Yke Bonenberg – Head of Business Control / Deputy CFO at Capgemini Application Services

You have worked for almost nine years at Capgemini. What do you particularly enjoying about working for the business?

There is lots of opportunity here to do what you’d like. The environment is very output driven which means that employees can enjoy a flexible way of working. There is no manager on your back telling you how to do things, as it’s based on what you deliver/produce. I see this as a more efficient and better way of working. I have also enjoyed the opportunities to develop myself. Managers past and present have given me space and flexibility to develop and deliver results.

Also, there is always something happening with the organisation. I have seen 3 – 4 big changes during my time here with the structure of the organisation. And during the past 5 years a lot has been changed with respect to the finance function. During these years Capgemini NL created a clear split between transactional finance, financial control and business control. These changes brought lots of opportunities and boosted my personal development.

You completed your RC qualification whilst working. How did you balance study and work at the same time?

It is extremely challenging to study whilst working, particularly in an output driven environment. I attended an executive master of finance and control 1 day per week for two years, but also had to fulfil the same amount of work so I had to fit it in during evenings and weekends. My advice is to start as soon as possible, because I experienced that it is easier to combine with other obligations during the beginning of your career.
It’s up to you to motivate yourself to write your thesis, which is where some might fall down.

Looking back over your career, what would you identify as a personal highlight?

At a young age, I was responsible for multiple business units. Part of this responsibility was to look after the Capgemini Academy, which I was reluctant to do because of the size and position within the company. Looking back now I am so pleased I had this opportunity as I gained so much from the experience.

The business model was to fill classes to maximise profit and it was very much a different operating model to the rest of the business. The academy was not performing well and so we restructured, changed the portfolio and went into a good performing business unit – it’s still running well now.

I had exposure to annual reviews with senior management to explain actuals and forecasts and learnt a lot about what to do and not to do. I had lots of projects and short term roles, such as being responsible for the Business Intelligence delivery unit, Central cost unit and a Lean project for the finance organization in the Netherlands. All of these quick progression steps brought me to where I am today.

Have you seen the IT industry change and what further changes do you foresee?

From a financial perspective, customers now want us to be involved in decision making and they expect innovation from companies like Capgemini. In the past large ERP implementations dominated the ICT market, but these days are over and replaced by smaller innovative projects in the Mobile, Digital and Cloud area.

The market is evolving and competition is increasing from Indian pure players which is putting pressure on pricing. There is less ‘delivery of’ and more value add in a strategic way – for example you might help the client to improve supply chain to produce products more quickly. It is more linked to client’s goals, which enables Capgemini to move to strategic partnerships.

What attributes do you think make a good leader in finance?

An in-depth knowledge of finance is important and also to really invest in the business and understand the fundamentals of what the company does. Linking with business partners is also key and putting yourself in a position to influence business decisions.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in their career or aspiring to be where you are now?

Work hard and boost your knowledge (such as gaining an RC qualification). Invest in the financial aspects of your job whilst also looking at the business side. If you have a desire to be better than the rest, then work harder and stretch yourself.

Liaise with people you know in the business to find out market trends. Share work to enable yourself to have exposure to other things – share ideas and things that work. Create an environment of knowledge sharing. These aspects will enable you to make the next step. Also, look for opportunities and don’t limit yourself to just do the work you are doing.

What do you love about working/living in the Netherlands and why?

I am a Dutch National, I grew up in Zwolle, studied in Utrecht and now live in Hilversum. The management at Capgemini is scattered across the Group and I work with a variety of people. Being in the Netherlands, it is very easy to meet each other from other offices because of the limited distance between the main cities.

Also, the culture in the Netherlands is open and straightforward. People are generally keen to find the best solution to move forward.

 

*Views and opinions contained within our Executive Interviews are those of the Interviewee and not views shared by EMEA Recruitment.*

 
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