I guess some things are just meant to be
Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Youri de Koster and inspires him 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 Hester Prins, Technology Consultant at Accenture
As a Doctor of Medicine, Hester Prins doesn’t have the “average” consultant background. Nevertheless, she was hired as a junior consultant after being introduced to Accenture in 2015. ‘I can’t say that it was part of my plan, but the role suits me perfectly. Some things are just meant to be.’
‘Many things I do are based on gut feeling. If something feels right, I’ll do it - if it doesn’t, I avoid it. While studying medicine I felt like I was on the right track. I enjoyed the theoretical part of it: solving puzzles, analyzing dilemmas - I was always quite good at it, too. However, when it was time for the practical internships to commence, it all changed. Already in my second week, I realized this wasn’t for me. Those two years were horrible; I dreaded the moment a patient would walk in my door. It was a matter of pure survival, but quitting wasn’t an option for me because that would be a failure. I figured it was smarter to just ‘sit it out’ and finish what I had started. I remember the day in July 2012, when I finally received the piece of paper stating I was officially a Doctor of Medicine. After the ceremony, I went home and fell asleep, into a deep sleep that felt like it lasted three months.’
"Many things I do are based on gut feeling. If something feels right, I’ll do it."
‘My life motto is not to have any regrets, and I don’t regret studying medicine. It taught me a lot, especially in those last two difficult years. Learning how to communicate with people and breaking bad news are valuable skills to master and apply in daily life, as well as in my job today. That said, after graduation at 26 years old, there definitely was a big, black hole awaiting me. Not knowing what I was going to do - and convinced it wasn’t going to be anything in the medical field - made me pretty insecure.’
Making a Difference | Hester | Q&A
A winning Dragon’s Den pitch
‘Just before graduating, I came up with a business idea. It was inspired by a girl who I used to babysit. She used to tell me stories about what she and her friends in daycare got up to, and later, when she was in primary school, she would regale me with tales of her classmates and new friends. Of course, I couldn’t put any faces to the numerous names, so I thought it would make a great book - a so-called “Smoeltjesboek” - with pictures of all kids in a class. I pitched the idea in a Dragons’ Den, organized by the Amsterdam municipality, with ID&T’s CEO Duncan Stutterheim as chairman of the jury, which I won. With the prize money and the office space at the ID&T headquarters, I was able to shape my business idea further and strive to make the Smoeltjesboek app a reality.’
‘After two years of back-and-forth, which included numerous talks with high profile people - the idea didn’t make it. That was the moment I decided it was enough and that it was now time to start looking for a job - and income. A friend of mine had just started working at Accenture, and she was very enthusiastic about it. Funnily enough, whenever she’d tell about her work, we noticed I was quite good at coming up with practical suggestions and solutions. Which was rather remarkable, because I had no sense of business whatsoever; I had no notion of what consultancy entailed or what it is a consultant actually does. She encouraged me to investigate the possibility of working at Accenture, which I did.’
Meant to be
‘In essence, consultancy pretty much embodies everything I originally liked about studying Medicine - solving puzzles and coming up with solutions. When I took the StrengthsFinder test that was recently introduced to Accenture, the results were crystal clear: the jobs I would be suited for most were in medicine and consultancy. It’s funny: I can’t say that it was part of my life plan, but I ended up taking on a role that suits me perfectly, and makes me very happy. I guess some things are just meant to be.’
"Working with inspiring, intelligent and extremely driven people is one of the reasons why I love working at Accenture."
‘Working with inspiring, intelligent and extremely driven people is one of the reasons why I love working at Accenture. The combination of different people with different strengths and skill sets that, together, make the best teams. What I have learned from seeing all those distinct profiles is to never try to squeeze a flamingo into a penguin suit: it won’t work. It might blend in and wobble with the rest of the penguins for a while, but at the end of the day, it won’t be happy or perform optimally.’
‘I love how Accenture develops more and more into a truly human organization by focussing on what people really are good at, as opposed to looking at one’s potential weaknesses. On a personal level, I really discovered what I am good at and learned how to trust those talents, as opposed to being frustrated by things I am not necessarily great at.’
