Aart Rupert (Damen) wins CIO of the Year Award


Aart Rupert, CDO of shipbuilder Damen, won the CIO of the Year Award 2023. He owes the award to his strategic vision for digitalization, the transformation he has initiated, and the launch of a new business unit (Damen Triton). “Aart has developed strongly in his role, also as a driver of a digital, business-driven transformation,” said jury chairman Bernhard van Oranje. “Transforming an ‘old’ manufacturing industry like shipbuilding into a Maritime Solution Provider is no easy task, and certainly not as a family business.”

The former CIO, now CDO of Damen, came out of the selection process as the best candidate. This thorough process included the Digital Acceleration Index (the qualitative and quantitative research by BCG, The Boston Consulting Group), Squadra‘s intensive leadership assessment, and an evaluation of the role in the Dutch CIO community by the editors of CIO TV.

The CIO of the Year Award was presented on Tuesday, Nov. 21, during CIODAY2023. In addition to the winner, Arno van den Berg (Vandebron), Pieter Halenbeek (Dutch Chamber of Commerce), and Michiel Valk (Essent) were nominated for the title. Like Aart Rupert, they were characterized by a strong focus on people and results. “You see technology leaders making their mark on the organization in an increasingly broader sense,” observed Rob Beijleveld, CEO of ICT Media and initiator of the CIO of the Year Award. “Aart shows that even companies in the manufacturing industry with a more or less traditional background can transform and innovate.”

The role of the CIO is increasingly focused on transformation. Aart Rupert’s role has also changed in a decade. Where the role of tech leader is invested or what it is called is unimportant; what matters is that they get everyone on board with the transformation. That transformation is not a linear process but rather a collection of parallel projects to optimize the organization and test new solutions, according to the winning CIO. A transformation is also never complete because innovations are always coming along. The role of talent significantly contributes to this: many new use cases are conceived on the shop floor.

Aart Rupert, who characterizes himself as an enabler who stays the course, emphasizes the importance of an ecosystem with partners who know their customers. Consultants must understand tech, digitization, culture, and the complexity of underlying change. Partners mustn’t think too generically and read up on their clients.

Using the platforms of industry leaders, Damen has been able to accelerate its transformation without customization efficiently. The company has moved to product lifecycle management, where it can manage the entire chain from a single data model: design, engineering, manufacturing engineering, and services. This allows Damen to respond very flexibly to changes during the construction process of a ship, but also to changes in regulations. In addition, the company facilitates connected vessels and predictive maintenance through a separate branch, Damen Triton. “Setting up such a data model is a huge challenge for many companies, but Aart has pulled it off,” said Marc Schuuring of BCG.

Read the interview with Aart Rupert.

About the CIO of the Year Award

The CIO of the Year Award procedure is strict and objective, awarding the prize to the candidate who scores highest on performance delivered and the way they fulfill their role and function. That one winner was ultimately chosen in no way implies a negative assessment of the other nominees. They were all podium-worthy candidates.

In the assessment by BCG and Squadra, things like performance, perception by the business, and personal competencies are taken into account. The closing jury meeting in the Baxter Building in Amsterdam, where all nominees were present, was a final validation of the selection process.

The core jury was formed this year by Martijn Koning (CIO Platform Netherland and CDO AutoBinck), Marc Schuuring (BCG), Tjibbe van der Zeeuw (Squadra) and Rob Beijleveld (ICT Media). Bernhard van Oranje (Levi9) was chairman of the jury. New to the party was Mel Jacobs (CIO ABN AMRO), who will make way for the 2024 election for the 2022 winner, Rob Visser (CIO NN).

CM.com wins Tech Hero Award

In addition to the CIO of the Year Award presentation, the Tech Hero Award was presented yesterday. Jeroen van Glabbeek, CEO of CM.com, received the award. The company owes the prize to its innovative solutions for conversational commerce. With CM.com’s communication and payment platform, marketing, sales, and customer service can automate customer engagement across multiple mobile channels and offer payment options.

In addition to CM.com, FastID, which provides a solution for biometric identity verification, and XXImo, a mobility management provider for businesses, were also nominated for the award, which was presented for the second time this year.

Parties eligible for the Tech Hero Award have built their business around their digital core. They are future-proof and organized to move with the latest developments. “We benchmark organizations in fundamental technological capabilities,” the judges said. “Companies must prove that they can make fundamental changes and renew themselves operationally and in terms of business if necessary.” The Tech Hero Award aims to highlight companies that are an inspiration to other organizations, industries, and society as a whole. “Companies from which we can all learn something,” the jury stated.

The selection process

CM.com emerged overall as the best candidate from the selection process, based partly on BCG’s Digital Acceleration Index. There were also personal interviews, short pitches, and a discussion with all candidates and judges.

The jury of the 2022 Tech Hero Award consists of Bernhard van Oranje, CMO and founder of Levi9 and Chairman of the CIO of the Year Award jury; Martijn Koning, Chairman of the CIO Platform Netherlands and CDO of AutoBinck; Marc Schuuring, Senior Partner & Managing Director at the Boston Consulting Group, ad Rob Beijleveld, CEO of ICT Media. New to the party was Daniel Gebler, CTO Picnic (winner of the Tech Hero Award 2022), who will make way for the 2024 election for the 2023 winner, Jeroen van Glabbeek of CM.com.

Read the interview with Jeroen van Glabbeek.