Lars de Kock
What is it you do at Deli?
"I am a kind of internal strategy consultant and work on M&A operations at the same time. Deli is a Dutch company which has been around for a long time, and has made a name for itself trading tobacco, rubber, tea and other natural resources. At the moment it mainly supplies wood related products to the construction industry, as well as to retailers. We own fifteen subsidiary companies, which have autonomous management. From the holding we look into making strategic decisions and we play a leading part in M&A trajectories."
What kind of questions do you get as an internal consultant?
"Basically the same questions I got as a Strategy Consultant, varying from questions on new markets and products, to restructuring companies and long term strategy. The difference is that I am much more closely involved now in the decision making process and its execution, which means my advice is much less non-committal; it should be right on paper, but it should also be realistic and doable. Moreover, I play a more practical part in Management & Acquisition when it comes to the whole takeover process: from the first connections that are made, to negotiating a deal sheet, to performing due diligence, purchase agreements, plans for integration, and so on."
Were you always a fan of log cabins and doors?
"No, not at all. However, I learned as a Strategy Consultant that there is no such thing as an uninteresting sector, but rather a sector you are unfamiliar with. In every sector the same questions arise: what are you strengths as a company, what is the competition doing, which aspects still leave room for growth and what is it we can do to improve or become smarter? Knowledge about the sector itself will come gradually and I can tell you that the door market is quite interesting!"
Have you found what you were looking for?
"Yes. I wanted to see more actual results due to my advice and I wanted to become more proficient at the whole M&A process. There is less luxury here than at McKinsey; we drive less expensive cars and the facilities are less luxurious. On the other hand I do get a much better work-life balance and I have much more control when it comes to my schedule. I think it is more exciting to have more responsibility when it comes to the advice I supply. Colleagues come from more diverse backgrounds, you’ll find both book smarts and street smarts here. You will learn quickly not to underestimate street smarts. There are entrepreneurs who built their company from the ground up and sold it to Deli; they may never have made an ‘issue tree’, but they did manage to make a lot of money while you are still working on your slide."
What is your future going to look like?
"Deli has expressed the explicit wish that the Business Development Manager is to switch to a line management position at one of the subsidiaries within two to three years. Our current CEO even started out once as Business Development Manager, so there certainly are opportunities for growth. Some of my predecessors went on to become Business Development Directors, or Chief Information Officers, whereas others started their own business or left and started working for an investment agency."
After a year and a half you left McKinsey; isn't that a bit too soon?
"It is a bit quicker than usual, but I knew what I wanted, I felt I was ready, and I thought it was unnecessary to remain there for two to three years as a matter of principle, because that is what one is supposed to be doing. It is something which requires some explanation, but people are usually very understanding about the fact that I dare to make my own decisions."
2014 – present
Managing Director, Totaalmarkt.nl
2013 – 2014
Investment Manager, Menthe Capital
2011 – 2013
Business Development Manager, Deli Maatschappij
2009 – 2010
Associate, McKinsey & Company