“In a management role, it comes down to combining a good set of brains with a good set of social skills”

Philip Alliet is CEO of AON Belgium & Luxembourg. As an insurance advisor and broker, the company provides financial advice on commercial risk solutions, employee benefits, health, pensions and re-insurance. Worldwide, over 50.000 people work for AON (which means ‘unit’ in Celtic). In Belgium, the company employs 350 people. Philip was recently elected President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium (AmCham Belgium), as first non-American.


AmCham was founded in 1948 and is a member organisation with more than 450 affiliated companies (1.600 entities), both American and Belgian. These companies invest directly in the US or try to succeed there through export. This makes AmCham one of the most influential business organisations in the country. Its members are responsible for the creation of 127.000 jobs in Belgium.

AmCham fulfils this important role by focusing on 3 types of activities:

      • Networking: bringing companies together, exchanging information, organising guest lectures,…
      • Knowledge sharing: bringing people together around certain topics
      • Policy making: AmCham is the leading voice of US and international business in the areas of labor cost, corporate taxation, R&D, innovation, mobility and talent. They network with political decision makers to create a positive ecosystem for companies.

Two major trends

 “As Vice President, I was asked to succeed the previous President when he left his position. The fact that I am the first non-American to take on that role is in line with the trend that more Belgians are taking on leading positions in international companies that are based in Belgium. An important advantage of this trend is that there is a better understanding of the local business ecosystem because national and international talent work together and share knowledge.

On the other hand, we see that politics is increasingly becoming a world on its own, separate from economic actors and social dimensions. In my opinion, that is a great shame. The impact of political (in)stability on our prosperity and international reputation should not be underestimated. We have to take responsibility and ask ourselves what the impact of this instability will be in the long term.”

Facilitating and inspiring leadership

As CEO, Philip tries to create a framework for his team. “It may still be important in crisis management, but in most cases the concept of autocracy is outdated. The vast majority of new ideas and initiatives are conceived, discussed and supported by the team. That is why I try to implement a facilitating, inspiring management style by setting ambitious yet realistic goals.

In addition, I find it important to create a sense of purpose. Why are we here? Why are we working together for this company? People don’t want to work from paycheck to paycheck anymore. They want to make a social contribution, to feel that their work matters. You have to shape your company around that idea in a sustainable way. You have to be diverse, flexible and inclusive. “

“Young people demand that the company they work for has all these characteristics, and rightly so. If you want your company to perform, you have to be seen as the employer of choice”.

New better

The corona pandemic is unprecedented for everyone, and that is no different for AON. “People are referring to a new normal, but we see it as an opportunity, a new better. Working from home with digital solutions has actually made collaborating and communicating more efficient than ever. I do believe this is only possible if you have a strong team and if you, as a manager, connect with them frequently.”

On the other hand, we see that the intensity and workload has increased significantly in recent months. The brain engine is overheating so to speak, now that everyone’s work and private life are intertwined. The trick will be to find a balance in this new way of working”.

Intense soccer matches

“My degree in Business Economics has proven to be indispensable in my professional career. In a management role, it is often a matter of having a good set of brains and a good set of social skills. And that is exactly what they teach you at the university: thinking, analyzing and conceptualizing.”

“On a personal level, one of the best memories about the UAntwerp is the beautiful inner courtyard. On sunny afternoons we would play soccer there, which could get quite intense at times. But the joie de vivre was enormous and resulted in lifelong friendships.”

Discover the Business Economics programme at the UAntwerp.

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