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CitizenM appoints new CFO and chief growth officer

As chief growth officer, Ernest Lee will directly support and help lead CitizenM’s global operating business by implementing new growth initiatives, products and programs

CitizenM has appointed Hendrik Jan Roel as the company’s new chief financial officer,​​ and promoted Ernest Lee as the brand’s first-ever global chief growth officer. 

Roel will join the group on 1 May after 22 years at Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize N.V., where he most recently served as CFO and EVP of Albert Heijn, Etos and Gall&Gall. Lee, who previously served as citizenM’s managing director for the Americas, begins his new role this month.

CitizenM said he brings 25 years of international financial experience to the role, as well as a track record of “rich leadership”. Meanwhile, Lee brings a wide range of business experience in investments, real estate, finance, strategy, and operations and previously guided the multi-regional expansion of citizenM’s North American portfolio.

Based in New York City, as chief growth officer Lee 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 reportedly builds on Lee’s involvement as a co-leader of several business innovation teams within CitizenM, where he helped develop and launch new products including the Subscription program. 

Klaas van Lookeren Campagne, CEO of citizenM, said: “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. 

“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 realising the growth plans.”

Lee added: “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 practises 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.”

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