
Innovative financial services
“I think that VP is a truly fascinating company with potential to build new value propositions and further develop the landscape of Post Trade services. Moving from a silent infrastructure provider to an innovative financial services provider is quite a transition. It is going to take place at a time with big changes in terms of globalization and evolving digital technology. We will need to partner up with market participants going forward, and the majority of what we do must address business issues at our customers,” she says.
Data and post trade
In the light of a personality combining the people manager and the business leader skill set with a true data enthusiast Maria Hjorth will be curious to find ways to build data driven business models.
“It is speculation and just high-flying thoughts at this point in time, and I will probably learn more very soon. But it seems likely to me, that a CSD would be able to build new business models based on data in the post trade environment. At least that is what I among other things will be aiming for,” she says.
Maria Hjorth is eager to bring her track record of commercial focus to the new position at VP. The financial sector as a whole is facing changes from fintech and new entrants to the marketplace. This will apply some pressure to revenue streams and not only will market participants have to focus on cost reduction, they will also seek innovation. On the basis of reliability in the infrastructure the role of the CSD must be to participate in the innovation of business processes. Maria Hjorth at VP will for sure be watching out for these opportunities.
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