This kind of thesis can launch your career

Merethe Klint was awarded an MA in musicology and dramaturgy in 2006. Today she is an independent organisational consultant, thanks largely to the way she did her thesis.

In her thesis, Klint studied the musical development of the town of Horsens in Central Jutland, which had managed to attract some world-famous stars. She was interested in finding out how a town like Horsens managed to do this. It was something that the city of Aarhus had not managed, even though Aarhus is home to students of musicology, the Royal Academy of Music and a much larger potential audience.

To learn more about her subject, Klint talked to the municipality, the local musical scene, Frank Panduro (director of Horsens Ny Teater), and the business club that supported his theatre.

Don’t be afraid to use your phone

The phone was Klint’s most important tool – plus networking and a fair share of courage and commitment. Her circle of contacts spread like rings in the Water.

“All I had to do was contact the various organisations involved. Once I got hold of someone working in one area, they put me in contact with relevant people from another area.”

“It was an incredibly interesting process. I got close to all the stakeholders, and they were more than willing to share their experiences and explain the reasons for their success in organising major concerts in Horsens.”

Why should students choose this kind of thesis?

Klint wrote her Master’s thesis in collaboration with the town of Horsens and a variety of stakeholders. She wanted to do a real project and to work with the actual people involved.

“I didn’t want to write a hugely theoretical thesis about a particular musical phenomenon or a particular period in musical history. This could have been a really lonely process for me.”

Working on a specific project meant that she had an obligation not only to herself and her supervisor, but also to the people who contributed to her thesis. It made the whole thing more valuable for her.

Her thesis shaped her career

“My entire career is a result of my Master’s thesis.”

During the process, she learned that there was plenty of inspiration to be found not only in the cultural sector, but also in the business community and the public sector – particularly because they all work in different ways. She found a knowledge gap which all three sectors could use to their own advantage.

“That’s why I’ve been working with organisational development ever since. The way people think and work together in the world of music has always been my point of focus in both public and private organisations.

“At the same time, I also started to realise where my own blind spots and knowledge gaps were. For instance, I started to realise how important it was to think and act in a businesslike manner if I wanted to use my knowledge of music in a business context. I also learned that for me it made obvious sense to create links between different industries and sectors. This turned out to be harder than I had imagined, and nor was the process involved equally obvious to the other parties involved. So my work since then has also been – and still is – to explain how inspiration from music can improve a business. Organisational work can only succeed if we adopt a holistic approach to organisations, and unfortunately this is rare in many organisations today.”

In particular, Klint gained a range of analytical competences during her Master’s thesis: “Assessing a situation, connecting knowledge and tools from different worlds so that they create value in a completely new way and for all parties involved.”

Transitioning from university to work

She started working in a small firm of consultants arranging courses for organisations, using competences from the creative subjects. But she wanted to work at the interface between music and business, so she needed more specific business experience. So she applied for a job with the Danish multi-industry company A.P. Møller Mærsk – and they took her on.

“My time at Mærsk was very instructive, and I learned a lot about the needs of the business community, what they focus on, and how they talk about different issues. This has proven incredibly useful to me in my work today. After working at Mærsk for a while, I was allowed to do some organisational development using the mindset and tools of the world of music. This created the business results which are necessary in order to have a strong impact on the business community.”

While working at Mærsk, Klint realised that if she could make the employees engage in organisational development using a musical mindset, she would also be able to do the same thing elsewhere.

“So I started my own company in 2012.”

Last year, she wrote the book LYT! – om samspil i organisationer [LISTEN! – collaboration in organisations], which deals with this topic in particular. Writing the book has taught her a lot. And indeed, writing a book about your work is always a valuable addition to your CV.

Tips about writing your thesis in collaboration with a company or organisation

“Don’t be afraid to express your ideas. But you should probably be prepared to downsize the elements that you regard as natural steps in the process – it’s important to describe them in a way that matches the situation facing your business partner.

It’s also important to understand the culture, language and situation that characterises the company which you’re working with. So pay careful attention and LISTEN – both in the literal sense of the word, and in a metaphorical sense.”

And remember. Other important considerations

“It’s important that you empathise constantly with the thoughts and mindset of your audience, because they can’t guess what you’re thinking. You’re responsible for building bridges, and this takes time and requires a lot of understanding and acceptance on your part too. Steps and ideas that might seem relatively simple to you, might seem overwhelming to outsiders. So in my opinion, an open and inquisitive mind is crucial if you want your mission to succeed.”

The article was written in October 2018.

About Merethe Klint

Graduation year: 2006

Education: MA in musicology and dramaturgy

Position: Self-employed organisationsconsultant