How to be successful as SAP specialist or -manager in Denmark (for non-Danes)

What constitutes a successful SAP career in Denmark? And how do you achieve that?

Having worked in the SAP employment market for over 17 years as a headhunter with literally thousands of job- and career-related talks, I would like to share what you can do in order to be successful in Denmark professionally. Most of the tips will apply to other areas of expertise as well, but I based them primarily on the SAP realm. So let’s dive into it.


The first thing you probably have to be aware about is what can be broadly called “working culture”, including (but not limited to): company culture, organizational hierarchies, level of employee autonomy, value system, and “tone”. The value system alone can be substantially different from what you’re used to. In any event, being aware about differences is very important since they may impact your performance.


Many enter the Danish labour market and experience a relatively low language barrier, provided you speak English very well. For many companies, English is the de facto company language in all aspects (meetings, documentation, informal chats, etc.). I know that many foreigners don’t bother to learn Danish (at least to a basic level) or postpone it until later. This is in fact very understandable, especially if your employer can pull you out for new assignments elsewhere in the world on short notice. However, I have a LOT of career discussions with foreigners who after 3-4 years “just started to learn Danish”, maybe because their kids speak Danish once they get home from kindergarten or school…. If you learn Danish, you dramatically increase your professional options in the labour market, and any effort to learn Danish is greatly appreciated by most people.


Networking in the sense of getting to know your peers professionally and to some extent privately will pay well of. Trying to and succeeding in building closer relationships with Danes as well as other nationalities is not only good for your working relations, it also enhances your private life. Now, I know that this is not as easy as it sounds, but if you want to stay in Denmark long-term, it will be time well spent.


Or as I prefer to say. “Call a friend”. A mentor is someone you can contact professionally and who is willing to assist you in your challenges professionally. A mentor SHOULD do it for free (without costs), provided that the time spent is “reasonable”. I’m pretty sure that if you network and find someone you trust (and vice versa), you can safely request a mentorship relation. Most people would see it as an honour and from personal experience, it usually develops into a mutually beneficial relationship.


In general, headhunters are not mentors nor career counselors. However, building relationships with a local headhunter can be productive in many ways, and it is a part of relationship building to get to know each other maybe around specific challenges in your job. If you forward a friendly request, normally the headhunter will respond in kind, and the both of you will learn from the engagement.


As you can see, being a successful specialist in Denmark means being not only a skilled employee. It’s also about relationships and communication. If you are ready to be this way and dive into the Danish people’s lifestyle you will achieve success in your career much quicker.