For over 135 years, KPN has been at the forefront of bringing connectivity to Dutch consumers and businesses. Connectivity means technology, so KPN is always innovating. The Strategy & Transformation Office is responsible for the design and roll-out of KPN’s most high-stakes projects. The department is looking for a new Director, who will steer projects at senior management level and further develop and professionalize the team.
135 years of innovation
KPN’s history as the market leader in connectivity in the Netherlands dates back to the 1880s, then providing telegram and landline networks. Innovation and technology have been a central theme ever since. The focus is increasingly on innovation through data usage and data sharing. And KPN is good at this. It has won multiple prestigious innovation awards, and through its Open Innovation Hub and KPN Ventures, the company continues to pinpoint exciting innovation areas and partner with promising start- and scale ups. KPN is also future-minded in other ways – for instance, the company has been CO2-neutral since 2015, and plans to be circular in 2025.
“The fast-changing world creates challenges and opportunities in terms of transforming our organization. It is vital to further simplify and digitalize the company and our processes. KPN is ready for the future, delivering on its ambition to become the undisputed quality leader in the Netherlands.”
– Joost Farwerck, CEO
Like any large telco, the organization is tech-heavy and its platforms develop rapidly at a large scale. KPN’s digital infrastructure is relatively advanced and the quality of its networks is excellent. Meanwhile, the competition in this industry is fierce, and it is characterized by complex (legacy) IT challenges. With over 40% market share, nearly EUR 5,5 billion revenue, and a diverse technology portfolio, the importance of strategy and implementation oversight at KPN cannot be overstated. That is where the Strategy & Transformation Office comes in.
The Strategy & Transformation Office
To strategize and implement high-stakes, large-scale innovation and improvement projects, KPN created the Strategy & Transformation Office. This department reports directly to the CEO and is led by Chief Strategy Officer, Wouter Stammeijer. It is comprised of ~20 strategy and implementation professionals, many of whom have a background in strategy consulting (e.g., BCG, Roland Berger, KMPG and PwC).
From this pool of strategists, small teams are created on a project-basis, much like in consulting. A project example for the more strategy-focused in-house consultants include the formulation of KPN’s 5G strategy. On the other hand, a recent implementation-focused project was steering the program management of KPN’s IT rationalization. Oftentimes project teams within the Strategy & Transformation Office are comprised of both strategy and implementation consultants; the roll-out of the fiber-to-the-home strategy for an additional 1 million Dutch households is a current example.
The strategy and implementation professionals from the Strategy & Transformation Office often work in multi-disciplinary teams or at least in close collaboration with adjacent business units. The most notable examples are Finance, Value Management, and Data & Analytics. This team setup calls for strong relationship building, good stakeholder management, and the ability to influence and facilitate in multiple different contexts.
Vacancy: Director Strategy & Transformation
The role of the Director Strategy & Transformation in this team is to provide steering on strategy projects – specifically, the heavier projects with board level involvement, that will prepare KPN for the future. The Director will guide and structure complex engagements, sometimes in politically sensitive environments – thereby always keeping KPN’s overall strategy of organic sustainable growth in mind.
Equally important in this role is the focus on professional development and coaching with regard to the team members. Given the different levels of seniority in the team – team members’ work experience varies between 3 and 30 years – and the need to direct project work done at other departments and business units within KPN, good stakeholder management is key. The Director Strategy & Transformation should also have the ambition and drive to professionalize the team’s strategy consulting skills. He or she will keep the team members both motivated and accountable to implement and improve these skills. An example might be establishing a training curriculum and ensuring that the consultants maintain a track record of implementing its learnings on a daily basis. Another example might be facilitating a culture of frequent and constructive, non-hierarchical feedback.
“You can formulate a strategy, but if it does not work in practice, it is not worth anything. As Strategy & Transformation Office, we must lead the company to the right direction and adjust that direction when needed.” – Wouter Stammeijer, Chief Strategy Officer
For all intents and purposes, the challenge and responsibilities of this role may be compared with those of an Associate Partner / Principal role at a consulting firm – with a change of pace from working for different clients to working for one company on all dimensions (e.g. marketing, sales, operations); a stronger focus on broader professional development topics both individually and towards the team; and the opportunity to rapidly make his or her mark on one of the leading corporates in the Netherlands. KPN is eager to keep and promote talent, and with this position as a starting point, the Director’s star can rise high. An example of rapid in-house career development is that of the earlier mentioned Chief Strategy Officer, Wouter Stammeijer – who started at KPN with 4 years’ work experience and climbed up to his current role within 8 years.
This role is ideal for a strategy consultant under partner level, who has a passion for strategy and people, and is excited about taking the leap to the corporate world. Experience with telco, energy, media or other tech-heavy, grid-related industries is a plus.