The Businessman’s Secret: The story of Peter van Mierlo

Peter van Mierlo is a great example of someone who has followed his heart. “It is about creating value, making an impact and understanding what you want to solve.”

He started his career in 1987 at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), an organisation where he stayed for more than 30 years. A role in the assurance department and building his career in the field of mergers and acquisitions led him to various PwC Executive Board roles. First with the responsibility of Assurance and later as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

There are many elements of success that he achieved. One of them would be effective communication and understanding the importance of diversity. Van Mierlo finds that a diverse team has numerous benefits to a company as different perspectives and experiences create stronger and better ideas and opinions, which also decreases inequality.

Guided by Intuition

Throughout his career, Peter van Mierlo has always relied on his intuition. He believes that the secret of success lay above all in the fact that one needs to trust his or her intuition. To follow your own values and then act upon what one thinks is right and important. Even when a project was pending, he always listened to his intuition. If he believed the world would benefit from it, he always gave it all the support he could. As he says: “long term is much more important in creating true value.”

At Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO), where Peter van Mierlo worked as CEO, he also followed the company’s mission, which he believed in as well: empowering entrepreneurs to make the world a better place. FMO aims to achieve its goal by investing in companies, projects, and financial institutions, providing knowledge and networks to support growth. During his tenure at FMO the company supported over 227,000 jobs and also managed to have 24% of its investments in the least developed countries. In addition, 33% of FMO’s investments in 2019 were ‘green’, meaning they mitigated climate change, supported sustainable forestry and reduced water consumption.

The power of ‘Why’

Working to save the planet and prepare a sustainable life for future generations has always been a good reason for Peter van Mierlo to work hard. He believes that as long as he has a reason to do something, he is on the right track. The businessman explains that in every aspect of life – but especially in business – it is really important to know your ‘why’. Once people understand the importance and power of why, it will be easier for them to achieve their goals. According to van Mierlo, a reliable business has its reasons, missions, and visions: all information must answer the question of why. He emphasizes that business owners as well as its employees should understand the meaning of this word.

This mindset led to major cultural changes in the companies he worked for, as he also helped employees see their role within the company and answer questions about their future. By caring not only about the companies he worked for but also the people he worked with, van Mierlo made a positive impact in every organization. His perspective and mindset helped both the companies and the employees to be the best they could be. He believes that implementing diversity KPIs, measuring employee satisfaction results, focussing on self-reflection and feedback are important building blocks for any transaction.

Thinking about the Future

Peter van Mierlo has always known the importance of the behavior of human beings and the importance of how we treat the earth we live on. At the Future of Finance 2018, the leading conference for investors and bankers in development banking, he stressed the importance of taking care of our future. He did not forget the most important factor: time. He advised that something must be done because ‘we are running out of time’. As he acknowledged in his previous statement, it is up to entrepreneurs to create a better world. He believes that it is crucial for businesses to build a partnership as none of them can survive alone. In his own words: “We need partnerships, and we need to grow to maximize our effect.”

The theme of the conference was ‘Tomorrow Matters’ and Peter van Mierlo took every opportunity to highlight the importance of the role of companies and people in this matter. He believes that new values will emerge, and that the shareholder way of thinking will be replaced by a stakeholder way of thinking. He emphasized on the word ‘purpose’, a condition precedent for any organization in the world. “We need organizations with purpose and values and ability to make positive change.” Additionally, in his speech he also made clear that values guide decision-making processes. Without values, neither a company nor a person would know which path is the right one, especially since the final decision must be responsible, taking into account all possible stakeholders.

He also mentioned the importance of technology, which has become such an important factor in our life. He said that with the help of developed countries, technology can be brought to developing countries, which will have a great impact on countries that are barely able to provide for their people right now.

The key, according to him, lies in the joint work of organizations and the people, because once they start measuring their needs according to the whole and not according to their self-interest, the arrival of a better world can be achieved.

Seeking other, new challenges, Peter van Mierlo left FMO after two years of service. The Chairman of Supervisory Board Officer spoke highly of him and stated that “Van Mierlo has made an immensely valuable contribution to the transformation of the organization.” Peter van Mierlo holds different non-executive roles and is supporting scale-up companies that have the ambition to make a global change in the field of climate.

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