Finding a leader in public private partnerships in the Netherlands
Published
Dec. 15, 2022
Read
4 minutes

How do you find the missing piece when you don’t have the full jigsaw?

Executive summary

This case takes us on the quest for a CEO with a strong international scope who could understand the type of cooperation that entails communication among PPPs (Public Private Partnerships), who was fully in touch with how businesses think and liaise with each other and can drive success end to end. 

Drawing on previous projects

The organization in question was not yet in existence, so to properly communicate the needs of the project and how to drive it, it was necessary in this case to draw on previous, similar projects and learnings from these to identify the right candidate and in turn help them to understand the role.

The Netherlands has a rich history in this respect having been involved in projects such as making healthcare accessible in Africa in cooperation with Philips Healthcare. Further examples include a project for sustainable pig farming in China with stakeholders from China and private companies from the Netherlands with a lot of expertise in agriculture and farms that meet health and welfare standards. Further successes include the “Waste to Wealth” project, aimed at cleaning the Ganga river in India. This was carried out in cooperation with the Indian government and even entailed state visits with the Dutch Royal Family and some Dutch companies.  

Patrick Westerburger
Kestria Netherlands, Managing partner

All projects were linked to the SDGs, which are the Strategic Development Goals of the UN, so the stakes were high, and the visibility was at the maximum. Putting the right person in charge who could carry the great weight of this responsibility and drive its success while appropriately dealing with the various stakeholders involved was imperative.

Broad stakeholder spectrum. Merging knowledge of business with the public-private environment 

The goal here was to find a CEO to lead the client and develop it into a larger professional organization. This leader needed to understand how businesses work in an international context while also having the sensitivity and awareness to do this in a public-private environment, in this case together with both Dutch and foreign governments.  

Those in the private sector were represented by the Dutch employers Association (VNO NCV). Furthermore, the public sector represented by the Ministry of economic Affairs and foreign affairs. Maintaining alignment with all sides throughout was highly important.   

Finding the right mix of skills

Based on talent mapping, we introduced candidates from public, private and hybrid backgrounds. It was important throughout the process to obtain a candidate primarily with a business background but with broad stakeholder management experience who could also obtain approval where needed from public stakeholders. This was important not least because the organisation is funded by both public and private institutions, but part of the scope of work is understanding and fulfilling the task of helping it to establish itself and develop further. The candidate chosen displayed these skills in full having been an integral part of what is a renowned and global organization. 

2
rounds of interviews
3
months selection process

Two rounds of interviews were carried out and the process which took 3 months, concluding with the anonymous approval of the final candidate. 

Karin Bax
Director, NLWorks

For me, the main focus of our projects is often the people involved. Their behavior is where the change and the embedding have to take place. I feel strongly that cooperation and combining capabilities always yields more benefits for all parties. That is why the combination we strive for – bringing together the expertise and implementation capacity of the private sector with the network and influence of the public sector – tends to be so successful.

Seamless collaboration among global players and projects  

Our client’s organisation is built around projects that go hand-in-hand with the SDGs of the UN development goals which currently amounts to 17 at the global level. Given the broad scale of these projects, there is an extensive network of private companies working according to SDG goals and vision which now includes Kestria. 

Given the nature of the combination of public and private partnerships that are involved in these projects, the expertise and network provided by Kestria continues to be an asset to their success. This project also gave Kestria the opportunity to showcase its ability to work successfully with NGOs and aid in their cooperation with private companies to implement specific projects.  

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