Vice President Manufacturing CGI
Coen Huesmann, Vice President Consulting Services Manufacturing Center of Excellence at CGI Nederland joined the company at the height of the global pandemic – a challenge for any leader to make his mark.
But nine months on, Huesmann’s leadership style of being inclusive and inspirational is helping large manufacturers around the world bridge the gap between OT and IT systems as they take the next steps on accelerating their digital journey towards Industry 4.0.
“I think a leader should be inspirational, setting a direction for people to follow,” said Huesmann who has previously held executive positions with Accenture, Philips and KPMG working with clients ranging from Toyota to the Royal Netherland Air Force.
“I like to work with diverse teams because I think diverse teams make better decisions, reach better goals and are more innovative. Being inclusive allows you to build bridges with different stakeholders. I think that’s what leaders are for, to bridge those gaps.”
Huesmann is an entrepreneurial people manager with extensive international experience in the areas of lean manufacturing and supply chain management working in countries from Indonesia and Australia to Mexico.
“I've done a lot of international assignments in what we now call business intelligence. I really wanted to live abroad. And that country became Australia, where I joined Philips as a black belt lean six sigma. I was completely freed up to do breakthrough process improvements - we did that in manufacturing and supply chain and basically reinvented the whole business model.”
Reflecting on the challenges of joining the IT consultancy CGI during the pandemic, Huesmann admitted that as a ‘people person’ he has adapted to the new online way of working with his new colleagues and clients.
“We have a manufacturing inspiration centre that we're opening – which could seem strange during the pandemic – but this shows what the art of the possible is with new technologies,” he said.
Looking back on how the industry has changed since he started his career with AVEBE Indonesia in 1997 - when he helped to build a factory for a potato starch company from the Netherlands in Indonesia – Huesmann sums it up in one word, “speed”.
“I think the biggest change is the speed of data and the speed of innovation which are both much faster than they were - and will continue to increase. The base at which new innovations come has doubled, tripled or quadrupled which requires companies to become much more agile which means bringing new ideas into successful implementation at an ever faster pace.
“There is also the difference in speed between the OT of the factory world and the IT world or the information world that's renewing much faster than the big investments. What hasn't changed is that people need to work together to create success.”
Huesmann joined CGI from his role as senior manager with Accenture in May 2020 and describes it as his ‘journey back into the core of manufacturing’. “CGI has a very strong team in manufacturing with a lot of experience in implementing manufacturing execution systems (MES) that is much closer to the core of the manufacturing clients.”
He counts the founders of CGI, Serge and Julie Godin as inspirational leaders along with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte for his inclusive leadership style working in coalition government during the pandemic.
“For me leaders should inspire and lead from the front. I joined CGI for the leadership style I see from the owners.”
“CGI was founded from a dream in which people work as owners to create success. We work in small teams. Close to our customer, close to our clients and with an ownership mentality. Yet we have the strengths, capabilities and reach of a truly global company.
“This gives extra motivation to make sure what we do is also profitable and raises profitable growth.”
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“It's very different recruiting people for something you're building from scratch, compared to recruiting for something that is already running.”