Riverflex is about people who want to do things differently. With the “Riverflexer in the spotlight”, we want to celebrate people who are part of our network and who have been exceptional, leading and delivering outstanding projects and leading admirable careers as independents. Johan Maessen is one of these people, an independent strategy consultant, experienced in commercial strategy and pricing in the retail, digital/software and B2B services space.
Johan has been a great partner and has delivered outstanding work in the field of pricing and positioning strategy. His expertise, in combination with his can-do attitude and his experience as an independent professional, made him an ideal Riverflexer. That’s why we spent some time interviewing Johan to find out more about his experience as an independent consultant and his partnership with Riverflex.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about your professional background and why you decided to become independent?
I started my working life in business and then I moved to a consultancy that focused on pricing and commercial topics. One and a half years ago I decided to become independent for two reasons. Firstly, for work-life balance as being an independent allows you to steer that balance a bit better. Secondly, because of the flexibility that goes with it as you get to choose your own teams and work with the partners that you want. That’s what I appreciate.
Q: Why did you join and start working with Riverflex?
When you become independent, you have a lot of challenges that nobody takes care of anymore – you have to fix everything on your own – mainly on business development.
I think it’s good to work with partners that have a big network that can connect you to clients and help you with this side of the business.
In addition to a lot of administrative and contracting tasks that Riverflex is really well equipped to take on.
Q: How has your experience been working with Riverflex?
I started working with Riverflex at the beginning of 2019 when Victor called me. It was an unclear path, but after about three engagements, I’ve been enjoying the ride. I also see some development in both the projects that we’re doing together and in the depth of the relationship that we are developing. I’m looking forward to what comes next.
Q: What’s been the key project/highlight for you?
During the last project that we did for a software company, we helped them with the whole go-to-market strategy of that software with a focus on the packaging and pricing of a new proposition.
We helped the client from not really having a clue about how they would sell their software to the market, to really making them feel comfortable and enabling them to have discussions to onboard their first customers. This really gives you a good feeling that you are adding value.
Q: As well as doing projects with us, you’re also currently leading the pricing and positioning proposition for Riverflex. – What does that mean?
I think it’s the next step in building a partnership together.
Riverflex gives you the chance to work together and to build more business. This gives you a platform, as an independent, to build the business and the knowledge that you have into a capability for a lot of companies.
I get the opportunity not only to work project by project but to really develop a proposition that we can enable more clients to understand the knowledge on pricing capability. Additionally, not only work on these projects myself but build teams with other independent consultants to facilitate and work on projects.
Q: Can you tell us something about how you see your path forward? And how do you see your collaboration with Riverflex?
As we just discussed, the proposition that we’re now putting into the market is a good next step. We can start building teams of consultants who work on pricing and packaging proposition design. With more senior work and depth to have multiple teams at once working on that content.
Q: What advice would you give to other consultants that are thinking about becoming independent?
I hear a lot of consultants thinking about it, but they don’t dare to take the step.
So my recommendation is to take the step.
In addition to the flexibility and the better work-life balance that I mentioned before, it gives you a sort of freedom that no other employer can give you. And that’s a kind of freedom of mind. Whatever you want to do with this freedom, it’s up to you. I think being employed, and specifically in consulting, people have a certain way of looking and thinking about things. They like projects, they like new stuff, they like to be challenged, and that’s why they like consulting. So you have three options; either you do it in a consultancy, big consulting firm, or you just roll from one project to another. If you go to a big corporation, you have to do a lot of other tasks that are not so mentally challenging, for example, stakeholder management or you have to be in meetings that are not relevant to you. That’s why I think becoming an independent is interesting.
Q: You’ve worked both on the business side and on the consultancy side, and now you’ve decided to become independent, other people that are thinking between these choices, which would be your advice to them?
Firstly, I hear a lot of consultants or employees thinking, shall I do it? Is it not too risky? Yes, there’s a certain amount of risk taking, but I can recommend taking the risk. Secondly, I think it gives you a certain freedom or headspace if you become independent. It’s something you don’t have when you’re employed. If you are self-employed, you don’t have a boss and there’s nobody looking over your shoulder. You don’t have the feeling that somebody has an opinion about whatever you do. Whether you go on holiday often, do a lot of sports, or you like to be at home sitting on the couch watching Netflix, it doesn’t matter. You’re your own boss and you decide whether you do an additional project, work in the evenings, or work on the weekends. That’s the best thing about being self-employed.
Read this article, Discussing Pricing Strategies with Johan Maessen, to find out more.