Painting Helps Me Grow as a Leader
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 Manon van Beek, former Country Managing Director at Accenture the Netherlands.
This is the portrait of Manon van Beek, alumni of Accenture - former Country Managing Director of Accenture, and currently, the CEO of TenneT.
Painting is my passion. Once every three or four weeks, I shut myself away and spend a whole day painting. My world then consists solely of the canvas in front of me, my brushes and my palette. It’s always exciting to see what appears on the canvas – all by itself. I paint whatever comes to my mind, relying a lot on my intuition. Painting also helps me to grow as a leader. I take time to reflect on what I do, what I’m responsible for, and the role I play. It often helps me. In both painting and leadership, it’s all about using new and creative combinations of colors, styles and ideas to create harmony. For instance, one of the paintings I’m proud of is the one of our breakfast table: a still life in 1950s style, but with an iPad showing a photograph of our children, Emelia and Loek. The jar of Nutella and the espresso symbolize Italy, where my partner Silvano comes from. The golf ball represents his passion for sport, and the newspaper stands for our work. The painting symbolizes our life, making it very personal.
Juggling Work and Private Life: Don’t Try to Catch the Balls, but Throw Them Right
For me, work and private life are closely interwoven. I had to learn how to get the balance right the hard way. When I first became a mother, I initially wondered how on earth I was going to combine it with work. It was challenging to find the right balance – both physically and mentally. But it’s like juggling. The real art of juggling is not catching the balls, but throwing them right. So every time I find myself catching balls, I take a step back, revisit my priorities, delegate more tasks or look for some help.
"The real art of juggling is not about catching balls, but about throwing them right."
A former colleague once gave me a stool as a symbol of a good work/life balance. A stool needs three legs or it falls. It symbolizes that you should not just pay attention to your career, family, and friends, but also to yourself.
Impact as the Main Driver
I've been working at Accenture for almost twenty years now. When I started as a junior consultant, I actually saw that job merely as a springboard for a future elsewhere. But I was able to make big leaps in my development within the company. That kept it interesting, and I’m still enjoying the experience. Besides, I can make a significant contribution to innovation and sustainable growth in the Netherlands. That gives me energy. At Accenture, we make cross-sectoral connections between governments, big companies, startups and research institutes. We drive developments and trends in areas that matter, like healthcare and well-being, clean and affordable energy, and smart manufacturing. In this way, we actively contribute to improving the way we live and work in the Netherlands. Helping to create that impactful social transition, and revealing the opportunities this opens up for companies and governments – that’s my main motivation.
Equipping Them With What They Need
What also drives me is the idea that I’m contributing to the development of the next generation of leaders. To the young people I coach, I try to give the right tools so they can grow even faster and become good leaders. At Accenture, we also consciously strive for diversity and a culture that is inclusive. Whether as an organization or as a society, we can’t afford to exclude talented people. For example, we regularly employ people who are distanced from the labor market, and we help our customers to do the same. The key, we believe, is to look beyond any limitations people may have and instead focus on their talents. We now have employees in all shapes and sizes. But we’re not there yet. For example, one of our people recently sent me an email about the lack of cultural diversity at the top of our organization. He’s right, and so we’re actively working on it.
What I always tell people is that they are the CEOs of their own career, and that they need to plan their next step and make their ambitions known. To do this, you sometimes need a helping hand and some good advice. And if you’re the CEO of your own career, it’s crucial you also have a Supervisory Board: people who have your best interests at heart and who can help you with important decisions. Fortunately, I have my own ‘board’, consisting of my mother, my husband, a college friend, a former colleague, and a former client: I always share my ambitions and dilemmas with them. My board gets me to take a look in the mirror. In return, I try to do that for others. By sharing my dilemmas, I also show my vulnerability. This way, you get to know yourself better: as a leader, but also as a person. I hope to inspire and encourage others in this way.
‘Mom, Can You Just Switch Off?’
Your children also hold a mirror up to you. If you were to ask my eleven-year-old daughter Emilia what kind of mother I am, I hope she’d say ‘Mom is very kind to me and she’s always there when I need her.’ But she’ll probably also say that I’m not at home enough. She’d say I’m creative, I think: I’ve crafted lots of things with them. I enjoy that. A long time ago, I even wanted to be a crafts teacher. When I’m at home, I’m always busy and find it hard to sit still. My children often ask: ‘Mom, can you just switch off for a bit?’ They’re right: That’s exactly when I need to take the brushes out again. Yes, I’ve got some good coaches at home.’
Manon van Beek (1970)
Studied: Business Economics at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Modena (Italy)
Started working at Accenture: 1996
Home situation: Lives in Naarden with partner Silvano, daughter Emilia, son Loeka, au pair Paula, and dog Boemer
Loves: The social buzz of Brabant, where my roots are
Gets annoyed by: People who take but don’t give, or think in terms of problems rather than solutions
Favorite food: Italian cuisine, especially in good company
On my nightstand: My iPhone and currently ALS dan toch, a book written by colleague Garmt van Soest
Listens to: Bach’s St Matthew Passion (and the latest hits thanks to daughter and au pair)
Last purchase: Secret Christmas presents, hidden in the “frunk” (front trunk) of the Tesla
Would like to sit next to in the plane:Elon Musk, talking about changing the way we work and live
Life-changing event: Illness of close family members, friends and colleagues, showing the darker side of life and how unfair it can be
The best lesson life has taught me: I don’t regret anything I’ve done and learned from. I believe that, in the end, you can only really regret chances that you had but didn’t take, and decisions you put off for too long or failed to actually take
The best advice I ever received: More impact is not about doing more but about being more
Most beautiful place on earth: I love traveling and every place on earth is unique for me, but if I had to choose, it would be home!
Hobbies/passions: Painting, doing and seeing new things, spending time with family and good friends
What nobody knows about me: That I joined Accenture because I didn’t know what I wanted to do
Life motto: ‘It’s not about span of control but about span of collaboration’
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