Transforming the DSO landscape – preparing for the future

KPMG funds new Chair in energy

Inspired by the successful collaboration on a Chair in Banking, long-standing corporate partner KPMG decided to continue its association with Vlerick in a new area. On 22 January 2015 the official agreement for the “Rising to the Power Grid Challenge” Chair was signed. Patrick Simons, Senior Partner at KPMG, and Vlerick Dean Philippe Haspeslagh talk about the drivers and expectations for this renewed chair partnership.

Philippe is obviously pleased about renewing our ties with one of the largest professional services companies in the world: “Our collaboration goes back many years and several of our graduates have already joined KPMG. As a business school, we have to attract sponsors to fund our research. So Chairs like these are extremely important – not just financially, but also because they ensure that our research is industry-oriented and relevant.”

Social contribution

“Our previous collaboration on the future of the Belgian banking industry produced valuable results that were well received in the financial sector,” says Patrick. “We believe this new Chair is another great opportunity to combine our business expertise and knowledge with the sound academic capabilities of Vlerick Business School – this time in the field of energy distribution. The funding of a Chair, stimulating research and education, also enables us to make a contribution to society, which is something we at KPMG always aspire to.”

Uncovered territory

Why this particular Chair? Patrick again: “Energy is one of the key sectors in which we operate, having built up significant knowledge and operational experience, not only in Belgium, but globally. The entire European energy sector, and the DSO* landscape in particular, is currently undergoing tremendous change. But so far, there has been no in-depth research in this area.”

Common interest

“Over the past three years we’ve been expanding our sector-specific knowledge and expertise and we’ve now reached critical mass in the area of energy,” Philippe adds. “We found that we have a common interest in analysing and addressing the issues and challenges for the energy distribution sector, a part of the energy value chain, which, as Patrick rightly pointed out, has hitherto been rather overlooked.”

International scope

Patrick and Philippe stress that the scope of the joint research will be pan-European. And given the nature and diversity of the challenges for the sector, the Chair will involve industry as well as functional experts from both partners. Philippe: “Our faculty are well connected in the international academic and business communities and KPMG’s international network and vast operational experience will be an invaluable complement to our own.”

Deeper insights

“I’m confident that this collaboration, this powerful combination of research and expertise, will provide deeper insights that will help our clients and the many DSOs in Europe revisit their strategy and seize new opportunities; in short: prepare for the future in a ‘smart’ way,” concludes Patrick with a smile.

Back row from left to right: Erik Clinck (Head of Markets, KPMG), Jorn De Neve (Partner Deal Advisory, KPMG), Koen Tackx (doctoral researcher), Daniël Pairon (Global Head of Asset Management, KPMG), Daniel Dobbeni (Chairman Vlerick Energy Centre) and Samson Hadush (post-doctoral researcher). Front row from left to right: Patrick Simons (Senior Partner, KPMG), Philippe Haspeslagh (Dean Vlerick), Leonardo Meeus (Director Vlerick Energy Centre), and Ilan Momber (post-doctoral researcher).

SMART transformation

The Chair ties in seamlessly with KPMG’s core business, as Patrick explains: “We help companies navigate through the complexity of the environment in which they operate. Our purpose is to inspire confidence and empower change. This is why we have developed SMART, an approach to help companies and organisations prepare for and adapt to new and changing environments. The issues and challenges the energy sector is now facing all fit with one of the five key drivers or areas we’ve identified: structure & infrastructure, mobility, abilities, resources and technology.”
Last December KPMG organised the KPMG Smart Challenge at our Brussels campus. Watch the video featuring keynote speakers Jo Libeer (VOKA), Bernard Gustin (Brussels Airlines), Bernard De Potter (Flemish Government) and Bart Walterus (KPMG).

* DSO: Distribution System Operator

Want to know more about the research project “Rising to the power grid challenge”? Read the interview with the key KPMG and Vlerick people involved.

KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax and Legal, Advisory and Accounting services. In Belgium it has 950 professionals working together to deliver value.

In the white paper “A wind of change blowing in the power grid business issued last April, Vlerick researchers identified four potential game changers – trends and uncertainties in the energy market that could revolutionise the sector.