Robin Coester new partner Strategy & Transformation

'Sustainability initiatives, the energy transition and technological change will not be achieved if you only pay attention to the technical or financial aspects. It's about how you translate these trends into strategic decisions, tactical and organisational impact and integrate them into the corporate culture.' Robin Coester, partner Strategy & Transformation Boer & Croon

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Robin Coester has joined Boer & Croon as a partner. He will be helping to further develop the Strategy & Transformation Solution. With his technical background combined with strategic skills, impact-oriented thinking and a focus on collaboration, he is able to initiate and guide complex changes.

'Sustainable impact is created by integrating necessary change throughout the business, from the mission statement to the last work instruction'

Large-scale infrastructure projects

After studying Technical Business Administration at TU Eindhoven, Robin started as a management trainee at Royal BAM Group. He soon moved into various managerial and programme management roles. One of his early highlights was his involvement in the delivery of the large-scale infrastructure project HSL Zuid. He helped set up and establish a management and maintenance organisation to ensure that the train could continue its journey to Antwerp without problems.

Entrepreneurial freedom

Robin: 'You then have to deal with political-administrative interests. Stakeholders such as ProRail, the Belgian railways, ministries and engineering firms had to be brought into line. Of course, my technical knowledge came in handy here, but mainly I had to put myself in the shoes of all parties involved and look for ways to connect them. At the same time, you have to make sure that the shop just stays open while you are renovating.'

After this, Robin moved to Linde Gas, a major producer and supplier of natural gas. Here he was involved in marketing, optimising the portfolio and integrating sustainability initiatives into the business. He also took charge of the Supply Chain, resulting in an increase in the company's performance and improved collaboration. 'There, I worked with every department. That gave me a lot of insights on how such an organisation works. What I always found important is that employees are involved in finding solutions. And that they also get credit for it.

Yet in practice, this is often difficult in such a large organisation. Because I also needed more entrepreneurial freedom, I then switched to the SME sector. There you can get started right away with a commercial idea. I ended up as a business unit manager at Cortexon, a company in the high-tech manufacturing industry. Here, I introduced a different way of working. Instead of putting the most experienced engineer on one difficult assignment, I involved them in ten assignments, together with young engineers. With that change, I managed to accelerate the necessary knowledge sharing.'

Contributing to social impact

Robin eventually joined a semi-public organisation: ProRail. Here, he had to reduce the large number of points failures and improve the overall performance of the railway network. An assignment involving a large number of stakeholders and high political pressure. After 18 months, points failures had been reduced by 75%, where 50% initially seemed unachievable.

'This experience showed me how important it is not only to formulate the strategy, set a very ambitious goal but also to implement this strategy effectively at the operational level. You have to properly involve the staff, facilitate change and bridge the gap between policy and practice. I feel at home in the semi-public sector to contribute to social impact, but I don't have the patience to keep the focus on one long-term project. That is why I switched back to the SME sector after this, at Stevin Technology Consultants, where I started as a consultant and ended up as a director after seven years. This consultancy and implementation agency works on future-proof infrastructure. So, among other things, providing insight into and solving the problems that surface during the energy transition. This often involves cooperation between different organisations and chains struggling to take control and adopt a new role.

Future-proofing the integration of a desired ambition is also a complex challenge. For example, to really bring the theme of sustainability into an organisation's DNA. Almost every organisation is currently working on sustainability. But hiring a few people who know something about sustainability won't get you there. It really needs to be integrated into the entire operations, from the mission statement to the last work instruction. And with every step you take in such a transformation, consider what impact it will have on the organisation.'

Creative soluitions

'Within climate adaptation and energy transition, there are a number of big themes at play, such as digitalisation and ageing. People in the public sector also recognise the need for data-driven work. However, there is a huge shortage of professionals who can implement this. So you will have to look for creative solutions. Sometimes you just have to have the guts to step back and say 'we're going to do things completely differently.'

'I am, on the one hand, very results-oriented, but also a system thinker who considers action. A go-getter who pulls out all the stops to achieve the final goal. That is why I feel at home at Boer & Croon in: our agency has the slogan ´Get it done!´ for a reason.'