Meet Quby's new CEO: Dick van Driel
Dick van Driel
Every now and then we have the pleasure of interviewing one of our Qubists and sharing this with our readers. In this special interview, we talked to our new CEO: Dick van Driel. When Dick came to Quby last autumn, he brought vision and focus. It’s time for you to get to know the CEO who will lead Quby to greater success.
You started last autumn as chairman of Quby’s board. What was your first impression of Quby and its people?
It’s a group of extremely committed and enthusiastic people. I can’t quite compare it to any other company, there’s something very out of the ordinary about Quby. There’s a very open way of thinking in the whole company. An international culture in a high-tech environment, but also with a huge emphasis on soft skills. That touched me most of all.
How did you wind up at Quby?
For the past 20 years, I’ve been involved in several companies, all facing wicked problems. During this time I got captivated by the concept of circular economy. I spoke with a couple of people at Eneco and mentioned I found Quby an interesting company in that perspective. At some point I told them: ‘If you need someone like me, let me know’. And they did, so here I am!
What do you mean with ‘someone like me’?
Well, I have always been an entrepreneurial spirit – that’s where my atypical way of thinking originates. One of the benefits to this is that I often feel the need to challenge existing structures.
Doing things in the same way for a long time, especially in work, often causes a fire to die out. If you do what did, you’ll get what you got. So I try and keep wondering: what if I had to build this company again from scratch, what would I do differently? And why wouldn’t I do some of those things they are doing now? How would our customers look at things? Is what we are doing the optimal way to service them?
I love to challenge people and businesses by asking: why is it the way it is?
Most companies I have had the pleasure to lead, suffered from complexity, which had been developing over the years in their way of working. It traps people in ineffectiveness and makes them lose focus. Complexity is the enemy of focus. I tend to look at projects from an appropriate distance and remove as much complexity as I can. It isn’t always easy, but it is rewarding for myself and the people I work with. Of course, it does require determination and decision-making capabilities. And maybe some creativity.. There’s this quote I’m reminded of, by Jazz artist and civil rights activist Charles Mingus: “Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.”
“If you do what you did, you get what you got…
So I love to challenge people: why is it the way it is?”
What’s your vision for Quby in 2019?
We’re still going to do what we’re doing now. But what I really want to achieve is that we become competitive as a commercial business as well as being a thought leader. When we become more business-savvy, it forces us to become goal oriented. I think a big part of this potential exists in expanding our data science capabilities. That is not only about attracting great minds, but it’s also about getting the company in the right mindset to give those people enough space. Because besides from doing our daily projects, we need to keep thinking outside of the box.
How has Quby’s role in the smart home and energy markets changed?
We are pioneers in combining smart home tech with sustainability. Toon as a smart thermostat was exactly that: a technology-driven solution for sustainable living with added comfort in the home environment. Toon differs from other smart thermostats and home automation platforms because of how we flexibly partner up with impactful, large utilities. This gives us the space for experiments and innovation, stretching beyond the instant needs of the consumer. But this has partly changed now. We’ve passed the start-up and scale-up phases. Now it’s time to become an independent and strong commercial company.
When we combine the Toon user data and expertise we have gathered, with the (marketing) data and expertise of the multiple big European utilities we’ve partnered up with, a unique opportunity arises. By doing so, we get the chance to launch new propositions together, that really resonate with consumers.
Therein lies our future and the difference we can make in the smart home and utility markets.
The market is moving so fast, it’s no longer enough to focus on early adopters. The intriguing stuff happens when we try to use all that knowledge and data to reach a much larger group of consumers. Sustainability, or rather our lack thereof, is worrisome. But just saying that is not doing much. We want to make a real difference by thinking out of the box and inspiring change.
What does the energy company of the future look like?
Energy companies used to be mainly suppliers of a commodity, but that no longer fits in the consumers’ life. I have solar panels, and I generate more than I use. Who is going to help me redistribute that? Energy companies have to change from energy suppliers to energy directors. Quby can help companies make that change, through our insights, our data and our products. Quby will help companies understand what’s relevant in their customers’ lives; today, a year from now and 3 years from now on, too. We transform utility companies into the proactive market leaders they need to become.
A big thanks to Dick for his openness and interesting outlook. We look forward to see where his leadership will take Quby in the following years.