27 May 2024

Passing the Baton: Olga IJspeert's 32-Year legacy

After finishing art school in Enschede and additional training in design management at Erasmus University, Olga took her first steps in the profession at Staatdrukkerij (SDU). There she learned a lot about identities and information design. After five years, she switched to Total Design as a team leader and later a member of the management team. This is also how she discovered her commercial qualities. The entrepreneurial blood was unstoppable and in 1990 Olga started her own agency, Cascade.

Olga: ‘I come from an entrepreneurial family, and apparently I had inherited that gene. My dream was to set up a creative lab with all kinds of different design and communication disciplines, which would convincingly and consistently shape the basic core values of a company, the corresponding image, from one thought.’

Over the years, Cascade has increasingly developed into a design and communications agency specializing in information design and reporting. It now works for the largest clients in the Netherlands and Belgium. For some for more than 20 years.

Olga: ‘Our strength was in corporate identity and design, underpinned by the corporate story. Over the past 10 years, reporting also became increasingly important again, but now the focus was mainly on continuous reporting and benchmarking on the one hand and on the story and social and environmental policy of the company on the other. Reporting has therefore also developed enormously in recent years in technical terms. It is now about much more than facts and figures. European directives on corporate social responsibility (ESG) have only accelerated that process.’

Partly because of these developments, the ambition arose to work in a broader context again with partners who were also interested in information design and reporting. In addition, the COVID pandemic had made it clear to Olga that a distinction was emerging in how different generations dealt with this new reality. She felt it was time to hand over the baton, and in 2020 she decided to sell Cascade. Almost naturally, Total Design and Cascade found each other, and in 2021 Cascade integrated into Total Design.

Olga: ‘That wasn’t surprising. Total Design’s DNA has always been there at Cascade. It felt like coming home for me, and my team was also proud to join Total Design.’

Shortly after, Total Design including Cascade was acquired by Belgium-based M80 and became part of the Yuma Group with several IT companies that only lacked the knowledge and expertise of design. This was equally true for annual reports and reporting.

Olga:‘The merger with Total Design went remarkably smoothly. We have grown strongly due to the acquisition of Domani from The Hague. We have a fantastic team, partly with new people, and TD Cascade is financially healthy. My successor has the right qualities for the new course and I therefore hand over the baton to him with full confidence.’

Since April 1st, Marc Hilhorst is TD Cascade’s new Managing Director. With a background at Vodafone in Singapore and Qatar and recently in building and growing an e-commerce business, he brings a unique blend of corporate experience and entrepreneurship.

Marc:‘I learned and enjoyed a lot within the international corporate world, but at some point entrepreneurship still attracted me. It’s nice to be part of a larger group again with TD Cascade now, but also to continue being an entrepreneur.’

Internationalization occupies a central place in Yuma’s strategy. That means the Benelux, Germany, and France in particular. In this, Total Design and TD Cascade can each make their contribution. TD Cascade especially in the field of information design and reporting. By adding value through good design and by further leveraging technology and strategic partnerships to serve clients even better with integrated and innovative solutions.

Marc:‘There are enormous challenges ahead. Developments are happening fast and more and more responsibilities are being placed on businesses by politics and society. In addition, AI will have a major impact on the way we work. Under the banner of Yuma, TD Cascade also wants to take a pioneering role in this. It has always had that pioneering role. In doing so, Olga leaves behind a great team spirit. I am enormously grateful to her and the team for that.’

Want to get to know Marc Hilhorst and team? Contact him!