1973: International oil crisis sends employees back to school

What seemed as an unstoppable growth curve for the company was suddenly put to a stop by the international oil crisis in 1973. Investments and entrepreneurship stalled, but although the company felt the pinch, Rambøll & Hannemann was able to avoid layoffs and planned reduction in working hours.

One of the main reasons why Rambøll & Hannemann managed the crisis so well was because the company had started working with incineration plants during the 1960s and later with waste disposal and management. This gave them a head start into an emerging environment and energy market which from the 1970s resulted in many new large projects.

When the crisis hit, projects were getting fewer and smaller in scale, but Børge Rambøll and Johan Hannemann were determined to avoid layoffs as they knew this would have devastating consequences for their employees. In order to cope with the declining demand, they came up with what was at that time a quite unusual solution: They sent some of their employees back to school to study energy and environment technology. After school, the students would come back to the office and enlighten their colleagues with their newfound insights and knowledge.

The world had suddenly changed, and new areas of expertise had come into focus. Børge Rambøll and Johan Hannemann were very aware of this development, and so they decided to follow along by investing big in energy expertise. After five years of stagnation, the company finally began to grow thanks in great part to new large-scale energy projects.

Today, energy is one of Ramboll’s most successful business area, and the demand for energy specialists is still increasing. The bold decision to send employees back to school in the midst of a crisis turned out to be a far-sighted and quite clever move.

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