Mike Leerdam and Jeff Van Calster on working at Projective

25 August 2020 Consultancy.eu

Between them, Mike Leerdam and Jeff Van Calster have spent a total of nine years at ::projective. Speaking to Consultancy.eu, the duo explained how rapidly changing client demand, agile working and a non-hierarchical culture have made working for the firm an exciting experience for them both.

Project management consultancy ::projective first set foot in the Netherlands in 2009, expanding from Belgium, where the firm was founded three years earlier. The firm entered the market with a small but determined team of programme and project managers, and has expanded in the country ever since.

Mike Leerdam has been working with ::projective’s Dutch arm for the last five years, and has seen a great deal of this growth first hand. According to the Project & Programme Manager, on a personal level, the expansion has allowed him to work for clients out of ::projective offices abroad – meaning he could add London to New York and Paris as places he has worked – allowing Leerdam to meet new clients, and “better get to know colleagues you see less often.”

Mike Leerdam and Jeff Van Calster, Projective

Further describing the variety in work at the firm, Leerdam said, “I also got to know different organisations in the ecosystem ::projective is part of. Such an ecosystem is something I believe in. A consultancy should not try to build in-house solutions for every single problem a client can face. Instead, the key lies in working together with other existing companies to help your client in the best possible way.”

“For ::projective this means working with FinTechs like The Glue, HR solution providers like Exellys, venture capitalists like SmartFin and even other consultancies like McKinsey & Company.”

Similarly, Jeff Van Calster has encountered an extremely diverse workload over his four years with ::projective. Having started at the firm as an IT Delivery Lead for package implementation, Van Calster tried to incorporate agile and lean ways of working in the day to day delivery of projects, something which swiftly paved the way into agile coaching and a more high-level approach to working agile. With ::projective’s client base growing, demand for this new way of working was high, and has seen Van Calster work on a range of projects since.

Van Calster said of his work, “The biggest challenge for agile transformations in financial services is also the biggest opportunity for firms to differentiate themselves from others. A lot of organisations want to move to an agile way of working just because "everyone is doing it", without taking first a step back to identify what problem they try to solve. ::projective helps clients understand they should avoid limiting their scope to "only" the IT departments without involving the business. That’s mostly where the biggest gains can be made.”

Financial services change

According to Leerdam, agility is also key for financial institutions to tackle many of the complex regulatory issues they now face. He explained that because anti-money laundering, counter-terrorism financing and sanctions have all increased significantly in complexity, organisations can no longer respond by simply hiring additional staff as they once might have.

He explained, “Financial institutions have come to a point where they need to structurally re-design their KYC (Know Your Customer) and transaction monitoring operations. ::projective helps clients in this journey by learning them to work more risk-based, streamlining their processes and implementing technology solutions. Re-distributing roles & responsibilities is also key. Managing financial crime goes beyond what solely happens in a Compliance department. It’s absolutely a combined effort with for example commercial teams to correctly on-board clients and afterwards manage those relationships.”

With the trends toward agile working and the need for swift regulatory risk management both set to ramp up in the coming year, ::projective can likely expect this rapidly transforming workload to continue. Fortunately, both ::projective experts feel the diversity of this constantly changing playing field is part of what makes life at the firm so enjoyable, while they can keep learning from their talented colleagues to help address the client concerns of tomorrow.

When asked what else he enjoyed most about ::projective, Van Calster said, “Without any doubt my colleagues, which some of them I can count to my best friends… There is so much knowledge in house, that there is ample opportunity to keep on learning. Apart from that the entrepreneurial mind-set, giving you all the freedom to work on any initiative and get the needed support for it is amazing.”

Leerdam added, “With no hesitation I can say there is no consultancy like ::projective. How many other consultancies have their own venture capital fund, refrain from putting its employees in a rat race – no senior, executive or managing lingo for us – host team building events on the Red Square in Moscow, and have a professional bar and DJ booth in its headquarters? It’s really quite something!”