The First 100 Days as CFO of Renewi

The First 100 Days as CFO of Renewi
Annemieke den Otter on her first 100 days as CFO of Renewi: 'The focus on sustainability adds to my motivation.'

Who: Annemieke den Otter
What: Since June 1, CFO of recycling company Renewi
Interviewed by: Mohamed Bouker, partner at Deloitte

You worked in various organizations and sectors. Why now Renewi?
‘The CFO role does not differ fundamentally, but Renewi’s focus on social impact and sustainability adds to my motivation. We process between 12 and 13 million tons of waste a year and we ourselves can already recycle almost 70 percent into secondary raw materials. We want to scale that up even further. Moreover, and this is a real gamechanger, the quality of these reusable materials is getting better and better. Our sorting and upcycling technology has developed such that we can even compete with virgin materials. As an example, Playmobil makes its sustainable toy line Wiltopia from plastics that we recover from discarded refrigerators. This most certainly is significant in terms of circularity, as children's toys have to meet the highest quality and safety requirements.'

How did your onboarding go?
 ‘I visited many sites both at home and abroad. They are often specialized for a specific waste stream which differs from mattresses and wood to plastics and organic waste streams. I wanted to familiarize myself with it before Corona possibly limited travel again.  Moreover, after the induction period, it often becomes difficult to make time for this kind of work visits.  I also focused on speaking to many people, from the person in the canteen to the Chairman of the Board, to get a feel for the culture of the organization. People here struck me as very sensible while at the same time proud and passionate about what we do as a recycling company.’

After a series of other financial positions, you became CFO for the first time at Ordina. Why the choice for that role?
‘I worked as Finance Director Corporate for a couple of years when Jolanda Poots-Bijl, the CFO at the time, transferred to Van Oord. I gave birth to my second child a few weeks earlier, but she believed in me and pushed me to apply for the CFO position. It stayed with me, and I started emulating this. I will encourage someone with talent, a good brain and the right attitude to stretch him/herself and develop faster than what they perhaps might do or think possible for themselves.’

As a CFO you are a role model for other women. How do you create a good work-life balance in such a position?
‘It is simply a fact that at several times in the month or year you really need to be present. During these periods I go to bed on time, don't drink alcohol, eat healthy and delete social engagements from my calendar. I am quite disciplined and strict with this. After such a peak performance, I switch off and make time for these fun things again. I find it equally important for my team to take the time to recover. I will not, on Saturday morning, send them a long to-do list for the coming week, because they also have to catch up with their lives and be able to start fresh on Monday. Should it occasionally be necessary, for example during a peak period, I announce it in advance.’

How would you like to leave the CFO function in due course? When have you done well?
‘In the coming period, I would particularly like to improve the internal processes of the finance department and digitize it much further. Furthermore, I find it important for the growth and continuity of the organization to ensure there is a good successor who, in turn, will set his or her own accents.’

This short interview was published in Management Scope 01 2023, as part of the regular 'Coming & Going' section.

This article was last changed on 14-12-2022