In this third video of our Director’s Take series Wouter van Vliet is elaborating on his personal experiences in 2020.
Sjoerd: Welcome to our third take of Director’s Take, where we try to see what makes our directors tick. So, without further ado, why don’t you introduce yourself.
Wouter: Thank you. Welcome, my name is Wouter van Vliet, I am a director at Larive International and I have been with the company since 2007, so a good fourteen years now. And I primarily focus my time and energy on Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
S: Well, in your fourteen years, 2020 must have been quite something. How was that year for you?
W: Yes, I think 2020 was a memorable year for all of us. Both in a challenging, but also in a rewarding way. I think we can all agree that suddenly being unable to travel abroad for just a business meeting became an anomaly. So, this was a challenge to all of us. And at the same time I think it was also very rewarding. We learned to work with new digital technologies. And in our particular case, being present in three continents in 24 countries really came to light. So we were really able to leverage our local presence more than ever before.
S: Any other key takeaways from last year?
W: Yes, when you look at the world suddenly closing down, the value of having people on the ground is suddenly that much larger. That is a key takeaway, for myself, but also for many of our clients. Suddenly the necessity to have local people on the ground, helping you do your expansion becomes all that more important. One key takeaway is that it turned out that quite a few companies spend very little time developing and nurturing those people on the ground. Really doing a due diligence, if you will, in terms of your assets on the ground.
S: Due diligence, what do you mean by that?
W: So, I am not talking about a financial due diligence where you research the books of a company, but I am talking about a commercial due diligence. Taking the time to really understand the commercial value, for example, of a company that you wish to cooperate with, or even acquire. So, talking to distributors, talking to clients, talking to partners, of that company. All assets around (the company red.) to understand the commercial value of that company before you join hands, before you invest, or anything otherwise. And for that you really need to put your ear to the ground locally, it is not something you can get from Google.
S: Any examples of what you have just told?
W: Sure, take for example a food company from Western Europe wanting to grow their business in Asia, producing in Asia, for Asia. To really know what steps to take, you need to first prepare your list of criteria what it is, what kind of assets you need, in Asia. Followed by long-listing those particular targets that you want to invest in. So that can only be done by short-listing, using local presence, talking to people within the value chain to understand what your options are and where any red flags may come up.
S: And how do you plan to take that into 2021?
W: For 2021 I hope we can get to a combination of the good from 2020, all the digital things that we have grown accustomed to in a very short period. But at the same time, I hope we are going to be able to combine it with lots of face to face, because I really expect a resurgence of the value of being able to meet face to face and interact with others. With that I hope we come to a great hybrid model of both online, but also bringing back the face-to-face contact that we as human in the end prefer so much.
S: I hope so too, thank you for your time.
W: Thank you.