A daredevil with a cautious side


A challenge for the new CEO Annie Krist: 'to manage a company in a shrinking market'.

The spare parts for the Land Rovers have been loaded, the visas are in the correct order in the glove compartment. It's July 2012 and Annie Krist and her husband, Frank Fliek are travelling part of the Silk Road with their friends the Vermeulens; via Turkey to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The party is sleeping in roof tents on top of the cars, catching fish in the rivers or buying eggs from local farmers for mealtimes. ‘Typical Annie’, says Ulco Vermeulen, who, like Krist, is also a member of Gasunie's Board of Directors and who was part of the travelling party. ‘She loves adventure but takes precautions and is never reckless. This is undoubtedly how she will also fulfil her new duties.’

On Monday, 3 April, 57-year-old Annie Krist began her position as CEO of GasTerra, the company which was separated from Gasunie in 2005 and which is responsible for gas trading. ‘At Gasunie I was on the Board of Directors as the person responsible for gas transport’, says Krist. ‘Now I'm going to be ultimately responsible for a company for the first time; I'm looking forward to that.’

‘Annie is focused, straightforward and a nice person’, according to Gertjan Lankhorst, Krist's predecessor at GasTerra. ‘She's the right woman in the right place at the right time for GasTerra’, adds Ulco Vermeulen. ‘Eventually gas will run out, of course.’ according to Krist herself. ‘It's a challenge to manage a company in a shrinking market.’ That's certainly the case for GasTerra, which is indirectly involved in important issues such as subsidence and earthquakes and has many of its employees living in the area affected.

Annie Krist is brave enough to start a discussion about whether there is still a role for gas in the future 

Annie Krist was born in 1960 as Antje Johanna Krist in the Frisian capital of Leeuwarden. When her father changed jobs, she moved with her family to Gieten where she finished the last year of primary school. Then she attended the atheneum in Assen. ‘Annie was very smart’, says childhood friend and painter, Gineke Zikken. ‘She wasn't just good at maths, but also at languages. I remember her reading big fat books.’ In their free time, Krist and Zikken were often at The House, the youth centre in Gieten now called The Rising Sun. ‘It was all very well-behaved’, remembers Zikken. ‘Drinking tea, talking about world poverty, chess and sometimes playing our guitars. We tried playing songs such as Streets of London by Ralph McTell but we weren't very good. 'After secondary school, Krist studied geography at the University of Groningen. After graduating, she stayed another year at the University as a researcher. However, she did not aspire to an academic career; she was attracted by the business world. And so Krist took the bait straight away when she was asked to apply to Gasunie in 1987. She has held a number of posts there and has been responsible for Gasunie Transport Services for the last 5 and a half years.

Krist married her boyfriend Frank, but kept her own surname. The couple had Elbert and Jos, two sons who are now in their mid-twenties. In their free time, Annie and Frank love going on long journeys in one of their many cars. They were also carers for Krist's mother until about two years ago. ‘I was involved in an automation project at Gasunie’, says Manon van Beek, who has been the director of the Dutch branch of management consulting company Accenture since 2013.
‘Annie is brave and vulnerable at the same time; she can give critical feedback but she can also accept it. In addition, she is brave enough to start a discussion about whether there is still a role for gas in the future. Such issues are, of course, very sensitive for a company like Gasunie.’ Although Krist does not shy away from adventure, she keeps a keen eye on the risks. Or, in the words of Manon van Beek: ‘She develops visions and new horizons and is innovative but, at the same time, keeps her feet firmly on the ground. When I heard that Annie was going to head up GasTerra, I wasn't surprised. In my opinion, she's more than ready for the next step.’


Source: Financieele Dagblad (author: Frits Conijn)