The more women in IT, the better!

Introducing Joëlle Mpinganzima, Technology Consultant at Accenture.

She was 18 when she moved from Burundi to the Netherlands. Upon arriving, Joëlle Mpinganzima was surprised to see that the Dutch wear their wedding ring on their right hand. ‘It was always my dream to be a consultant. After my first interview at Accenture, I knew this was it.'

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‘Aside from the swapped wedding ring tradition - where I come from, it’s common to wear it on the left hand - there were two other things I had to get used to: the directness of Dutch people and the prevalence of cycling as a common means of transport. It took me some time to adapt, but I soon made some very good friends here - which helped me learn the language rather quickly, too. The fact that I studied in Eindhoven explains my Southern, "soft" Dutch accent.’

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"I never really took notice of being a woman in a male-dominated world; that awareness only hit me much later on when I started working."

‘I studied Information Technology and Communication - a field that’s dominated by male students. I opted for the international English program, which comprised a few more women compared to the Dutch equivalent, but we were still the vast minority. However, I never really took notice of being a woman in a male-dominated world; that awareness only hit me much later on when I started working.’

‘Becoming a consultant was always my dream. It was mainly the combination of the project-based nature of the job and the traveling that appealed to me. In all honesty, I had never heard of Accenture before I was called by a recruiter who had come across my CV on Monsterboard, asking me if I was interested in applying for a job there. I googled Accenture and my interest was piqued immediately - I was definitely going to apply!’

What problem will I solve today?

‘During my first interview at Accenture, I was taken through all the different projects employees are assigned. I knew there and then that I had found my dream job. It was my hope and goal to work for bigger clients, and by offering efficient IT solutions, to help them achieve their goals. I wake up every morning looking forward to the new day, wondering "What problem will I solve today?", "What changes can I implement?" and "How can I make my client happy today?" At the end of every day, I feel the excitement and fulfillment of being part of that bigger picture.’

"I wake up every morning looking forward to the new day, wondering "What problem will I solve today?"

‘Like I mentioned before, the fact that I am a woman in a world that’s pretty much dominated by men never really occurred to me until I started working. For some reason, women tend to think a lot about things - perhaps even overthink them - while men are often much more self-confident and just “do”. Sometimes it even prompts a counter-reaction: the more decisive men appear to be, the more hesitant women around them become. In my early days - I was 26 when I started at Accenture - I guess I was also a bit shy, but over the years I certainly outgrew that and gained more confidence.’

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Women are the best! (No, I’m not being biased)

‘I am convinced there should be more women in IT, no doubt about it. No, I am not being biased, it’s a fact: women are the best - the more women in IT, the better! It’s a shame that women tend to shy away from IT thinking it is too difficult or not their cup of tea, but in reality, it’s the opposite. Yes, it requires hard work, but it’s a great and challenging industry for women to work in. Why do I make such a strong plea for more women? Well, because when women are working on a project it is automatically better organized. The work is very detailed, and everything seems to run smoother. I admit I haven’t asked the men I work with if they agree with me on this one, but I reckon they would.’

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‘Traveling is one of my passions. Ever since I was young I have felt the urge to explore the world. I love meeting people from different backgrounds - not only do I find it extremely interesting; it also helps me grow as a person. Through all these encounters with people from different creeds and cultures, you are reminded that people think differently and have different opinions about the world - which I find very meaningful. Through my work I have done a fair bit of traveling over the last few years: South Africa, the United States and Belgium have all been ticked off. For the past 2,5 years, I’ve been assigned a project in Norway, which, thus far, is definitely the most exciting one I’ve been involved in so far.’

Witnessing the process from beginning to end

‘Why is that? Obviously, every project I’ve done is unique, but what I particularly love about this project is that, for the first time, I’m involved in the whole process, from beginning to end. Often you are part of a project and finish your job, but you don’t always get to see the final result: the service or product being used by the client. This project is relatively long, pretty complicated and - thus - very challenging, and it involves a lot of users. This time I get to see what we have built being used on a daily basis by the client - and successfully so! - is absolutely great.’

"I love how Accenture sees its employees as people and not merely as cogs in a machine."

‘If I were to describe Accenture as an employer in a few words, they would be understanding, open and considerate. I love how Accenture sees its employees as people and not merely as cogs in a machine; they’re genuinely concerned about your well-being and take an interest in your personal life. There’s always room for discussion - hence the openness - if you have something to take care of in your personal life, it won’t impact negatively on your career. Also, your next project is always bigger and more challenging than the previous one, you’re constantly challenged to get out of your comfort zone: I love it. What’s more, having a dedicated career counselor guiding you along the way is very helpful and nothing short of amazing.'

Complete, mutual trust

‘Also, I love how my job is different every day and that I am given the responsibility to guide a project in the right direction, even though that direction can change on a daily basis. That said, you’re never left hanging out to dry - there’s always an enormous support system to back you up. The people I get to work with are great; I could never do what I am doing on my own. The collaborative aspect is wonderful: it’s fantastic to be part of a team that has a collective goal in mind. What does my ideal colleague look like? Someone I can trust completely with the work when I’m not there, and vice versa.’

‘I moved to The Hague 1,5 years ago - mostly due to practical reasons; the commute to Schiphol and the Accenture offices in Amsterdam and Utrecht from Eindhoven wasn’t smooth sailing by any stretch of the imagination. The Hague obviously is far more centrally located, making my life a lot easier. I like how diverse The Hague is; you get to mingle with people from all around the world. Also, the proximity to the ocean is an added bonus: the beach is by far one of my favorite places.’

‘I feel very strongly about contributing to good causes, especially those that support children with cancer, like Make-A-Wish Nederland. As cliché as it might sound - I find great comfort and meaning in lending a helping hand to people in need. If something needs to be done, I’ll be the first to stand up, by donating money, advocating something or by actively getting involved. It’s an innate quality: I just can’t stand seeing somebody, especially children, being hurt and turn a blind eye.’

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Joëlle Mpinganzima (1985)

Studied: BA Information Technology and Communication, Fontys University of Applied Sciences (2009)

Started working at Accenture: July 2011

Relationship status: Single

Loves: A very good cup of coffee in the morning

Gets annoyed by: Injustice

Favorite food: Italian and French cuisine

On my nightstand: The Bible and my phone

Listens to: R&B, Jazz and Gospel

Last purchase: My own house in Zoetermeer

Would like to sit next to in the plane: Denzel Washington

Life-changing event: When a friend introduced me to her church a couple years ago, I started praying on a daily basis, and it's changed my life in so many ways. I learned to be patient and hopeful. I never thought about this as a typical event, but looking back, my life has changed for the better!

The best lesson life has taught me: Take the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase

What I learned last week: Always go after what you want

Most beautiful place on earth: Cape Town (so far)

Hobbies/passions: Traveling, watching TV shows and reading books

What nobody knows about me: That I’m afraid of falling when I cycle and that I do not eat chocolate

Life motto: Life is meant to be celebrated, make the most of it and do not worry about the challenges. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel.

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