Promotion During Maternity Leave

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 Nikoo Delgoshaie, Senior Manager Technology Strategy at Accenture Netherlands.

After getting married to a Dutch man with a somewhat easier-to-pronounce surname, Nikoo [Dutch pronunciation: Ni-koe] still held on to her own. ‘It’s part of who I am; a proud Iranian woman.’ Of course, this 33-year-old is much more than that: she’s a Senior Manager, driven career woman, ambitious mother of 1,5-year-old Sophia, aspirational writer and avid lover of life. 

  • Woman lifting up her baby
"It's part of who I am; a proud Iranian woman."

Nikoo was born in Tehran. ‘Being born and raised in a country that was plagued by war influenced my childhood and, to a certain extent, the person I am today. During the first eleven years of my life we moved around a couple of times, and got to call a few places home. As challenging as growing up during war was, it also taught me how to adjust to new environments, people, places and friends. “This is the way it is for now” became our motto every time we moved. When I was 11 years old, we moved back to Tehran. When I talk about “home”, Tehran is still the place that comes to mind.’

  • Making a Difference | Nikoo | Q&A

A Decision That Would Change My Life Forever

‘After obtaining my Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Management from the University of Tehran in 2005, I wanted to study overseas. I was 23 years old and looking to do my Masters abroad. I was considering the United States, Canada or any other English-speaking country with endless possibilities. If it wasn’t for two of my good friends who decided to study in Delft, I wouldn’t even have thought about Holland as an option. But, since the idea of spending two years abroad with two good friends also sounded very appealing, I looked into possibilities at Delft University of Technology. I applied for a full scholarship, got it, and boarded the plane to Schiphol. Little did I know, the decision would change my life forever.’

"I applied for a full scholarship, got it, and boarded the plane to Schiphol."

The Most Exciting Adventure

‘In my second year in Delft, I moved to a new student house, where I met Thomas, my future husband. He’s the reason why my intended two-year study in Delft turned out into a ten-year-and-counting adventure in The Netherlands. It was because of Thomas that, after graduating, I decided to search for a job instead of leaving for the United States or another exciting new venture, which was my original plan. Although, seeing if it would work between us was exciting enough. Over the past decade, this country truly has become my second home.’

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‘People Expect Consultants to Have the Answer for Everything’

‘That first job was at Accenture. I wanted to work for a consultancy company since it would give me the opportunity to get a good insight into how different organizations work. Considering my background, my preference was to work for a multinational: the diversity, the opportunity to work abroad, the challenges – just a few of the things I was looking for in a job. I love change; just waiting around to see what happens is not for me. It has been over eight years since I joined Accenture Strategy & Consulting, and up until today I still find my job super challenging and fun. People expect consultants to have the answer for everything, which is far from the truth. The need to keep up, to continuously learn new things and be a better version of myself is what drives me and gives me the energy every day.’

"I love change; just waiting around to see what happens is not for me."
  • Woman working while husband in the background plays with the baby

Promotion During Maternity Leave: Yes, Please

‘However, if you would have asked me the same question a year ago, the answer would have been slightly different. I had just given birth to my daughter, and after nearly five months maternity leave, I went back to work. But not just back to my job as I knew it because during my leave I was promoted to Senior Manager. A fantastic yet unexpected promotion I had worked very hard for and moreover, that I was very grateful to be given during such an “interesting” time in my life. To me it proved that Accenture valued me for my performances and what I brought to the company, and the company wanted to let me know that me being a mom wouldn’t hinder my career. This was very important to me since I was struggling to find balance and juggle all my new roles.’

It Took Six Months to Find My Balance Again

‘It’s one of the things I dreaded most after returning: people who would put their arm on my shoulder and, while looking at me encouragingly, say things like ‘You take it easy for now, okay?’ Why would I do that? I was still the same Nikoo I was before becoming a mother- ambitious, driven and capable! On the other hand, I was struggling to find my feet again. As much as one likes change, you need to have the sense that at least one part of your life remains very stable, and at the time I didn’t have that. Struggling to fulfil all my new roles, I actually became physically ill.’

‘My body's physical reactions to the tiredness and stress was a serious message that I needed to do things differently. It took almost six months before I was back on my feet and felt confident again: in my challenging new role as Senior Manager and as a new mom. The answer? Letting go. I had to let go of the old situation and come to terms with the new one – only then could I find balance in that new reality.’ 

A Cup of Tea, Pen and Paper

‘Nothing helps me de-stress and get “back to my basics” more than writing and being outdoors. In a different life I would have been a writer, I always joke. It’s still the first thing I do when I feel stressed, confused or just need to have some “me-time”: I make myself a cup of tea, take my pen and paper and tuck myself away in a quiet corner. Writing is like therapy for me: after an hour I have emptied all my thoughts and worries on paper, and find myself with a clear head again.’

‘As ambitious as I still am, Sophia and my family are the number one priority in my life. And even though I had accepted the fact that this would cause a certain delay in my career, to date it hasn’t, really. I work 36 hours per week, and despite the fact that I can’t have a “mama-dag” where I don’t work for a full day, it’s the flexibility I have in my job that enables me to drop her off at day care in the morning and (try to) be at home in time for her evening rituals. Reading a book together, brushing her teeth… Sophia’s bedtime routine is my ultimate zen moment. Above all, these are the happiest moments of my life.’

Nikoo Delgoshaie (1983)

Studied: Industrial Management BA, University of Tehran (2005); Masters Management of Technology, Delft (2007)

Started working at Accenture: November 2007

Relationship status: Married to Thomas, mother to Sophia

Loves: Movement, change and freedom

Gets annoyed by: When things – people – or I come to a standstill

Favourite food: Iranian, Thai and Indian cuisine

On my nightstand: Books, lots of them. I’m currently reading Originals by Adam Grant. And pen and paper – I get many of my thoughts just before I go to sleep. It’s best to write them down and have them outside of me, otherwise they haunt me in my sleep.

Listens to: Feel-good music, the ‘Morning Tea’ list on Spotify

Last purchase: New iPhone 6

Would like to sit next to in the planeSheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. She’s a source of inspiration for me

Life-changing event: If I have to choose one: the moment I decided to study in Delft. If I were to have chosen another city, my life would most likely have been completely different. Also, the eye-opener it was – coming from an isolated country like Iran and all of a sudden finding myself in such an open, multi-cultural rich environment.

The best lesson life has taught me: To let it go

The best advice I was ever given: Sit at the table

Most beautiful place on earthLankawi Islands, Malaysia

Hobbies/passions: Writing and cooking

What nobody knows about me: That it has been my long, unfulfilled dream to become a writer

Life motto: It will all be alright in the end!

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