A position with strong responsibility in an organization that matters. Your visibility as a professional also grows outside your organization: you do not shy away from the off- and online stages as a director with vision. Your CV is inspiring and shows rapid, but also broad development. Welcome to the Next Leadership 50.
The above are the most important criteria with which MT/Sprout annually compiles its Next Leadership 50. The list of up-and-coming top talent is being drawn up in collaboration with Vlerick Business School and the most important executive search firms in the Netherlands, who let it be known which young management talents will come to the top of their lists.
We also gave alumni, fellow executives, and other fans the opportunity to nominate standouts. And of course, as editors, we don’t have our eyes in the bag either.
Future c level
That’s why we dare to say: remember these names, because the Next Leadership 50 of 2022 contains the future c-level leaders. They will determine how the Netherlands will develop further.
After extensive scouting, people such as Kishan Lodhia (director of information provision at accountancy firm Flynth), Annemarie Joosen (lead travelers at NS) and Susan Lagerweij (operating partner at investment company Connected Capital) made it to the list this year. All young managers who have made it far in their careers in no time. They have also shown that they have personal qualities that make them suitable as leaders, and usually look beyond the walls of the organization where they work.
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Benjamin and veterans
The construction years of the managers vary, from that one Benjamin from 1995, Sophie van Hoenselaar (project leader OTTO Health Care)until CEO of the Netherlands at BP Karen de Lathouder (1977) and a quartet of ‘veterans’ from 1978: Ohra CEO Bianca Knispel, KPN director IT Mass Market Bastiaan Gerrits, MediaMarkt Benelux director Remko Rijnders and Alex Bulters, head of retail at Under Armor EMEA.
Sorry about the hassle about those years, but a line has to be drawn somewhere to distinguish the next generation of top executives from those who are now on the plush. And we draw that line at 45 years.
Without targeting it with a quota, there is a perfect 50/50 balance in the Next Leadership 50 between men and women this year. In recent years, people who identify as women have already twice in the majority.
In any case, the gender balance promises a lot of good for the coming years, if these next leaders steam through to the absolute top. The gender diversity on the 2022 list seems to be a logical consequence of the enormous supply of female talent. The best training institutes in the Netherlands have long produced more women than men.
Next! we would say: what about cultural diversity? It seems that the focus on diversity and inclusion in the best-run organizations is starting to pay off. But a look at the 2022 list also shows that there is still a long way to go: 14 percent of the leaders are of color.
The number of talented people from diverse backgrounds that populate the Next Leadership 50 will really need to increase as proof that the focus on diversity and inclusion is really paying off. For expertise in this field and inspiring leaders who really make the BV Netherlands more inclusive, we would like to refer to the Inclusive 30, the list that MT/Sprout also compiles every year.
Enough about the outside. We asked the toppers from the MT Next Leadership 50 which qualities are a true next generation leader they think they should have. We often heard that that mwill pay attention to the person behind the employee, and what it takes for them to fully blossom. So empathetic leadership.
‘The next-generation manager lets others shine and thus improves the organization as a whole’, summarizes Bianca Knispel.
‘You want leaders who wake up every day with the aim of encouraging and facilitating colleagues as much as possible to give substance to the ambition and vision of the organisation’, suggests Leonie Teeuwen, senior manager of Life at Achmea.
And Annemarie Joosen: ‘For me, next-generation leadership is about trust and inspiration. To inspire by outlining a larger goal and give direction, but also give the freedom and confidence to the experts, the people who have the most substantive knowledge on a subject, to come up with the best solutions.’
Almost without exception, the NL50 also mentioned (attention to) inclusivity as an important characteristic of future-proof leaders. ‘When putting together teams, they will consciously pay attention to diversity in the broadest sense of the word. I am convinced that having different people on your team helps you understand your customer better and prevents ‘bubble thinking’. You really have to use that diversity, so that people complement each other and dare to look wider than their own approach or solution direction‘, says Pauline van Brakel, chief product officer and founder at Yolt.
Diversity goes further than gender ratio or background, Kishan Lodhia knows. ‘It is also about cultures and traditions, fears, ideas and knowledge and experience that people bring with them. This breaks silos inside and outside the organizations and that can give an organization wings.’
The ideal company
It’s no surprise that purpose is often mentioned as a condition for an organization in which people enjoy working. The leaders of the Next Leadership 50 almost all mention it.
Wes Geerts, head of e-commerce at Kraft Heinz: ‘If you want to attract new talent, you as a company (and leader) must not only be aware of, but also take responsibility for being ahead. This purpose is already important for the new generation and it continues to increase as everyone becomes more critical of what they do and where they work.’
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But does the ideal company exist? No: there is none one size fits all for all people. Joost Kerckhaert, e-commerce director at Etos: ‘I think it’s the other way around. There is no ideal company, but there is an ideal team with individuals that you want to be part of. The opportunity lies in creating such an environment in which you stimulate maximum personal development, which in turn contributes to the vision of your company.’
Corona: the lessons
Then the corona period, which – knocking on the door – as far as lockdowns are concerned is behind us. What lessons have the young leaders learned during those distant times?
The answers range from ‘we already did our meetings with the global teams online’ to extremely personal insights, such as that of Mark Blok, director of corporate affairs at Heineken: ‘I am much more open to the noises around me, because sometimes nobody really knew what to do nor had experience with it. I now dare to ask more questions instead of first having the solution myself. I also notice that I dare to be myself a lot more and show my struggles.’
The MT/Sprout Next Leadership 50 (powered by Vlerick Business School) was compiled by the editorial staff of MT/Sprout, with input from executive search firms. In previous years, names were on the list that can now count themselves among the captains of industry: Pieter Elbers of KLM, Herna Verhagen of PostNL, Marit van Egmond, CEO of Albert Heijn, and Heineken CEO Dolf van den Brink. With the MT Next Leadership 50, MT/Sprout wants to inspire other companies and talents.
Susan Lagerweij of Connected Capital gives a more general, but deeply felt corona lesson: ‘Corona has made me realize that my generation of leaders must be prepared for everything and can no longer take anything for granted. Thinking in scenarios is a must. Being creative, flexible and fast with solutions too. Because if corona has shown anything, an annual plan will be outdated in no time.’
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