Leading change successfully with Venator

Venator is a leading global chemical company committed to the safe, sustainable and responsible development and manufacturing of titanium dioxide pigments and performance additives. Venator operates 25 facilities and employs more than 4,500 people. They serve customers in more than 110 countries. Richard Verhagen, Head of Procurement at Venator was asked to set up a new, Purchasing department within Venator. Venator became independent from Huntsman in August 2017 and needed to create it own business oriented purchasing organisation. Venator’s expectations were high and differentially challenging from the corporate purchasing applied in Huntsman”. He contacted Nicole Heupers, consultant and change specialist at Schouten Global to help him and his team to make the transition successful.

Clear goals & objectives

As each change journey starts with setting clear goals and objectives, Richard Verhagen and Nicole Heupers set the following goals for the Venator change program:

  1. The program needed to help Richard Verhagen and his team to deal with change successful and sustainable. The program had to be business relevant and focus on both the ‘what’ and the ‘how.’
  2. It needed to support Venators leaders to be as effective as possible in leading change and inspiring employees. Most of the leaders were 50 years of age or older; they needed to be flexible enough to deal with change themselves and inspire others.
  3. The program should contribute to retaining Venators talents, and it had to be inspirational.

Talents needed to get the opportunity to be involved in the ongoing changes. During the program, they would have to learn new skills and gain insights on how to effectively deal with complex change and apply these learnings at the same time.


Venator and Schouten Global co-created the change program. Schouten Global believes change programs need to be guided by independent experts to be objective and successful.

At the same time, changes have to be carried out within the companyitself. Therefore support and cooperation from Venator managers and employees was essential as well. Richard Verhagen and Nicole Heupers decided to implement the program InCompany.

Genuine involvement

Looking back, the change program by Schouten Global had many benefits for Venator. Richard Verhagen: “The moment you get in touch with Schouten Global, you immediately experience their genuine commitment. 

Their high skilled consultants will guide you through the change program, which will help your company to make the best decisions. Your employees will learn a lot about themselves. 

If you want to change a whole company, your leaders need to get out of their comfort zone, try different approaches and see the benefits of that. Schouten Global supports your leaders during this process.” 

Three essential key projects

As every company or business is different, change programs by Schouten Global are bespoke for each client. Together with the Venator leadership team, three essential key projects were selected to make the transition successful.

  • Project 1 - Defining mission, vision, strategy and compelling story.
  • Project 2 - Implementing lean ways of working: work process efficiency and continuous improvement. 
  • Project 3 - Defining our business client culture and building a high performing team. 

All participants (and some nonparticipants) were divided over the three projects. The program stimulated participants to work on different levels:

  • Practical & direct applicable
  • Disruptive, innovative & out of your comfort zone
  • Solid research & proven concepts

The program included innovative ways of working and thinking focused on the primary target(s). Richard Verhagen: “The change program focused on the development of individual employees, as well as their team skills. This was very well balanced”.

I, team and organizational level

"We had a systemic approach to change.” Richard Verhagen explains, “We always worked on 3 levels: I, team and organizational level. One of the exercises we did was on teambuilding. We had to herd sheep. The exercise focused on team performance and team building. By experiencing the benefits of working together closely, you provide your team with powerful insights on team performance”.

"Help to create a learning culture  that holds participants responsible for their individual development."

A review session made learning explicit on personal-, team- and organizational level. All participants had to present their development throughout the journey. They had to focus on individual, team, project and business development. 

The presentations had to include concrete examples of their learnings. The aim of the session: help create a learning culture that holds participants responsible for their individual development. All participants received feedback from other participants to create an open feedback culture within Venator.

Richard Verhagen: “The Schouten Global consultant was very enthusiastic, highly motivated and involved, but also really demanding and challenging. The communication between Venator and Schouten Global was clear and fast. They responded fast to everything we asked, and they only provided us with relevant information.”


Richard Verhagen: “Sustainable Change programs take time, and this project will go on for quite some time. So far we have set up and executed the work process documentation and training plan for 2018. We evaluated the process in terms of effectiveness and set up action plans for improvement.  

To maintain our focus on performance and progress, we are now developing a KPI dashboard. We have conducted a Purchase Performance benchmark in which we compared industry leaders and laggers, to set the bar. We have a clear insight in which employees are changing, and which are not (yet).

Based on the feedback from an extensive survey group we continue to change our performance for the better. The team of leaders is slowly but surely, moving into the High-Performance category by unitizing the strengths of its members. We are well on our way and we will continue our path of change. After all: nothing is permanent, except change.”

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