Isabella Agdestein, wearing light  blue long sleeves, has her arms crossed on a wooden bar with one fist under her chin
Isabella Agdestein went to business school after injury limited her dancing © Andreas Beck

I started dancing when I was eight years old, and I just fell in love with it. By the time I was in high school, I was dancing up to 40 hours a week after class. I did contemporary dance, jazz mainly, but also some classical ballet. Dancing was basically my life, but it turned out to be too much for my body.

At the age of 19, I had to have surgery on both my hips. Afterwards, I tried returning to my old life in Oslo, but dancing like I had before was not possible as it hurt too much. I was lost and found myself looking for something else to do with my life. I ended up moving to Copenhagen — I’m half-Norwegian and half-Danish — and started looking for new ideas on what to do with my life.

That’s when I ended up walking into an Open Day event for prospective students organised by Copenhagen Business School. For the first time in a long time, I found the spark that I had been searching for since I’d had to give up on my dancing career.

I was inspired by meeting existing and prospective students; it was exhilarating to be surrounded by so many ambitious individuals eager to make their mark on the world. I knew instantly that I was in the right place, among people who shared my drive and aspirations.

I decided to enrol on the BSc in business administration and project management — a three-year, full-time course. It was among the bachelor programmes that was the most difficult to get into, which appealed to me.

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Dancing had been quite a hectic time for me; I would wake up at 6am to go to school, then go to dance, come home and prepare my meals for the next day, and be in bed by midnight. If I wasn’t performing on weekends, I would be training. I was looking for another passion to funnel this ambition and dedication.

There were about 80 of us in the cohort, making it one of the smallest. I think I might have been the only one to read every single text our lecturers gave us — I was just so curious and hungry for knowledge. My favourite course was statistics; I even ended up applying it in my own life! I would track different variables in my personal life to determine probabilities — it made me quite nerdy.

The CBS campus soon became a second home to me, particularly as I devoted countless hours to studying and often lingered in the library from dawn till dusk. The dedication of the CBS professors is evident. For example, some of them would create podcasts based on course materials to make learning more engaging and accessible. The Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship, which is a start-up accelerator for CBS graduates and offers shared office space, is an invaluable resource.

After graduating, I continued with a masters in finance and strategic management, also at CBS. At the same time, I was working for a consultancy, which was really interesting as it gave me a chance to apply in real life the theory that I was learning on a daily basis. That’s when my story had another unexpected twist.

I ended up meeting someone during my masters programme, and we went on to found the start-up FocalX, which makes software to automatically scan and register scratches and other damage to cars. We work with big car-rental companies and today employ 22 people.

The start-up meant I actually never finished my masters, but my studies at CBS changed the way I see the world and gave me a new framework. I was also helped by my studies in project management, as well as accounting, marketing and other things you need to know when running a business.

It would have been much tougher for me, had I not learnt about the dynamics of a company. It was amazing to study at CBS and I really loved it. Starting my own company was just an even steeper learning curve, which I wanted.

Next is a plan to catapult FocalX to new heights and yes, of course, I still dance a couple of times a week. 

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