Stef Oud (Xtra Advice) on his key takeaways from WEF in Davos

02 February 2023 3 min. read
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As the dust settles on the 2023 edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF), spoke with Stef Oud – one of the few management consultants to have attended the prestigious event in the Swiss town of Davos – on his key takeaways and how the event benefitted Xtra Advice and portfolio company FitCoins.

WEF is known to be an invitation-only event based on merit. What brought you to the event?

Xtra Advice provides support to a wide range of professional service firms such as global strategy, organisation, IT, digital consulting advisors, law firms and advertising agencies.

At the World Economic Forum, we met with our clients and also connected them to acquainted CEO’s of multinationals who attended the event.

Stef Oud at the World Economic Forum 2023

On a personal level I am closely involved with War Child, based out of the Netherlands. Part of my time in Davos was spend on discussing with WEF attendees the important work that War Child is doing for children who are caught in war and conflicts around the world. With the Ukraine-Russia war top of mind, needless to say this has become an even more urgent organisation to support.

The firm you founded, Xtra Advice, is an internationally operating consultancy that advises professional services firms on for example human capital development. Based on your discussions with leaders, what are some of the top human capital topics in the industry?

The continuous search and retention of talent is always at the top of the agenda at any professional services firm.

An important trend that is influencing the talent agenda is purpose – including the corporate social responsibility agenda. In what way is an organisation “doing something back” for society and to what extent are professionals truly enabled and encouraged to participate in this?

Another key topic related to attracting and retaining talent is a healthy work-life balance and the attention that is paid to both the mental as well as physical health of employees. Not only is this, in the first place, important for the professionals themselves, but if you look at the stress and burnout numbers at many professional service firms  (who basically sell hours!) this should also be a strategic business priority for leaders as well.

What have been some of the key takeaways WEF has provided you for your own practice?

The clear increase in attention for the corporate social responsibility and purpose agenda as well as for the mental and physical health of professionals is a key takeaway for me.

At Xtra Advice, we help our clients with finding, training and retaining the best people, with the aim of selling more and delivering better. It is highly encouraging for us to see that the projects we deliver for our clients are very much on track with what our clients are mostly concerned about.

One of the offerings that was discussed at WEF is FitCoins, a platform that provides organisations with improving employee vitality and mental health. What is Xtra Advice’s link with this platform and how has the WEF podium helped FitCoins with its progress?

FitCoins is a digital, SAP cloud based solution that rewards the healthy behavior of users with healthy rewards. XtraAdvice has invested in FitCoins and is a significant shareholder.

The concept works as follows: users can digitally save FitCoins on their phone by for example walking or riding a bike (defined as ‘healthy behavior’) and in return they can select and buy healthy rewards from an online company catalogue. Organisations that adopt the FitCoins model can define both what ‘healthy behavior’ constitutes, and what rewards are up for the grabs. Examples of rewards range from free healthy groceries, sports gear or donations to charity.

Currently over 200 organisations are already using FitCoins with in total over 21.000 individual users.

I obviously am a fervent user of FitCoins as well. Walking around Davos to reach the various meeting locations allowed me to save enough FitCoins on my phone to purchase for football game tickets or to donate to a charity of my choice. During the World Economic Forum, we have been able to present and explain the benefits of the FitCoins model to the leadership of several major professional service firms.