delaware Belux welcomes new Managing Director Jan De Bock

Jan 31, 2022
  • press release

As of January 1, 2022, Jan De Bock is the new Managing Director of delaware Belux. The position has previously been held by Luc Van Aelbroeck (2003–2008), Jan Delaere (2009–2015), and Patrick Andersen (2016–2021). To ensure the company remains agile and quick to respond to market changes, its leadership sets a term limit of five or six years for the position of Managing Director. Jan De Bock is part of the fourth generation of delaware leaders.

Picture: Patrick Andersen, Jan Delaere, Luc Van Aelbroeck & Jan De Bock

Breaking the routine

Patrick Andersen passed on his role as Managing Director to Jan De Bock on January 1, 2022. He explains why this shift in leadership is so important to delaware: “The idea originates from our dream to still exist as a company in 150 years.”

Jan Delaere, who was Managing Director before Patrick, confirms this. He looks back on his time at the helm with satisfaction. He explains, “delaware is a unique organization, that much is certain. I felt totally at home as Managing Director, so for me it wasn’t the obvious choice to relinquish the reins after six years. I think this shows why term limits are necessary. And I’m convinced that Patrick has done a better job than I could have in the changed context of recent years. The model works.” 

Luc Van Aelbroeck, the first Managing Director of delaware Belux, says, “To create something that will last forever, you have pass it on from one generation to the next. The succession mechanism that we’ve put in place for this purpose influences every major decision we make, both in the short and the long term. Five years is just long enough for a Managing Director to grow into the role and execute our strategic five-year plan. The moment the job becomes routine, it’s time to look for a successor.”

Jan De Bock also believes in five-year terms and distributed leadership, for two reasons: “Every Managing Director interprets the role in a different way. I’ll face different challenges than Patrick, who did a fantastic job. But after five years there’s a danger that habits can form or certain things can be taken for granted. A new Managing Director dares to question more things because they’re still searching. That’s certainly how I felt about it during the transition period at the end of 2021.”

Growth as a result of success 

In the beginning, co-founder Luc Van Aelbroeck saw delaware as a project, and he saw himself as the project leader. “As Managing Director I had a clear goal in mind. I knew who the stakeholders were and what contributions they had to make to achieve our goal.” That first project team after the management buyout in 2003 comprised 124 staff members. Today, delaware employs around 3,000 people worldwide.

Jan Delaere, who became Managing Director in 2009, remembers it well: “When I took over from Luc, you could still know everyone by name, but our fast growth meant I had to let go of that at a certain point. After six years, our staff had doubled again.” Patrick Andersen also presided over impressive growth during his term as Managing Director, but he points out that there is no obsession with getting bigger. “Growth is not the goal, growth is the result,” he says. “Our growth is the sum of the ambitions of all our solutions.” Jan Delaere adds, “Our primary goal has always been to create lasting value. Growth follows from that.”

Jan De Bock predicts continued growth for delaware Belux in the next five years, although he suspects it will be less rapid than in the past. For Jan it’s crucial that the company’s identity is preserved: “It’s precisely our unique culture and pragmatic approach that make us so strong. We continue to recruit young people and include them in our delaware approach,” he says. Patrick Andersen adds, “The mix of different ages and backgrounds also enriches our leadership.” The four men agree that the 15-year age difference between Patrick Andersen and Jan De Bock, who recently turned 40, will create a new and inspiring dynamic at the company because, as Jan Delaere says, “The future is in the hands of the young.”

Four generations, four profiles, four styles, one goal 

Luc, Jan, Patrick, and Jan emphasize that the sustainability and longevity of delaware remain paramount, but each Managing Director focuses on different areas. Patrick Andersen wants to give Jan De Bock the space and confidence he needs to lead in his own way: “Just like Jan Delaere did for me.” Patrick has acted as Jan De Bock’s mentor in recent years and reassures him that “he’s not alone — all the partners support him and want him to succeed.” 

It’s no coincidence that Jan Delaere was there at the start of Jan De Bock’s delaware career in 2004. He wishes Jan De Bock all the best with this new challenge and says, “I have been privileged to see Jan grow within our organization.” When asked if he has any advice for Jan, he says: “As a Managing Director you don’t have to manage but to lead. And leading is above all about listening. Listening is definitely one of Jan’s strong suits. I see that the ‘war for talent’ is raging and we need to further expand our services. Jan will have to provide answers to those challenges.”

Jan De Bock thanks the previous generations of Managing Directors for the trust they have placed in him and for everything they have taught him during his years at delaware. “I’m really looking forward to building an even better and stronger delaware together,” he says.

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