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Jan Peter de Jong: A Story About Mission, Values, and Passions

Xebia’s Managing Director of the Netherlands pushes diversity and culture by embracing company values.

From graduating with a degree in Astronomy from Leiden University to becoming the Managing Director at Xebia Netherlands, Jan Peter de Jong is up for a challenge. 

Jan Peter recently paid a visit to the Xebia studios, donning a dark navy suit and freshly cut hair, ready to take us through his journey and to share his vision to position Xebia Netherlands as a global player.

After a well-deserved coffee, Jan Peter joined Aila Albrecht, Head of Marketing for the Netherlands, and myself to chat about his journey, Xebia, and everything in between.

JP Interview

Why did you choose Xebia?

 

“I had not heard of Xebia until a year ago when I was approached with the opportunity to become the managing director. Once I started looking at the company, a few things particularly struck me about Xebia. For instance, I realized the high quality of consultants and vast experience at Xebia for a company not yet fully known globally, making it a best-kept secret.  

Xebia is a Dutch-founded company that strives to become a true global player and does so through its strong culture and values, with the key elements “quality without compromise,” “people first,” and “customer intimacy.” Xebia lives and breathes these values, and that is unique to find.   

Regarding the managing director (MD) role, I see the position as holistic. My task is to ensure our consultants have an environment where they can become the best version of themselves and bring as much value as possible to our customers. So it's a job with many dimensions and a lot of fun.”

 

What goals did you have in mind when you started this role?

 

"As you might know, Xebia is more than Xebia Netherlands. For instance, we have Xebia in Germany, Switzerland, and the Nordics; of course, we have Xebia in the United States. Next to that, we have global delivery centers in India, Poland, and Colombia.

Xebia's roots are in the Netherlands. The company has been in business for 23 years and was created around a strong culture and values, which we leverage to make Xebia even stronger in and outside of the Netherlands. Xebia Netherlands is a lighthouse, an example for other countries and regions, so it is important to establish a strong foundation.

It is important to consistently create the right culture and quality in all these countries. One of my goals is to ensure that Xebia gets recognized as a company that is easy to work with in the Netherlands as well as globally. By doing so, we can leverage the strength of our global delivery to create value for our customers.”

 

Could you describe Xebia’s organizational structure?  

 

“When I started, I found that Xebia, in the Netherlands particularly, was very decentralized, almost fragmented, with a high level of autonomy within the 14 different business units, each self-reliant, focusing on their own area of expertise. 

The idea is to keep a high level of autonomy paired with a minimal structure, all contributing to a collective impact. This is done through five clearly defined service lines, with each service line focusing on delivering results as one service line and as a collective. 

Through reorganizing, we designed this change so that the impact on our consultants will be minimal, except that they will have a larger group of like-minded people around and closer to them. Ultimately, it must make sense to our customers because we can solve more complex issues and make Xebia the true authority in IT Consultancy."

 

How important is the culture at Xebia?

 

"There was a lot I had to learn and absorb about Xebia during my first months. Xebia’s culture is exceptional, and it is built around one mission statement, 'Authority,' and four core values: 'People First,' 'Sharing Knowledge,' 'Customer Intimacy,' and 'Quality Without Compromise.'"

Let’s start with our mission statement. Our ultimate goal is to be perceived as 'the' authority in the IT landscape, generating value for our customers. We see that the best way to achieve that is to turn the expertise and authority of our consultants into a collective authority as one Xebia. The organizational shift we are undergoing from individual business units to the five service lines makes it easier to translate our authority mission into value for our customers.

Regarding our four core values, each one relates to and complements the others. For example, what about our customers if you say people first, meaning Xebia consultants first? I'm used to having our customers first, right? So, how do these relate? The answer is quite simple. If our consultants are at their best, they can deliver high-quality results that are also the best for our customers. And that is, in short, how we create our cultural principles, four separate walls that form a solid foundation when cemented together.

To give another example, Xebia prides itself on sharing knowledge, e.g., in the form of bi-weekly knowledge exchange sessions called XKE (Xebia knowledge exchange). The more of these sessions and workshops we have, the more knowledge and perspectives are being discussed and explored, increasing our expertise, ideas, and mission statement, ultimately positively impacting our customers.”

 

What do partners mean to Xebia? 

 

"We are in 2024, and I strongly believe in partnering. If you're alone, you're just alone. Our customers deserve better than that.

As of now, we are looking very clearly into strengthening our partnerships. We are already working closely with technology partners and, together, creating value for our customers, helping them, and making a difference in the market.

Next to the technology partners, we are also looking at getting closer to partners in the consulting and advisory realm by offering complementary services. We aim to channel our expertise and strength with our partners to create an even bigger impact."

 

How do you approach “change” within an organization?

 

"The most important lesson I learned throughout my career is that communication is crucial, and sometimes faster is not better. As leaders in change, we have to find the right pace and way of communicating. And I'm the last one to claim that we know precisely how to communicate in the best possible way. So, I transparently communicate with our consultants why we are in this change and how the process will look moving forward. This message has, of course, also to be carried by the leadership team.

coffee with JP

Having a close link to the individuals is also extremely important. For those who know me, I love to make coffee. One of the things I promised, when I started, is that every Tuesday between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., you can find me at the coffee machine in the cafe in Hilversum, making coffee for anyone craving great coffee. You wouldn’t believe how many valuable conversations this ritual initiated. Those conversations are so important for me because they give me feedback directly from the people it is all about.

Of course, another way of communicating change is through all-hands meetings, typically in our Grand Café, where we can simultaneously host one or two hundred employees and remote participants."

 

What is your perspective on leadership and diversity?

 

"I strongly believe that diversity and inclusiveness are paramount to successful leadership. I've been working in many countries over the past 20 years and learned that surrounding yourself with people with different views and perspectives will strengthen your decision.

And sometimes that is difficult, right? You will be challenged often more than you want. But if you create ideas that go unchallenged, that might not lead to the best outcome. I love to have hard conversations about those views, and in some cases, it means that I wasn't right, and therefore, I adjust accordingly. However, even creating a diverse team may not be enough. What makes the team better is that you can listen and take into consideration these different views."

Any final remarks? 

 

"In the next year, Xebia will move from being the best-kept secret to being a consulting company recognized as the best."

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