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Kenneth Madsen, president of Pandora Jewelry Asia-Pacific, calls himself an "entrepreneur at heart" with a passion for the commercial aspects of running a company.
"You could never put me in a business that has been running for 30 years, growing 2 percent each year and optimizing on cost. That"s not me. I love to grow a business and explore new cultures, new countries as well as new markets," he tells China Daily.
Though born and raised in Denmark, Madsen has been living out of the country for years, having spent a long time in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
He joined Pandora in 2009 as managing director for Central and Eastern Europe in Warsaw, Poland, where he built up the brand as a new startup from zero within four years. With two or three people in his team, Madsen made business plans in Starbucks at the very beginning. The company quickly expanded with the joint efforts, taking root in Poland and having found distributors in Russia. Next, it went to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and opened stores there.
Madsen moved to Hong Kong five years ago to take over the nascent business here.
"We had to set up a new team and close down some stores that were not working. But, this kind of resetting and then building up the business is definitely where I get my energy from."
Before Madsen"s venture into the jewelry business, he had been associated mainly with sales and marketing. The industries involved ranged from Danish beer brewer Carlsberg and music publishing company EMI to footwear retailer Ecco.
"I had been with Ecco shoes for six years when I decided to change. Part of it was because I was familiar with Pandora from back home in Denmark," he says. "The work I did for Ecco shoes before has helped me put more life into a jewelry store. We try to modernize a little bit in how to operate as a jewelry business."
According to Madsen, the jewelry business is quite old-fashioned. Back in the old days, normally there were two collections per year, spring-summer and autumn-winter. People would visit a traditional jewelry store once or twice a year, depending on their consumption levels.
His early career equipped him with the ability to combine the fast fashion trend with traditional business, making it possible there"s always something new at Pandora"s stores.
"We have seven launches every year. It"s relatively affordable to buy one charm and build a little bit on the bracelet," Madsen says.
"What we"re trying to do at Pandora is actually adding innovation to the traditional business and that"s a big part of our success."