Xebia's Dutch CEO: 'We’re emerging from the crisis quite well'

24 July 2020 Consultancy.eu

International professional services firm Xebia specialises in digital transformation. At the helm of Dutch practice stands CEO Andrew de la Haije, an accomplished digital advisor who spoke to Consultancy.eu about the firm’s future plans.

Xebia has more than a thousand employees worldwide. The firm advises clients on digital strategies and how to best bring them to life. In addition to consultancy services, Xebia also provides guidance in the implementation of digital processes.

“We help our customers with the execution of their digital plans. This allows them to distinguish themselves in the market, improve the customer experience or take business operations to a higher level,” says De la Haije.

In the Netherlands, where De la Haije is in charge, the organisation has about 350 employees who work from branches in Amsterdam and Hilversum and – inevitably amid the coronavirus lockdown – from their own home. The company provides its services to large corporates as well as to medium-sized companies, where digital transformation or a transition to data-driven working is the common thread.

De la Haije explains, “In terms of patronage, we focus on the top 250 companies and on market leaders, such as Pathé, market leader in the cinema industry, or Mollie, the leading company in arranging payment traffic for web shops.”

We are coming through the crisis quite well

Dutch multinational electronic conglomerate Philips is another customer to have recently tapped the firm for help with responding to a rapidly changing marketplace. According to De la Haije, the firm guided Philips with a digital transformation and a transition to agile working, which has helped the iconic brand become more agile and flexible.

Practice what you preach

The firm is happy to take its own advice when it comes to agile working. Xebia does not work from old, hierarchical structures, but rather in small groups and communities. With a cell structure consisting of ten sub-companies, these cells focus on topics including strategy, software development, agile working, and cybersecurity. In order to offer its customers an integrated approach, the Xebia teams work with clients in varying compositions on the projects.

De la Haije explains, “By using multi-disciplinary teams, we can assist our clients throughout the entire process, from strategy to execution.”

The experienced director first acquainted with consulting at the very start of his career. An internship in the United States first brought him into contact with consulting work, and on the back of his experiences, he knew: that was what he wanted. He then joined KPMG and later Accenture, before in 2006, he switched to RIPE NCC, one of five organisations worldwide which issues regional IP addresses (for networks) and AS numbers (for internet providers).

RIPE NCC is responsible for the markets of Europe, West Asia and the former Soviet Union. De la Haije led the organisation for twelve years, but then the thought of the consultancy started to itch again. In the summer of 2018, he took the reins of Xebia in the Netherlands. While the company, like most peers, is feeling the impact of the corona crisis bite, De la Haije indicates that he is positively surprised by the resilience that Xebia and all employees have shown.

“There is of course a drop in demand, for example among our specialists who act as coaches at companies,” he admits. “On the other hand, we have seen extra demand because of the sudden need for remote working. Overall, we are coming through the crisis well.”

Looking forward, De la Haije concludes, “Now that the pressure on our customers and ourselves is high, there is an even stronger urge to be successful together. No matter how hard this period is for the global community, now you really get to know the people around you. I am very proud of the organisation. Meeting our corporate mission, being an authority in our fields, and helping clients through this difficult time are more important than simply achieving growth or profit.”