citizenM appoints Hendrik Jan Roel as new CFO

Dutch lifestyle and hotel brand citizenM has named Hendrik Jan Roel as the company’s new CFO. He will join citizenM on May 1 after 22 years at Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize N.V., where he most recently served as CFO/EVP of Albert Heijn, Etos and Gall&Gall.

Roel will bring 25 years of international financial experience and a rich leadership track record, according to the company. In 2019, he received the Leadership in Finance award, a well-recognized prize in the Dutch finance community. In addition to his professional achievements, he also brings a passion for art, design and hotels. He is a member of the board of trustees and the audit committee of the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and of the Hogere Hotelschool The Hague, as well as being a board member of the Ahold Delhaize Art Foundation. He is also chairman of the Supervisory Board of GS1 Nederland B.V., a nonprofit organization which develops international uniform standards for the identification, capture and sharing of data.

In another personnel move, citizenM has promoted Ernest Lee to the position of global chief growth officer, a new role for the company. He had previously served as managing director for the Americas and begins his new role this month.

He brings a wide range of business experience in investments, real estate, finance, strategy and operations and is known for guiding the complex, multi-regional expansion of citizenM’s North American portfolio, the company reports. Based in New York City, as chief growth officer, he will directly support and help lead citizenM’s global operating business by implementing new growth initiatives, products and programs, pursuing strategic partnerships and developing long-term commercial strategy jointly with citizenM’s chief commercial officer.

This set of responsibilities builds on Lee’s involvement as a co-leader of several business innovation teams within citizenM, where he helped develop and launch significant new products including the subscription program, the company reports. Moving into Lee’s former role is Tyler Lavin, formerly VP, development and investment for North America. His colleague, Marissa Ballan, also formerly VP, development and investment for North America, will take on a key role as head of investment management.

“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, citizenM has seen remarkable success, continuing to open hotels, secure new deals and recruit and elevate top talent throughout this period, all of which are testament to our unique position as a brand on an industry level and beyond,” said Klaas van Lookeren Campagne, CEO, citizenM. “With the continued support of our investors and key leaders and the addition of strong talent like Hendrik Jan to our team, we can confidently pursue our ambitious growth and development plans.”

He added, “With Hendrik Jan’s extensive experience and passion for our industry, we know he will be a great fit for the citizenM team and culture, and will add real value to citizenM. Similarly, Ernest brings an impressive business track record, relationships, perspective and experience to the role of chief growth officer, a position that is new in the hotel industry and will help make us even more creative in accelerating our upward trajectory. We are looking forward to seeing the innovative ideas and leadership that Hendrik Jan and Ernest will bring.”

Roel said, “Of course you don’t take lightly the decision to switch to another company when you are CFO at Albert Heijn, but citizenM fits very well with my passion for travel, hotels and design. With my knowledge and experience in retail, I will be able to add a lot in terms of improving financial management, performance, value creation and the quality of financial processes—appropriate for a company that has long since passed the start-up phase. I am really looking forward to doing this together with the citizenM team, and realizing the growth plans.”

Lee said, “With our development portfolio quite advanced now, particularly with the number of hotels opening in the U.S., this is a logical time to shift focus from our real estate arm to the operating business. The hotel industry is still very traditional, especially when it comes to its business model, product, distribution and marketing. citizenM was created with a disregard for convention and constantly adopts ideas and best practices from other industries, especially technology. The introduction of this new position is no different. I look forward to collaborating with all our creative, diverse and talented teams to develop new ways to help accelerate and improve our operating business.”