After graduating from high school, Peter van Mierlo went to Tokyo to study Japanese and Economics on a year-in-Japan program. This was in the early eighties. Japan had become an economic world power. It was a special year in all its right aspects. Learning about different cultures, adjusting to different cultures, building new lifelong relationships and understanding that there are multiple ways of doing things. After this year he continued his studies at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. In his second year he started to work at the department of Finance and Portfolio analysis. Lecturing and doing research around private equity as well as valuation models. After finishing his business studies, his career started at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 1987.
He started in the field of assurance and worked mostly on audits of larger companies as well as Japanese subsidiaries in the Netherlands. After two years he became Chairman of the Works Council, a role he fulfilled for three years. He particularly enjoyed the part where he was looking at challenges from different perspectives. Peter van Mierlo specialized in the field in which he had lectured at the University in the mid-eighties; valueing and risk analysis of merger candidates. He finished his studies as Chartered Accountant and was appointed Partner at the age of 32. Four years later he became Transaction Services Partner. He was nominated multipe times in the category best M&A Advisor of the Netherlands. A business line that he led as from 2001 to 2008. This business line grew double-digit annually, becoming market leader in The Netherlands. He was appointed in the Assurance Board in 2006 and became Chairman of the Assurance Practise in 2009. In 2013 he was voted in as CEO.
Growth through the years
During Peter van Mierlo’s years as CEO, PriceWaterhouseCoopers continued to grow. Not only in the field of transactions, but he also led the change of audit clients since new legislation made it mandatory to regularly change auditors. He was closely involved in managing this whole transition and he enjoyed the interaction with all new clients while preserving the relationship with the longstanding relationships from the past. The change was refreshing and the impact one could have with these new clients was impactful. Peter also managed the integration process with other member firms in Europe, which led to a better position in the global network and more investment capital to drive quality.
Peter van Mierlo was committed to equality and diversity during his career. During his tenure as CEO at PwC, the first woman was appointed to the board. He also made sure that Supervisory Board included female members. In 2015 three out of the seven new members were female. At the time he said: “You have to keep alert all the time to decrease inequality.” He introduced a complete new set of diversity KPIs to be able to be transparant about diversity and to truly manage equality across the business units.
Never stop growing
Becoming Chairman of the entire PriceWaterhouseCoopers Netherlands Management Board in 2013, van Mierlo was able to grow as a person into leadership roles. It also led him to both the Europe Management Board and Global Strategy Council of the international company.
In 2018, after completing two terms in the Board he was asked to join the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO) as Chief Executive Officer. As every other Bank, FMO needed to up his game when it came to compliance, quality of her procedures and the implementation of it. FMO was in a rapidly changing environment and had grown substantially. It was well understood that the culture and the way of doing things needed to change.
Upon joining the company, Peter van Mierlo stated that he was very excited about the new step in his career and that he welcomed all the challenges and opportunities that the new position offered him. The company invests in more than 70 countries, supporting jobs and income generation to improve the lives of people in different parts of the world. With FMO’s clients serving millions of customers around the globe, van Mierlo enjoyed the challenges that were brought to the table.
During the two years he spent at FMO, he brought the company to a higher level. Peter van Mierlo believes that the key to success is open and honest communication. Any company needs a clear strategy and a strong set of values to be able to deal with its challenges. He says that fully transparent communication with each other leads to meaningful conversation and effective work.
Climate and Inequality as the two major challenges all united in the SDG’s
The Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank supported over 227,000 jobs and managed to achieve investment of 24% in the least developed countries and inclusive businesses. In line with the bank’s mission to empower entrepreneurs to create a better world, Peter van Mierlo also cared about the environment: 33% of FMO’s investments in 2019 were green and included mitigating climate change, supporting biodiversity conservation, sustainable forestry and agriculture practices, and reducing water consumption.
At the Future of Finance 2018, a leading conference for investors and bankers in the development banking world, he stated that banking is the future of finance. And in that future, many banks and institutions will be asked about their efforts to address inequality and climate. As he puts it: “At the end of the day, entrepreneurs will need to build a better world.”