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Schuberg Philis
Mar 17, 2021, 2:12:00 PM · 4 min read
02 AR20 Securityplus Guts

On success, ambition, growth and the future according to Schuberg Philis

Schuberg Philis is no stranger to success. Ever since our company was founded 20 years ago, we’ve been growing rapidly. So it comes as no surprise that we set ambitious goals and aim for continued growth in order to reach them. But even so, this isn’t a story about the things we want to do to keep on growing—it’s a story about how growth will allow us to do the things we want.

Impact

What we want to achieve is impact. Impact on the business of the companies we work for, impact on the lives of the people we work with, and impact on the society in which we operate. Yes, that’s how far our ambition goes.

You might think that this impact would emerge automatically. After all, the role of digitization in all these matters is growing day by day. So as long as we continue to excel at what we do, the importance of our activities will inevitably increase. It’s a path that doesn’t necessarily require us to grow as a company.

And yet, we feel that following that path would be a big mistake.

Growth

One reason why we will certainly have to pursue continued growth is the ever increasing strategic importance of information technology for companies and institutions. IT has become an essential component of the business process and, as a consequence, of the transformation companies are undergoing. This generates problems that are becoming more complex and that require a variety of disciplines to tackle. For this reason, we will have to develop larger, more diverse teams than we currently have.

Another reason why we want to grow is that our customers’ requests are increasing in scope. And this is something we can take some pride in. Customers are extremely satisfied with the way in which we help them manage their mission-critical IT activities. As a consequence, they are turning to us more and more often with questions like: “OK, our IT is not plagued by problems anymore. Thanks for that. But how do we move forward from here?” This is the kind of question that we want to be able to address in the future with a level of confidence that matches the expertise that customers have come to expect from us.

Which leads us to the next reason for us to pursue growth: our conversations with customers are more frequently and more intimately connected to their own vision of their company’s future. Businesses and institutions are acknowledging the necessity of digital transformation, which is a process of change that requires more than just technical expertise. That’s why we want to continue to develop our company and our skill set—which in turn requires us to grow.

A further, but no less significant, reason to grow is our desire to be a positive force in society. Our world is facing significant challenges that will have great impact on everyday life. IT will play a crucial part in this process, but in many cases the technology deployed today simply isn’t up to snuff. This bothers us to no end. The IT industry should do better, and it can be so much better. Just consider the way in which we interact with government institutions and large corporations, or the country’s vital infrastructure. These are all examples of areas in which great progress can be made in terms of availability, ease of use, accessibility, security, and privacy. Such challenges define our age—and we are ready and able to play a big part in addressing them. But to do this, again, we will need to grow bigger.

Ambition

In a nutshell: we need growth to pursue our ambition. Can we summarize that ambition in a single sentence? We’ll need to be a bit gutsy, but yes, we can. Look deep into our hearts, and you’ll see that everyone at Schuberg Philis wants nothing more than to achieve something that is meaningful. To leave a legacy. So our ambition is this: to deliver good work that really matters. (There, we said it.)

We would love to look back in the future and see that the way in which IT is executed in the Netherlands and elsewhere has fundamentally changed and improved because of our contributions. That is a goal that we will continue to grow towards every day.

Don’t try this at home

Greater impact, a wider expertise, more complex challenges. That’s the kind of adventure that you can only embark upon with the right people. We use the word adventure advisedly, because that’s what it really is. To grow with the bar set at the correct (i.e., highest) level, you need to do something that’s never been done before. Which is precisely what makes it so much fun, says everyone at Schuberg Philis. Because the beauty of it is, as we’ve learned in the past 20 years, that with the best people on board, you can achieve anything.

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It’s the people, actually

By now, we have more than 350 of those people at the company, and we are still 100% independent. This matters to us. It makes sure that we are still free to make the choices that we feel are best for our customers; not for some or other shareholder. And even more importantly, it lets our people do their work the way they actually want to do it.

Because that is the real secret of Schuberg Philis: we have given our experts full responsibility for their customer. Or, to be more precise, for the customer’s happiness. That is the only KPI we give them, and the only one we feel truly matters: 100% customer satisfaction.

We achieve this by bringing the right specialists together and letting them work as teams. Teams that have no supervisors, but do work with the experts in the lead. Teams where decisions are made by the people who are most knowledgeable. Teams that create an environment in which experts flourish and in which they can do their best work. We foster an environment where people feel safe to be vulnerable and free to make mistakes; where they work together to find solutions, driven by quality and with a focus on results—not on simply putting in the effort. Skin in the game, that’s what we like.

Our people are fully aware of this, and they wouldn’t want it any other way. In addition to “experts in the lead,” believing in “deliver your own promise” is the second major principle that lets us succeed where others often fall short. But our people are also aware that there is always room to make things better, and that every improvement, no matter how small, will take us closer to that 100%. Quantitative growth depends on a few big things; qualitative growth also depends on thousands of little ones.

Hire for attitude, not just for skill

Looking into the future, we see ourselves forming such teams with as many as 100 people. As a result, to realize our ambition, recruitment will be crucial. After all, in the market in which we operate, people are a rare commodity. But we think we’ll succeed in these efforts as well. We know that good people want to have a good place to work; they want their contributions to have impact; and they want to feel connected to a larger story—like ours.

To find the right people, we will establish a number of priorities in our recruitment and selection process. For example, even more than before, we’ll focus on attitude. We would rather bring in talented people with an unfinished skillset than fully trained professionals whose mentality just doesn’t match our own. After all, to help our people acquire the skills they need, we now have the Schuberg Philis Academy, whereas attitude is something you just can’t learn.

The same applies to experience: your work ethic is more important than your years of service. Seniority and expertise doesn’t necessarily correlate with age. Throughout the years, we have often been pleasantly surprised by how well young professionals take up big responsibilities, and how valuable their countless new insights can be.

In addition, we will be opening knew locations to be closer to where the talent is. The fun you have at work should contribute to your happiness in life, and we don’t want commuting to be a barrier that could stop you from achieving it. It’s another example of how we feel that growth, in this case in the number of offices, should be subservient to what we, as a collective, hope to achieve.

Show, don’t tell

As you can see, there is an exciting path ahead of us on which we hope to achieve great things. And we believe that, together with our highly qualified professionals, we will achieve them. We’re quite determined that way. Because we believe that if we consistently follow that path, we will realize our ambition. And we’ll grow—fast, but especially well. We won’t forget that growth is not an end in itself: it is a means that will allow us to do our work the way we feel it should be done.

That is what we want you to judge us on. Not on our growth figures per se, but on what we manage to achieve through that growth. On our work.

That’s how we want distinguish ourselves. The story of Schuberg Philis is not a marketing story. We want to be known for our deeds. Deeds through which we offer something truly meaningful to our customers, to each other, and to the Netherlands. If we manage to do that, the stories to be proud of will follow.

So, in the meantime, we will continue to work hard to make our customers’ strategic engine rooms the best they can be. We will increasingly join the conversation about how to direct the energy from those engines. And we will never forget that life should also be beautiful. Security plus guts. And little love. In the end, that’s what it’s all about. Actually.