Amber appoints Teun Kraaij as new COO
“I only do things I truly believe in”
Amber has entered a new phase. After a period of pioneering and developing, it is now time for some serious upscaling. More Ambers. More service. More impact. Implementing that ambition is the responsibility of CEO Hans de Penning. Since January 2021, he has been assisted by COO Teun Kraaij.
After a successful career at BuyBay, a company that finds new uses for returned products from other businesses, Teun was keen to add value to a new organisation. A key criterion: it had to be relevant.
Putting Experience to Good Use
Teun: “I only do things I truly believe in. Things that make life a bit better for a large group of people. At BuyBay I did that by combating waste, at Amber by facilitating the energy transition; a change from car ownership to car use.”
“What struck me most about Amber, was its ambition. It’s a young, pure and open company. Currently, Amber is in a phase I experienced before at BuyBay. A period of expanding and increasing impact. I’m using everything I learnt from that experience to help Amber get through this phase more quickly.”
His previous experience is exactly what appealed to Hans in Teun’s ‘application’. “It was a fairly bold LinkedIn message, in which his enthusiasm for Amber shone through. We were looking for someone who had gained the necessary know-how. Someone who is not just impressed and enthusiastic, but also quick to spot where improvements can be made. Or need to be made. That person turned out to be Teun.”
He describes himself as an open book, but also as someone who is uncompromising. This is a trait he developed during his career as a professional athlete. “The great thing about rowing is that you have to express what your ambition is and how you plan to achieve it. Daring to strive for the ultimate goal without being arrogant about it. I still set the bar really high; for myself and for those around me. That doesn’t make life easier, but it certainly gets things moving.”
This part of Teun’s personality was clear to Hans from their first meetings. “I explained to Teun what we were working on, but also what my dreams are for Amber. His pragmatic way of thinking and questioning things increased my sense of urgency. Why not just do it? That’s when Teun’s uncompromising attitude became apparent to me.”
“We’ve started to focus more on what we’re good at, and are now working directly towards what we want to achieve. The great thing is: it turned out to be much easier than I thought.”
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Making Others Better
The division of tasks between Hans and Teun has developed quite naturally. Teun: “What drives me, is the idea of adding value by making others better. Hans and the entire Amber team, in this case. That has a much bigger impact than if I were to do things myself, in which case my energy and capacity would be a limiting factor. I try to inspire others and help them to work on the things I believe in. I can help that person to develop, which then benefits Amber. That’s what I love doing.”
Hans has noticed that Teun’s arrival has already set certain things in motion. “In just a few conversations, Teun manages to motivate people and encourages them to get going. Even it the themes are complex. Given the size of our ambitions, that’s exactly what we need.”
Amber is very ambitious indeed. In 2021, one city per month will be transformed into a Service Area, which means you will be able to get into an Amber, or drop one off, anywhere and at any time. Hans: “It’ll only get easier for drivers. If you want to order a trip and get going, all you need is the Amber app. That way, Amber can truly replace your own car.”
This year’s target: introducing Amber to 12 cities in the Netherlands. But that’s not all, as far as Teun is concerned: “Although Amber is based on an ideology, it’s now rapidly developing into a serious business. We have huge ambitions, but face fierce competition. Alternatives are on offer, for our drivers as well as our staff. That means we have to claim the space Amber deserves.”
He goes on: “Amber has the potential to have a positive impact on the daily lives of tens of thousands of people. If we get it right, we can develop into the leading technological solution for mobility in Europe. That’s what we need to believe in: as a team and as individual employees. That’s what we are working towards.”
All of the Netherlands using Ambers.
And then the rest of Europe.