New year, New us: The New Leadership Team at Fronteer

Frédérique Moolenbeek, Claire Bloemendaal, Leonie Koelmans and Babke Hogenhuis have been appointed to the new leadership team of Fronteer. They succeed Martijn Pater and James Veenhoff, who will adopt a more supportive role in growing the Fronteer Business. Each of the four women is a respected and beloved employee with a long list of credentials. With great enthusiasm, they will take over the daily leadership of the Fronteer business. We asked the four about their focus, vision and plans for the future.

Frédérique

What makes Fronteer unique as a company?

Businesses have always played a crucial role in major societal and economical developments. At Fronteer we believe that businesses have the power to drive real change, and we like to contribute to it. That’s why we help our clients make a positive contribution to the world.
Fronteers are people that explore uncharted territory. We lead our clients to new fields of opportunity. We do so by helping them to explore and understand the future and define their potential role within that future.

What makes us unique is that we don’t create our strategies in closed-room committees; we believe the future needs collaboration. We use co-creation with leading experts to engage fresh perspectives and unlock human potential. We combine the creative with the analytical – using design-thinking and co-creation to develop actionable strategies for progress. Strategies that: create urgency, spark enthusiasm, inspire action and ultimately benefit the planet, people and businesses.

We combine the creative with the analytical – using design-thinking and co-creation to develop actionable strategies for progress. Strategies that: create urgency, spark enthusiasm, inspire action and ultimately benefit the planet, people and businesses.

Frédérique Moolenbeek

Where do you see Fronteer in the future?

Our people are all about making progress: it is our shared intrinsic driver. I genuinely believe this is what will keep us moving forward. The passions that our people bring to the organization are the key driver of our business. Over the past years, these passions have grown into focused territories for our business; spaces in which we believe we can make a difference. These territories range from innovating in education, developing the future of cities, building coalitions for solving complex challenges – to expanding our impact for NGOs and helping organizations commit to the Sustainable Development Goals. In the coming years, we will grow these territories further while new territories could emerge. The shared element between these territories will always be: creating actionable strategies for progress. Our focus on these territories, the passion and expertise that we bring to them will help us make more impact in these areas – together with our clients, partners and experts.

Claire

What makes the Fronteer organisational culture special?

Once upon a time James and Martijn wanted to start a ‘jerk-free’ company (in Dutch: eikelvrij bedrijf). You can laugh all you want, but 13 years later I’m sure they succeeded. Fortunately, that’s not because they’re still doing the job interviews or checking whether everyone is behaving well. It is due to the culture that surrounds and sits within the people at Fronteer. How to describe? Bursting with energy, open, purpose-driven, warm, and we laugh A LOT. We all work here because we want to take initiative in making the world a little better. Because we are creative, can inspire others and because we’re all unicorns (I like to think of my colleagues that way, but of course I’m a bit biased).

We all work here because we want to take initiative in making the world a little better.

Claire Bloemendaal

What are the key drivers of the Fronteer organization? And what role does holacracy play in this?

When it comes to our culture, I think we owe a lot to Holacracy. Holacracy is an organizational structure that gives employees a lot of autonomy and encourages them to take initiative based on their own purpose. Unless it is harmful or a step backwards for Fronteer (i.e.: it costs too much, isn’t in line with our vision or strategy, or threatens the wellbeing of colleagues), you can take initiative without the approval of a manager. For example, our personal development process was designed bottom-up; we have the coolest team events: a month ago, we designed board games with an award-winning games designer; during the lock-down, we received surprise boxes and a Fronteer colouring book for the kids. All organised by the team without any interference from leadership or peers.

Leonie

How would you like to see Fronteer grow in the coming ten years?

As a creative strategy firm, we work on a project basis. In the past, our projects had a fairly short duration, which meant that ensuring a continuous workload and thus steady growth could be challenging. We have been focusing on this for some time now which paid off in some beautiful long-term collaborations.

We are moving from one-off projects to structural programs that allow us to make a greater impact on customers and even better; the world – together with our clients. The result for us: a more stable organization that can grow sustainably. In the coming 10 years, we want to expand this into more impactful programs and partnerships based on trust and collaboration. By strengthening our expertise in various territories we can make even more impact and offer financial security for our team. To realise this, our ambition is to grow our team into a more diverse group of generalists and specialists: knowledge experts for our territories and skilled specialists that help make us reach the full potential of our projects.

We are moving from one-off projects to structural programs that allow us to make a greater impact on customers and even better; the world – together with our clients.

Leonie Koelmans

Babke

You encourage your clients to be better companies, how do you do this?

As a BCorp we believe that business can – and should – be a force for good. We use our creative and strategic skills to help our clients challenge the status quo in their field of business and within their companies. Many of our projects focus on creating tangible sustainability strategies and solutions that we actively link to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for measurable impact. For example: we co-created a global sustainability strategy for Heineken and developed a vision on mobility hubs for the city of Amsterdam to realise more sustainable urban mobility. We also started the SDG Impact Collective together with Dawn and Mitra van Raalten to maximise this impact. Next to that we’re actively building our business for NGOs. Applying co-creation and strategic innovation to their challenges will help NGOs to accelerate and amplify their impact. With the Rainforest Alliance we co-created transformational innovation concepts for the future of rainforest conservation, and we are supporting WWF in various projects – from organising strong stakeholder engagement through a public consultation to co-creating an interactive toolkit for proactive and inclusive advocacy.

What is Fronteer doing to be a better company?

The BCorp certification is a big commitment to do better. It pushes us to rethink our way of working in every domain – from the projects we take on to our hiring process and office management. We started with small improvements – we switched to a fully vegetarian lunch, introduced a no-flight policy and have initiated an internal Diversity and Inclusivity assessment – but we can definitely do more. Our BCorp ambassador is currently evaluating where we can improve and this analysis will be integrated into our internal strategy for the coming year(s).
Next to that, we actively stimulate our team to make a positive mark – beyond the work at Fronteer. That’s why we have “Ikigai time”. Each month everyone in our team can dedicate a percentage of their time to doing good; volunteering at a local shelter, organising a workshop pro bono… it’s up to them!

Where do you hope to see Fronteer in 10 years?

I hope that with our commitment to progress we can help our clients to truly innovate and transform their businesses – making structural positive impact on people and the planet. My personal ambition is to grow our NGO practice so that in 10 years (I hope sooner) we have become the strategic innovation partner for Europe’s leading NGOs!

I hope that with our commitment to progress we can help our clients to truly innovate and transform their businesses – making structural positive impact on people and the planet.

Babke Hogenhuis