IT is strategy

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Femke Jacobs, CIO and board member of the Life insurer NN in Belgium, takes the stage at this month’s Tech Talk on 30 September. Femke has a legacy of building agile organisations. But using the agile methodology should not be the objective, she says. What’s key is end-to-end value creation for your company. During the Tech Talk she will share her main lessons learned throughout her career in IT.

Challenging the status quo

Combining her technical expertise with extensive knowledge of financial services, Femke Jacobs approaches every situation with the questions: How can I improve? How can we create agility towards our strategy?

In her daily business, Femke is usually working ahead, developing with her peers the strategic focus of the company. “I strongly believe that IT is part of the strategy of a company. IT is part of your board, part of your management.” From where she works, at the intersection of IT and business, Femke is able to spot the invisible mechanics of an entire organisation and shine a light on where things can improve. But in a company that employs thousands, implementing structural change is a multi-step process, which has its consequences.

In the last decade Femke transformed several organisations towards an Agile setup. But implementing an agile way of working does not guarantee success, Femke notes. “What I really believe in, is the end-to-end value chain. It’s not just about system A or system B. It’s about connecting the whole chain, the whole organisation. This involves strong cooperation among all departments within the organization.”

Connecting people 

Heading up teams of a few hundred members of staff begs the question: What’s the secret to being a good leader? “Well, besides actually knowing what you are talking about, what I think is appreciated in my leadership style is connecting (to) people, to which I bring a feminine touch. I love facilitating a learning culture by bringing people together through online sessions and in real life.”

 It’s not one size fits all

“I believe in the agility of an organisation,” says Femke. “But that doesn’t mean implementing agile will automatically bring success to your business.” A key lesson from Femke is to tailor the agile methodology to your business and strategy. “You must look very closely at what is already there, and make sure to measure and show what you achieved. Sharing these results with our organisation brings everything alive for our employees. They can actually see the added value, which gives them ownership over the deliverables and contributes to the overall strategy of our company.”

Femke Jacobs will share her career lessons at our next Tech Talk, taking place on 30 September. Join us!