What is NFI's biggest challenge?
"Our goal is to provide the best forensic services, especially to the Dutch criminal law sector, but also to other governmental departments in the Netherlands and abroad. It is a technology driven sector. What we invest in research and innovation results in more powerful evidence and detection methods for our clients. In the past we needed a lot of physical material in order to carry out DNA research, now we just need a few cells. Because there are so many options, we need to make choices. The challenge is to give the customer what it wants using a limited supply of means."
What is your role at the NFI?
"As of July I head its biggest department: Human Biological Traces. We mainly conduct DNA research (150,000 DNA profiles a year), but we also focus on cell typing (“what kind of trace has the suspect left behind?”) and spatter pattern analysis (“where within this space can the crime have been committed and how?” )."
Before starting at McKinsey you had already done two PHD's
"Yes, at the University of Utah and AMOLF. I raised my own funds there to carry out my research and led it myself. In 2007 I started all over again at McKinsey, which is why I at least wanted to make it to the level of Engagement Manager. This makes you manager of your own projects and it is where I learned all about the consulting business. I thought it was even better to become a Senior Engagement Manager, because that enables you to run multiple projects simultaneously. But when the position of Partner came up, I was ready to carry full responsibility, rather than being an advisor ‘beside’ the manager. And my new line position goes well with that."
How did you get to join the NFI?
"I was able step in to fulfil a strategic role, which made a nice transition from consulting. The government had assigned us to cut funds. Which is no mean feat within the forensic field as it is becoming more and more specialized and the NFI houses some forty very different specialties. Focusing on subjects ranging from mitochondrial DNA to footprints, from ammunition to smartphones and software. How does one develop these specialties and still remain flexible when tapping into what the client wants? Together with the board and directors I designed the plan for the reorganization. Now I am responsible for one of these departments."
What made you pick the NFI?
"I have always cared about the public cause, at McKinsey 50% of my projects was geared at the public sector. I consciously sought out organizations that go with that. At the NFI everything comes together: its public impact is very clear, I get to use my strategic experience ánd it is a high-tech academic environment, just like the one I found myself in at the start of my career."
What is your consulting exit advice?
"Interesting term, ‘consulting exit’. For me it doesn’t feel like an exit, but it rather feels like an entry: the start of something new. I took my time and carried out maybe forty orienting talks. I met with people in education, health care, idealistic banks, government departments- I visited them all. I highly recommend this to others. When trying to find a new challenge your biggest trap is not going beyond the stage of introspection. That is why you should go meet with many prospective employers. Make sure they understand you are merely exploring your options, not carrying out a job interview-that prevents confusion."
2016 – present
Head of Biological Traces Division, NFI
2014 – 2016
Head of Human Biological Traces Division, NFI
2013 – 2014
Chief Strategy Officer, NFI
2007 – 2013
Strategy Consultant, McKinsey & Company