Beer. A nice touchable product?
"Spot on. Who doesn’t like beer? I have been through some great moments in life, many of them accompanied by beer. Beer is an emotional product, or to be more accurate, the moments we drink it are often special. Our primary reason for existence is to brew those moments."
Isn't Grolsch based in Enschede?
"Yes, but we also have an office in my hometown Amsterdam, situated in the Sarphatistraat. That means I only need to travel six hours a week. A lot less than when I still worked in Rotterdam."
How did you like your transition?
"In the beginning I had to tread water, since leaving the consulting culture I came from, but after a few months I found my feet. Especially given my true impact on the company’s results, at the wheel and pushing all the buttons, which gave and still gives me a lot of energy."
Should you really have become a Consultant?
"Most definitely. Although I have to confess that as a developmental economist I was a little naïve and a bit skeptical starting out. I really didn’t want to get a job yet and preferred to travel the world instead…but I got the opportunity at ADL and I thought: let’s just give it a shot, no harm no foul. Only after a few months I realized I thought it was incredibly cool! After being in consulting for five years I acquired a lot of relevant skills. Focus, being result- and number driven, a structured approach, discipline, etc. Moreover, I had a blast at ADL, which I wouldn’t have missed for the world. If I ever should consider taking a step in another direction, then this experience at SABMiller will prove to be of great value. But over the next five years I am good where I am at now, and it doesn’t make much sense in my view to look beyond that period of time."
And what skills did you lack as a Consultant?
"People management…at least not when managing a number of analysts in a consulting team at the same time. People are the beginning of everything."
What are current issues in the beer business?
"The biggest challenge is broadening the market by expanding on the number of beer-moments that exist. For instance: most Dutch people don’t have a drink at dinner. And if they do, it is a glass of water or wine. Whereas beer is such a great asset to a lot of meals! There are more of those moments where beer deserves to compete with wine or soft drinks and new ones could be created. Moreover, in the supermarket business competition from hard discount brands and growth of the top-layer and specialized segments are an issue. Especially the middle segment is having a hard time, also due to influence of high pressure on marketing. It is fascinating to develop a portfolio for that, bring it into practice and to be a part of that development."
What did you do for Grolsch as a Revenue Manager?
"I was actually a partner who gave advice to the business, without really having to make any decisions myself-a good transitional step in my career after consulting. As a Revenue Manager you work based on value pools: what carries most value? You calculate from the point of view of the shopper, determining what amounts to the optimum brand-packaging-channel-price combination. In recent years new brands and packages have been introduced with which I had done a lot of work studying their feasibility as project manager; that is really great."
And the food service channel?
"For my current job I worked on a large project in the food services industry; what are the opportunities in the Dutch market and which capabilities can be employed grasping those to the full extent? The time was right to actually build on them afterwards."
And that is what your really are now?
"Exactly. Here I experienced time and time again that strategy is only a small part of the job. The result is hugely dependent on its implementation. I am very proud of the team because we have accomplished a full turn-around. Our way of working and our culture have improved immensely. We continue to search for ways to improve, for instance by introducing new positions such as a Regional Account Manager for the most dynamic part of the market."
Would you pick out Grolsch if blind folded?
"Sure! 100% of the time. Or maybe 90%, when it is a little later at night…"
2016 – present
Director Category Development Benelux, Kraft Heinz Company
2015 – 2016
Head of Shopper & Trade Marketing, E-commerce, SAB Miller
2012 – 2015
Sales Leader Out-of-Home, SABMiller
2011 – 2012
Revenue Manager, SABMiller
2006 – 2010
Manager, Arthur D. Little