Conversations with the Crew: Meet Marcel van Benthem
It’s been a long time coming, but we can finally get excited and share the news that Marcel van Bentham has joined us as Managing Director of 101 Ways Netherlands!
Here the seasoned commercial manager and certified Scrum Master talks me through strategy, scaling and errr, saunas? Enjoy.
Hi Marcel, welcome to 101 Ways. Tell us about your new role as MD of
The Netherlands’ 101 Ways branch?
Hi! I’ve joined as head of The Netherlands branch and it’s my role to realise the growth and expansion there. The Netherlands office is also responsible (for now) for other EU-based clients such as Switzerland where we have a great engagement in Zürich. As we grow in mainland Europe, the team in the Dutch office will also need to grow with that.
You’re joining the team during a period of growth, how do you see yourself driving things forward and shaping the team?
I’ve been working in the Dutch IT consultancy industry since the mid-nineties. The network and experience I’ve gained from that will be a big help to drive things forward.
In my previous role at Xebia, I was responsible for a team of 45 consultants. I started that team almost a decade ago with a group of just five people, so I’m used to building teams and helping organisations grow. I love doing it so I guess it’s in my genes! 🙂
So, what drew you to 101 Ways in the first place?
The culture, the people and the business model.
As discussed, you spent a number of years at your previous company helping build and scale them from a small startup to a well-known and respected business. What was a career high for you during that time? And how did it shape your leadership style?
A career high was closing the deal with the board of ING Bank to start their transformation from a traditional bank to a bank organised and working according to the ‘Spotify model’ (in tribes and squads etc.). It was a really high-profile project with a very big underlying culture change and also the first of its kind in Europe. It took about three years of intensely working together with ING on all levels.
The growth journey with Xebia helped me understand that in the various phases of change, you need different aspects of leadership to push things forward. Some aspects resonate well with me, some don’t. I have come to know myself better over the years and know my own strengths and weaknesses (or rather passions and areas of lesser interest). I also learned when to ask for help and not be ashamed of doing so. Even if you are in a position that comes with certain responsibilities and requirements, everyone needs a helping hand at points.
Which quote resonates with you most?
I’m quite a pragmatic guy and not a big fan of quotes or tend to forget them!
How do you see your part in pushing 101 Ways forward and becoming the most sought-after tech consultancy in Europe?
Scaling the business in The Netherlands, Switzerland and possibly one other country in the EU. So mainly about realising growth while staying true to our company culture and values.
Tell us a fun fact that no-one knows about you?
I’m quite a transparent guy and don’t have many secrets! Saying that, not many people know I would like to buy my own chateau or farmhouse in France one day, do it up and turn it into a B&B and live a quiet and peaceful life!
What drives you to keep doing what you’re doing?
Achieving results and collaborating with the people in our company
What do you like to do in your spare time to forget about work?
I have an outdoor sauna in my back garden which I enjoy quite frequently; it keeps me fit and helps me to relax. I also play tennis competitively in tournaments. On top of that, I have three kids aged 16, 14 and 11 who keep me on my toes!
What do you think the challenges are going to be, both in your role and the wider industry?
Things are obviously changing day by day as we navigate these unprecedented times. But in the pre-Covid-19-era I would have said: proving the value of the IT industry in everyday life, not just bolstering complex systems. This means actually helping the average consumer by making things easier and more accessible.
In my role, the main ‘challenge’ is growing the customer base and raising awareness of the 101 Ways brand and value in The Netherlands. It’s an exciting challenge to have!
Improving inclusivity and diversity within the tech industry is an ongoing challenge and one that we want to help with. What is your experience of initiatives that have worked well (or otherwise!) to support this?
In my previous role at Xebia, my unit consisted of all men at a certain point. I really challenged myself to find the two best female consultants and hired them. This was the start of a bigger sea change within my team. There was less focus on ego and more on collaboration. Ultimately these two great women helped me hire more great females from their networks and beyond.
By the time I left, my team consisted of one-third women, which greatly improved the company/team culture and atmosphere, and the way people collaborated. It also consisted of people from different walks of life which was fantastic as it brought new perspectives. One of my staff, for example, had been a refugee – his experience made him incredibly ambitious in the workplace; he was always keen to do well for himself and his family and wanted to achieve great things. He was great to work with.
Tell me why you’re a good fit for 101 Ways?
Pragmatic, like to build something and work with ambitious people.
If you could invent any app, what would it be?
I quite like the idea of “Scotty beam me up” from Star Trek. So an app making you able to appear or disappear anywhere on the planet would be nice.
Finally, what is the one piece of advice that you wish you’d been told / would pass on to those considering a career in tech?
Focus on the people, not the tech!
If you’d like to know more about how partnering with you can help your business grow and thrive, get in touch with Marcel here.