First month of the year, January, shines a spotlight on Ab de Groot, our Director of Customer Success, at NET2GRID. With over 25 years in IT, Ab's journey spans diverse roles from business operations to global tech projects. Based in the Netherlands, Ab emphasizes collaboration, diversity, and customer satisfaction. Holding an Engineer’s Degree in Agronomy and Crop Science from Wageningen University & Research, Ab's education adds a unique perspective to his approach. In his role at NET2GRID, he oversees projects with a focus on quality and timeliness. Beyond work, Ab is an avid participant in triathlons and ice sports, bringing resilience and strategic thinking to both his professional and athletic pursuits. Join us in exploring Ab's distinctive journey contributing to the success of NET2GRID.
1. Having held various roles in IT from project management to business operations, can you share a bit about your journey and what drew you to the current role at NET2GRID?
My previous employer was a large US-based company with over 140k employees. The main business was outsourcing, so taking over the IT department, including the people, from large companies such as EON, UNIPER & SKF. My role on these accounts were in the project management area and in business management, which basically means that you make the internal accounts affairs not to eat up too much time of the Account lead. Because the Indian players provide for stiff competition there was pressure to move jobs to Eastern Europe and India. That affected me as well at a certain time. And being quite tired of working in such a large administrative organization, and mainly remotely, I started looking for a smaller company, where I could work with real people. And then Hans Bakker pointed me to an opportunity within NET2GRID. Working on project management at NET2GRID is about getting all stakeholders aligned on the deliverables and timing of those deliverables, so what is expected and when, and on customer management, find out what the customers’ pain points are and see what we can do to resolve them.
2. Can you highlight a specific project or initiative during your tenure at NET2GRID that you are particularly proud of, and how did it contribute to the success of the organization?
After summer, we managed to successfully overcome some technical challenges that were hindering one of our customers’ efforts to further expand their energy insights service to their customers in Northern Europe. Together with the Analytics and the Platform teams, a plan was formulated, communicated with the customer and executed in time. A good example of excellent teamwork. In November, we were able to showcase the improvements and recently we got news that the energy insights service decided to be expanded.
3. In the context of smart energy solutions, how do you ensure that the projects you manage remain customer-centric, delivering value and satisfaction to clients?
It is always a team effort not a project management only thing. So discussions, priorities and pain points of customers should become clear to all project stakeholders, and then be matched against our product and our roadmap. This will mean that sometimes we will say no because customer priorities will not align with the direction we want to go.
4. What aspect of your role as a Senior Project Manager at NET2GRID do you find most rewarding, and how does it align with your personal and professional goals?
My former employer was a large US-based enterprise, with tons of processes and procedures, working mainly virtual and with a strong financial focus. When I left, I decided that I wanted to work with real people again and in a much smaller company, with a focus not only on money. And NET2GRID suited these objectives very nicely.
5. Your educational background is in Agronomy and Crop Science. How has this unique background influenced your approach to project management in the IT sector?
I chose (Tropical) Agronomy and Crop Science, because I liked biology in high school and wanted to see a bit more of the world. During and after my study, I did have the opportunity to visit and work in a number of different countries, which was a personally enriching experience, but also helped my project management skills. When I returned to the Netherlands it was not difficult to also show the value of these experiences to IT employers.
6. Among your different athletic activities, you are known as an avid athletic person specifically doing sports on the ice! Do you have a favorite sport, and what draws you to that particular sport?
Ice skating (and to a lesser degree, inline skating) is a very technical sport, where timing and balance is key. The truly fast skaters, with a very good technique, make it seem effortless. That also means that you can improve your personal best times even if you grow older, by improving your skating techniques. Second is cycling, which is a good way to improve your endurance, and to enjoy the countryside.