Monday, August 13, 2012
The Anti-Mary: A Profile of Frex Ex Malou Aamund, Former Minister and Now Top Business Executive
Sunday, 13 August 2012, Berlingske ran a profile of Malou Aamund, former model, former girlfriend to Crown Prince Frederik, former government minister, and now top manager at Microsoft and mother to three daughters. That Derf has dated such strong, beautiful, smart women should better prepare him for the day when he lifts himself up and takes charge of his own happiness and finds a better life with a wonderful Danish woman.
What an inadvertant shot at Mary, though. Berlingske is a pro-monarchy broadsheet with cooperation between the editors and the palace, not as blatantly as Billed Bladet, but still. Notice this line: "I don't have any pleaser gene, where I do something to ingratiate myself in different places. I am guided by my own beliefs and not afraid to go against the current." The Un-Mary, indeed! Careful, Danish media, the empress is not wearing any clothes!
The Road To Malou Aamund's Career Peak
CEO Malou Aamund took a convoluted path to where she stands now. She has been brought up with a great sense of self-responsibility and has always done what she pleases.
She had just arrived in Paris. Alone and with a few hundred dollars in her pocket was the then 15-year-old Malou Aamund at the airport and waited for the head of the city's largest modeling agency that had hired her for a model job. But he never showed up.
She hitchhiked instead into town, into the Pigalle district, where the city's cheapest hotel rooms were side by side with sex shops. Staying in a room overlooking a neon sign with the words 'Dirty Dick' shining blue through the window, she began the adventure in the French metropolis.Next day she went to the fashion boss, who had promised her lodgings. In his apartment young models went alternately in and out of the door to his bedroom. And there were constant parties, which floated high with the jetset and cocaine.
"I remember I thought, what the hell am I doing here? But I was not really scared. I took a picture of his cocaine in the bathroom as a kind of evidence against him if he did not treat me or the other girls properly", says Malou Aamund and smiles.
Berlingske met her at Helene Badehotel in Tisvildeleje, where she came a lot in her childhood. This was before the hotel was fashionable, she emphasises. Then the old men sat and played bridge in the seaside hotel easily pierced wicker furniture, and meatballs were on the dinner menu.Tisvildeleje has for years been one of the few real oases of Malou Aamund in a life that has seen a growth in Hong Kong during the Cultural Revolution and then in cities like Kolding, Holte, Copenhagen and New York. Today she sits at a management job at Microsoft and at the age of 42 years ex-MP and mother of three girls, respectively, 8, 13 and 17 years, she has with her husband, Mikael Bertelsen, channel manager at Radio 24/7.
Strong support from parents
Most parents would probably have had major reservations about sending their 15-year-old daughter alone to Paris and into a wild environment of the fashion world. Malou Aamund upbringing was different. There were almost no rules, and she had as a teenager responsible for his own life and could do pretty much what she wanted.
The liberal mindset believe she is still on. She believes that free education has taken her places and given her experiences that have made that she's reached the point where she is today. A place where she likes to be.
"My parents pushed me away with plenty of support, confidence and a proper amount of love, and then I could even figure out the rest", says Malou Aamund.
She grew up with two parents who are very different in values and outlook on life. The mother, artist Susanne Aamund went to meditation and took on spiritual journeys, when the chance arose.
"Because one day I came home from school, she had suddenly found out that she had to learn tap dance and then and there stepped out of the room. She is good at entertaining us and often pulled us into some other worlds than those one might see in a normal nuclear family", says Malou Aamund.
On the other side stood her father, business man and CEO Mr. Aamund for all other values in the upbringing of her and her brother Martin. In Asger Aamund's world education equaled a minimum of rules and responsibility for own actions.
"When I was a teenager and had been messy in the kitchen without cleaning up after myself, he put all the dirty dishes could find under my duvet. When I got home to go to bed, put my feet in a day-old, dirty spaghetti casserole. Then I felt the consequences of not having cleaned up", says Malou Aamund about the time when she moved with her father after their parents' divorce, which she describes as extremely peaceful.
"It has been nice to have parents with different values, so it was not a wall of authority, I met and went up against. It has been more unpredictable and unusual because they contained a variety of things", she says.
Recognise themselves in the parents
Malou Aamund can recognise something of herself in both her father and mother, although it is reasonable to believe she is a daddy's girl, who went into business, as she puts it.
"I can be an accounting, uncompromising person who dares to take unpopular decisions that can be encountered in business and politics. At the same time, I have a curiosity about people and am very much a family man. I have cast myself into many adventures in my life, because there have been two poles in my life, to be consistent that I stay and thrive in what she says."
