Angel Gonzalez, Andrew Vaughan, Robin Visser, Ton van de Grampel. Credit: Redevco
Angel Gonzalez, Andrew Vaughan, Robin Visser, Ton van de Grampel. Credit: Redevco

REDEVCO ONBOARDS NEXTGEN’S TAKE ON FUTURE STRATEGY

To secure Operational Excellence, a company needs to invest in the next generation of leaders. Redevco’s management introduced a NextGen Board for young talent within the Redevco organization in Europe to bring together the next management generation and to address the topics of the future.

by Robin Visser

Young talent within the Redevco organization in Europe now has a formal platform following the creation of a NextGen Board comprising eight professionals aged under 35 from the six countries in which the company has offices. Together, they form more than just a sounding board for the management of one of Europe’s largest private real estate investment managers – their task is to actively help shape its future.

No fewer than 24 young professionals from across Europe submitted applications to join Redevco’s inaugural NextGen Board in the fall of 2021. The requests came from different parts of the organization, from the corporate communications department in Amsterdam and the project management team in Madrid to the business control employees in Paris and Dusseldorf. The large number of applications was a clear signal that the company was on the right track with its new initiative. Ton van de Grampel, Chief Human Resources Officer at Redevco’s head office in Amsterdam, said:

“It showed that young people really wanted to be part of the NextGen Board, which was very positive. The first sign was that hardly any discussion was needed within the management board to persuade everybody of the desirability of this new platform.”

The eight members selected for the first NextGen Board include:

  • Emma Taylor, Chair of the NextGen Board, Regulatory Compliance and Governance Specialist (London)
  • Robin Visser, Corporate Communications Manager (Amsterdam)
  • Ángel González, Project Manager (Madrid)
  • Sören Bockem-Rozendaal, Investment Manager (Dusseldorf)
  • Benoît van Haare Heijmeijer, Transaction Manager (Brussels)
  • Olivia de Potter, Development Manager (Brussels)
  • Wassila Falih, Business Controller (Paris)
  • Gemma Barklie, Management Assistant (London)

The well-being of our planet is particularly relevant

Van de Grampel acts as a bridge between the NextGen and Executive Boards, but it was Redevco’s CEO Andrew Vaughan who came up with the idea, saying: “As a Board, we are looking to be challenged by our younger employees, who bring creative solutions, less traditional views, and their personal, relevant experiences to the table.” He added, “As an investment manager focused on urban real estate, Redevco wants to contribute to making cities more sustainable and livable. Cities are evolving rapidly and need to become healthier, more sustainable places for the well-being of both people and the planet. This is particularly relevant to the younger generations; therefore, the NextGen Board will be instrumental in helping the company play its role in this transition,” he added.

A key goal was to create a board representing a broad cross-section of the company in the under-35 age group. Van de Grampel explained: “We tried to incorporate a couple of factors. We wanted to bring in employees from all our offices to ensure that the various cultures across Europe were represented. Another objective was to recruit people from different functions, to get perspectives from staff working in corporate services, such as in the legal department, as well as from the more commercially-oriented transaction, asset, and development management teams. Last but not least, we also wanted to have a good mix of men and women. The NextGen Board currently consists of five females and three males, so I think we have done a good job, and we have already seen the positive effect of more diversity filtering through to the top level of the company.”

Since its launch at the end of 2021, the NextGen Board members have already addressed two major policy issues that affect the lives of all employees within the organization as well as the Redevco business itself. The first revolved around the future way of working within Redevco.

“That is a huge topic, and we have had a lot of discussions within the NextGen Board regarding what offices should look like in the post-COVID world, or what we could call the “new normal”. We have also addressed how should interact with each other now that the hybrid way of working from home as well as the office has become part of daily life, and how things are going to work within Redevco,” said Angel Gonzalez, Project Manager at the Madrid office.

Seeking ways to improve corporate efficiency

The NextGen Board’s recommendations on the future of working have already been submitted to the company’s management, and the team is now sinking its teeth into a second topic: how to improve efficiency within the organization. “That is a huge subject, too, and we are trying to narrow it down through talks with our colleagues, interviews with the people from the ICT department, and so on,” Gonzalez said.

“Our main goal is to see how we can do more with less in terms of human resources and time, but also in terms of equipment and other resources. The big questions that we are asking are: What do you feel is lacking in the system and internal processes? What are the greatest pain points? What is working well and should be encouraged more? It is such a big topic that we need to take enough time to really focus on what we can do to have the greatest impact.”

It was not easy to launch the NextGen Board during the COVID-19 lockdowns as the first brainstorming sessions had to be held via online Teams meetings.

“It took time to get to know everyone, to explore all the different angles that everybody brought to the table, and to relay our NextGen discussions back to our own direct colleagues in order to get their input. That, however, is what makes it all really interesting and worthwhile. You have to work with different types of people with different professional and cultural backgrounds, and, as a board, you have to come to a common standpoint. That requires a lot of meetings and conversations,” stated Robin Visser, Corporate Communications Manager in Amsterdam.

What do the older generations at Redevco think of the topics and ideas that the NextGen Board has put on the table? Did the topics come from the bottom up or did the Management Board have a steering role?

“The NextGen Board sets its own agenda – that was, in part, why the members were appointed. They have to decide amongst themselves what their greatest priorities are,” Van de Grampel said.

“However, I confess that Andrew and I could not help ourselves when it came to offering a couple of suggestions, and one of them was the new way of working. We were particularly happy that the NextGen Board chose that one first as it is a good example of how a young group of professionals can help our Management Board find a really new way of working within our company. In all fairness, all of us on the Redevco Management Board are from a generation for whom working from home was not really a feasible scenario. I think that is where it will really help to understand what this generation thinks is important in terms of how and where you work and how you collaborate with your colleagues.”

Van de Grampel said he sees the NextGen Board as a chance for members to develop their management skills and gain experience in solving complicated problems and be instrumental in building Redevco’s future.

“We would like to make regular, formal, and informal discussions on all kinds of topics. For example, when we wanted to reconnect with everybody after all the lockdowns, we also asked the NextGen Board for suggestions. I think we are well on track with the topics chosen so far, and I can only see this dialogue getting better,” he concluded.

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