Introducing Nicole Tempelman, Operations Lead the Netherlands

‘I was born and raised in Apeldoorn. I had a fantastic childhood and absolutely loved growing up there. Still, once I’d finished high school, I couldn’t wait to broaden my horizons, and so I decided to move to The Hague to study. That said, I felt strongly that one day I would return to Apeldoorn to raise my children there. It’s funny how things change. Even though my husband, Johan, comes from Apeldoorn too, neither of us have any plans to go back now.’ 

‘We moved to Bussum before the children were born, and we absolutely love it here. It might not be as incredibly beautiful as the Veluwe, but the natural surroundings here are also amazing, and are easily accessible. That’s important to me because only a few things make me happier than going for a walk or run outside in nature.’

A down-to-earth mentality

‘Apeldoorn is one of the most down-to-earth towns in the Netherlands. People work hard and don’t draw too much attention to themselves. My upbringing was very much characterized by that sort of modest, conscientious mentality. My parents owned multiple stores in town and worked really hard, but it wasn’t something they bragged about or were openly proud of – it’s just what they did.’ 

‘Over the years, however, I’ve learned that it’s okay to take pride in my achievements and the things I do. Looking back on the past 15 years at Accenture, I can definitely say I am proud of the work I’ve done. I never consciously planned for my career to unfold in a particular direction – it just naturally evolved the way it did. Along the way, various opportunities came up, I seized them, and as it turned out, I was successful.” 

“It has always been important to me that I enjoy what I do and that I am constantly challenged. I love stepping out of my comfort zone and being thrown into the deep end from time to time. As your career develops, you obviously become responsible for more people and take on bigger projects. In my opinion, growing is not necessarily about moving up levels, but about gaining insights and knowledge in new domains.’

A wonderful new challenge

‘Over the past 10 years I have worked in a combined role as both Transition Lead and People Transfer Lead in Technology. I’ve been involved in outsourcing deals where entire teams have been transferred to Accenture and where I’ve been tasked with transitioning the scope of work to the company. I’ve worked with all sorts of different clients across a very broad range of industries. Ultimately, it always comes down to handling the impact of (technology) change. I enjoy seeing how we as Accenture can give clients a new future, while also witnessing the tangible results of our work when delivering services.’

‘Recently I took quite a big step up and left my People Transfer Lead role to become the Operations Lead for the Netherlands. It’s a wonderful new challenge, and although I have led multiple transition- and transformation-focused projects in this domain before, the operations outsourcing environment has changed a lot over the past few years. At present, I find myself wanting to reinvent our offerings. It certainly helps that I have no problem acknowledging if there is something that I don’t know or can’t do very well. One of our company’s key assets is the abundance of extremely talented and skilled people from all over the world that anyone can turn to for advice if they need help. I’ve found that it’s not worth struggling along, trying to do things by yourself. Rather, if you surround yourself with people who have the right expertise, it’ll take you much further.’

Juggling work, travel and family

‘It obviously requires a fair amount of juggling to cope with being one of two full-time working parents with three children. Especially when you consider that I used to travel regularly and was often away from home. At one point, when the kids were still younger, I was working on a project that required me to be in France for three days a week. To prevent myself from doing everything halfway, I tried to focus and make clear choices. When I was away from home, I would work day and night, but on the days I was at home, I made sure I was fully part of family life and spent enough time with my loved ones. Nevertheless, it required a lot of flexibility from my colleagues, kids, husband, family and even my friends. From this perspective, the implications of COVID-19 had a positive impact on my life as I don’t have to worry about this nearly as much now that I’m physically at home. My new challenge is learning how to switch on and off mentally as soon as I enter or leave my home office.”

Although I haven’t had a very busy travel schedule over the past two years, just before the outbreak of COVID-19, I joined a project in Romania that required me to spend a fair amount of the week abroad. I would be lying if I said I was jumping for joy over the prospect, but as of March 2020, that was the way it was going to be: I would spend Monday to Thursday at our client’s office in Romania and Friday to Sunday at home. I agreed to it because I thought it would be an extremely challenging project that I would love to take on. However, the plan changed when I had a skiing accident in January, which left me with a serious knee injury. For two months, I couldn’t do anything. It was hard being dependent on other people, and not being able to drive anywhere on my own or even get a cup of coffee from the kitchen. Just as I was getting back on my feet, the pandemic hit us, and with that, traveling to Romania was officially off the table for me.’

In lockdown since January last year

‘Essentially, I have been in lockdown since my accident in January, which happened over a year ago. The Romanian project still kicked off, but we did everything remotely. Although everybody was initially worried about whether we could pull it off, we did so very successfully. It was a significant eye-opener: we realized that we are capable of adapting to any situation while still making such a big project work, even when executed from abroad. Personally, I was quite pleased that I didn’t have to travel back and forth to Romania, even though I did spend many hours in front of my laptop at home. Accenture’s “make it happen” culture is one of the things I appreciate most about the company, as well as the fact that it’s output driven. As long as you do your job well, you get the freedom you want.’ 

What I do

I lead the Dutch Operations capability at Accenture. 

A day in my life

...includes a ton of phone calls and meetings, and is always a mix of sales-focused conversations and tasks centered on my group’s capabilities. 

Advice to fellow and future colleagues

Always stay true to yourself. Acknowledge your strengths and your weaknesses, and ask for help when it’s needed. This way, you can grow in your career, while holding on to authenticity and remaining who you are. 

Nicole Tempelman (1976)

Studied: Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Erasmus University Rotterdam (2002)

Started working at Accenture: August 2005

Relationship status: Married to Johan, mother to Saar (11), Lars (9) and Joep (8) 

Loves: Enjoying “me-time”, going out for dinner, and seeing my children completely happy and content with being themselves

Gets annoyed by: People who think in problems rather than solutions. Also, I can’t deal with details; I’d rather focus on the bigger picture. And lastly, so-called curling mothers – those are the worst.

Favorite food: Indonesian and Italian food

On my nightstand: My e-reader – I should really read more. I particularly love reading books about the Second World War 

Listens to: I don’t really have a preference when it comes to music. In fact, I could do without music quite easily. Silence is a beautiful natural sound.

Last purchase: New wallpaper for our living room, colorful with a light glow

Would like to sit next to in the plane: My uncle Hugo. He’s a doctor and makes a real difference in South African townships

Life-changing event: The birth of my children

The best lesson life has taught me: To enjoy life as much as you can – after all, it can be over before you know it 

Most beautiful place on earth: Patagonia in Argentina, and South Africa

Hobbies/passions: Cooking and playing sports (running and tennis)

What my colleagues don’t know about me: That I always wanted to join the police force. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but I still watch “Opsporing Verzocht” religiously every Tuesday night. 

Life motto: Be yourself and just do it!