The joy of the unplanned

Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Marissa Jaggan and inspires her on a daily basis? How has Mark Ruiter's life, career, ambitions and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices has Javier Leonor 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 Floris van den Dool, Managing Director Security at Accenture

At 56 years old, Floris van den Dool reckons he is one of the oldest staff members at Accenture Netherlands. He’s probably right. However, when he recently ran the Amsterdam half marathon with 20 of his colleagues, that didn’t stop him from beating out a bunch of the others. ‘I’m not as competitive as I used to be, but whatever happened, I wasn’t going to cross the finish line last.’ 

‘On four mornings of every week, I get up at 6am to run 10km in the surroundings of Almere, where we live. Those mornings are the best: When I’m out there on my own at the crack of dawn, I honestly feel like the whole world is mine. Before I was diagnosed with bladder cancer in early 2015, though, I used to run a lot faster. After two years of intense treatment aimed at eradicating the cancer from my body, my pace has naturally slowed down. That said, I’m also very aware that I’m lucky I can still run at all. When I initially found out something was wrong with me – blood in my pee was an early sign – the first thought that came to mind was, “It’s my turn to die”. Still, I managed to take it all in my stride and remain lighthearted. Luckily I managed to maintain a calm, positive attitude, and also my faith helped me to get through and stay confident that ultimately, everything would be alright.’ 

Giving back time

‘Some people’s religious stance is to think, “There must be a reason for this”. I never looked at my illness that way – I don’t think there’s any justification or hidden purpose for anyone falling sick. What religion does for me, rather, is provide me with new valuable insights and help me to set priorities in life. While my work and career have always been important to me, my family and friends hold just as much significance for me. I also believe that it’s crucial to give back to society, which, for me, involves donating my time. I have been an active member of our local church’s board for years, as well as a dedicated volunteer for an organization that hands out free Bibles and strives to fight illiteracy in underdeveloped countries. I once visited Lima with this particular organization – seeing people living in a favela who had almost none of their basic needs met but were still so happy, was both sad and extremely inspiring at the same time. It’s insights and experiences like these that keep me grounded.’   

‘I’m a very in-the-moment kind of person. Careerwise I never really planned anything in advance – I never looked more than two years ahead. When I was in high school I was the sort of person that thought school wasn’t all that important. So I dropped out and enrolled at the MTS – a lower technical education institution. Surrounded by all these extremely technical people, I didn’t really feel I belonged there either. That was until I was introduced to what they referred to as “digital mathematics” – a combination of mathematics and computer science. Finally, something I loved! Keep in mind that this was 1980: I learned programming on microprocessors without an actual programming language. Later on I studied Technical Computer Engineering, but it was during my internship at Digital Equipment, a major American computer company, that I realized I had truly found my calling.’

My first steps into the world of security

‘As an intern, I wrote the company’s contingency plan. Looking back on that experience, it definitely marked my introduction to the world of security. That was a real game-changer. From then on out, my career went in a decidedly security-focused direction. I secured my first real job at Digital Equipment as a systems and security administrator 1,5 years later – I had to step out of the workforce to do my obligatory military service before that. I was over the moon and was convinced that I had found the job I would do until the day I retired.’ 

‘One of the reasons I believe it’s important not to plan too much is that it leaves room for you to capitalize on the other great unexpected things that might cross your path. After two years at Digital Equipment, I moved to Price Waterhouse (which later merged with Coopers & Lybrand to become PwC) because I wanted to focus more on consulting. While I had learned so much at Digital Equipment – with a primary focus on all things technical – I realized I wanted to interact with clients more, and to really engage with companies on the matter of the importance of security. I worked at PwC doing exactly this for 13 fabulous years, with my two years spent in Sydney as an absolute highlight.’ 

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Sensational Sydney

‘When I was asked to join the PwC office in Australia in 1995, I didn’t have to think about whether to accept the proposition for long. Fortunately, my wife, Anthilde, was just as excited about the prospect of moving. So, we packed our bags and gathered our three young children – the youngest of the lot being nine months and the oldest having just turned five – and boarded a plane to Sydney. It was the best decision we ever made, full stop. It was an amazing experience for us as a family, but was also extremely interesting from a business perspective. In those days, Australia’s Internet technology scene was much more developed than ours at that time, so the two years I spent there taught me a huge amount and gave me a glimpse of what the future held for Europe. When we returned to the Netherlands – mainly in order to be closer to family and friends again – I wanted to tell everybody about the fascinating world that awaited us.’ 

‘My firm belief that the Internet was the future resonated with Accenture’s vision. Like me, the company also saw the deep need for security services and for companies to implement security practices in all their operational processes. When I joined the organization in 2004, I felt like I was coming home. Back then our team was made up of 40 staff members doing security implementation and delivery across Europe in a very hands-on way. Today, we are nearly 2000 people. It’s been an amazing journey to witness this growth and see how we’ve managed to put security on the map. Fifteen years later, I’m enjoying the ride more than ever.’ 

"When I’m out there on my own at the crack of dawn, I honestly feel like the whole world is mine."

Floris van den Dool (1963)

Studied: BSc Technical Computer Engineering, HU University of Applied Sciences (1987)

Started working at Accenture: September 2004

Relationship status: Married to Anthilde, father of Gerjen (29), Anne (27) and Joëlle (25)

Loves: Meeting people from other cultures

Gets annoyed by: People who whine

Favorite food: Anything Italian

On my nightstand: My sports glasses (that I need for my early-morning run)

Listens to: I’m a huge fan of The Beatles. After them, it all went downhill, in my opinion. However, I can appreciate indie music like that by Elbow

Last purchase: A Google Nest Mini 

Would like to sit next to in the plane: Paul McCartney or Nelson Mandela 

Life-changing event: Living in Sydney for two years

The best lesson life has taught me: Don’t plan too much or too far in advance. Keep dreaming and stay open to interesting opportunities – both business-related and personal – that might cross your path

What I learned recently: To be proactive about remaining visible and approachable as a leader. While I might think I’m being welcoming and accessible to younger people in the organization, in reality, I’m being anything but this when I sit in my room with my headphones on all day because I am on calls. That’s how a gap starts to develop between me and, for instance, someone who’s just joined Accenture, without me even noticing it. It’s up to me to narrow that gap

Most beautiful place on earth: Sydney and Lago Maggiore

Hobbies/passions: Running, playing music (I play a bit of piano and guitar) and reading 

What nobody knows about me: That I sang in a local gospel choir for two years

Life motto: Everybody matters and is equally important. This is something I strongly believe in, and a mantra I hope to remember in everything that I do.

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