Benedicte Guichard | Wed Dec 09 2015 CET | Cleeng Nuts & Bolts
William is a very open guy and talking with him is always a pleasure. I just did a Q&A session with him, where he talk about his ambitions and the industry in general.
I’m a Belgian national who exported himself to Ireland in 2005 to steer his sales career towards the SW industry joining Oracle initially for 5 years. This is where I really learned a huge amount. Oracle has a tremendous track record in training it’s people. After 5 successful years leading the Belgium and Luxemburg Sales teams for Tech I decided to leave the safety and comfort of a large corporation to set up the EMEA HQ for a startup in the Big Data space before Big Data became a hype – yes I’m a trend setter :-). Joining a startup is a fantastic experience and is very enriching and equally hard as I was responsible for the overall EMEA target as well as making sure sure we had enough pencil sharpeners and that the bills were paid.
After that Salesforce.com contacted me as they were looking for a sales lead for their Nordic and Benelux regions for the SMB space. I saw the best of both worlds as SFDC still had the startup look, feel and dynamism combined with the financial muscle and brand recognition that comes with more established companies. It did not disappoint. SFDC truly is a great company to work for with tremendous pace and sales assertiveness that is needed to (to date) still generate 30%+ yearly growth on a a billion dollar business.
Having been part of the SMB scene for nearly 4 years on both sides of the fence I decided I wanted to have another adventure with the “Big Boys”. Accenture was searching for a sales lead for their EALA regions for one of their recently acquired SW companies. I saw a great opportunity to work for one of the leading consultancy firms in the world and through them deliver world class solutions to the CPG giants of this world like L’Oreal, Coca-Cola and other Unilevers. The deals that were closed were huge, challenging and very rewarding but I genuinely missed the fast paced environment that is inherent working for a startup. I find it personally far more rewarding to see a direct measurable output of your work. This gets heavily diluted in endless management layers and heavily politicized environments. Accenture was a great learning for me on many levels and they have been truly great in supporting me and my family’s move to Amsterdam 2 years ago. One of the many benefits of working for Accenture is that they take great care of their employees.
Having decided to look for this excitement once more I saw a Cleeng job posting popping up on my LinkedIn feed. I reached out directly to Gilles and the rest is history as they say.
I saw huge potential after a few clicks on Cleeng’s website as I quite quickly understood that they were a company and leadership with a vision, a solution to match and operating in an industry that is in the middle of major disruption. Perfect storm.
The team has planted many seeds in the last few years anticipating that storm and now that work is paying off as the industry is slowly but surely moving from traditional broadcasting to online in it’s various shapes and forms. This presents HUGE potential and benefits for all involved and the Cleeng founders were incredibly astute to see this coming and be ahead of the curve. It truly is a great honor and privilege to have been given this opportunity.
The rise of the Netflixes and Hulus has been a much needed wake up call for the traditional giant broadcasters and telco companies. I believe that the new generation of executives at these traditional giants are much quicker to realize that they and their services need to evolve along with the generations. They will be quicker to realize that their and my kids do not watch TV anymore – ever. My eldest daughter would rather watch Netflix on the iPad than on our 40 inch HD TV. She does not understand the concept of having to wait till a certain time slot to watch a given show. She cannot fathom having to be literally connected to a wire or set-top box to watch content.
If you want to understand what the future of video consumption will be like, ask a kid and you’ll get a very good insight as to what they expect and in turn what they should, and likely, will get. It is a side note a little bit of a travesty and farce that non-digital “natives” are defining the digital world of the “digital natives”. This is why I quite often bounce my ideas of my kids. Their honesty and views are equally blunt and refreshing!
On the live side there is a tremendous opportunity to increase the experience of any viewer tenfold. All the technologies to achieve this are out there. One could very easily envisage the ability to watch a football or tennis game where you are the director, you decide what to look at or zoom into, calling in statistics of the game whenever you want to. These interfaces also create the opportunity to have a direct connection between actors and audience. Look at Formula E where the audience can have a direct influence on awarding certain pilots more horsepower for a short while to reward their driving style. All of this whilst discussing the game or event with friends and family.
Same goes for concerts, stand-up shows or conferences.
Unfortunately, each one of the sections currently presents it’s own individual challenges that stand in the way of achieving this immensely rich viewing experience and only time and better understanding of the opportunity will lead to this evolution.
As George B Shaw put it: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” No industry escapes this universal truth.
The quality of life. Having lived in one of the most congested cities/countries in Europe (Belgium) it is such a literal breath of fresh air to be able to cycle to work everyday along the Amsterdam canals. My Irish wife and 2 daughters equally love it as we relinquished the car entirely as it is utterly obsolete if you live in Amsterdam.
The city presents all the benefits of a world capital (food/culture/entertainment) whilst being small and extremely accessible. There’s a playground on every corner of the street. The Dutch themselves are really a great crowd as well. Their directness and no bullshit approach really suits me and has permeated throughout the Cleeng fabric and company.
Big welcome to William. Great days are ahead of us.