Are you the odd one out, as a consultant at a hospital?
"Yes, former consultants are being looked at strangely within the health care system. We have a different profile, wear a tie, are much too young and lack expertise. In health care you are able to really add something when you understand a hospital completely, in all its complexity; when you speak the same language as the specialists and know how a clinic works. Only after I had been responsible for the health care practice at Roland Berger for six years, did I understand how a hospital worked to some extent."
You were at Roland Berger for ten years to the day. Did you have any doubts about your exit?
"I thought about it from time to time. Many aspects of my job as a consultant were fun, such as the executive work, my dealings with clients and being involved in an organization. What I liked less was doing the acquisition. I had come to a point where I could enter the management team at Roland Berger, but that would mean more acquisition, managing and looking in from the sidelines. Financially it was an interesting move, but it wouldn’t have made me happy. I want to make a real difference, make improvements and not be distracted by white noise. Just when I wasn’t looking for a switch I came across the vacancy for commercial director at the Groene Hart Hospital."
Was it hard to find a suitable position within health care?
"Yes. I knew that I wanted to work at a hospital, but a position on the board of directors wasn’t realistic yet. I lacked both experience and expertise. I have a vision and I can draw pretty pictures on a white board, but I don’t stand a chance against someone who is fifteen years my senior, who is experienced in managing three- to four hundred people. Furthermore, there are very few positions that appeal to former consultants within health care. As a consultant you are used to thinking about a strategy in broad terms, which is nearly impossible to find, within jobs available at a hospital. But I am able to do so here. I was lucky."
What is it you like about health care?
"There is a lot going on within the health sector, which allows me to be a pioneer. Moreover, I find employees are intrinsically motivated here and feel the need to do the best they can by their patients. When I think of how the Groene Hart Hospital is actually providing better care due to my input, that makes me feel good."
What makes your job exciting?
"As commercial director I am allowed to put my foot in everywhere. Whether it is about cooperating with another hospital, about negotiating with health insurance companies or about the question whether there should be someone to pour the coffee at the clinic - I am the one to set things in motion. I feel useful. As a consultant I also felt useful in whichever project I worked on. But sometimes nothing would come of the advice I provided. I would have worked on it for a few months, putting my heart and soul into it and then nothing happened. That wouldn’t occur here. If I think something can be improved, I sink my teeth into it. I can really make a difference here."
What is your exit advice?
"Don’t wait too long, making the transition. When you have been a consultant for five or six years, you will have no problem switching careers. After that it will become more difficult, because then you would rather end up in a management position, yet you’d lack the competence. What I also learned is that you should show your specific strength, when applying for a job. Don’t try to fit into a certain mold. It won’t work anyway."
2012 – present
Commercial Director, Groene Hart Ziekenhuis
2012 – present
Board Member, Groene Hart Extra Zorg
2002 – 2012
Senior Manager, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants