On 1 September, the career of Christel Reynaerts will take an interesting turn. Until that date, she remains CEO of Alphabet Belgium. After, she will be CEO of Alphabet Netherlands, a subsidiary with 400 employees and 80,000 vehicles. “This is just as much of a dream job”, she says.
Christel Reynaerts was on holiday on Mallorca when she got the news. After two and a half years, sooner than expected she now takes on responsibility of the Netherlands
What attracted you to your new position?
“You know, my current role already is a dream job, and this new job is as much of a dream job, so I feel blessed. Each time I’ve had to make a choice regarding the future of my career, I both listened to my heart and followed my gut feeling. As I did this time too. I feel it is right to go for it because the Netherlands is a mature and an innovative market”.
“And it is a great opportunity within the BMW Group, it also shows that diversity is close to BMW Group´s heart.
The Netherlands is right next to Belgium. Will you move, or commute?
“I will move. Alphabet Netherlands is located in Breda, which is only 60 km from Antwerp, in Belgium. But I don't want to commute back and forth because I really want to integrate with the company and the country”.
“And I'm really looking forward to the experience; from 1990 to 2004, in a previous role for Arval, I spent quite some time in the Netherlands, and I must say I like the culture. The Dutch are straightforward, fast and they have a very good business sense. No wonder: they've been world-class entrepreneurs since their Golden Age in the 17th century”.
Still, won't it be a challenge for you as a Belgian to lead a Dutch company?
“Oh, I expect it to be exciting, a a Belgian in the Netherlands (laughs). But I'm sure our cultural differences can be a source of learning from each other as well”.
You leave Alphabet Belgium earlier than you expected. What will you remember as your proudest achievement?
“Well, it gives me so much energy to hear from the associates in Belgium that a lot has changed in those two and a half years. I feel that in my time as CEO, I have given Alphabet Belgium new drive, a vision,and a road map for the future – with our Journey 2021, which we developed together in 2015 when I joined”.
What's in that road map?
“Its goal is to lead us to excellence – in the traditional business model, in innovation, in customer satisfaction and in profitability. It does so by focusing on six pillars, and for me an essential one is the one about smart working because it created a new business culture. This pillar deals with our transition from a presence-based work environment to an output-based one, or in other words from control to trust. Equally important in that respect: the Executive and Management levels have merged into one leadership team”.
So you leave Belgium without second thoughts.
“I will definitely miss Alphabet Belgium with its great people, they are the soul of this company, but I know that they are ready to implement the roadmap we developed together”.
“And we have the right products in place to respond to the changing market environment. Last year we launched Alphaflex, our multimodality solution, and soon we launch also a new B2E product. And last but not least, I leave the company in the capable hands of Erik Swerts, the new Alphabet Belgium CEO. Erik has taken part in developing the road map and knows it inside out. With him in charge, I am confident for the future: I know he will never be satisfied with the status quo”.
Talking about changing the status quo: what do you want to achieve at Alphabet Netherlands?
“Alphabet Netherlands has been selected as the Best Lease Company of the Year for the last two years now. Those are pretty high standards. Jorge Bautista, my predecessor in Breda - who also started two and a half years ago, incidentally – launched a change strategy of his own for Alphabet Netherlands. And I will build on his strategy”.
“We want to continue on our path to become the leader in outstanding business mobility in the Netherlands. And we want to continue to grow. That is possible only if we keep innovating in mobility and diversifying to distinguish us from other players”.
You seem fully aware that the Netherlands is a very challenging market.
“Absolutely. The market is extremely mature and highly competitive, with a modest growth. On the other hand, our mobility services in the Netherlands are much further along than for example in Belgium. We have the fundamentals in place to build our USPs and make a difference – in B2E, in Mobility, in Private Lease and generally in giving back to our customers the time and energy they had to put into caring for their fleets; time and energy they now can reinvest in their core business”.
Picture: Alphabet International.