I want Zendesk to be truly great. To revolutionise and democratise how customer service is done.

CEO Q&A: Michael Hansen, vice-president and Asia Pacific managing director at Zendesk

Published 10 February 2014 11:04, Updated 10 February 2014 12:09


Michael Hansen admires General Sir John Monash as a leader.

What was your first job?

Stacking shelves and cleaning in a supermarket when I was 14.

Name a business leader you admire and why

I have a background as an army officer so I admire and understand military commanders better. General Sir John Monash, the leader of the Australian forces during the First World War, was a great Australian military commander. He was a great planner and, importantly, supported and took care of his troops (employees).

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

I always think of the story of two bulls. Two bulls were sitting in the shade of a tree on a hill overlooking a beautiful meadow full of cows. The young bull turns to the old bull and says: “Let’s run down there and sleep with one of those cows”. The old bull replies: “No, let’s walk down there and sleep with them all!” I can’t remember who told me that particular story but it is closely related to the great but simple advice I received from my boss at Texas Instruments Software in Belgium during the mid 90s: “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” Excellent advice, but somehow I often find myself sprinting.

The piece of advice I like to share with my customers is one I actually received from the replacement I hired when I left Denmark for Australia in 2004. “Are you showing your customers your face or your arse?” It’s one of the most important questions to ask in business.

What are you reading at the moment?

RSS feeds from about 500 blogs and every ticket reply we send to a customer. It takes a lot to be hooked into the web and to ensure your business treats your customers right.

What is the best deal you’ve ever done?

Three Zendesk Agents to Groupon back when they were still called ThePoint. That deal has grown by many thousand times the original over time.

Now describe your biggest regret in business and what you learnt

Giving up too early and accepting no for an answer. You win by persevering. In my opinion, most times energy and dedication win over the established way of doing things.

Where do your best ideas come from? Where do you do your best thinking?

In the shower in the morning or riding my motorbike.

What keeps you up at night?

I want Zendesk to be truly great. To revolutionise and democratise how customer service is done.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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