Sil Hoeve on the course plotted, results achieved and destinations ahead

A confident glint in the eye, smile on face and both hands firmly on the wheel; Sil Hoeve talks about the future of The Specialist Group (TSG) as he heads to his next appointment, completely in character for a CEO who doesn’t like to sit still. “We’re always on the move and looking ahead. I joined in 2017 to help the group as a whole forward and sail an ambitious course.” Where has this course taken TSG, what are the challenges of the day and what are the points on the horizon?

TSG serves over 600 leading clients, has 18 offices across three European regions and over 3,000 specialists. This paints a vivid picture of the impact TSG has achieved by matching technical ‘white collar’ specialists with projects in Energy Transition, Infrastructure, and Life Sciences. Within three years, TSG’s plotted course has doubled the number of specialists placed and significantly increased market share in the Benelux, Scandinavia and the DACH region. The conclusion? TSG aims to lead the field, from Moerdijk to Skellefteå and from Graz to Essen and Antwerp.

Key to Success

Sil sheds light on his vision of the relationship between growth and development. “We see organisational growth as a consequence, rather than the ultimate goal. If we ensure that everyone can continue to develop while constantly improving our service to clients and specialists, then TSG’s growth is a logical result.” Room for individual development applies equally to TSG’s various labels, which is crucially relevant when new projects and acquisitions yield sustained international expansion.

“Obviously, our labels all share TSG’s core values of ambition, honour and being solution-focused,” Sil explains, “but at the same time each retains its own distinct subculture.” That subculture is precisely what TSG leverages to empower its people and labels: take advantage of the years of knowledge and experience we have in house to deliver bespoke services to specific markets, specialists and clients. And it all stands tall on the solid foundation of the expertise and network of the group as a whole.

‘We don’t aspire to being a lumbering tanker, but a fleet of agile ships.

P for People

Expanding activities into more countries and markets, with more specialists and for more clients – TSG is clearly on an upward trajectory. But this brings fresh challenges, too, like how to maintain the pleasant, accessible culture and avoid turning into a corporate organisation with little room for personal attention.

“That’s not going to happen. People are and always will remain TSG’s most valuable asset. Now especially, as we’re growing in numbers of both specialists and internal staff, the people factor remains our top priority,” Sil emphasises. “That’s why we make sure that everyone feels safe and heard, is not afraid to make mistakes and feels confident in reaching out to others and developing their own entrepreneurial mindset.” Such development is promoted by the TSG Academy, which invests in knowledge and talent in partnership with various learning institutions and clients. The threefold benefit is that:

  1. Clients can rely on talented specialists with the latest know-how;
  2. The organisation continues to develop as a group, too.
  3. Specialists and staff see TSG as an attractive employer.

You just cant beat the person who never gives up! As a person, team or organisation, if you want to achieve, mental strength is all you need


Competitive Edge

Attracting, engaging and retaining talent – quite a challenge for many companies when times are tight in the labour market. But to Sil, the challenge is an opportunity: “Demand for flexible technical professionals continues to rise, and thanks to TSG’s vast pool of specialists, we’re ideally poised to meet that demand.”

It’s a pool that includes many specialists from abroad. How is this affected by the ever-changing Dutch and European laws and regulations?

“We can’t control the regulatory environment; all we can do is adapt and think in terms of opportunities,” says Sil. “I am convinced, by the way, that huge challenges like the energy transition require total transparency in terms of knowledge. It enables you to address issues with the urgency they deserve without detriment to your competitive edge. Done well, you can even become a front-runner and export the knowledge worldwide.”

‘The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.


Points on the Horizon

Looking ahead, yet appreciating what’s in place; thinking without borders, yet preserving the personal culture; prioritising development, yet seeing growth as the desired result – it’s all in line with Sil’s vision. But what are the points on the horizon for this ambitious, yet modest CEO?

“The emphasis will remain on delivering excellent service to our specialists and the sustained development of what we have to offer our clients and markets. There’s still significant potential for our market position in Energy Transition and for further diversification into other technical end-markets such as Infrastructure and Life Sciences,” says Sil.

As the CEO looks beyond national borders, this is his view: “Our step into the Scandinavian market with the acquisition of Altio invites further moves. I’m confident that we can grow fivefold in Scandinavia, and we aim to triple TSG’s market share in the DACH region.”

Sommes-Nous Arrivé?

The blinker now indicates a right turn and the sat-nav promises a four-minute ETA. A potential new client is expectantly waiting to explore the partnership opportunities TSG has to offer. But before parking up, Sil can’t resist placing a final tentative point on the horizon. “OK, obviously, I’d love to tap into the French market. I think TSG could definitely fill some gaps there, although the language may be a bit of a challenge. But then we do like a challenge at TSG!”

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