What knobs do you need to turn to accelerate sustainable social development?

'It is better to invest in taking chain responsibility and becoming a forerunner, than to lose out later, when it turns out that the competition has things in order'- Jeroen Aarts

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Jeroen Aarts has started as Senior Manager at Boer & Croon. Here he will use his experience and expertise to further strengthen the Strategy & Transformation Solution.

(Chain) responsibility
Jeroen: "Legislation on chain responsibility is now emerging at the European and national level. That is an important development. When I worked for Triodos Bank, I saw the financial sector being made aware of its (chain) responsibility by NGOs. The message was: if you finance a project that indirectly causes abuses in Bangladesh, you can't say you had nothing to do with it because it happens out of your sight. You have a responsibility to make demands on your supply chain partners and monitor that. Producers and importers are now explicitly given that responsibility as well. Some companies are threatening to leave the Netherlands because they have the impression that they are being prevented from doing business. I would like to help them see that if they move to another country they will have exactly the same problem there in a few years.'

It is better to invest in taking responsibility for the chain and becoming a forerunner than to lose out later if the competition turns out to have things in order. The point of departure must be that you award a contract to a party if you have gotten to know them well and they ensure that everything runs smoothly and transparently further down the chain. There are sufficient technologies and software to meet this requirement. For smaller entrepreneurs this is obviously more difficult, but by joining forces a solution is also within reach. Or by making the chain less complex and ensuring that you are closer to the ball. That can also be a unique selling point for which an end customer is willing to pay extra.'

Accelerating sustainable social development

'What knobs do you need to turn to accelerate sustainable social development? That question was central to my study and career choices. After my master I started working at Triodos Bank, where I rewrote the policy for sustainable banking and investment. After Triodos, I switched to Alliander. I needed friction between core task and ambition. Among other things, Alliander manages gas networks, which is fundamentally not sustainable, but combines this with sky-high ambitions for the future, which made for an interesting task. Here, in various strategic positions, I had to deal with everything involved in energy transition and grid management: connecting solar parks in an overcrowded electricity grid, making choices in a time of transport scarcity and dealing correctly with the shortage of technical staff.'

'After this I got the chance to help build Invest-NL. This is a government investment fund to finance projects in the field of sustainability and circularity that fall between the cracks with regular financiers because, for example, they work with new technologies that have not yet proven themselves or because the payback period is too long. In the first phase, I developed the teams, strategies and processes with my colleagues. Once the organization was in place, I worked from the business development department to make mobility and logistics more sustainable.'

The different knobs

'Working for a bank, a network company and an investment fund, I know that the buttons for sustainable development are in different places. It is an interplay between governments, entrepreneurs, financiers and other parties that I enjoy guiding. My strength lies in quickly understanding an organization or complex issue, determining a direction, and initiating and guiding a transformation. At Boer & Croon, I expect to be able to apply this to a variety of clients in different sectors.

It is my personal mission to ensure that sustainability is an integral part of strategies and that it is recognized that a strategy that lacks this is not future-proof.'