Finding out what I wanted to do
Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Hester Prins and inspires her on a daily basis? How has William de Waard's life, career, ambitions and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices has Melissa Cheung 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 Tom Ghelen, Operation Lead for the Accenture Innovation Center for Smart Services in Heerlen.
Tom calls himself a “Limburger” at heart. ‘Genk is beautiful in all possible ways – the former mining city is where I spent my childhood and still live today. I live with my wife and two daughters, who are 9 and 12, in beautiful Bokrijk, where we have deer and warthogs frolicking in our backyard.’
Graduating with Distinction
‘When I was 14, I attended a two-week summer camp for kids. The mornings were spent doing something “intellectual” and the afternoons were reserved for sporty activities. Seeing as though I wasn’t a big fan – to say the least – of language, I opted for the “technical” morning program. It was my first encounter with IT, and one could call it love at first sight. A few years later I went to Louvain to study Computer Science. I wrote my Master’s thesis on Artificial Intelligence and graduated with distinction in 1999.’
"It was my first encounter with IT, and one could call it love at first sight."
Find Out What I Really Wanted to Do
‘Graduating during the dotcom bubble was interesting: applying for a job wasn’t necessary, I still have shoe boxes filled with job offers and unsigned contracts. Yet, when possible employers asked me what it was I really wanted to do, I didn’t know what to say to them. I worked for Ernst & Young as a data scientist for nearly two years until I was offered an interesting opportunity at Accenture Technology where I, fifteen years later, still am today.’
Relationship Between IT and Business
‘Over the last decade I have done numerous projects in the public and private sector, always IT-related. The relationship between and overlap of IT and business has been a core focus of most of my projects. I have always tried to share my experience with others, which I consider to be one of the key values of our company culture. Other core values include high quality (‘good is not good enough’), client centricity and a solution-driven environment.
An Easy Decision to Make
‘It was during a management meeting in December 2014 when I first heard about our exciting plans for Heerlen. For as long as I could remember, I have said that if there was an equally challenging and potentially fulfilling job opportunity in Limburg as I had in Brussels, I would apply for it without hesitation. Even though jumping into a project like this is quite risky, the appeal of the new campus and the fantastic challenge it presented swayed my decision. I joined the Heerlen office in March 2015.’
#1 Go-To European Spot for the Digital World
‘Loving Limburg the way I do also means I personally want to contribute to developing the region. The collaboration with the University of Maastricht, attracting skilled people from the area, countering the brain drain this province battles with: these are all goals I fully support. It’s my dream to make Limburg the #1 go-to European spot for the digital world. Meaning that whenever a digital project – which focuses on business intelligence, mobile or user experience – presents itself anywhere in the Benelux, Germany and even France, Heerlen is top of mind.’
"It’s my dream to make Limburg the #1 go-to European spot for the digital world."
Just Finishing Will Do
‘The past ten years I have learned to work and plan more efficiently. When I was younger, I would get up every morning at 5.00 am and leave before dawn, only to return home between 8pm and 9pm. But now, having passed the 40 mark, my body doesn’t allow me to do certain things anymore. Over and above this, there are other things I want to devote my time to –my family, friends, sports and my vintage car - an MGB from 1970 - for instance. I was never the active type, but things changed when I discovered cycling. Not only do I love mountain biking, I’m also into running – anything outdoors, really. I’m actually up for my first two sprint triathlons next month – one of which is with a group of colleagues. My target time? Just finishing will do!’
Tom Ghelen (1976)
Studied: Master in Computer Science, Leuven (1999)
Started working at Accenture: May 2001
Relationship status: Married to Cindy, two daughters
Loves: Quality time with family and friends, to create things that are high quality and add value – e.g. good food, a great team and project, working in our garden
Gets annoyed by: People with hidden agendas, office politics, dishonesty
Favourite food: Italian food and Belgium-Dutch winter food (“stoemp met worst”)
On my nightstand: My watch and smartphone (only because it operates as my alarm)
Listens to: Anything but country music
Last purchase: Birthday present for my wife’s 40th
Would like to sit next to in the plane: Someone with similar interests yet different or even opposing opinions, and knows perfectly well how to substantiate those. I recently discovered that it can lead to extremely meaningful and insightful conversations.
Life-changing event: My mother’s passing when I was 15, which has, for a large part, shaped my personality. And the way my father sustained the family and ensured we all had a great future to look forward to.
The best lesson life has taught me: When you don’t know the answer, at least half of the people in the room don’t either, yet they don’t have the guts to say it out loud.
The best advice I was ever given: Take your decisions not only based on good sense, but also trust on your gut feeling too.
Most beautiful place on earth: Where my family and friends are
Hobbies/passions: Music, sports and I started brewing my own beer a year ago
What nobody knows about me: The fact that nobody knows justifies me not answering this question
Life motto: Life is too short to drink bad beer
- Would you be confident enough in your knowledge to advise a company to follow a full digital transformation? Maybe Strategy & Consulting could be a good fit for you
- Do you think you would enjoy finding effective solutions for complex technology implementation problems? Then maybe you would be great in Operations or Technology
- Would you want to explore the possibilities that come with new technologies or develop fantastic user experiences? Try Interactive or Technology
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