Strategy & Operations In The Media Industry

Strategy & Operations Director and MBA alumna, Marieke van der Donk.As part of our interview series with the female heroes of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) we spoke to Strategy & Operations Director and MBA alumna, Marieke van der Donk.

Marieke van der Donk is currently a director in Deloitte’s Strategy & Operations Practice. She has 9 years of consulting experience and her area of expertise is corporate and marketing strategy.

Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 140 countries, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and deep local expertise to help clients succeed wherever they operate. Deloitte's approximately 169,000 professionals are committed to becoming the standard of excellence.

Previous to her MBA studies, Marieke gained an MA in history at the University of Leiden.

We spoke to Marieke about her career so far and her motivation for studying for an MBA.

TNW: You are a Director in the Strategy & Operations area at Deloitte Consulting, with a main focus on the media market. What are the most common challenges your clients are encountering?


The most common challenge is that my clients operate in a mature, declining market in which digital disruption is common.

So all my clients are looking for strategies to survive the crises they are facing: Declining advertising and consumer income; How to save costs; How to innovate; How to restructure their business.

TNW: Deloitte’s 2013 Business Trends report takes a closer look at eight emerging forces that are influencing how organizations’ think about their strategy. Can you briefly talk us through three of these trends from the point of view of a startup?

MVDD: Some of the themes certainly apply to the Media sector.

The rewired consumer is a theme that is very topical at the moment. “Customers are constantly rewiring their shopping behavior in response to new technologies, challenging economic realities, and shifting cultural norms. The way they now engage with retailers is very different than how it was just a few years ago — and how it will be just a few years into the future. What can companies do today to satisfy the yet-to-be-determined needs of tomorrow's consumers?”

Media companies are searching for solutions to digital transformation issues. For instance below we see new ways of working appearing with regards to market research and the handling of data.

Ask customers what they want.

Traditional market research tools such as customer surveys and focus groups can help companies decide what process and technology innovations to invest in.         

Tell customers what they want.

When it comes to disruptive innovations, customers often don’t know what they want because they have no idea what’s possible. A company needs to do its own research and create its own vision for the future – and then make it happen.

Media companies are telling customers what they want more and more based on data analytics.

Companies that understand analytics are a step ahead in developing new products and services that exactly coincides with the information and service needs of the customer.

TNW: If you had been, or one day decide to become, an entrepreneur, what kind of business would you found?

MVDD: I would surely found a business with an interesting mix of digital and physical products. I believe that the digital age has changed our lives dramatically, but at the same time the qualities and benefits or physical products will remain as well.

TNW: What was your motivation for undertaking an MBA?

MVDD: I needed a break from my work after 15 years and a reorientation for the next 25 years of working. My MBA was truly inspirational. I enjoyed working with other students from different backgrounds, cultures and languages. I enjoyed our travels and visits to many companies. 

It gave me the insight that I aspired to for a career change.

I decided to go into consulting, a decision I have never regretted. I truly enjoy what I am doing.

TNW: How has your MBA helped you to bridge the gender gap in different cultures?

MVDD: My MBA has certainly helped me to bridge the gap in different cultures. I don’t know if it has specifically helped me to bridge the gender gap.

TNW: Have there been any difficulties/obstacles you faced because you have an MBA, and if so, how have you overcome them?

MVDD: No my MBA has helped me with my career and also with my personal development.

TNW: What aspects of RSM culture or composition have been helpful to you in your career?

MVDD: RSM culture is very supportive and a great pleasure.

TNW: In what way do the relationships you have with classmates or other RSM alumni add to your professional life?

MVDD: I am in contact with my classmates through social networks. To my professional life  there has been no significant addition as yet.

TNW: What kind of advice would you give to a woman choosing to do an MBA programme today?

MVDD: I would heartily recommend doing an MBA.  It enriches your life and gives you new insights, as well as helps to build a network. As a working mother with 2 kids growing up, for me, it was quite exceptional to be in that class.

TNW: Is there anything we haven’t asked you, but which you’d like to share with our community?

MVDD: I would say that doing an MBA is quite a luxury. It allows you to spend time developing yourself and thinking through your options. You alsoget all the best of support there is, both academically, socially and you build a network. I would, without any doubt, do it again.

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