My life in Denmark is an adventure
My CBSstory is about moving to Denmark and completing an ambitious, nearly decade-long research project — all the while raising a small child, far from any family help. I trained as an economic sociologist at Harvard University after earning my undergraduate degree from Stanford. Now I am a professor with special responsibilities as well as a certified wealth manager. My eight years of work on offshore finance, tax avoidance and inequality turned out to be very timely when the Panama Papers leak broke, just five months before publication of my book, Capital without Borders. Because of that timing, I was able to work with SKAT (the Danish Customs and Tax Administration) and Folketinget (the Danish Parliament) just when the government bought a segment of the Panama Papers to track down Danish tax evaders. It has been an honour to contribute to the Danish society through my research, and it was a thrill to find that my book became a bestseller when it came out in Danish this past September.
All this would not have been possible without the support of CBS. I was pregnant when CBS hired me and benefitted from Denmark’s parental leave policies. From the time I arrived in July 2010, with a five-month-old baby in my arms, my department and my colleagues supported me in pursuing a tough international research programme at the highest level, while at the same time being a parent to an infant. Combining serious business research with parenthood has not always been easy, and it is not possible at many universities in the world, but my work has really benefitted from the family-friendly culture and the public services available here in Denmark.
Denmark has therefore been an ideal place for me. My family is really far away, a nine-hour flight from here in fact, so there are no grandparents just around the corner to help raise my son. But because of the fantastic people around me and the work culture in Denmark, with its immense flexibility and understanding co-workers, I have been able to combine my position as a researcher with being a mother. Nobody looks at me the wrong way if I leave work early one day because I have to pick up my son.
The nursery and day care systems have also been amazing. For example, one day I got very ill and had to stay in the hospital overnight. It was summertime, and my babysitter was out of the country on holiday, so I did not know what would happen to my son, who was just two years old at the time. His wonderful nursery school teacher stepped up and took him to spend the night at her own home, with her own children; then she sent me a few photos so I could rest easy that night, knowing my son was fine and happy. What incredible generosity. That is not something I think you would encounter many other places.
So you can say that Danish culture, and not to mention CBS, has helped me successfully manage it all.