The First 100 Days as Executive Board Member at VodafoneZiggo
Who: Fleur van Beem
What: Since September 2022 Executive Director Strategy, Insights & Digital Transformation of VodafoneZiggo
Interviewed by: Emile Kramers, partner at Deloitte
Before joining VodafoneZiggo, you were a consultant for 17 years and later partner at strategic management consultancy Bain & Company. Why now a line role?
‘My initial motivation was that I was ready for change in order to grow further and explore other aspects of my leadership. I wanted to be at the helm myself. Ultimately, as a consultant, you do not get to make the important decisions. Moreover, the longer you are in consultancy, the more difficult it becomes to switch, so now was the right time. The match with VodafoneZiggo was not only because I facilitated many projects in the telecom sector as a consultant. In the preliminary interviews, I also noticed that the company cares intrinsically about diversity and inclusion, for me a prerequisite for committing to an organization. We as society are too advanced to tolerate non-sense in this area.’
Did it take some getting used to, a line position?
‘It helps that I have extensive experience with consulting in the telecom sector as well as on strategy. Much of what I learned as a consultant now comes in handy on a daily basis. At the same time, I work with completely different people and lead times are much longer. That took some getting used to, but I now have a much better understanding of how large organizations implement plans and what can be complex about it. Also new, but incredibly fun, is that as a member of the Executive team, I am not only involved in my own area, but in everything happening within the organization.’
You joined VodafoneZiggo in October 2021 as Board member for digital transformation. Since last September, the strategy and insights departments have been added. How did that ‘double’ onboarding go?
‘I was in some measure able to align with existing initiatives of the leadership team. The frequent coffee chats everywhere helped. In addition, I regularly visited locations and departments to understand what was going on. In retrospect, it was very good that I was able to first focus solely on digital transformation for several months. The subject reaches into the capillaries of the organization, so it is important to have in-depth discussions on it both internally and with the shareholders. Since the expansion, I have more responsibilities and a different time schedule. Those first months were simultaneously good preparation for that, even if only because our strategy is also strongly focused on our digital transformation.’
What do you want to achieve in terms of digital transformation?
‘On the one hand, it involves things like further developing digital skills and being more agile, which is necessary in a rapidly changing market. On the other hand, on the technical side, we need to make the right choices so that what we develop can actually be an engine for digital transformation. In doing so, we especially want to look at how other sectors are leveraging technology in their digital services. In the telecom sector, we can still learn a lot when it comes to digital services and experiences.’
And how will VodafoneZiggo develop on the entertainment side?
‘We do not want to set up our own Netflix, but we would want to open up the hugely fragmented world of content - streaming, linear, live entertainment, et cetera - for our customers in an accessible way through ordering, personalization and recommendations. Getting access and making choices should become easier and more affordable.’
This short interview was published in Management Scope 04 2023, as part of the regular 'Coming & Going' section.
This article was last changed on 11-04-2023