QbD selected ‘Best Managed Company’ by Deloitte – Interview with CEO Bart Van Acker

Not that there has ever been a dull moment in QbD’s history, but the last year or so has been especially exciting. QbD has been growing tremendously ever since it was founded in 2011. And while this certainly didn’t go unnoticed in the life sciences industry throughout the years, its increasingly impressive path – including CEO Bart Van Acker being elected as Flemish Young Entrepreneur in June 2019 – has now also put the company in the spotlight of the broader Belgian business community and media. The most recent accomplishment is its election as one of the 8 new Best Managed Companies in the country by Deloitte, a global leading provider of financial and business consultancy. The election sparked the interest of De Tijd (the number 1 Flemish business daily) and several other business media. We talked to Bart about this new impressive feat and QbD’s steep future ambitions.

QbD management
QbD Management (fltr. Martijn Reniers, Elly De Bruyn, Tom Lokermans, Bart Van Acker)

“It’s been a very intense, but also incredibly interesting and rewarding process – a lot of credit goes to Tom Lokermans, who joined us in the summer of 2019 as our first CFO. The main reason we were elected as ‘Best Managed Company’ is because we’ve proven to the jury how all our objectives and KPIs are linked, how they all fit into our strategy and how we use them to measure and improve our way of working. And, most importantly, how they contribute to what we call our ‘QbDream’, which is a company-wide mindset overarching a very ambitious set of mid-to-long term objectives and all the pillars of our company that contribute to it, like our people, our services and our corporate JPEG-values.”

Preventing growing pains

QbD has come a long way since 2011. After just five years it was already a household name in the Belgian life sciences – QbD employed over fifty people at that point – and today it’s even moving towards becoming an international stronghold in the industry, with offices on different continents. But contrary to many companies that have shown similar growth, QbD’s foundations never shook under the rapidly increasing weight.

All our objectives and KPIs contribute to our ‘QbDream’, a company-wide mindset overarching a very ambitious set of objectives and all the pillars of our company that contribute to it

“Right from the start, we have always been very careful not only to focus on growth itself”, Bart explains. “We’ve always tried to predict growing pains and to prevent them from happening, instead of fixing them. As we grew, we professionalised our financial structures and tools – Deloitte was very impressed with our real-time reporting for example. We also invested heavily in knowledge sharing early on, which has really given us the edge in an industry in which knowledge and expertise are key. And a few years ago, we devised a clear company mission, vision and strategy. We have always communicated very openly and transparently about this – and about everything else that happens at QbD – to all our employees.”

Always learning

The ‘Best Managed Company’ awards are not only about rewarding good work, Deloitte also gives valuable advice during the whole process. According to Bart, this was a great asset. “Although we are proud to see that we’re doing a great job overall, we’re also humble enough to understand the value of a fresh perspective from experts like Deloitte. And their consultancy was very inspiring: we had already been paying a lot of attention to risk assessment for example, but now we really know how to optimise and formalise it.”

By mapping and assessing all the sources of candidates, we generate unique intelligence in the Belgian life sciences industry, which will further increase the quality of the consultancy we provide our clients with.

“The same goes for our employee recruitment and retention. We’re constantly recruiting new talent to sustain our growth, in a labour market that is notoriously scarce. And above that, the younger generation proves to be a very difficult one to retain. So we are doing everything we can to keep our good people with us and to convince high potentials to join us. All these efforts are being moulded into concrete KPIs. This allows us to map and assess the quality all the sources of candidates – very useful intelligence that is unique in the Belgian life sciences industry. This also gives us an advantage over our competitors that will further increase the quality of the consultancy we provide to our clients. We are now more than ever ready to make our QbDream happen.”

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