“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf"

Brought up in the green surroundings of Lommel, Limburg, Sander Van Duffel joined Accenture in 2018 where he is a Technology Consultant.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a profound fascination for the unexplored. With the universe as the pinnacle of mystery and the center of our existence, becoming an astronaut seemed like a pretty awesome thing to do.

Then in high school I developed a profound fascination for the Big Three of Greek philosophy - Socrates, Plato, and Aristoteles. One lesson about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave left a deep impression on me, and I still find myself thinking about the theory in everyday life. I would love to share a conversation with all three of them on topics like reasoning, happiness, the meaning of life, the future, and much more.

My parents eventually knocked a bit more sense into my head, so I ended up studying business engineering and pursued my fascination for ‘the new’ via a major in technology and innovation. I was super excited when I found Accenture, where I could blend my business education with my passion for exploring the unexplored through innovation & technology.

My happy place is when I am not thinking about the past or worrying about the future. When I’m just enjoying and experiencing the present moment, absorbing my surroundings, and feeling free as the wind. This could be playing my guitar or a back-to-basics hiking trip in the mountains.

Next to these rather introverted pastimes, I also love hanging out with friends. For the last couple of years, we’ve been doing a weekly card night. Or at least, we call it a card night. Given that we’re still not experts in the game is possibly a sign that it’s not really about the cards…

I never imagined I would build such amazing friendships with some of my colleagues. Work-from-home sessions followed by beers, doing local city tours, exploring nearby restaurants, chilling at the docks in Antwerp and sharing way too many personal stories… these are just some of the experiences I never expected to have with colleagues in general. It’s astonishing how much I’ve learned on a professional - but even more importantly - on a personal level over the past three years and I’m extremely grateful for it.

It’s my job to make sure people work well together. At present, that’s a team of 10 developers, analysts and testers who are delivering functionalities that create the most overall value for our client’s business. One of the most beautiful aspects of this is seeing how a conceptual idea can evolve into a concrete set of actions, and eventually a working product by simply using your mind and getting the right people on the same page.

Once in a while, I take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Just to admire the massive change we are collectively driving. It’s in these moments, that I realize I’m happy I can have an impact on the client’s future while at the same time trying to make the people around me happier and better.

My teammates would probably say I’m a cheerful and analytical achiever with a ‘people first’ mentality. This is how I want to make a difference. I believe everyone has some level of responsibility in making the world a tiny bit better. It can be as simple as cheering up someone’s day with a short chat, joke, or compliment. 

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf. The biggest challenge I’ve faced in my life so far was dealing with the depression of someone very close to me and helping that person to get back on track. As a rather rational person, it wasn’t an easy path at the beginning. But now I can look back at that period as one of the most educational journeys I have ever experienced. It was a much-needed lesson on finding a healthy balance between reasoning and emotions.

I recently heard the following quote: “Today, now, this very moment, is the slowest pace of change you will experience in the rest of your life.” It makes me excited to imagine what is still to come! And I believe that we, as Accenture, are well-placed to experience future changes from the front row.

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