How have you applied your expertise from your Arcadis role into your role as a Board member for Lovinklaan (or vice versa)?
Throughout my career at Arcadis, I have been able to work in different business lines (water and environment), support different functions (operations, technical, client development) and work and live in different countries. These experiences are invaluable when it comes to the Lovinklaan Foundation. I also have had the opportunity to interact with senior leaders across Arcadis which makes my work as a board member interacting with Arcadis leaders much easier, as we already know each other and, in many cases, have already worked together.
Was it challenging to step into the role as a Board member following 4 years of acting as Chairperson?
Stepping down as Chair and relinquishing that responsibility, especially when I had had it for so long, it was a challenge. As Chair, I had several responsibilities: I was the primary point of contact between Arcadis and Lovinklaan (the executive board and supervisory board), I represented the major shareholder inside and outside of Arcadis, and I was the leader of the board. In conjunction with the Secretary, Holly Herner, we were also the organizers of board meetings and calls, primarily focused on implementing the strategy and running the programs. At times it was overwhelming, especially when mixed with my day job. I thoroughly enjoyed being the Chair, and really valued the opportunity to interact with Peter Oosterveer and several other Arcadis leaders on a regular basis. I must thank the new Chair, Cecile Cluitmans, for easing the challenge for me. She routinely reaches out and gets my opinion on issues or involves me in discussions with Arcadis.
What accomplishment are you most proud of from your time at Lovinklaan?
Looking back, I think the greatest accomplishment was professionalizing the board. In a previous role, I had the opportunity to sit on an Executive Board that was very well run, accomplished a lot, and was highly effective. I took what I learned there and implemented it within the Lovinklaan Board. We instituted the concepts piece by piece and over time became a much more effective and efficient board. We put a lot of effort into educating the board on topics relevant to Arcadis—so we could have genuine conversations and voice opinions on high priority topics such as executive remuneration, GECs, digital, and retention. We focused on building a culture around transparency, openness, trust, respect, and being prepared.
What three functional benefits do you think Lovinklaan Foundation offers to Arcadis Employees?
The Lovinklaan Foundation is unique. I have not been able to find another set-up like it in the world. We are the major shareholder of Arcadis and are made up of Arcadis employees; we provide professional development opportunities for all employees; and we are a platform where all who are involved can connect and network around the world! A unique aspect is that Lovinklaan is an independent entity from Arcadis, which means we make autonomous decisions. We should be in lockstep with Arcadis, but we arrive at those decisions independently. We accomplish this by getting close and engaging with employees and leadership. So, the most important benefit I see is that we are a voice, or another avenue for a voice, for all employees. And we happen to own the most Arcadis shares!
How do you stay motivated after all these years?
For me, the key is diversity in what I am doing. I am naturally a curious person, which can be good and bad. Good in that I love to learn and try new things, but maybe not so good in that I can lose focus on my immediate task (we all have things to work on). Over the last 20 years, Arcadis has afforded me the opportunity to have several different careers – everything from operations management, executive management, value proposition leadership to client development, then throw Lovinklaan on top of that! Knowing that what Arcadis does can have a significant impact on the quality of life of others is very rewarding. I also love talking to my kids and others about what we do, there is a lot of pride in that.
What’s your favorite part of a working day?
I am at my best, clearly thinking, and most productive early in the day. In some cases, while part of Lovinklaan, very early. Since January 2020, the beginning of the pandemic, we have held monthly and quarterly virtual meetings which encompass 14 time zones, so 04:00am calls have been frequent. Also, it seems I have fewer distractions and interruptions early in the day and, therefore, can concentrate better.
What will you miss most about your time at Lovinklaan?
Wow—that is a big question. My predecessor, Janet Peters, told me it would be like nothing I had ever done, the best job I will ever have, and the best friends I will ever make, and as a bonus seeing the world. She was right on all fronts. Other things I will miss include engaging with employees from around the world, networking across the globe, having philosophical discussions about the “what ifs” (i.e., what if there was an approach by an interested buyer of Arcadis), making a difference, and having an influence. Additionally, I will miss doing something different than my day job, the diversity being a board member offers, helping others understand what Lovinklaan is and does, and helping Arcadis meet the challenges of the future. I am sure I could list many other items but will stop there.
What is your favorite program and why?
While I have had the opportunity to be involved and/or participate in almost all the programs over the last 5+ years, I must admit that my favorite program is Expedition DNA (E-DNA). Early on, Holly Herner and I participated in the brainstorming and creation of E-DNA, along with colleagues from Arcadis. As a board member, I completed bootcamp and participated in one of the first expeditions to evaluate how it was doing. I found it to be an extremely rewarding experience. To observe how it aligned almost perfectly with Arcadis Digital Strategy was also very rewarding. Additionally, it is great to see that participation is approaching 75% of all Arcadians – that is mindboggling! I would have never thought that a Lovinklaan program would have that much impact across the company. There are many Arcadians who should be credited for the success of E-DNA: Holly Herner has led the program since inception for Lovinklaan and Caroline Moore and her team have played an instrumental role in the creation and execution of E-DNA and keeping it fresh.