Lex Kop has been a freelance supply chain professional since late 2012 when, following a 30-year career with various multinationals, he decided to start his own business. Over the years he has also worked on a number of assignments for Involvation customers, so we decided to ask him to tell us more about the role of an interim supply chain professional.
What do you enjoy most about working freelance as an interim supply chain professional?
I am a firm believer in the interim model because companies can no longer expect to have (and keep) all the necessary expertise and experience in-house nowadays. To put it bluntly, interim work is about ‘getting the job done’ and that’s a good fit with me: you have a starting date and a leaving date, and you have to solve a number of problems in between. What I really like is that I have autonomy and can decide what I do (and don’t) want to do, because I’m my own boss. Besides that, I’ve chosen a very varied type of interim work: I can be involved in direct management, but also in a project role or advisory role. That keeps things nice and varied.
How does your ideal assignment look?
The ideal assignment is one in which the business clearly needs something to happen or change, and the board of directors has realized this too. The ideal customer has made a conscious decision to bring in interim support, and there’s a good ‘click’ between me and the client. We then set to work together, and preferably achieve a couple of ‘quick wins’ because that helps to mobilize the rest of the organization. The customer also gives the project sufficient priority and focus so that the agreed objectives can be accomplished. And apart from that, it’s nice if the assignment pays quite well too – but that’s not my first (or even second) priority!
What was your most recent assignment, and how did it go?
In 2018 I worked on three different assignments in parallel: supply chain consultancy at the engineering firm HaskoningDHV, a tender for fulfilment services for an e-commerce company and a change project at Knauf Insulation, which I did through Involvation in collaboration with Ewoud Eijssen. Knauf needed help to manage the supply chain changes associated with the planned closure of its Dutch factory. We assessed the impact, prepared a project plan and took care of the project management. We also defined the concrete improvements relating to specific aspects such as S&OP, the planning process and the logistics, and implemented them together with the customer’s employees. The people at Knauf were positive about our contribution right from the start: “You help to give us structure, and that creates a sense of calm amidst the everyday chaos”.
What do you see as the benefits of being part of Involvation’s interim supply chain network?
As a freelancer, I believe it’s important to stay in close contact with my peers and Involvation offers me a way to do that. What I like about Involvation is the down-to-earth and pragmatic approach, which also includes consideration of straightforward solutions. Working together enables you to tackle projects with a broader scope, such as the one for Knauf, so that opens up more opportunities than I would have on my own. Another benefit is that if I ever want to brainstorm some ideas during a project, I can always approach the colleagues at Involvation such as Hans van der Drift. And participating in workshops such as ‘S&OP in one day’ enables me to keep learning, which is important to me too.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about your work as an interim manager?
As an interim manager your workload can really fluctuate because there is rarely a seamless flow of assignments. A lot of people see that as a disadvantage but I’ve learned to appreciate the advantages too. Whenever I get some spare time, I make sure I do things like catching up with friends and family, going on a course, visiting a museum or finally getting around to reading a book that I’ve had for a while. It helps to improve the work-life balance.