What is it you do?
"I head a team of six Analytical Experts, which is part of the department of Consumer Business Insights at Ahold Europe. Our department focuses on what our clients want at every MT session. You can imagine Ahold possesses an endless stream of information on what consumers buy. We translate that bulk of data into actionable insights, based on which we make recommendations to the management of the different banners (A.O. Albert Heijn, Gall&Gall, Ecommerce, Albert Heijn Belgium and Etos)."
What kind of actionable insights should I be thinking of?
"Ahold invests a lot in loyalty and customer satisfaction. Making our customers happy and keeping them that way is a very simple task on paper. By making the client sit at our table, we manage to really gain insight into their wishes, needs and demands. We can respond to changes regarding our clients’ situation in a pro-active manner. The businesses, the aforementioned banners, receive a document from us, stating what type of action is needed for what customer. And of course we provide advice on the upward sales potential. Based on that the promotion, marketing and category reviews will be determined, as well as market entry strategies and investment decisions."
Is it different managing people outside of consultancy?
"A world of difference. Within consulting you’re dealing with a very homogenous group. Here it’s the opposite. Educational level, experience, but also their ages are much more diverse. When I started here I was the youngest. So it took a while to find the right management style. But at the same time it was exactly the kind of challenge I was looking for!"
Can you restrain yourself, from not doing everything?
"That definitely is a trap with a certain pull. But the quality of my team is high and their amount of experience in retail is even bigger. My dossier knowledge is nothing compared to that. My added value should therefore be sought in finding the right synthesis of all these insights."
Ahold. Lauded for its quality, feared for its bureaucracy. What is your take on that?
"You are always going to encounter a healthy dose of bureaucracy in a big multinational the size of Ahold. We are no exception to that rule. And the distance between me and management and the CEO is much bigger than when I was still a consultant. Back then access was instantaneous, now you need to earn it. But what I really think is great is not so much their market leadership, but their enormous power of innovation."
What is a good examply of that force of innovation?
"On the formula level: AH to go, AH Online, pick-up points. On a technical level: customers scanning their own products, mobile phone apps and at the time the introduction of the PIN machine. On marketing: the introduction of the new kiwi in the Netherlands, the bonus-card and our European Soccer Championship Campaign ‘the men against the women’ on Facebook.com/AlbertHeijn. And last but not least: the concept of the supermarket itself!"
What is your advice to consultants of the brink of an exit?
"No second-guessing, just do it!"
2015 – present
Revenue Manager Lead Benelux, Unilever
2013 – 2015
Customer Development Finance Director, Unilever
2012 – 2013
Lead Market Intelligence, Ahold
2008 – 2012
Senior Manager Strategy Consulting, Accenture