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The banker who got better with age

Henrik Sander-Jensen started as a banking student at Københavns Handelsbank in 1983. Today he is 58 and works with marketing in Sparinvest, where age distribution and spaciousness contribute to the positive atmosphere. And he is still going after new challenges on the job.

More grounded and more loose, less uncertainty and less meticulousness. This is how it is for Henrik Sander-Jensen to be an experienced employee on the high side of 55, and he actually thinks there are lots of advantages to being older.

“In my younger days, I was really into accuracy and was worried about mistakes and not doing things right or good enough. But over time, I’ve gotten a lot calmer and laid back in my confidence that everything will work out”, says Henrik Sander-Jensen.

And it’s not because he’s gotten lazy or wasteful with age. The different approach to things is rooted in the experiences and maturity that comes along with getting older. Some of the uncertainty goes down in favour of a healthy robustness. But age is also not a topic he thinks about a lot in everyday life at work.

“I can sometimes be sitting and talking to one of the young people over lunch and suddenly it occurs to me that I could be their father. The age difference becomes clear. But in everyday life, it’s about cooperating and getting things done, and age doesn’t matter.”

A working life of development and curiosity

In addition to an easy-going approach to age differences, there is also something else about Henrik Sander-Jensen that gives the impression of being at the right place at the right time. Namely, his approach to development and all of his curiosity:

“I like to keep updated and get to know new systems as long as there is a purpose to it and I need to use it in my daily life. And then I’ve also taken a lot of different courses throughout my working life.”

The marketing employee’s story is also the story of not taking the direct route, but following his ambitions and dreams and being willing to take slightly longer detours to reach his goals. After high school, he had the idea of studying business administration, but the prospect of a placement with a student salary suddenly seemed more attractive.

“I wanted to do something with marketing even then but wasn’t motivated for a long education programme. So it ended up being the banking education, which I have also used in more classic banking positions. But I’ve always been interested in communication and marketing and then got a place in that field in BRF Kredit in 2002.”

Along the way, he has continuously developed and upgraded his skills. He has taken a number of writing and communication courses and project management training courses and also got a Bachelor of Commerce in foreign trade. But perhaps the greatest mental effort was during a period of a notice of dismissal he was hit with when he turned 54 years old. During that period, he also had plenty of time to attend continuing education and courses.

“I really saw it as a much-needed opportunity to do something different after being in the same place for almost 30 years. It’s something that’s maybe a little bit part of the industry – that we stay in the same place when we feel good. But 30 years is a long time, even if, like me, you have moved around internally.”

The dismissal was due to an acquisition and some associated organisational changes, and so the dismissal hardly came as a shock to Henrik Sander-Jensen and his colleagues.

“I actually mobilised a sort of joy and hopefulness when we finally got the message, and saw it as a welcome opportunity to move on.”

Suddenly the uncertainty struck

But what he couldn’t mobilise as much joy for was the thoughts and considerations that followed. What do you have to offer when you have been in the same place for almost 30 years? And where do you stand in the candidate field amongst other – perhaps younger – candidates when you are in your mid-50s? The mental mindset had to be worked on.

“Right at the beginning of the notice period, I started to apply for some junior positions because I simply didn’t think I had enough to offer in terms of the senior positions. But I didn’t consider those positions at all.”

Henrik’s outplacement supervisor approached him and made it clear to him that he had plenty to offer and did not have to waste ammunition on positions he was overqualified for.

“You should apply for senior positions and believe that you know what you can do, he told me. And he was absolutely right. When I started looking for the heavier positions, I went to several interviews and then landed a job in communication and marketing at Sparinvest.”

Yes, please to challenges and age distribution

When Sparinvest got their new colleague in the marketing department, it was a colleague who came with a drive and fresh courses from Finanskompetencepuljen (Finance Competence Fund) and with training courses in social media, digital communication and communication strategy.

“I accept the things that come, and I still have new challenges and am happy to go to work. I do not necessarily see myself as someone who will stay until retirement age, but I think I will stay the next five years anyway. But it may also be that I’m ready to stay longer after five years. I’ll take it as it comes.”

One of the things that contributes to the positive atmosphere at Henrik’s workplace and makes him want to be there is the age distribution and the spaciousness.

“I’m probably 25 years older than the colleague I work with most, and we have an incredibly good cooperation and each contribute our own angle on things. And then there is a generally good age distribution in Sparinvest, where at 58, I am far from the oldest employee.”

Freedom is slowly approaching

Henrik Sander-Jensen does not see himself as the type to abruptly retire from one day to the next.
“I haven’t really started thinking about it yet, but could easily see myself going down in hours at some point and maybe doing some volunteer work or just enjoying the free time.”

It’s also generally the prospect of more freedom and more long walks with the dog, more books and some courses at Folkeuniversitetet waiting out there someday.

“I really like the idea of being free to consider my options. And then there’s also a freedom in currently being in another place, both practically and financially. There’s a lot of freedom in that, and the children have moved out of the house. There was also a great security when I was dismissed and I’d say the same thing again – you get a calm and resilience with age that can also be something.”

When asked for advice for others in terms of keeping the pot boiling in the later part of one’s career, he turned his gaze to Astrid Lindgren’s red-haired child of wisdom.

“Be curious about what’s going on and be open to new tasks. A bit like Pippi: ‘I’ve never tried that before, so I can definitely do it!’”

Henrik Sander-Jensen

58 years old and a banking graduate from Københavns Handelsbank.

Currently employed in communication and marketing in Sparinvest, which is 75 per cent owned by Nykredit.

Came to Sparinvest from BRF Kredit, where he held different positions in different departments from 1988 to 2017, when BRF Kredit was closed down as an independent company and acquired by Jyske Bank.

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