Continuing the legacy of our dynamic and visionary President, Ulrich Liedtke, who envisioned and laid the foundations of our 3-year strategic plan, we are delighted to inaugurate Alexander Dewulf as the new President of EUEW for 2019-2021.
An ex-military man, Alexander recognized his innate passion for technology and innovation early, knowing he wanted to combine his engineering education and technical know-how with executive management of global companies. Since then, his career choices have seen him play a vital strategic role across different industries and large international organizations – including Siemens, Rohde und Schwarz, IMEC, EDS and Nuon.
“One never reaches a horizon – by nature, there’s always a new horizon in sight. The important thing is to continue seeking out new dreams.”
As a graduate of INSEAD, Duke University South California, Katholieke Universiteit of Leuven and ULB, Alexander’s academic pedigree is rock solid. And so is his advisory track record. As the CEO of Cebeo and Sonepar Belgium (a €650 million enterprise), Alexander serves as the President of FEE (Federatie van de Elektriciteit en de Elektronica) Belgium, Fedibel (Federatie van de groothandelaars in elektrotechnisch material). He also sits on the Board of Directors for Vyncke NV, Automation NV and on the advisory council of AquaSecurity, Play, and Aperi. To top it all off, he’s a business partner – with his wife, Sigrid – in ACSE, an events and consultancy firm that sponsors several Belgian and Indian charities in their efforts to eliminate cancer and bring better education to children.
It is for this experience – along with so many other reasons – that the EUEW is proudly appointing Alexander Dewulf as its new President for 2019/20. In this role he will be integral in steering the association’s 3-Year strategic plan and vision. To welcome and introduce him, we are honored to speak to Alexander about his priorities, life motto and so much more.
Congratulations on your appointment as the EUEW President. Tell us about your vision and outlook for EUEW and its strategic plan.
Sonepar and I have been associated with EUEW for about 11 years, and I am hugely grateful for the trust that both organizations have shown in me to appoint me as the President of this influential association.
Our vision, as the association and the businesses represented by it, is to be the voice of electrical wholesalers across Europe. We also aim to develop and represent the interests of electro-technical wholesalers and distributors.
To do this, we will be guided by the values of the European Union of Electrical Wholesalers, which are centered on delivering continuous development and professionalism through open dialogue, permanent support and integrity. As part of our 3-Year Strategic Plan, our objectives are to be recognized as:
The reference community in our industry
The watchdog for regulations, making them favorable for electrical wholesalers
The business and industry intelligence provider
In the past few years, EUEW has developed itself into a pan-European organization of influence and intelligence. Under your leadership, where would you like to take EUEW in the next three years?
With the help of our member organizations, we look forward to striking a closer cooperation with other leading organizations – installer associations, official institutions and policy makers at the European Union level. As well as giving us access to better market intelligence and helping us to adapt to the latest trends, such relationships will enable us to address the challenges electrical distribution and wholesalers face today.
We are already in close dialogue with Lighting Europe, Euro Commerce and Cecapi (an installer federation) to work on joint initiatives, such as position papers, market intelligence and more.
As a leading European community that represents close to €41.5bn in annual revenues and features 10,470 companies that employ 103,000 employees, our opinion matters in shaping the regulations and policies that affect our future environment. We want to be at the forefront of that conversation, steering the discussion positively but persistently as one united voice.
What are your biggest foreseen obstacles/challenges in achieving this vision?
Europe is an incredibly diverse market with different cultural beliefs, working methodologies, and mindsets. The Nordics, for example, is a region that is way ahead of others in embracing technology, environmental consciousness and social issues. Importantly, this approach not only drives profitability but also creates a better future and a useful benchmark for the rest of the world to aim for. Germany is catching up quickly, but most European states are still some way behind.
Our size is one of the many benefits of EUEW, but it can create operational difficulties if you don’t have the right structures in place. There is no need for the 16 member organizations’ Presidents and Representatives to be involved in the operational matters of the association. Instead, we would like to appoint a smaller Board of Directors, an Executive Committee, and an Advisory Board made up of representatives from installers, national federations, wholesalers and leaders from the grass-root levels of our industry. So, when we come together as leaders of EUEW, we can discuss the real-life, commercial, policy and economic issues of mutual concern within the industry – rather than focusing on the individual challenges of each country.
Also, with the help of a different kind of governance structure at the EUEW, we want to unify our industry’s standards as much as possible. That includes compliance with fair-trade policies and anti-trust laws, coherent pricing across Europe, the use of subsidies to fund investments in the digital arena, improved data quality from suppliers, and much more. To achieve this, we need a leaner organizational structure – one that is much more entrepreneurial and willing to roll-up its sleeves and drive positive change for all of us. As ever, we need to develop and maintain our unity so we can elevate our thinking and actions from a national level to the European level.
Tell us about your background? What attracted you to this industry in the first place?
I was born and raised in outstanding Ostend, Belgium. After gaining a military education, I wanted to pursue my passion for engineering and innovation by bringing it to life in complex business schemes.
Throughout my career, I have been privileged to work with great enterprises like Siemens, Comtest, Rohde und Schwarz, IMEC, EDS, Nuon. I have also served on several boards of directors in different industries, with my most recent assignment seeing me work with Vyncke NV.
What would you like your delegates/guests from the Brussels General Convention to go home with, and cherish forever?
EUEW is here for you. We have a solid history of industry advocacy over more than 60 years, as well as a deep knowledge of the challenges and opportunities of our industry. Together with our 16 member nations, we have set forward an ambitious vision and are committed to being the voice of electrical wholesaling in Europe. I want national associations to know that we are striving to improve people’s well-being through electricity. We are always working to improve people’s lives.
“I would like to make more meaningful contributions to the world, especially its children. That’s why I am currently involved in several philanthropy projects in Europe and Asia.”
Connect with Alexander Dewulf on LinkedIn.