Wouter Stammeijer Wouter Stammeijer Rafaël Philippen

"Maastricht is a great student city"

In Alumni
Written by  Jos Cortenraad Wednesday, 10 June 2015 14:47

Institutional investors are the key shareholders for companies like KPN. Maastricht University alum Wouter Stammeijer has been Head of Investor Relations at the telecom company since February, and as such is responsible for maintaining relationships with the investors. "Dialogue is essential", he says.


KPN has thousands of shareholders, if not tens of thousands. But the vast majority of its share capital is held by large, institutional investors. "Pension funds, investment companies and major investment funds", explains Stammeijer. "These are the parties you usually don't see during the annual general meetings for shareholders. Those meetings are mainly for private shareholders, who want to find out how the company’s doing and what our plans are. They’re important too, of course, but our relationships with the institutional investors are much closer. For example, we seek them out during our ‘road shows’ through Europe and the USA. That’s something they really appreciate. They want information about our strategy, and certainty that they’ll keep getting good returns. Because whichever way you look at it, an investor wants to see results. Our task is to explain the innovations we’re working on and what we intend to do to ward off the competition."

It’s a job that comes with a lot of responsibility and one that fell onto Stammeijer’s plate more or less by chance. "Well, not quite", concedes the Arnhem native from KPN’s headquarters in The Hague. "I’d already worked in the department for a few years before I was offered the role late last year. It's an amazing job; it's international, I travel a lot, I get to have face-to-face contact and work at a strategic level. It suits me perfectly.

“But it wasn’t a planned career move. To be honest, I didn’t even know exactly what Investor Relations was until a few years ago. I joined KPN because the company really appeals to me. At ING, where I last worked, I focused on very specialised financial and legal issues. I feel drawn to entrepreneurship, thinking up ideas with others and implementing them together. Of course, my financial background comes in handy in Investor Relations. But holding a management position so soon was definitely surprising."

After high school, Stammeijer made a conscious choice for UM’s Bachelor in Business Administration. "I also looked at Groningen and Rotterdam, but Problem-Based Learning in Maastricht appealed to me the most. No long lectures, but solving problems together instead. And more time left over for other activities – I have to admit that the programme didn’t call for 60 hours of study per week. I was able to get involved with the student association Saurus and the Inkom introduction week. You can learn a lot from these activities, skills that will come in handy later."

Stammeijer then stayed on in Maastricht for the master’s in International Business, focusing on finance. "It's really important to specialise in something, to have a clear profile. Business Administration gives you a great basis, but you have to stand out at something if you want to end up at a large company. And that was always my goal. Heineken, Philips, KLM, Unilever; any of those big names that are also known abroad. And yes, I also wanted to stick around in Maastricht for a while. It's nice and small, so you can actually live in the centre. And it has a lot of culture and joie de vivre. People eat out even on Mondays and Tuesdays. I really enjoyed student life there. It might not be as dynamic as the big cities, but it offers you a lot of freedom. I go back at least once a year to soak up the atmosphere."

After a stint in Singapore, Stammeijer signed up for a traineeship with ING in 2006. "It was great. ING is the most international bank in the Netherlands, and I got posted to New York and Amsterdam. It was the perfect start to my career. But after four years, I started to feel restless. I wanted to work in a company with less hierarchy and more entrepreneurial spirit. And I’ve found that at KPN."

Stammeijer has enjoyed his first months as Head of Investor Relations. "It wasn't completely new to me. But now I’m more involved in strategy. I know how important institutional investors are for a company; it’s their capital that allows us to launch new products. In telecoms you have to keep on innovating and offering your customers something new, because the competition is fierce."

Are the Netherlands and Belgium too small for a company like KPN to really spread its wings? And what about the buyers that always seem to be looming on the horizon, like the Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim? "These are really questions for the Board of Directors. What I see is that, as a small player in global terms, we provide added value for investors. My challenge is to maintain these relationships. Investors keep us sharp, ask critical questions and force us to follow a consistent strategy. This is good for all parties – both KPN and its customers. The contribution we make to the Dutch economy is not insignificant, and we should cherish that."

Wouter Stammeijer (1980) studied Business Administration and International Business at Maastricht University from 2001 to 2006. He then completed a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) programme. In addition to his busy job at KPN, he still finds the time to travel and kite surf.

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