04 Apr Casper Urhammer’s Inspiring Story, Tackling life with HIGH ENERGY & never ending PERSISTENCE
INSPIRING STORY by JC Inspire
Casper Urhammer – Newly appointed Chief Sales Officer, IWG plc and Former Global CEO – Contiki (2014 -2018)
Casper’s Inspiring Story written by JC Inspire during his time at Contiki…
YOUR ENERGY introduces you before you even speak
If you could light up a room with a person’s energy, then that of Contiki Global Chief Executive Casper Urhammer could light up a city.
The self-confessed adrenaline junkie sleeps just five hours a night, but he says that’s all he needs. He confesses he has a slight craziness in his bones. His dynamic energy has carried him all around the world, taking him on adventures such as skydiving and driving a motorcycle across the Sahara Desert.
But on every instalment, he wears a small piece of gold shaped like a hammer just as his mother did for decades before him. Passed down from one generation to the next, this family heirloom of gold was carried through World War II and some of WW1. Shaped like Thor’s hammer Mjolner, it is a symbol of the Norse gods – bestowed with a Viking spirit that still runs strong in Casper’s veins and no question about it Casper is the modern-day Thor and you can see why he is suited to running a high energy global company like Contiki.
Do not pray for an easy life, ACQUIRE THE STRENGTH TO ENDURE A DIFFICULT ONE
Casper’s first job was pushing trollies at IKEA in Denmark where he was born and raised. Back then, he wasn’t dreaming of becoming a CEO, but rather a firefighter. But that dream wasn’t to be. He had always liked technology, so he decided to become an electrical engineer. But once his studies had begun, he quickly realised his brain was better suited to the world of business. And so, his first serious job was as sales manager at an IT company selling computer memory. There, he worked his way up to leading the team and, after a couple of years, ended up running sales in all of Scandinavia. “Then one of my clients offered me a job and it was a company I really admired and looked up to,” Casper tells Jito. It was the 90s and he was selling Apple computers. But adventure was calling.
A gap year in Barcelona saw Casper spend a year skydiving, then he stayed on for a further six months working as an information analyst covering the Scandinavia region. “There are very few people in Spain that speak Danish, Swedish and Norwegian so that is how I got in the door,” he reveals. In fact, Casper speaks no less than six languages – a skill that has really helped him in his very global career. Back in Denmark, Casper started working for a Swedish company. Although he started at the very bottom, he eventually ended up running the company.
BREAK HABITS and get to the next level
“Having learnt so much about the industry at that time, I decided to acquire a business,” Casper says. The business he chose was a small operation with a couple of staff that had been around for about 15 years but had hardly ever made a profit. “I kept the founders on as partners, grew it over a couple of years, acquired one competitor and then a second and third, building it to a market-leading business,” he says proudly. “It’s still a small business, but to this day it is the market leading systems integrator in Denmark in its space.”
He sold the business back in 2007 at a “really good time”, and with the money he made from the sale, he moved to California for another gap year, this time to surf. While there, he started a small private equity firm. At the time, Google and a number of other technology companies were making waves, and with his background in that world, he became intrigued.
Whether you think you can or not, YOU’RE RIGHT
Be like a duck, REMAIN CALM on the SURFACE and paddle LIKE HELL UNDERNEATH
He headed back home for a couple of months where he was hired as a management consultant for a tech start-up. “I was hired to spend three months, but ended up spending nearly a year for a famous and renowned Danish businessman who was the Donald Trump of Denmark,” he recalls.
But London was calling. Fortunately, that didn’t mean that his consultancy work had to come to an end. He won a few assignments while in the UK capital, but then he took on a role with what was a small business at the time, called Groupon.
It’s not what happens to you, but HOW YOU REACT to it that MATTERS
“I then founded Groupon in Denmark and was part of growing that business and taking it to Public Listing on the NASDAQ with 12,000 employees before moving to Australia to work with Groupon for two years responsible for Australia and New Zealand,” he says.
It was at this time that Casper was approached to join Contiki in Geneva as the youth specialist’s global CEO. With travel and adrenaline already in his blood, it was an easy move. Now he travels a staggering 225 days of the year supporting his managing directors and the companies +1000 employees in seven regions and operations in more than 60 countries.
It fills Casper with pride that 60% of his executive leaders across the regions are females, he tells Jito. He describes the women in the company as “dynamic” and “agile” which he says makes them more in touch with the brand.
Healthy BODY equals healthy MIND
With such a demanding schedule, how does Casper keep going? His strong physical health is a major factor, he believes. He works out and runs every day, or every second day when on the road, and puts great importance on keeping this up.
And when asked about his professional inspiration, Casper says he looks up to David Hosking – his predecessor in the role of global CEO who has worked in the business for 40 years and still an integral part and respected leader of TTC. “He is such an admirable, skilled and likeable gentleman, everyone who meets Dave wants to be Dave, me included,” he says. “He has this unique ability to walk into a room and sort out a conflict but still leave the room with everyone smiling and thinking they got what they wanted – it’s a skill that very few people possess.”
So, what adventure is lined up next for Casper? He is dreaming of motorcycling through Khardung La – the highest road in the world located northeast of Leh in the Indian Himalayas. Watch this space…
As global CEO – Casper never dreamt or desired to become a CEO it wasn’t even a plan for him but as he kept pursuing his strengths and growing his skills that helped him end up with the top job.
Casper’s ADVICE for anyone wanting to grow their career….
- Be willing to sacrifice for your business life.
- Run bloody hard, give a little bit more and then even more of yourself to your work – the more you give, the luckier you seem to be.
- Pursue your strengths and keep questioning.
- I wasn’t perfectly qualified but that doesn’t matter – if you are persistent, allow yourself to fail but keep trying while learning from your mistakes, you can get there.
- Be intolerant of mediocrity.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
- Having your foundations like family in place is the key to being successful.
- Work to the trends, move to where the opportunity is, work harder than anyone else and get things done.
Casper Urhammer is no longer the global CEO of The Travel Corporation’s youth-focused Contiki brand, stepping down after just over three years in the role.
He’s taken a role outside the travel industry after the arrival of twins prompted him to seek a position involving less travel.
Jito Connected wishes Casper huge success for the future… You will be missed!
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