Christophe Derdeyn

Christophe Derdeyn – Founder & Managing Director of Icon Cloud Solutions

Christophe Derdeyn has created an organisation, with people whose acumen he trusts, whose aim is to help other organisations to expand and succeed.

What’s your story?

I am am Maverick entrepreneur with 25 years of experience. I’ve started (and exited from) several successful and a few less successful companies across the IT Services, Retail & Manufacturing industries. Through my career, I’ve been involved in building teams, designing and executing business strategies through various leadership roles, scaling organisations across Asia and Europe. I’ve led large scale business transformation as well as Digital transformation projects (including ESG focused engagements) in various industries (FMCG, Mfg, HighTech, Govt) and have functioned as a board member in multiple IT Services companies. I am socially engaged and believe change starts within.

What excites you most about your industry?

The incredible speed at which technology is evolving, making new ways of working available across the entire value chain, allowing companies to become more effective, more resilient and better connected to their customers and suppliers.

IT Technology is a near endless set of multi-facetted tools that can be used to gain better understanding of or enhance pretty much any business process, societal matter or complex system.

The impact that my industry has had on business & the world in general is profound & change is only accelerating. The best is yet to come.

Christophe Derdeyn and acquiantances

What drives you in your career to push beyond what other people consider normal?

What is normal, really? Really depends on the individual, doesn’t it?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs, I’ve seen nothing else and have always been curious and keen to explore my boundaries, to engage in things that are novel & different, to build & shape and to get things done.

I’ve always had an innate drive to engage and own activities and engagements which I feel connected to and which teach me something more and, increasingly, make an impact. I’m not the type to often sit still, even if I surely do appreciate the good things in life.

What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?

Engaging people through storytelling and, related to that, spinning a story. I’ve learnt how important it is to provide the right context to an audience, determine what each stakeholder wants/needs and ensure that these expectations are met when something is presented or a conversation happens. I’ve learnt that listening is important & talking needs to be strategic. In additon, I’ve learned that personal relations matter profoundly – people buy from people – there is nothing as strong as having a person that confides in & trusts you. It offers a platform to build from.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

Trust, but verify. It took me a while & some mishaps to realise the value & strength of that statement.

Trust is indispensable to build teams, organisations or achieve pretty much anything. It is the glue that allows us to focus on a common goal rather than lose our efforts in 2nd guessing everything. Yet: there are many reasons why things you believe agreed don’t get realised… may be intentional, or not – can be differences in intent, in understanding or motivations. Verification as such is key.

Cultural differences driving lack of transparency, can only be managed through verification.

Who inspires you?

Ray Dalio, Bridgewater associates. His management practices (principles) rely on radical candor, absolute transparency.

Over time I have evolved to infuse the same concept in almost any engagement I have – respectful but candid & explicit. I do believe having the right information allows people & organisations to excel.

Aside from business success, Ray is engaged socially (comments on capitalism needing reform, joining the giving pledge etc) & this is something I increasingly try to include in my ventures: improving the lives of people OR addressing societal problems through the ventures I take on/support.

What have you learnt recently that blew you away?

I read a book by Annie Duke called “Quit: The power of knowing when to walk away”. I’ve gotten stuck in a rut in an enterprise I was fully engaged on but didn’t well understand why, until I read this book and realised something that should be obvious, but often isn’t – humans are biased and anything we decide to engage on we get emotionally linked to, which means that there’s just no way for us to truly objectively make decisions anymore. This is why exit criteria, defined BEFORE starting an engagement, are crucial. We have to know when to Quit!

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

With every new venture I start, I incorporate changes based on things I’ve taken along, learnings from my previous successes and failures.

A truly incredibly important thing when starting something new is ensuring that you have the right people with you – which often means people you know well and have some level of history with; that you surround yourself with an actively supporting network, something that is so incredibly important for increasing chances for success (and significantly accelerating timeline to success, too). I’ve not always done so in the past, but do so now.

How do you unwind?

I do a lot of sports, which helps me keep fit & energetic. I love a good work-out and sauna & iceboats in the evenings, which mentally & physically de-stress. I love a good dinner with friends, chatting the evening away – something that used to be accompanied with great beers and wines, even if these days as I am focused on doing a few tri’s, I’m foregoing those mostly. I love to read – some management books, some hard sci-fi & space opera. Dream of another world.

What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your career?

Man in principle means well. I’ve only realised over time that the definition of good depends on the worldview & history of people and what they do may be well intended but quite opposite of what I am trying to achieve. I’ve had an ah ha moment in May 2023, during the monthly results meeting, providing crystal clear insight I had to leave the partnership I was then part of – my partners in the firm made it clear through an outburst that they didn’t (nor likely ever would) fully trust me.

Everyone in business should read this book:

There’s 2 books actually:

(1) Reinventing Organisations by Frederic Laloux &

(2) Quit: The power of knowing when to walk away by Annie Duke

The Services industry is people centric, so it is key to understand what type of organization you wish to create, deal with or have become part of and how this should influence your behaviour to be effective – this is described in Reinventing Organisations.

Quit is key in helping understand specific dimensions around commitment of the human psyche, which can help prevent sunk cost fallacy to a degree.

Icon Cloud Solutions logo

Shameless plug for your business or career:

With 25 years of experience in building Business Shared Services organisations, managing off-shored delivery of both infrastructure as well as application support and implementation projects, I have unique experience and insights in what works and what doesn’t when delivering off-shored services.

A few true experts, people I encountered over the years, have joined me in Icon Cloud Solutions to create one of the best managed services operations in the industry, operated out of Vietnam.

How can people connect with you?

cderdeyn@iconconsultinggroup.com

Social Media Links?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/christophederdeyn/

This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.

About The EnterpriseZone Writing Team

Shining A Light on the Small Business World and highlighting Entrepreneurial Investing Opportunities.

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