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7 Questions with Christophe Derdeyn
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7 Questions with Christophe Derdeyn
Name: Christophe Derdeyn
Current title: Director/Partner
Current organisation: delaware Singapore (delaware consulting asia pacific pte ltd)
Christophe Derdeyn is Director/Partner Delaware Singapore, partner in the Delaware International group, a global IT Services & Consulting scale-up.
Since 2012 he has been involved in building Delaware in South-East Asia, focusing on back-office automation through core finance ERP implementations and Information management solutions, catering to the manufacturing, oil & gas, food, and insurance industries.
Christophe started in IT consulting with a focus on infrastructure followed by several years of IT system implementations. After a successful roll-out of a laboratory quality management system between 2003 and 2005, he became involved in the set-up and optimization of regional shared services. He went on to lead the technical migration tracks for a large scale Shared Services transformation for a tier-1 FMCG company covering finance, logistics, procurement, customer service and HR. Post the initial Shared Services setup, he has been in charge of a series of IT optimization projects, amongst which accounts-payable optimization, order-to-cash streamlining and automation and adoption of electronic invoicing platforms for direct interaction with suppliers and customers, alongside a score of smaller optimization engagements.
Christophe's aspiration is to be a Sherpa to help guide organizations through (Digital/Technical) transformation
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Well - we can't really call delaware Singapore a large enterprise. It is part of a global scale-up and we serve large enterprises & help them address the common issues organizations like that face, which means we face (some of) their problems on a daily basis but we're not really one ourselves.
What I find is one of the most challenging aspects as a leader in a rapidly developing organization, serving ecosystems which themselves are subject to an ever accelerating evolution, is finding time to think, plan and execute according to a vision. All too often the operational realities of business draw all attention and I see that fire-fighting in many organizations has become the norm. So finding time to think, plan & calmly but deliberately exchanging thoughts, bouncing ideas, would be smith truly hard these days, in my experience.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Before I became a leader in delaware here in Singapore/South-East Asia, I ran a small consulting company which served, as well, large enterprise customers. It is there that I gained experience in leading people in small & large contexts, was involved in very large scale transformation exercises which taught me a lot & provided me deep insights into how businesses are run & the typical challenges they face. It is during that time I encountered some nice people from delaware, who I started to work with - they became a supplier of ours for specific work in the SAP space. After a few years of joint engagements, delaware asked me if I'd not be interested to start & lead their newly incorporated South-East Asia operations. After a brief evaluation & consulting the home-front, I accepted and a few months later I was on-the-ground in Singapore.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I largely live by my calendar - I block time for important personal (various sports) & business matters (time to think, work on specific plans etc) while I leave the rest of my calendar 100% open to internal and external relations alike, for them to claim time during specific time-frames which are designated for that. Every morning I'll check what's lined up for the day and more often than not, my calendar is full at least 8-10 (work)days into the future. Thanks to my blocking of "personal time" I still have some level of flexibility to deal with the unavoidable last minute/urgent requests, while ensuring I have time to focus on matters I feel are important to structurally work on.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Trust but verify. While I've always practiced radical candor & highly appreciate if people around me do so as well (it is always helpful to understand other people's views on how you work and do things), I've always been quite committed to the idea "I believe in the goodness of man" - which has led me to make some decisions which had less than ideal outcomes over the years by my habit of extending trust (people are good, right?) but not closely enough following up if things are truly going the way they should.
Applying "Trust but verify" is in everyone's benefit - sometimes people don't even realize they're going from the intended path & by regular check-ins, sometimes big problems can be avoided.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux - the book offers a framework of organizational models against the evolution of human consciousness. In essence, it offers insights in what kind of organization structures have supported different levels of humanity (hunter-gatherers, farmers, industrial revolution etc) and why. it offers a common language to people that then can go and explore how modern organizations can function & argues a case for "self-steering organizations" which are quite different from the typical corporation that we've known since 1980. The concepts allow for creating organizations that have happier individuals that can achieve higher fulfillment, have a more meaningful life, all while performing work they feel contributes to society and goals they share. Amazing things - requires a lot of maturity for an organization to work this way & getting to that point will take us a while, but it is an interesting journey which helps one to understand more about themselves & what why we do what we do.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Well - this is closely linked to the previous question. Since we are in constant discussion with our people and incentivize them to be situational leaders, take charge when required & appropriate & support at other moments when others have taken charge, leadership develops through practice in our organization, as a consequence of regular reflection and real action.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
Having the right people around you, people that you share sufficient common understanding & trust with to allow true open discussions (radical candor), while being different enough to provide unique insights and differing ideas, is important. This also comes back to "trust but verify" - a few years back I had a great team running a multi-million dollar engagement, a highly complex project with many moving parts, where our project was just one of 7 similarly complex engagements joined up to deliver an overarching business transformation outcome. Because the people i had in the project were people I trusted & liked, I largely let them operate independently - until quite serious issues arose & I had to step in to rectify a situation gone wrong. It is at that moment that I realized that I'd fallen short of creating a culture of critical thinking, radical candor, honest feedback, all culminating into the issues we experienced at that time. It took us 2 years to work through the problems & start on making a change & ensuring we have the right people, with the right mindset, which is regularly challenged through constructive but critical dialog, now is something we focus on a lot.