Accenture is a candy store of opportunities
Joke Van Steenbergen (29) is a true ‘Accenture baby’ having joined the company in 2015 directly after finishing her studies. “The majority of my time with Accenture I spent abroad. Now that I have moved to Supply Chain & Operations within Strategy & Consulting, I can finally work for local clients, although travel however remains part of the job. As a working mom, time is always a challenge, but it has made me more efficient at work.”
Was the opportunity to work abroad something you were looking for when you first joined?
Accenture partners with clients who have a global footprint. For me that was a huge added value. You learn a lot from seeing different cultures. Once you have worked with people from, for example, South-East Asia or the US, you understand better what they find important. It’s both professionally and personally enriching. During my business trips, I particularly fell in love with the Korean culture and the way they embrace new technologies.
What can you tell us about your job in Supply Chain?
We are currently doing one of the largest Supply Chain projects in Belgium. It’s a big end-to-end transformation with more than 80 people from the client and Accenture working together, business and IT, which makes it super exciting! We have nine program tracks focused on different organizational functions, and I oversee two of them: Supply Chain Planning and Manufacturing. What I like about the end-to-end aspect is that I’m not only focusing on my field of expertise. Each day, I get to talk with lots of different people about how the transformation impacts them. The program is sponsored by the CEO himself. Cool!
You describe yourself as an ‘Accenture Baby’. What made you choose to work here as a graduate?
I enjoy the unexpected, and I like to work in a context that is continuously changing. Consulting is a big adventure because you never fully know in advance what your next project will be. And because I get easily bored, I like the variety that brings. Every couple of months I get to start from zero again and meet a new team on a new project. Plus, you become part of the Accenture culture. Everybody here is very approachable. As a manager, I don’t look up to anyone and I don’t look down on anyone. No matter who I talk to, we all use the same informal language. I still remember one of my first emails to my project lead. I wrote: ‘Dear Mister and his last name’. His reply was: ‘Dear Miss Van Steenbergen, here at Accenture we use first names.’
What’s the biggest challenge in your job?
Firstly, you have to manage direct reports and leadership at both the client and Accenture. That can sometimes be a bit of a stretch! Secondly, it can be challenging to combine leading the delivery of a project with always bringing new ideas. You also need to think about the commercial aspects. But the more experience you gain, the more rewarding it becomes for you personally and the more added value you can bring to the client.
How about team spirit? What are your colleagues like?
I love being part of the Supply Chain & Operations community. Supply Chain is no nonsense: you need to get goods from A to B, and there is nothing fluffy about it. When you see colleagues with safety shoes in their cars, you know they’re also working in Supply Chain. Everybody is very down to earth, and I like this. Typically, there is no dress code in our part of the business, people come as they are.
Is the well-being of colleagues important to you?
We work in an industry where burnouts happen and there can be work-related stress. That’s why I’m involved in our internal well-being initiative, trying to understand why people feel good or bad at work and then trying to find solutions to improve their engagement. One way we do this is by equipping them with ideas and tools that enable them to organize their lives better and as a result, make their work more rewarding and meaningful. For example, our team is organizing a burn-out prevention workshop, and we think together on how we can use flexibility as a strength in the ‘new normal’.
How does flexibility benefit you?
I had my son during the second lockdown, and it was a very relaxing period for me. We had time to adapt to this change in our lives and after maternity leave, being able to work from home made the transition back very smooth. However, there is no standard definition of flexibility at Accenture. We are all different. We are encouraged to find the best balance to meet our own needs as well as the needs of Accenture and our clients.
What are the top 3 skills your ideal new colleague should have?
Firstly, we need people with a passion for Supply Chain & Operations in its broadest sense, whether that is planning, logistics, manufacturing, sourcing & procurement… Secondly, it’s important to enjoy building and maintaining relationships. Having good relationships with people at our clients and inside Accenture really helps because the projects we do are too big to deliver on your own. Success depends on working as a team, bringing the best of all the individuals in that team, and leveraging the global Accenture network. Last but not least, we need entrepreneurs who enjoy a challenge! Accenture is like a candy store of opportunities, but you need to go out there and grab them for yourself. As a smart woman once said: “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask which seat, just get on!”