The commonalities between running a submarine and consulting

By: Jeroen Van Zaalen

After leaving the Navy in 2016 it was a no brainer for Jeroen to use his almost four decades of experience in the Royal Netherlands Navy in the civil market. First as interim program manager on behalf of the Ministry of Defence for the major replacement programs resulting in significant Operational upgrade for both Dutch and Caribbean Coastguard.  Having served on numerous operational ships and submarines Jeroen had developed a solid and extensive experience in time sensitive planning and organization. Used to take charge, discuss and negotiate in (inter)national fora, work with and motivate a team of professionals, prioritize workloads and deliver a high standard of work. All elements essential for planning and executing successfully deployments. 

The experience as submarine and frigate captain appeared to be invaluable in the tender and consulting business. I approach each tender process as an operational deployment. My strategy with the Unified International team?

  1. Think as the tendering customer.
  2. Stimulate your teams creativity by giving them room for taking initiative and rely on their expertise and follow on their smart ideas.
  3. Pace yourself, focus on the essence, plan ahead and be persistent.
  4. Involve your whole team and do not hesitate to ask advice.
  5. What creates a unique winning bid for the customer and bidding party.

“It’s all about creating excellent situational awareness”

And last but not least enjoy the chaos and time pressure which is always part of the operational planning and also getting the winning proposal right. Since 2020 I am working for Unified International, part of a smooth running professional team of highly motivated specialists, working very effectively on winning proposals for and together with our clients. And while driving a desk job, I am not completely surprised, it is like planning and executing a successful (submerged) deployment. Run deep, run silent, optimize your situational awareness before you strike effective in the right place at the right time with the right proposal and so creating a capability which is sustainable for both the customer and it’s industry partner.