Eva steps down, Noud to be interim CEO
Update: August 25, 2023: Starting on September 1, 2023, Fairphone’s CFO and Managing Director, Noud Tillemans, will be stepping in as Interim CEO. As a long-standing member of the Management Team, Noud will be leading Fairphone through the transitory period and will cooperate with the Supervisory Board and new shareholders in the recruitment and selection of a new Chief Executive Officer. Read the statement by outgoing CEO Eva Gouwens below.
I have made the decision to step down as CEO of Fairphone. The decision was not, by any means, an easy one to make, yet it is the right one for me.
In the words of Jacinda Ardern: ‘I know what this job takes, and I know I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It’s as simple as that.’ Having said that, it does feel like a natural moment for me to step aside after six years at the helm. Earlier this year, we were able to secure a sizeable investment to steer Fairphone confidently into the future. I believe this new growth phase and a change in leadership can go hand in hand and create momentum for Fairphone at this juncture. I leave knowing the company is in capable hands; our outstanding management team, consisting of Noud Tillemans, Monique Lempers, Xavier Blanvillain, and Corné le Clerq. They will lead Fairphone through the transition as we select and appoint my successor.
The timing of this decision feels very natural to me. We completed ten years of Fairphone in 2023, onboarding our new investors early this year. We are on the cusp of many exciting announcements for the Fairphone brand, cementing our transition from start-up to scale-up. We have achieved so much with our processes, product lines, and team since I became CEO in 2018. We launched three new iterations of the Fairphone. We successfully made waves in the audio space with our fully modular, easily repairable Fairbuds XL, and our True Wireless Earbuds. We made the company a profitable venture for our investors and shareholders, showing the industry that being profitable and sustainable as a consumer electronics company is possible. We were able to make an actual impact at an industry level, from launching living wage bonuses to pioneering e-waste recycling campaigns to founding the Fair Cobalt Alliance. Our products come with five-year warranties and seven years of software support. They contain more fair materials than ever before. These are unprecedented achievements in the industry, achievements I will be proud of for the rest of my career.
I am also very proud of the team I have helped set up at Fairphone across the Netherlands, Taiwan and China. Their commitment to our mission and their professionalism have been a driving force on my journey. The sheer diversity of thought I would come across in the office has always been thought-provoking and inspiring. Now I know it is the right time for me to find someone like-minded yet fresh to take my place. Someone who understands Fairphone’s mission and vision. Someone who can help Fairphone scale even greater heights. Change now truly is in their hands.
Together with the management team and me, our Supervisory Board and new shareholders have started a process to select and appoint my successor. We also have some of the best recruitment consultants to guide us.
Goodbyes are always hard. But they are also inevitable. I am so happy that I was allowed to be my full self during my years at Fairphone. I always had complete agency over my decisions, including this decision of mine to move on. I am so grateful to every one of you for believing in me all these years and thankful for the honor to cheer you on and lead you on our mission to make smartphones smarter.