Take it one step further
‘Working for a company that is at the forefront of innovation and technology is fascinating. It’s my mission to take this one step further and try and make the world a better place, while still serving our clients in the groundbreaking work way we do. One of the projects I am involved in is actually a childhood dream: I want to help save orangutans from extinction. My love for this amazing animal started at a young age. I remember being six years old, and one of my mother’s colleagues had just given birth and we bought a stuffed orangutan for the baby. Usually, I would have no problem giving away presents, but something was different that time; I really wanted to keep this one because I just thought it was so beautiful. My mother, normally not the most empathetic soul, felt sorry for me and bought me a new one. I was over the moon.’
"It’s my mission to [...] try and make the world a better place."
‘From that moment on my interest in the orangutan was piqued further when I started reading more and more about the species and its endangered status. After finding out that the animals’ survival is threatened by poaching and the palm oil industry, I decided to devote my time and effort to combat their extinction. So I delved into doing research on how I could lend a helping hand, but I had yet to figure out how I was going to go about doing this.’
Meet the Strategy & Consulting team!
Inge Lekkerkerker-van Aalsburg , Managing Director & Group Strategic Program Director
"Instead of focusing on the final result, I try to be involved in the process leading to that result."
Hopes and dreams: the (b)rainforest project
‘That day came sooner than expected. It was on a ski lift during a skiing trip with the CMT team, just four months after I started working for Accenture, when I sat next to an managing director who asked me if I had a dream. I replied and told him that I did have one, but that it was not related to Accenture at all. After I elaborated, he said: “Just do it, start a project geared towards realizing your dream of helping the orangutan”. It was amazing, and something I did not expect at all. I was under the impression that projects always had to be IT-related in some way, but all of a sudden, I was told I could gather a group of skilled people to talk about how we could set something in motion, and even use Accenture’s resources. How brilliant is that?’
‘Shortly after, I called upon a group of people for the first brainstorm session, and, thus, the (B)rainforest Project was officially launched. We simplified our mission to four core elements: firstly, to raise awareness around the negative impact of palm oil production; secondly, to come up with a solution i.e distilling it from algae or yeast, for instance; thirdly, we want to be able to offer locals depending on the palm oil industry a sustainable alternative to be self-sufficient; and lastly, we need to ensure that we establish that the land where the orangutans live will not be used for other means. In essence, ensuring trees aren’t taken down for other purposes, that is.’
‘I’m pretty proud of what we have achieved so far; although, we’re definitely not there yet. I’m planning to go on holiday to Indonesia later this year and see if we could possibly start educational programs for locals. It’s baby steps, of course, but a massive stride towards realizing my dreams nonetheless, especially since I have the support of an amazing employer.’
Hester Prins (1986)
Studied: Doctor of Medicine (MD), University of Amsterdam (2012)
Started working at Accenture: November 2015
Relationship status: Single
Loves: Being in nature, watching wildlife in Africa, music
Gets annoyed by: People who don’t take care of fellow humans, animals and nature
Favorite food: Italian food
On my nightstand: Book: The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
Listens to: Max Cooper, originally a geneticist, now an electronica and techno producer whose music is influenced by science. I can listen to his music for hours on end, every time of day. For me, his music is truly inspiring and I always end up with tons of new ideas after attending one of his concerts or just by listening to his music - I hear something different every time I listen to it
Last purchase: Ticket to Wildeburg Festival in July
Would like to sit next to on the plane: Jane Goodall
Life-changing event: The passing away of my cat Flopje in October 2016
The best lesson life has taught me: Always be yourself and trust your gut feeling
What I learned last week: That I should actually be a bit more confident in the things I do
Most beautiful place on earth: Any place in Botswana or South Africa where there is wildlife to watch – it’s an ideal way for me to while away the hours
Hobbies/passions: Nature, orangutans, snowboarding, cycling, and techno substreams generally, but more specifically, Max Cooper
What nobody knows about me: That I’m a huge fan of games and jigsaw puzzles
Life motto: Either way it’s all going to be okay and never regret anything
- 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
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