Erwin Verstraelen – Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Port of Antwerp

In this episode of Leadership Deep Dive, Hendrik Deckers talks to Erwin Verstraelen – Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Port of Antwerp.

Erwin is a finalist of the European CIO Of The Year Awards (, nominated for his ambitious large-scale project to turn the Port of Antwerp into a digital open innovation platform – a Partnership ecosystem where new ideas are tested, incubated and applied for business objectives of the Port.

Erwin has broad experience in innovation consulting and it translates into many thought-provoking, sometimes brutally honest views on change management, growth and business. He shares his advice for future CIOs who are impatient to get to the top, solid approach to building a company culture, and a lot of insight into personal growth.

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Table of contents:

0:44 Erwin Verstraelen – Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Port of Antwerp
1:54 The Port of Antwerp is an Open Innovation Platform.
4:15 Innovation: Why and how; the innovation strategy of the Port of Antwerp
8:35 Creating a culture of innovation
10:15 How do you change a company culture?
14:44 How to change a traditional IT team structure and purpose
19:35 How do you attract people to come and work for the Port of Antwerp?
25:36 Collaborating with the biggest ports in the world and hosting hackatons
28:52 How do you create leaders in your organisation?
32:17 Erwin’s most important talent
34:15 His MBTI personality profile: the architect (INTJ)
37:00 How do you approach self-development?
41:40 Mentors in Erwin’s life
44:58 “I have a nautical heart”
45:50 Advice to future digital leaders
50:14 Is IT a fullfilling carreer path?
53:19 What technology should we invest in today?
55:00 How do you visualise the Port in 10 years?
57:53 Problems, challenges and opportunities


In the Leadership Deep Dive series we meet with the top CIOs in Europe. We are exploring what makes great digital leaders tick: how they lead and manage people, how they approach the intersection of business and technology, how they make decisions. What are their personality types and management styles? How do they manage the demands of their complex and challenging role?

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