How did your career begin?
During a study trip with my University in China, I met the CEO of AT&T and had a chance to work for him as his assistant. This was in 1992 and I learned how to set up a company from scratch. In my free time, I was doing Shanghai by bike. I consider this fantastic experience as the true start of my career.
What is your professional background?
After one year in China, I joined Accenture Strategy Consulting. I loved it but after a couple of years, I started to miss the execution part. Then I moved to GE Capital which was led by the famous Jack Welch at the time. GE actually taught me how to make strategy work.
Next I had a chance to practice what I preach; I started a company called EFactory. To describe it in IG&H terms, it was a company that provided Platform Services in Almere with Accenture as shareholder. We grew to 400 people in less than four years and decided to integrate it into Accenture as Tech Solutions. I became a partner in Accenture from 2003 to 2020, always trying to reinvent myself along the way.
I believe in the motto, “If you think you’re in control, you are going too slow,” from Italian American race car driver Mario Andretti.
How do you reinvent yourself?
After three or four years I usually want to try something different. That brought me to Japan, where I lived for three years. Afterward came four years of Australia and next, I was responsible for EALA (Europe, Africa, Latin America and also the Middle East). It’s essentially impossible to run such a big region if you are serious about it. I was on almost 200 trips a year because maintaining close contact with clients and people is important. I’ve seen the entire world but of course, you pay a price, like being home very little. Overall, it was a lovely experience. Next, I dabbled in a few things but nothing all too serious. Finally, I joined IG&H four months ago.
Why did you choose IG&H?
I loved my time in Almere where I worked at a smaller company, being the master of your own destiny. IG&H brought all the right things together: It is a company with excellent sector knowledge and C-level access that also wants to expand to end-to-end transformations. That is exactly what I’ve done in the past and still love to do! I have more energy than ever and am super happy with this choice. After four months I see a great team and an immense opportunity – something which I enjoy. I go whistling to the office every morning.
Was IG&H always on your radar?
I knew IG&H for some years since Mark Boerekamp joined. I knew him very well and was aware of the company. Jan van Hasenbroek and I got to know each other a couple of years ago. We would regularly catch up because of our joint interest in digital twin technology, learning more about Mavim. At the end of the day, we are a talent management organization, and the people make the difference. So, if you like the people, everything else falls into place. I met a lot of people before I joined and had the feeling the people here support each other and have each other’s backs.
What comes to mind when thinking of IG&H?
Caring but a little less daring – I think there’s room to grow there. I love the Make Strategy Work methodology. Moving from strategy consulting in the Netherlands to adding Portgual, DACH, data & analytics, digital and technology, our solutions and finally bringing a private equity partner on board… that’s a lot to chew! So going back to “If you think you’re in control, you are going too slow,” I believe IG&H is already living by that motto and is an incredibly ambitious company.
What is your personal background?
My upbringing involved a lot of nature because we lived near a forest; to this day my family has a passion for nature and so do I. Growing up in Zeist, I lived very close to the KNVB, the national Dutch football center. I would skip school to help the team collect footballs that went astray – I even made it into the newspapers with the famous players training there at the time. I’m married to Maria, who is from Spain, and we have three children (Maria, Rafael and Isabel) and a lovely dog called Zita.
What are your passions?
Besides being a passionate reader (Financial Times, novels and history around WWII) I do a lot of sports and play tennis frequently, work out and walk at least 100km per week, usually with my dog Zita. I am an amateur carpenter and enjoy making things with my hands besides chopping my own wood for the fireplace.
What is the most important lesson learned throughout your career?
The most crucial is your ability to self-reflect, so you never lose the appetite for learning from other people. The idea of, “I think I can do better,” keeps you humble. I’ve already seen that many people at IG&H are willing to have that meaningful conversation. I believe in honest feedback, which is still a bit too rare in consulting. There is no need to be disrespectful when conveying challenging feedback, and the best is to start with yourself!
You might find it stings a bit, but it helps you grow. I don’t just mean telling people what they can do better. Focusing on what people are already good is much more important – zooming in on what energizes them. In my job, the trick is to analyze and understand people well.
Once you understand what makes them tick and gives them energy, you’ll know what area you can help them grow from good to great.
What do you appreciate about leadership within the organization?
Jan van Hasenbroek is an example of someone who regularly self-reflects and gets out of his comfort zone to reinvent himself. It might be emotionally difficult, but he is willing to jump to the next chapter, again and again. The fact that the company’s leader had that ability says a lot about the organization. Whether it is in Utrecht, Portugal or Germany, there is a good vibe when you walk into the office.
What tweaks and changes are coming up?
I would say the strategy is 90% there but it could be improved regarding execution. I mean less ambiguity: Everyone should know exactly what they need to do. For the culture, I see sectors that are end responsible for our business, and then we have our capabilities. I envision a more bilateral relationship with more give and take between practices. With trust, we keep each other sharp!
What is your vision for IG&H?
I envision us to be very successful in the Netherlands, Portugal and Germany where our clients appreciate us for our market-leading capability: digital end-to-end transformation, specifically anything around the client experience. Our transformation efforts apply to all sectors we work in.
In three or four years, I hope to be an organization of at least a thousand people.
Together with IK Partners, we’ll have the opportunity to get more investments into our business. This may come in the form of people, add-on acquisitions or perhaps a bigger one to make sure we can ramp up faster. Currently, everything must be “homegrown” which means a lot of energy and start-up costs go into expansion efforts.
How would you describe the relationship with IK Partners?
I believe it will be caring and daring – with more focus on the daring part. We chose them as they appreciate IG&H’s strategy and admire the Caring and Daring philosophy, but they will also challenge us! They will be an inspiring and sometimes tough sparring partner.
In Dutch we say, “Vreemde ogen dwingen” a saying which summarizes the concept that familiar parties won’t spark change as strongly as someone new. Parents might ask their children to behave on the playground, but they are used to them already so a stranger’s comments will often have a stronger effect.
What are your hopes for the future?
I hope that our people – and future employees – appreciate being eligible for the Stock Appreciation Rights. This is a great way to convey the feeling of partial ownership. Secondly, I am looking forward to the massive FIT (Fun, Inspiration, Training) event at the beginning of next year. It will be something that only comes around every couple of years and we will make sure it’s a something-you’ll-never-forget-in-your-life type of experience.