December 21st, 2011
01:49 PM GMT
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Billund, Denmark (CNN) - How many chief executives can put “working at a pre-school” on their resumes? Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, boss of toy giant Lego, can.

What’s more, he credits his time spent at a kindergarten with leadership lessons that later helped him bring the well-loved brand back to profitability.

“There are two things about working in a kindergarten: One is you are dealing with children and, at least in this country, they don’t care what you are telling them,” Knudstorp says. They care about what kind of role model you are and how you can influence them.”

The fluid leadership structure - often reflected in institutions like nursery schools, kindergartens and pre-schools - was also beneficial. At Lego, he says, “you need to manage the informal organization as much as the formal authority structure.”

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December 15th, 2011
01:19 PM GMT
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Copenhagen (CNN) – Jens Bjorn Andersen, boss of Danish transport giant DSV, has a message for Europe’s politicians: Deal with Europe’s crisis like he has streamlined his business. Stop over-spending, trim the headcount and get a grip on costs.

Those struggling to rein in the eurozone’s ongoing debt problems might want to listen. DSV is one of those companies that you probably haven’t heard of but, once you do, you’ll see their logo everywhere.

After interviewing Andersen at DSV’s Copenhagen headquarters, we spent eight hours on the road. To pass the time, we played a game spotting DSV transporters. They have around 17,000 trucks on the road every day, and we spied at least one a minute.

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November 23rd, 2011
05:59 PM GMT
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(CNN) – Turn on CNN, open the ‘papers, check your emails. If you hadn’t noticed yet, the European economy is pretty close to crumbling around us. Or is it?

Meet the shining stars of the European business world and the big picture is more boom than doom. At least that was the message we got at the European Business Awards in Barcelona.

The Marketplace Europe team headed to Barcelona for the Awards ceremony this week. The event is designed to showcase innovation, drive and resourcefulness from companies of all sizes, nationalities and sectors around Europe.

So far, so predictable. But what made it more than just another date in the November “events season” diary was that we weren’t baffled by power-point presentations or bored with a load of corporate-speak. We were buoyed by the upbeat mood.

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November 10th, 2011
04:39 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – Europe’s internet economy is growing, but the continent lags far behind Silicon Valley’s high tech community in the U.S.

And while there are plans are afoot to level the playing field, Europe might want to be careful what it wishes for. Growing this sector may be painful.

Europe has pockets of highly-skilled and innovative brains in various cities around Europe: Silicon Docks in Dublin, Silicon Sentier in Paris, corners of Vienna and East London. But it takes more than bits of modern architecture and a few flat-screens to create the business environment for big-scale, global, web-based success.
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November 3rd, 2011
03:29 PM GMT
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London (CNN) - At last we have the battle-cry from the City of London, claiming its crown as Europe’s financial center. That’s despite Frankfurt’s fabulous financial futures set-up and the growing over-the-counter derivatives clearing capability in Paris. It’s about time Britain loosened its stiff upper lip to assert its place in Europe.

British PM David Cameron, shadow finance minister Ed Balls, Xavier Rolet, CEO of the London Stock Exchange and others have taken to the airwaves recently to hail London as the center of financial services in Europe.

The UK remains outside the single currency club, but it doesn’t escape challenge from its European peers. As Hubertus Vaeth, MD of Frankfurt Main Finance, tells Marketplace Europe: “Frankfurt is the main finance center …. we clearly have Russian banks coming in, we have Eastern European banks coming in.”
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October 28th, 2011
12:42 PM GMT
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Germany (CNN) – I thought that building trains would be a greasy, oily, noisy business. But as Marketplace Europe discovered on a trip to Germany, building trains is tidy - the messy bit is figuring out how to get them travelling easily across Europe's borders.

When we arrived at Siemens Rail systems factory, just outside Dusseldorf - the home of 2,000 workers - it was like we had landed inside a giant train-set. It was neat, shiny and bright.

Building trains in the 21st century is pretty much mess-free. Apart from welding and painting, it is all about assembling component parts, rather like wiring a highly complex computer - albeit one that will move at 300km per hour.
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