What did you want to be growing up?
“Whatever it was, it always had something to do with cars. First it was truck driver, but when I began to get good grades at school it became car designer. I studied Electrical Engineering to be able to work in many different fields, but in Twente I learned I wanted to broaden my scope even further. That is why strategy consulting was a logical next move. So did I live up to my childhood aspirations? Well, at least I’ve always had a company car - at BCG it was a Scirocco, at Cloetta a BMW 3-Series. It takes me from Rotterdam to Oosterhout and back every day.”
How did you know it was time to leave BCG?
“I had already been promoted several times, but I lacked the drive to want to become a partner. Among other things, it was about the work-life balance. But what did I want? Through the diverse nature of the projects I undertook, I had gotten to know a wide variety of industries and companies. That made it even more difficult to paint a clear picture of what my career path was going to be. There were so many interesting challenges! That is why I decided to go on secondment after four years. I discovered that at some point, you just need to make a decision and do something completely different.”
What did your secondment entail?
“I became Revenue Manager at Cloetta. That position came about through a BCG project. The theoretical framework to optimize clients’ investments had been developed, now it was high time to bring this into practice. A secondment is meant to focus on implementation, but I found that even with this staff position (between Sales, Finance and Marketing) I was on the sideline too much. In the end, Sales is where it all goes down.”
And were you eager to stay at Cloetta?
“I discovered that I wanted to be in the thick of it, closer to the business side of things, rather than as a consultant. There are a lot of things that are very interesting, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to narrow it down and decide what to do. I went to a number of companies to talk to them and to be able to make a balanced decision. When I had several offers on the table, I decided to go for the position of Revenue Manager at Cloetta. This organization is large enough to have a true impact on the market, and small enough for me to have real influence within the organization.”
What kind of challenges did you face as a Revenue Manager?
“As a consultant you always have senior backing, which means it is easier to get things done. Especially because the regular staff at a company will think: ‘you are only here for a few months, when you leave we will start doing it the way we used to.’ Now I really need to get people on my side. I do so by bringing up actual examples. Reality is a lot more resilient than what advisors are able to take into account. Whereas that is where the key lies to making people receptive to change. By drawing from examples, they actually need to deal with in their working life, a proposal will ‘hit home’ a lot more, meaning they will acknowledge the pros and possibilities, rather than the cons and difficulties. Moreover, I am able to make them accountable for the process itself.”
What makes Sales a good next step (after an exit)?
“In the past, I was taking part in negotiations in order to calculate the consequences of the decisions that were being made. The first time you carry actual responsibility, it is a whole different ball game altogether. It is not just about numbers, but about how you are able to achieve the best results together with the retailer. As an ex-consultant, you get to help your clients drawing from a multitude of insights, because you are good with numbers as well as analyses and people.”
And you became a Sales Director within a year.
“Yes, as a former consultant, I had each and every tool needed to make progress in my career at a much faster pace than others. It was my goal not merely to assist processes, but to partake in negotiations and work with a team myself. Both the CFO and CEO were aware of this, which is why I was given the opportunity to manage and lead a field sales team with account managers, of fifteen people in total.”
2016 – present
Sales Director Netherlands, Cloetta
2014 – 2015
Sales Director Out-of-Home, Cloetta
2013 – 2014
Revenue Manager, Cloetta
2010 – 2013
Consultant, The Boston Consulting Group
2008 – 2010
(Senior) Associate, The Boston Consulting Group