Developing a persistent can-do attitude
Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Marissa Jaggan and inspires her on a daily basis? How has Mark Ruiter's life, career, ambitions, and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices has Shruti Pathania made in her life? Through a series of portraits, we answer these questions and introduce you to our people: those who make Accenture the thriving company that it is.
Introducing Magdelijn Emaus, Manager Mobile Strategy & Development at MOBGEN | Accenture Interactive.
How often do you come across a woman who is able to deconstruct a 2CV? Probably not that often, right? Well, then you haven’t met Magdelijn Emaus.
Growing up with two older brothers who liked to tinker with their old-timers helped Magdelijn develop a persistent can-do attitude. ‘I never think: “I can’t do this”.' Which doesn’t mean failure isn’t an option; on the contrary, as she puts it: ‘How can anyone be creative if there is no room for mistakes every now and then?’
‘Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and courage,’ to quote the famous professor and author Brené Brown. Seeing her inspirational TED Talk and reading her books that deal with courage, shame and vulnerability were real eye-openers to me. Understanding you can’t ignore negative feelings without numbing the positives ones, too. According to Brown, the reverse also applies: you can only experience true happiness when you allow less positive emotions into your world. Taking this philosophy to heart has definitely changed my life in many ways.’
‘Emotions and vulnerability have been a delicate topic throughout my life. I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was just five years old, and that changed things fundamentally. In my junior years, I never talked about it that much, it was just a fact for me. The "Achterhoek way" of doing things probably didn't encourage talking openly about it either. Perhaps it is just a coping mechanism for some children - it was for me - or an emotional survival technique. During a Fit @ Work training session at Accenture three years ago, I realized I wanted to interrogate how I deal, or don’t deal, with my emotions. It certainly didn’t hinder my daily life, but it dawned on me that my work took up a lot of my energy and at the end of the day there wasn’t much fuel left in the tank.’
The Most Accurate Measurement of Courage
‘While people often associate being vulnerable with being weak, they couldn’t be more wrong: according to Brown’s research, vulnerability currently is the most accurate scientific measurement of courage. Which is exactly why I think it is an essential, indispensable part of leadership and innovation. By means of “courageous conversations”, regular feedback moments and not being afraid to openly discuss things that are hard, people can move forward and grow. If anything, being vulnerable means not shying away from challenging times.’
"Being vulnerable means not shying away from challenging times."
‘The past years, I’ve been trying to apply what I read, see and learn about vulnerability in my personal and professional life. When I started working at Accenture - four years ago this month - I think I came across as a strong, independent know-it-all. These days, I am open to others’ opinions and unafraid to put my hand up and say I need help. I am sure it has made me far more approachable for colleagues and, thus, easier for me to approach them. Ultimately, embracing my vulnerability has been rewarding in many ways.’
Male/Female and Masculine/Feminine
‘As much as I support Accenture’s “50/50 by 2025” because I understand why it is important to set goals and see them through until they become a proper movement, I am not an unconditional supporter of the target. Personally, I lean more towards a division based on individual qualities; based on feminine and masculine forms of leadership. Feminine leaders tend to be more empathic and cooperative, for instance, while masculine leaders are more assertive and goal-oriented. I think the corporate culture can definitely do with a more feminine touch, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be done by women. To me, it is essential that it is not a mutually exclusive thing: a feminine leader can have masculine features, and vice versa. I am convinced no woman wants to be assigned a role or given a promotion knowing it wasn’t her skill set or experience that made her stand out from the crowd, but her gender. Moreover, by taking feminine leadership as a starting point you don’t rule out men, which means you eliminate any form of discrimination.’
"Personally, I lean more towards a division based on individual qualities; based on feminine and masculine forms of leadership."
‘On that note: I’m currently taking part in the Future Female Leaders program, which is an honor and rewarding experience. The program aims to make women aware of their roles, abilities and characteristics and how to best use them to rise. Being committed to promoting diversity and, thus, more women in corporate life, I find these kinds of programs extremely valuable. That said, I wonder if men shouldn’t also have their Future Male Leaders program? I personally think any leadership program should have a section that deals with challenges female leaders face.’
Shared Passion for 2CVs
‘I can’t recall how my family’s love for old-timers started. My two older brothers, who are five and ten years older than me respectively, both owned one, and they were always tinkering with them and trying to "pimp their rides" so to speak. When I turned 18, buying a 2CV seemed like the logical thing to do, but there was just the small detail of me not having my license yet. Three years later, I bought a new one (a 1984 2CV Rouge Cornaline-colored ), which took me everywhere; to volleyball tournaments, the bar, and we even did our own Tour de la France. My brothers taught me everything there was to know about a 2CV - in addition to the mandatory technical and mechanical aspects, they helped pimp it as well. Everybody knew me as “the girl with the 2CV”. When I moved to Amsterdam after my studies, I considered selling it, but I never did. The car holds too many fond memories for me.’
"Everybody knew me as 'the girl with the 2CV'."
‘And I am very happy I didn’t sell it because the house my boyfriend and I bought last year has a garage and ample space for my beloved 2CV. Wouter and I were classmates during high school, but never really hung out. Funnily enough, we met again on Tinder three years ago. After a few dates, we knew it was the real deal. After having lived together in Amsterdam for 2,5 years, we decided to move back to the east of the country and bought a house in Nijmegen. And since we both grew up amongst the green meadows of the Achterhoek, we couldn’t imagine our future children being raised in a great, but cramped Amsterdam. The option to live close to our family and friends, where our future kids could enjoy the quietness and space we grew up in, appealed to us greatly. Shortly after we moved, I found out I was expecting. I’m due in September - so the timing is perfect!’
Magdelijn Emaus (1985)
Studied: MSc Business Administration (Strategy), Radboud University Nijmegen (2011)
Started working at Accenture: April 2014
Relationship status: Living with Wouter, first-born expected in September
Loves: The HEMA
Gets annoyed by: When people dismiss something before they try it. That applies to professional and leisurely activities, but also when it comes to trying new food!
Favorite food: Lasagna
On my nightstand: ‘Wij zijn ons brein’ by Dick Swaab
Listens to: Madeleine Peyroux, Kings of Convenience and CHVRCHES
Last purchase: Tickets to see 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' at the cinema
Would like to sit next to in the plane: Sheryl Sandberg
Life-changing event: Traveling to Canada on my own in 2009 to study there for nine months. After a tough, somewhat lonely start, I managed to find my way and had an amazing time. That experience did wonders for my self-confidence and my independence.
The best lesson life has taught me: Interdependence is a greater form of independence - realizing people need one another is more powerful than being independent
What I learned last week: Keep discussing expectations with clients; it only helps them in the process
Most beautiful place on earth: Canadian Rockies
Hobbies/passions: Reading about psychology and the mind, DIY (with the car, in the garden or around the house)
What nobody knows about me: That I’ve been a vegetarian since birth, and, therefore, living proof that you can be perfectly healthy without eating meat nor fish
Life motto: “Be the (wo)man in the Arena” (Theodore Roosevelt)
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