NEWSPublished January 13, 2020

The Benelux CXO Conference in Amsterdam Recap

Nikki Swift

Content Manager

Inspired Business Media

On Thursday 5th December 2019, the Inspired CXO Conference was held at the Apollo Hotel Vinkeveen, Amsterdam.

The CXO Conference brought together senior executives from three industries: Marketing, Information Technology and Information Security. Around 110 CMOs, CIOs, CISOs and other high-level delegates enjoyed an immersive business experience with valuable networking sessions and a programme of inspiring masterclasses for each industry track. A series of pre-qualified, one-to-one meetings gave executives an opportunity to discuss their latest projects with vendors able to provide solutions to their challenges.

The Apollo Hotel provided a beautiful setting for the event, with modern facilities and picturesque views of the Vinkeveen lakes.

The evening before the conference, guests enjoyed a three-course dinner and networking drinks in the hotel’s Harbour Club Vinkeveen restaurant. Sociable conversations flowed throughout the evening, with many new business connections established over shared ideas and experiences.

“It was valuable to have this more social part of the conference, in the form of dinner,” said Martyna Rubinska of Cisco Umbrella. “You don’t jump straight to, ‘what is your job? What do you do? What are you trying to sell?’ but have this more casual conversation and meet people. It helps you to build a more personal relationship that, later, affects a better business conversation.”

The conference began with a thought-provoking panel discussion on ‘Change – A Story of Communication and Collaboration’. The panel included one speaker for each of the three attending industries: Frans Leenaars, CMO at TUI; Hiliana Fienieg, Former Global Head of Digital at Philips; and Jean-Francois Simons, CISO / DPO at Brussels Airlines.

Moderated by Roy van Griensven, Global Head of Digital Centre of Excellence at AkzoNobel, this session discussed the necessity of delegation, collaboration and effective communication across every corner of a business. The panel discussed the challenges in managing the ‘people’ aspect of transformation, and how a dynamic network of people can help to drive an initiative forward.

After a short networking break, delegates attended their first masterclasses of the day.

Marketing executives attended an informative session on ‘Industrial Marketing – People’s Business’, hosted by Theo Kroese, Global Director of Marketing and Communication at Mammoet. Theo discussed how industrial marketing can only succeed if its principles are all-pervasive throughout the organisation.

Rui Pedro Silva, Chief Information Officer at A.P. Moller-Maersk Warehousing and Distribution, led an Information Technology session on ‘The Sociological Aspect of the Technology Revolution Ahead of Us’. This workshop considered how society is ready to acknowledge and prepare for automation in an efficient way.

Information Security delegates attended an interesting masterclass on ‘Breach Defence: Protecting What’s Now and What’s Next’. Martyna Lubinska, Cloud Security Specialist BeNeLux at Cisco, explained why prevention-only strategies eventually fail and showed attendees how to build a strong first line of defence.

A networking break was scheduled after each masterclass, giving executives an opportunity to talk with their peers, enjoy refreshments and view expo stands from relevant vendors. Attendees used this time to share their own ideas and experiences of the masterclass topics, make new connections across industries and learn from each other.

“One of the most valuable parts of the conference is to connect with peers from other companies and other industries, to really look at the common challenges and opportunities across the board and to share best practice,” said Miao Song, Global CIO at MARS.

Strategic meetings were also scheduled throughout the networking breaks, bringing together delegates with innovative solution providers to discuss their latest projects and the areas where support is needed.

All senior executives were interviewed before the conference to identify their challenges and match them with the vendors able to provide assistance. Pre-qualifying the meetings helped to ensure the discussions were valuable and productive, leading to meaningful new business partnerships.

“We have been meeting with relevant people – learning from their experiences, telling them about our experiences and, of course, introducing them to our products,” said Nasser Mohunol, Strategic Account Leader at GitLab. “Face time with relevant people is really valuable to us. Meeting with those people normally takes a lot of time to set up. With an event like this, we get instant access.”

Marketing executives attending an informative session led by Mari Hietala-David, Director of Global Marketing at Intertrust. In her presentation titled ‘From Traditional Trust Company to Tech-Enabled Company’, Mari told the story of Intertrust and how marketing has contributed to driving its transformation.

Gary Pruden of Fusion Global Business Solutions hosted a masterclass on ‘AI – What Works and How to Be Successful’. This Information Technology session looked at the benefits of using an AI approach to analyse operations.

An Information Security workshop on ‘Getting Rid of Security Silos’ was led by Gal Messinger, Head of Global Security at Signify. Gal discussed the importance of choosing the right TOM and how to structure the company accordingly.

After a networking lunch, Marketing executives attended an engaging discussion on ‘How to Define and Maintain a Unique Brand Voice on Social’. Led by Samantha Fay, Senior Vice President of Global Brand Strategy at Guinness World Records, this session told the story of Guinness World Records’ social evolution and shared tips on defining a social voice, adapting content for different platforms and bringing a brand voice alive.

Nasser Mohunol and Haliey Probanz of GitLab delivered a presentation on ‘The Imperative to Move Faster’ to Information Technology executives. This masterclass discussed how GitLab can help you optimize and accelerate DevOps so that you can deliver better and more secure products significantly faster to market while reducing operational costs.

Alexandre Castaing, Head of Cyber and IT at RBC, led an Information Security masterclass on ‘Cyber Risk – What Has Changed in the Boardroom?’. Alexandre explained how to position a message on cyber risk to sufficiently address the board’s concerns.

Ipek Akinci Dziubek, Global Consumer Marketing Director at Philips, hosted a Marketing masterclass on ‘The Customer is King’. This session discussed a range of marketing dilemmas and how these issues have been addressed at Philips.

A workshop on ‘The Digital Transformation Story at MARS’ was hosted by Miao Song, Global CIO / VP Petcare at MARS. Information Technology delegates heard what MARS has learned from its digital transformation, pinpointing the key challenges and highlighting the success stories.

Conrad Veerman, DPO/GDPR compliance officer at Ministrie Van Defensie hosted an Information Security session on ‘New Responsibilities in Digital Trust’, discussing the balance between data protection and the free movement of personal data.

In the final masterclass of the day, Information Technology and Information Security executives were brought together for a presentation on ‘The Emergence of a Multi-Cloud Strategy’. Led by Hans van der Waal, Global IT Director at Travelex, the session discussed Travelex’s transformation from a physical bricks and mortar dominated business model to an advanced, data-driven e-commerce and fintech business.

The conference ended with a closing drinks reception where attendees were able to reflect on all they had learned throughout the day.