As chairman of the board and Arcadis Business Area Director, you must have a busy schedule. What does your typical workday look like?
I would say there are no typical workdays :-). I start my week on Monday mornings together with the country management team or the Country BA management team and every Friday I have an online meeting with Nora the secretary of the Board. That are the only moments that are pretty clicked in my agenda, the rest of the week is a mixture of different types of meetings: client meetings, meetings with colleagues in all kinds of groups like management teams, tender teams, GBA meetings and Lovinklaan board meetings. But also, different kind of 1-1 meetings, these could by online, at the office or during a walk or lunch. As well the Lovinklaan Board as the GBA team have time zones between US and Australia, I sometimes have late night calls till 0.00 and sometimes I have early morning calls at 6.30. I try to limit the amount of early morning or late evening calls to a max of 2 per week. The kind of meetings that I like the most are meetings with clients and colleagues at project sites. And with the Lovinklaan Board we were lucky to meet in November with most of the Board of that time and with the majority of the new Board in April F2F in Amsterdam.
You have been working at Lovinklaan for over 5 years– how has the Foundation evolved over those years?
Well, a lot did happen the past 5 years. When we celebrated the 35th anniversary of Lovinklaan we did a major Brand Refresh. I led the communications workgroup; it was a great project to lead, and I am very proud that our logo represents the focus on people and shows the connection with Arcadis and Arcadis logo. Connected but not the same. Also, the emphasis on D&I and sustainability became very clear and very real. For example, we made a firm statement that we only want to offer programs that are available to all people no matter where they are based or in which age group they are. That was also one of the most important reasons that we decided that there was no successor to GSP after the GSP contract ended. GSP was not available in all Arcadis countries, only 12 % of the employees participated while it was an investment of half of our yearly operating budget. We also closed Superquest due to a lack of interest. So, we said goodbye to programs that reached their end, but we also welcomed new programs. In 2018 we launched expedition DNA, one of the best known and most popular programs according to the number of participants. In 20129 we launched Local Sparks, and during the pandemic we were able to reimagine Imagine and redesign EDNA to an online only format. Roots of Arcadis and Shelter are the only programs that did not change so much. Although we missed millions of incomes in 2020 since Arcadis did not pay out dividends, we were still able to offer programs to our people. We learnt that without travel we could still do meaningful things. And with the current ambition for Net Zero, we think it is clear that some programs in their original form were not future proof. So that is the program part of Lovinklaan, but also as a Major Shareholder I think we evolved and improved our stakeholder management with the Executive Leadership, Executive Board and the Supervisory Board. In short, I think Lovinklaan evolved in a more proactive major shareholder with a real focus on inclusion and sustainability.
How do you work together with Arcadis leadership to align Lovinklaans strategy with that of Arcadis?
We have various forms of stakeholder management. Of course, we have our formal meetings with the Executive Board like every shareholder during Quarterly Updates, where we ask questions and discuss concerns and opportunities. In addition, we discuss with Peter, Stephan and Jacoline what we think is needed in terms of programs. For instance, Arcadis has made a promise to the market about sustainability, and as a Major Shareholder, we hold Arcadis to that promise. During the meetings with the members of the Supervisory Board, we discuss various topics. For example, we wanted to make sure that Arcadis has a diverse supervisory board. Not only male/female, but also: are there, besides financial, also non-financial non-executives in the Board?
What do you like most about being part of the Lovinklaan board?
The people I work with in a truly global board! The board consists of very talented people, and since almost every year someone leaves and a new one joins, the dynamic is great. And I dare say we have the most diverse team within all of Arcadis. With 7 board members, we have 10 nationalities!
What aspirations do you have for Lovinklaan in 2022 and beyond?
My aspiration is that every Arcadian should have access to all programs and have at least one program experience. I really like the fact that we will have a more focused approach. Maybe fewer programs but with more participants per program and more impact, as well impact on personal development as impact that the company can have on society. And as a major shareholder, my aspiration is a continuous sustainable future for Arcadis.