CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT IN LIFE
Introducing Mechiel Wilbrink, Managing Director and Strategy & Consulting Lead Netherlands at Accenture
Few experiences are more satisfying to Mechiel Wilbrink than driving home after a workshop with a client that yielded a collaborative breakthrough. Unfortunately, in this remote working-dominated age of COVID-19, driving to and from clients is no longer an option. “I miss the real-life connection with clients and co-workers greatly. Connecting with people is part of what drives my love for my work – so much so that I sometimes find myself wanting to just reach through the computer screen during virtual meetings.
“In everything I do I am constantly looking for ways to connect people and bridge different worlds. I love that being a ‘connector’ is such a key part of my role as Strategy & Consulting Lead. Over the past few years, the strategic importance of data and analytics has risen dramatically for our clients. Our clients need data-driven insights in order to stay ahead of the competition, and we are able to support them in their transformation towards becoming more information- and data-driven.”
“The real power lies in connecting our strategy and consulting capabilities with data science, innovation and design. How can we help our clients by structuring data and delivering insights that generate significant business improvements? How can we help companies tackle their most pressing dilemmas by bringing different technologies, industries and areas of expertise together? How do we make a real, lasting difference for them? These are the challenges we face with every project, and as a passionate connector, I love solving these types of puzzles.”
Nothing is as rewarding as a team effort
‘I know it’s a terrible cliché, but it’s true nonetheless: teamwork makes the dream work. Great things can be achieved when you collaborate. I’m definitely not a solitary type – that was reinforced for me when I was a physics student. I had to do a fair amount of lab work on my own, and although I liked the challenge of solving complex issues, I found it rather lonely at times. No matter what you achieve, nothing can beat the feeling of fulfilment that comes with knowing that it was a team effort. Of course, it can be very challenging at times, especially when we have a tight deadline and the team is putting heart and soul into meeting it, even though it feels impossible. The sense of satisfaction we have as a team after ultimately handing in a document that we’re all proud of in time, is absolutely priceless.”
“I joined Accenture five years ago. I have always been blown away by the enormous impact that the company has. It’s just an extremely powerful business, which evolves constantly by developing its knowledge and offerings, innovations and acquisitions. When I started working here, it became even more clear to me that Accenture combines the most innovative technology with an outstanding offering in consultancy. Joining the company meant I could continue to do what I was doing before, but now in an exceptionally powerful and knowledgeable environment.”
The joy of never standing still
“I often feel like a kid in an enormous candy store. I’m constantly amazed by the diversity of clients and industries, the level of knowledge and expertise across our entities and the extremely talented people I get to work with. Accenture is like an ever-evolving ecosystem. It never stands still – change is the only constant. If I were to describe the company in a few words, ‘always changing’ would definitely be at the top of the list, followed closely by ‘innovative’, ‘entrepreneurial’ and ‘continuously challenging its employees’.”
“The past years at Accenture have been defined by all of that for me – and much more. My biggest learning has been the importance of letting go, and not insisting on planning everything meticulously in advance. Although I still always want to be working towards a very clear goal, I have learned that the route to this destination can actually change along the way. And moreover, it’s okay if it does. When you have the power and support of such an incredible ecosystem behind you, you can always come up with new solutions or ideas when it’s needed. That’s another thing that astounds me about Accenture: the abundance of in-house expertise we have available to us. No matter how specific the topic is, there is always an employee somewhere in the world who happens to be an expert in that particular field.”
Strengthening family connections
“While COVID-19 has brought a lot of loss and chaos, it has also given me the chance to connect even more with my family. My work normally requires me to do a fair amount of traveling, and therefore be away from home quite often. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, I’ve been able to spend much more time with my wife and our three children. Although it can be logistically challenging to homeschool three children and get my work done, I do see this time as something of a gift. It’s an opportunity to get even closer to them and have a clearer view of their lives and what they are doing.”
“To enjoy more hours with my family in an active way, I started to coach the field hockey teams that my daughter and one of my sons belong to. Aside from really enjoying this bonding time with them, I also find the coaching aspect very satisfying. As I never played hockey myself, I tend to focus more on giving tactical guidance rather than technical advice. It’s really rewarding to see how my tips help kids improve certain skills and perform better overall as part of a team.”
“For me personally, playing sports is the ultimate way to unwind. My Friday nights at the tennis court are almost sacred to me. My weekend officially starts the moment I step onto the surface of the court. Next to the physical exercise, the social aspect (I play with friends) and the chance to be outside, it’s also the best way for me to shift into “off” mode’. I am definitely not the best tennis player out there, and I don’t mind losing a match, as long as I feel I played well. I find it much harder to accept if I lose because I played terribly.”
The ultimate sense of freedom
“If it weren’t for the pandemic, we would have traveled to Tanzania this year. My wife and I traveled a lot before the children were born. I love the sense of freedom that comes with traveling. We’ve created some of our best memories while backpacking around the world.”
“Just before COVID-19, we took the children on a mini backpacking holiday to Morocco. We spent two weeks strolling through old towns, sleeping in the desert and eating local food – it was amazing. I loved seeing each of our children react differently to the things they were seeing and experiencing. They are all such unique individuals. I don’t want to impose anything on them; I just want each of them to discover their own talents and passions, and then do something that makes them genuinely happy. If I, as a parent, can simply provide them with the tools needed to make those discoveries, I’ll feel I have played my part.”
What I do
The Strategy & Consulting Group mobilizes Accenture’s enormous set of offerings and orchestrates, coordinates and shapes them so that they can add maximum value to our clients. I advise clients on how they can optimize operations and outsmart the competition to become future-proof.
A day in my life
...involves several moments that require me to choose what I’m going to focus on. I ask myself whether what I’m doing is meaningful for my clients, for Accenture and for myself. If the answer is “yes”, I know I’m focusing on the right things – the things that really matter. I always aim for my days to be both functional and fun.
Advice to fellow and future colleagues
Seize all the opportunities around you. Don’t hold back, take initiative, create a personal ecosystem of people and clients you like to work with and for, and find your own way to success.
Mechiel Wilbrink (1976)
Studied: MA Applied Physics, Eindhoven University of Technology (2001)
Started working at Accenture: September 2015
Relationship status: Married, father to two sons and a daughter
Loves: My first cup of coffee in the morning. I love the start of the day
Gets annoyed by: People who don’t take ownership and are too apathetic
Favorite food: Although I don’t like to admit it, I’m secretly a fast food junkie
On my nightstand: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Listens to: We have a communal family playlist on Spotify that everyone can add songs to. I must say, my kids’ taste in music is pretty decent, and it makes for a very diverse list. I always play classical music on Sunday mornings, much to my children’s annoyance
Last purchase: A racing bike
Would like to sit next to in the plane: Next to the co-pilot. I would love to pilot a plane once – to be able to control such a powerful plane and discover many destinations around the world...
Life-changing event: The birth of my children
The best lesson life has taught me: That I need variety and challenges in my life in order to stay motivated and at the top of my game
What I learned recently: How important it is to proactively reach out to people – clients and colleagues, for example – especially during times like these. As we don’t just spontaneously bump into each other anymore, the current COVID-19 situation forces us to pick up the phone and call somebody to find out how they’re doing or feeling. And I’ve learned how incredibly meaningful that is
Most beautiful place on earth: Old medinas in Morocco: there’s such a great vibe, dynamic and energy, and so much to explore
Hobbies/passions: Playing sports, being outside and spending quality time with my family
What my colleagues don’t know about me: I truly cannot think of anything. I tend to be very open and transparent
Life motto: Be curious, explore and seize opportunities!