Love and Pain in the Boardroom

Love and Pain in the Boardroom
Tjahny Bercx is number 30 in the Top 100 Non-Executive Directors, and that makes him a high ranking newcomer. He is Chief People & Performance Officer at LeasePlan and was already a non-exec of ProRail. This year, he also took on a non-executive position with Achmea.

He joined the marines at the age of 16. He completed his higher general secondary education aboard. He later obtained a Master's in Psychology from the Open University and an MBA from the British Keele University. Tjahny Bercx (1963) was born on Curaçao. The son of an Antillean mother and a Limburgian father, he is proof that an unorthodox career path can lead to the top. After 17 years, he traded his position as a marine officer for the corporate world and the HR discipline in 1997. Bercx began his corporate career as Vice President of HR for ING Barings and airline KLM. In 2005, he moved to LeasePlan, where he was CEO of LeasePlan Brazil and LeasePlan Mexico successively. He has been Chief People & Performance Officer for the mobility company since 2016 and leads the change process intended to lead to full digital transformation by 2025. 

Culture Ambassador
Bercx was recently elected 2021 CHRO of the Year. The jury: ‘He is business-driven, but without losing sight of the human factor, with an impact on engagement and results.’ According to the report on, LeasePlan CEO Tex Gunning praised his character and leadership style, and his influence as an ambassador of culture: ‘He was the glue that held many people, roles, regions and initiatives together.’

Laughter And Tears
Bercx's approach is just as unorthodox as his career according to the abovementioned report, which quoted him as follows: ‘What we do is deepen our understanding of where our behavior comes from, with sessions in which people come together physically and which are led by specialists. We invite people to reveal everything of themselves, to tell all, from their passion to their pain. This always leads to laughter and tears.’ Those sessions could also be beneficial for Supervisory Boards. Bercx holds supervisory positions with rail operator ProRail and insurer Achmea.

ESG: Navigating The Path To A Low-Carbon And Socially Aware Reality
The ESG theme is at the top of the supervisory agenda of Dutch organizations. We asked Bercx what that means for the role of the Supervisory Board member: ‘We are witnessing an immense shift: Stakeholders are showing great interest in the environment, society and governance. The existential threat of climate change is at the top of the list. Organizations must develop credible plans for a low-carbon planet and to prevent the consequences of climate change. The themes of diversity, justice and inclusion have never been so important. Organizations must ensure equal opportunities for everyone. Diverse teams also have an advantage over homogenous teams in terms of performance. Other themes are modern slavery and supply chain ethics.’

Key Role For Non-Executive Directors
‘The strategy for climate change and social issues demands robust governance structures and support of the right culture, values and behaviors across the whole organization. Herein lies a key role for NEDs. They have access to detailed information and oversight of the organization's exposure to environmental, social and governance risks. Non-executive directors also need to ensure the relevant roles, responsibilities and objectives are identified and assigned, so the company has the right knowledge, skills and experience to tackle ESG effectively.’

Opportunity Or Challenge?
‘The greatest risk is that organizations do not act quickly enough in the transition to a low-carbon economy and socially aware reality. That will lead to a loss of confidence amongst stakeholders. The pressure of public opinion and from investors on companies that are regarded as weak in the area of ESG can no longer be ignored. Ultimately, the ESG revolution offers extraordinary opportunities: To harness the potential of our organizations and diverse talent to build a more sustainable future. Organizations must enable their people to anticipate this and develop products and services for a low-carbon economy.’

This article was published in Management Scope 01 2022.

This article was last changed on 15-12-2021