Introducing Sammy-Jo Heijdra, Deal Execution and Innovation Senior Analyst at Accenture the Netherlands

When both your parents were once singers in a rock band, you would think that you would inherit at least a bit of musical talent. Unfortunately, though, neither Sammy-Jo Heijdra nor her older brother did. However, what Sammy-Jo does seem to have in her genes is creativity. “My creativity is one of my expressive outlets. In my work in particular, it’s one of the things that sets me apart and makes me good at what I do.”

“As a young girl, I had a small desk and chair, and I remember spending hours there, notebook in front of me and pen in hand, contentedly ‘playing office’. It was always my dream to work for a big company, but I also had a very strong urge to apply my creative side. I hoped that one day my professional life would ideally involve a combination of both.” 

“The first time I got to merge creativity with a corporate outlook was when I helped my mother transform the clothing store she owned from a single-brand initiative into a multi-brand shop. At the time I was studying Fashion and Management at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) – a choice that was definitely inspired by my mother. However, my focus was on marketing, as I always knew fashion in itself wasn’t for me. After graduating from AMFI, I took a marketing minor at the University of Amsterdam, which further fueled my interest in this field and the innovative thinking that’s part of it. When I helped my mother rebrand her shop, it emphasized for me even more how much I like the creative thinking process – the journey of dreaming up different ideas and themes, building on them and making sure it all comes together.”

Accenture over Gucci or Tommy Hilfiger

“When the time came to apply for internships, most of my fellow students reached out to companies like Gucci and Tommy Hilfiger. Not me, though: I was the only one who approached a firm like Accenture. For me, that was always part of the plan. I had an amazing time as an intern assigned to the Accenture Innovation Awards (AIA). I loved taking the train to the Zuidas every day, walking into the company building and immediately being surrounded by the typical office buzz. At AIA in particular, you as an intern can very quickly shift into a role that allows you to do work that really matters. For instance, I got the chance to design visual communication that was actually hung on the venue walls at the summit. That was incredibly rewarding!” 

“After that first internship, I was given the chance to do another one at the company, this time in the Opportunity Centric Marketing (OCM) department. In as much as I thought the first internship was fantastic, the second one was just as interesting and valuable. It taught me to leverage my marketing skills and creativity in a completely new way. This department augments Accenture’s offerings by applying creative techniques and tools in various ways to offer clients the best and most competitive solution conceivable.”

Wearing different spectacles

“My background is a little different to that of my colleagues. That’s not a problem, though. In fact, I know that’s one of the reasons I’m good at what I do. As a project manager, it’s my responsibility to ensure not only that deadlines are met, but that the team stays motivated, energized and enthusiastic. I consider my ability to think differently and put on creative glasses when solving problems a very valuable asset. After all, managing a project efficiently is something you can learn to do, while being creative isn’t. The fact that I see the world through different glasses gives me an advantage.”

“One of the things I love most about Accenture is that it gives employees the freedom to develop professionally. If there’s a particular topic you’re interested in, the company offers multiple ways to deepen your knowledge of that subject or gain experience in that field. As an example, I was recently given the opportunity to do a course in visual thinking, which was extremely interesting and valuable. I’ve also had the chance to attend Accenture’s Technology Quotient training, where employees are taught the basics of subjects like cloud computing, security, data science and artificial intelligence. For a non-technical person like myself, it’s especially important to be able to gain knowledge about technology. I think it’s great that Accenture offers these sorts of opportunities so that employees can grow, both personally and professionally.”

“As much as I like my work though, there are few things I love more than closing my laptop on a Friday afternoon. I then clear the large dining table that Bart, my boyfriend, and I have been using as our office desk for the past year, and pour us each a well-deserved glass of wine to mark the start of the weekend. Preferably with the sun shining through the windows of our apartment.”  

The Hague, my forever home

“Bart and I moved into our apartment in The Hague one-and-a-half years ago. I’ve moved houses a few times in my life, but never outside of the same 5km radius. The Hague is my hometown, full stop. I was born and bred here, and I don’t really ever see myself living in any other Dutch city. I have always lived in, or in very close proximity to, the city center. Even when I was studying in Amsterdam, I didn’t consider moving to the capital. I love that The Hague has it all: the city buzz, the historical center, the political heart of the country, and the sea so close by.” 

“Recently our family grew from two to three when we got ourselves a puppy named Archie. I have always been an animal lover, but it never seemed like the right time to get a dog. While working from home obviously won’t be the new normal, I do think that going forward it’s going to become more commonplace. So this has been a great opportunity to get Archie settled in, as we have the time to take him for (long) walks and be around a lot more. Taking Archie for a stroll through this beautiful city is one of my favorite things to do.”

What I do

I am the project manager for deals assigned to me. I coordinate the team and the internal processes, and I ensure that clients’ guidelines are adhered to, that all deadlines are met and that we do everything in our power to secure a deal

A day in my life

...Always starts with a cup of coffee (recently been seriously upgraded in quality thanks to our new espresso machine!), followed by numerous calls with team members and clients 

Advice to fellow and future colleagues

There’s more to life than work. iIn an environment where deadlines are everything, it’s especially important to set boundaries and avoid working nights and weekends, too. Obviously sometimes these boundaries can be overstepped, like the week before a pressing deadline, but overworking should never become the norm.

Sammy-Jo Heijdra (1997)

Studied: BA International Fashion & Management (Specialization: Marketing), Amsterdam Fashion Institute (2019)

Started working at Accenture: January 2018 (internship), but as a full-time employee from October 2019 

Relationship status: Living with Bart

Loves: Summer, sunshine, the first coffee of the day, and ticking tasks off my to-do list

Gets annoyed by: Inefficiency and dishonesty 

Favorite food: Asian cuisine, particularly Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian food 

On my nightstand: My wake-up light

Listens to: I have a diverse set of Spotify playlists, organized by themes like ‘summer’ and ‘old-school R&B’

Last purchase: Toys and accessories for Archie. And an espresso machine for us

Would like to sit next to in the plane: David Attenborough

Life-changing event: So far, getting a job at Accenture has been the event that’s had the biggest impact in my life 

The best lesson life has taught me: Journeys of success always start with the small step of taking a chance outside your comfort zone

What I learned recently: How to turn a relatively small problem into an opportunity 

Most beautiful place on earth: Thailand

Hobbies/passions: I recently started photography, which I’m really enjoying. And I used to dance a lot (ballet and street dance), but I haven’t for a long time now

What my colleagues don’t know about me: That despite being the child of very musical parents, as a young girl I was dismissed by my piano teacher due to a severe lack of talent

Life motto: ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’