Kees van der Graaf on What Makes a Leader

Kees van der Graaf, former executive with Unilever on honesty, clarity and transparency in leadership.

This blog is part of our Inspired Ethonomics series. Pierre is an Investor, Director, and VP of Marketing for Guayaki Yerba Mate and will be profiling businesses with a triple-bottom line agenda.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Kees van der Graaf.  Kees retired from Unilever a couple of years ago having served that company in many positions, including their most senior management and governance positions, their board and Executive Committee. His experience and knowledge of business practices is exceptionally deep, spans decades and touches markets all over the world. He is now the Executive in Residence at IMD business school working on uncovering the leadership requirements for future generations. This is a man who is in full flight working on the generative phase of his life. Consistent with our theme of the importance of transparency, I asked him to discuss the importance of honesty, clarity and transparency in the conduct of tomorrow’s leaders. Here he is:


Pierre_GuayakiPierre Ferrari is an investor, director and VP of Marketing for Guayakí Yerba Mate, a company that combines scaled reforestation in South America, the reparation of many small communities and the marketing of Guayakí Yerba Mate. From 1995 on, Pierre focused his energies on a variety of social issues ranging from International Relief and Development, Conscientious Commerce, and Emerging Markets. He is president of "Hot Fudge" social venture capital fund, a community development venture capital fund whose purpose is to use venture capital to create jobs, entrepreneurial capacity and wealth that advance the livelihoods and wealth opportunities of low-income people and the economies of distressed communities.

Pierre holds a Masters degree in Economics from The University of Cambridge and a MBA from Harvard Business School. He has two sons, married to Kimberly, in awe of two stepdaughters, reads voraciously, and enjoys golf.

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1 Comments

  • Christine Maingard

    These are the qualities that are most often missing in senior managers and leaders - visionary from the heart, being caring and transparent. It is leading with wisdom and compassion where heart, soul and mind work in unison.

    Dr Christine Maingard
    Author of "Think Less, Be More"
    http://www.thinklessbemore.com