Michael Mortensen started at OJ Electronics as a teenager with a broomstick. If you count his time with the Sønderborg-based company as starting from that day, he’s actually celebrating his 30-year anniversary. He began his career as a 14-year-old floor sweeper and took up an apprenticeship with the company when he turned 19. Today, Michael is a 44-year-old Strategic Purchasing Manager who spends 60-80 days each year on business trips around the world.
“It’s incredibly exciting. I travel a lot, and that makes a great change from everyday life. I manage our efforts to make a huge global setup run smoothly at OJ, and that’s enormously satisfying,” Michael says.
Many of his trips are to the Eastern Europe and Asia, where OJ Electronics has electronics manufacturing services (EMS); suppliers who handle some of our manufacturing processes of the company’s products and ship them directly to international customers in regions such as North America. It makes no sense for a thermostat to go on a trip around the world just because it needs to pass by Sønderborg, Michael explains, but when the company uses a supplier for everything and has not physically inspected the product itself, that makes things more challenging for the Strategic Purchasing Department.
“Normally we’d have the luxury of knowing what we’re sending off to the customer, so it’s crucial for us to be able to trust our partners around the world and to have a top-notch quality management system. That’s why it’s so important to be physically present and ensure that things are running smoothly. For example, I travel to Asia 4-5 times a year. The relationship-building work is incredibly important to us.”
When Michael Mortensen is not catching a plane or visiting our partners around the world, he spends his office hours in Sønderborg on the Strategic Purchasing department’s more general responsibilities. Daily operations are located in another department. Michael and his colleagues are responsible for identifying new suppliers, making contracts and following up on them. Their jobs entail familiarising themselves with new components and technologies, and if goods need to be procured quickly, or if a supplier doesn’t fulfil its contractual obligations, that’s when Strategic Purchasing Department steps in.
“We have an incredibly important role in the company, since a large part of the overall price of the products is based on the price of the components. That’s why we have to keep the whole supplier portfolio up to the mark and ensure they perform by delivering the correct quality, on time and at the right price. Otherwise, we find ourselves with an end-product that can’t compete in the market,” says Michael, who revels in making things come together in the global context that OJ Electronics operates within. His friends and family have asked whether it might not be time to look for new opportunities, but Michael doesn’t feel like he’s been in the same place for many years, even though he’s worked at OJ Electronics for the majority of his life.
“OJ has come so incredibly far from where it was when I started. There’s so much happening all the time, and we’re still growing. There are lots of exciting projects and new challenges all the time. New suppliers and new technology. Our department also has a lot of different responsibilities. At OJ, you don’t get pigeonholed into one strictly delineated area of responsibility, and there’s a lot of flexibility in our daily working life. There are some guidelines, but you have a lot of influence over how you organise your time,” Michael Mortensen explains.
“I’m happy going to work every single morning. We work on really great tasks and projects. I always look forward to the next business trip, and my colleagues are amazing. So why on earth would I look for another job when I’m happy here?”