Jan-Benedict (“JB”) Steenkamp grew up in Amsterdam in the Netherlands with two older brothers and a passion for history. His parents instilled in him the values of hard work and taking responsibility. His greatest mentor on everything concerning leadership was his late father, who was a businessman, dean at a technical university and a leading politician. JB’s father took his leadership cues from historical leaders and before he was even a teenager, JB’s father spent his (admittedly limited) spare time explaining to JB what we can learn from historical figures.
JB began his career as an assistant professor of marketing at a university in the Netherlands. He held leadership positions in a political party, three universities in the Netherlands, and Belgium, and professional organizations before being hired as chairman of the marketing department by the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School in 2006, a position he held for 12 years. During his stint as chairman, the global ranking of the marketing improved from #24 to #7. In 2016, he became an American citizen.
He has written several business cases on inspired leadership and felt the urge to write a book on leadership, which he combined his passion for history, his marketing knowledge, and his leadership knowledge and experience. The book’s title is Time to Lead: Lessons for Today’s Leaders from Bold Decisions that Changed History. In today’s time of global crisis and obvious lack of faith in leaders at all levels, more than ever, we need to – and can – learn from the great men and women in the recent and more distant past, who often faced much greater challenges. As The Economist wrote a little while ago: “Those who have passed through the fire surely have something to teach modern-day managers.”
JB is the Knox Massey Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and co-founder and Executive Director of AiMark, a non-profit institute that bridges the world between academia and practice, and has helped countless academics to do work that actually matters to business. His work has received over 52,000 citations. He has given executive seminars and guest lectures on all continents and to a multitude of organizations including the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. He shares leadership insights and articles as a LinkedIn Influencer, featured speaker, and on his own website.
JB currently lives in Chapel Hill with his wife Valarie. They have four kids scattered throughout the world and three grandchildren.