I’m an Eastern man with a Western mind
Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Hester Prins and inspires her on a daily basis? How has Javier Leonor's life, career, ambitions and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices has Mark Ruiter made in his 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 Soumalya Nath, Application Development Associate Manager, specializing in S/4 HANA at Accenture.
‘Moving to the Netherlands to take up a temporary contract at Accenture was the first real leap of faith I ever took in my life. As someone who had always taken the road more traveled, I figured this was a good opportunity to do something a little riskier. Five years later, I have no regrets whatsoever. Being successful is important to me, but I don’t measure success by how much money I make or which car I drive. If I earn enough to be able to live the life I want to without feeling like I have to make sacrifices, but still have enough time on my hands to do the things I love, I consider myself a very successful man.’
‘Being from Calcutta – now known as Kolkata – and the only son of an educated middle-class Bengali family, there were definitely certain expectations of me. My dad worked for a bank, as did his father, so my path was more or less laid out for me. While my intention was never to actively disobey my parents’ wishes, the fact that I didn’t study finance as anticipated (and instead chose to go the Information Technology route) was considered pretty rebellious.’
My first taste of European culture
‘In India, virtually every IT student dreams of working for a prestigious IT company like Accenture. I was lucky enough to start my career at a big company in India. After a while, I was sent to Germany for an important nine-month on-site assignment. The opportunity gave me my first taste of European culture – and I loved it!’
‘Once the assignment was done, I went back to India, but was eager to return to Europe again soon. So when I was approached by Accenture about a job in the Netherlands, I didn’t have to think for very long about whether to accept their offer. It was one of those win-win situations: Accenture was earnestly searching for someone with my skill set, and I
Putting all our crazy thoughts down on paper
‘The fact that SAP Fiori, my area of expertise, was relatively new when I started at Accenture 5 years ago posed a bit of a challenge in the beginning. As not many clients were familiar with the software back then, there were no projects for me to take on initially. I was, as they say, “on the bench” for three months. That doesn’t mean I was just twiddling my thumbs, though. On the contrary, I was working on several innovation projects and proposing proof of concepts (PoCs). Sure, I was frustrated about not having my own project, but it was great to get work on such exciting tasks. I really appreciate the fact that Accenture invests so much in innovation and encourages employees to just put all their crazy thoughts down on paper and then test if they’re feasible. Those internal projects, coupled with the enormous support of my career counselor, who kept telling me not to worry, definitely made those first few months much easier to handle.’
‘It’s amazing how different things are in 2022. Fast forward to today and SAP Fiori is widely regarded as the new user experience for SAP software, and I am very proud to be a part of the movement. As soon as people started learning about the value of the technology, projects began to come in from all sides. Fiori is now the standard of User experience in SAP. SAP upgraded to the S/4 HANA environment, and with that my role within Accenture also became much broader. I lead a development team as well as security and authorization team within my project. This also gave me a great insight into the importance of security configurations for a software environment. With every new opportunity came new challenges, and by resolving them my experience and knowledge enhanced to a much wider spectrum. The chance to taste something new, is something that always keeps me motivated. I think that’s what working in Accenture is all about.’
''Working with technology to make people’s lives easier and more convenient is at the heart of what we do – I love it.''
When the real outside-the-box thinking takes place
‘Working from the Accenture office was dearly missed during the lockdown due to pandemic. However, I was really pleased with the gestures from Accenture, to keep the team spirit alive. We were allowed to loan office utilities and furniture and make a home office, with the flavor of our beloved Accenture workplace.
Since the Lockdown measures are slowly relaxing, Accenture has again opened up the office building for its employees. We now have ‘Work from Office’- days, every month, where we plan and go with our full team to the office.
Accenture stands for diversity. Every department and every team within Accenture is very cosmopolitan: there are people from every corner of the world. Honoring and respecting culture is really important to us.’
‘A good team spirit is definitely one of the marks of a strong company. No one is considered to be superior; instead, we recognize that we can all learn a great deal from one another. It’s funny how people tend to believe they can learn the most from those who are older or more experienced than them. I find I often learn even more from interns and students. We're always talking about how we should really think outside the box, but at the end of the day, it’s surprising how often we choose to stay within the confines of what’s familiar. The real outside-the-box thinking tends to only happen when you bring in students and ask them for their ideas.’
Not just about spiciness
‘Over the past five years I have really grown accustomed to the Dutch lifestyle. It’s important to me to integrate into society here, so I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into learning the Dutch language and better understanding the culture, too. Learning the Dutch language was not an easy feat, but it was a fun adventure. It took approximately five months of intensive schooling for me to be able to speak and understand basic Dutch (level A2). Those months were quite tiring as I was working on a project in Zoeterwoude and my Dutch language school was in Amsterdam. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I would travel to Zoeterwoude from Utrecht (where I live) in the morning, then from Zoeterwoude to Amsterdam in the evening, and then back to Utrecht at night. I later followed up on my Dutch studies to complete level B1. To promote cultural integration and teach others about where I come from, I organized a few dinner parties for my colleagues so they could get a better feel for real Indian cuisine – and understand that it's not just all about spiciness.'
An Indian Dutch man
‘I think I can boast that I’ve succeeded in my aspiration to become an Indian Dutch man: I am completely addicted to cycling, and pancakes with cheese and bacon have become my favorite food. I used to cycle to work every day, (before the lockdown) – 25 minutes there and 25 minutes back – and I absolutely loved it. Oddly enough, my best cycling experience was when it snowed heavily. My colleagues think of me as crazy for saying that, but in a dark winter evening, when you cycle your way through glittering white snow, it feels like you are riding through the clouds… that’s a mesmerizing experience. My wife, Aradhita, and I dated for 8.5 years before we got married in 2018. She joined me in the Netherlands in January, 2019. Although she had never ridden a bicycle before, it only took her a few days to get hooked, too Alongside cycling and Dutch food, the local sense of humor also really appeals to me. It’s rare in India to experience such candor and to hear the kind of self-deprecating jokes people tend to make here. It didn’t take long for me to adjust; I guess I have always been an Eastern man with a Western mind.’
Soumalya Nath (1990)
Studied: B. Tech in Information Technology, West Bengal University of Technology - now Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, West Bengal (2012)
Started working at Accenture: May 2017
Relationship status: Married to Aradhita
Gets annoyed by: People who pass judgment
Favorite food: Pancake with bacon and cheese, biryani and a good Argentinian steak that many restaurants in Amsterdam serve
On my nightstand: “Our Films, Their Films” by Satyajit Ray
Listens to: Mostly folk songs – by John Denver, for example – and some Dutch songs (like “Aan de Amsterdamse Grachten”)
Last purchase: A fan
Would like to sit next to in the plane: Quentin Tarantino
Life-changing event: Getting married
The best lesson life has taught me: Never judge anyone – or anything – based on first impressions
What I learned recently: To review technological documentation in extreme detail (not just my own work, but the work of others, too) and to always remain critical about it
Most beautiful place on earth: My hometown, Kolkata
What nobody knows about me: I’m secretly a poet – I’ve written a few poems for my wife, and one or two friends have read some of my work, but otherwise no one gets to see what I put down
Life motto: “Live and let live”
- 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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