Mel Jacobs is CIO of the Year 2021

21 april 2022

Mel Jacobs, CIO Private Banking and Corporate and Institutional Banking at ABN AMRO Bank, is the winner of the 2021 CIO of the Year Award. The prize is a recognition for her major role in the digital transformation of the organization. “Mel Jacobs is very good at translating ABN AMRO’s purpose into digital transformation goals,” said jury chairman Bernhard van Oranje. “The jury saw how she determines which digital products are needed. She then stays the course.”

The selection process

Overall, Mel Jacobs came out on top in the selection process. This thorough process includes the Digital Acceleration Index (the qualitative and quantitative research by BCG, The Boston Consulting Group), the intensive leadership assessment by Squadra, and an evaluation of the role in the Dutch CIO community by CIO Magazine. The CIO of the Year Award was presented on Thursday, April 21 during CIODAY, which was originally planned for November 21, 2021, but had to be postponed due to the pandemic. In addition to the eventual winner, Willem Koopmans (Coolblue), André van der Linden (Royal FloraHolland), and Mark Vermeer (Municipality of Rotterdam) were nominated for the title.

A complex challenge

The main objective, the purpose, of ABN AMRO, is expressed as “Banking for better, for generations to come.” Three pillars support this goal: The first is to simplify and standardize, to be agile. Then there is the transition to sustainable business models, for the bank itself and for its customers. Thirdly, ABN AMRO is working on improving the customer experience as well. Addressing these three issues simultaneously is a complex challenge. “With Mel Jacobs, we have chosen a winner who is both a builder and a leader. She is able to form a very strong team and knows exactly who she needs to realize the vision of the bank,” said Van Oranje.

Modern leader

Rob Beijleveld, CEO of ICT Media and initiator of the CIO of the Year Award, thinks Jacobs is an excellent example of a modern leader: “She strives for servant leadership, while at the same time providing clarity and direction. Within the boundaries she sets, people have the freedom to organize their work as they see fit.” The other judges were very pleased with the eventual winner as well. They pointed to her authenticity and the value she attaches to personal contact and humor as tools to promote collaboration. “She knows how to address people’s intrinsic motivation, and that is essential for the success of a digital transformation at an organization like ABN AMRO”, according to the jury.

About the Award

The CIO of the Year Award follows a strict and objective process, with the award being awarded to the candidate who scores the highest on performance and the way in which he or she fulfills his or her role and position. The fact that one winner was ultimately chosen does not in any way imply a negative assessment of the other nominees. They were all podium-worthy candidates.

In the assessment by BCG and Squadra, factors such as performance, perception by colleagues in the business, as well as personal competencies were taken into account. The closing jury meeting in the Pinnacle Tower in Amsterdam, where all nominees were present, served as a final validation of the selection process.

This year’s core jury was formed by Arthur Govaert (CIO Platform Nederland and RadboudUMC), Marc Schuuring (BCG), Tjibbe van der Zeeuw (Squadra), Rob Beijleveld (ICT Media) and Arnoud van Gemeren (CIO Magazine). Bernhard van Oranje (Levi9 Global Sourcing) is chairman of the jury. A newcomer was Perry van der Weyden, winner of the 2019 CIO of the Year Award, who will make way for the winner of 2020, Marcel Krom (PostNL) for the 2022 election process.