The words come slowly, but accurately. And Malou Aamund is clearly not afraid of awkward pauses in conversation when childhood should be remembered and described correctly. The great responsibility, as she got stabbed in the hands as a young man, she tries to pass on to her own children.
"I think it's a little matter whether my children, for example, cleans up in their rooms. There comes a point where there is so old, moldy sandwiches in there that they probably should clean up. They never learn if you are trying to indoctrinate in them", says Malou Aamund, stressing that it is not laissez-faire parenting.
"But you learn to first take responsibility when you feel the consequences of the choices you make. My children do not have as many rules as I think more on that a fundamental value that responsibility educates children in more than a large set of rules does. It is with great responsibility, they grow and move and mature as human beings", says Malou Aamund.
Although she strikes a blow for responsibility and the freedom that comes with it, she is aware that it is difficult to give her own children the freedom she had as a kid.
"I would never send my 15-year-old daughter to Paris almost without money. It's something completely different today. When my daughter is in town, she almost had to send a text message when she goes from one place to another. As a parent today, you prefer to have a GPS chip in your children if it is feasible", says Malou Aamund with a smile.
"My parents trusted me 100 percent then. It meant that I went to Paris on the way, but it was not because they were indifferent. I think then that you give a certain degree of paranoia on to its children today. And I think also that young people today are missing out on anything because everything was so over-controlled and monitored. For it is the funny, strange episodes I've been through that has helped shape me as a person. But it is probably impossible to give them the same upbringing. Unfortunately", she says.
Come far and wide as a young
The great freedom brought her around as a kid. After she graduated she packed suitcase and model of your dreams and traveled to New York where she came in the barn of one of the fashion world's biggest icons, Eileen Ford. It was in 1980s New York, where she had her time in the creative environments and met her first husband as a 18-year-old. She called home in the middle of the night and told her parents that she was married.
"My mom called me a transition to 'Dramalou' because she felt that there was always time in too many wild things around me. But both my mom and dad have always given me support. Almost no matter what I've done", says Malou Aamund.
The marriage lasted only a year and then she went home to Denmark for Malou thrived in the world she had been a part of. It was too superficial, and she needed to be stimulated intellectually.
"But it has been healthy for me to be sent out into the world in this way at such a young age and learn to figure things out themselves rather than be told what was right and wrong. I've made so many different things and been a part of very different environments. Everything from the alternative youth cultures in the teenage years of IT industry in the United States. The support and great responsibility my parents gave me has meant that I could shape my own values and find my own way by trying a lot of things", says Malou Aamund.
Although she has travelled around most of her life, she has never felt that there was a standpoint lacking. And she's never been in doubt about how she would navigate the great responsibility which she was entrusted.
"I had support so that it could easily operate. I felt like someone who was 40 years old - quite in balance with their own values and being able to handle anything in life. When I was in situations where I was alone in a strange place in a foreign country, I was never really afraid. I knew what I should do to handle them. And then I had it all the time so that they would not fucking run around corners with me. That was probably what got me to handle it that way. It was a healthy skepticism toward all people", says Malou Aamund.
Modern power woman
She has before been called a modern power-woman who can, will and do it all with a well-functioning family, adventures abroad, and a successful career at one time. She holds even talk about how to make career and family to stick together and seem to have cracked the code when she soberly describes his relationship with family versus career.
"People often ask me if I have not had to compromise a lot to get it all to hang together. But I have not. I've always been very conscious that family means everything to me, so therefore it has been easy to say no to such work 80 hours every week. I do not think it would be a win for my business anyway, so I will run myself down. I have cash to where my limitations are. I hear of many who have a bad conscience, both at work and at home. I've never had to. I have set some limits and they must respect the people", says Malou Aamund that will be allowed to do exactly what she thinks is best for herself and family.
When she chose to go into politics, she was greeted with head shaking from several colleagues who could not understand why she would abandon a promising career in business rather than go into a party as 'New Alliance'.
She did anyway and it sums up really well, what Malou Aamund stands for.
"I don't have any pleaser gene, where I do something to ingratiate myself in different places. I am guided by my own beliefs and not afraid to go against the current. It makes you take some decisions outside world can not always understand", says Malou Aamund.
Such a decision she took when she immediately changed from the ailing party New Alliance to go with the Liberal Party and was violently unpopular.
"But I have not regretted any of the decisions I have taken. They have all been the best at the moment. That's been most important."
Photo: Søren Bistrup