Introducing Daphne Koolmees, Cloud First Salesforce Consultant at Accenture Netherlands.
‘When I tell people I am a Salesforce consultant, they often wonder if it’s very technical or, even worse, very boring. But, contrary to popular belief, it’s not. I see every assignment as a puzzle that needs to be solved – some are very easy, others are extremely complex. The great thing is that Salesforce always offers a solution, and that’s one of the many aspects that I love most about my job – to work with a system that develops so quickly, dynamically, and offers endless possibilities.’
Would they say that to a man, too?
‘I am 27 years, a woman and I work in a technology environment. Do I feel like any of this is to my detriment? Not really. Although, when I started at one of my first projects three years ago and introduced myself as the test lead, the response was, “How cool that you will be the test lead for this project”. I wondered if they would say that to a man, too – I’m quite sure they wouldn’t.’
‘As a very outgoing and social person, I might not really fit the “profile” people normally have of IT people. However, I personally think that works to my advantage: solutions need to be presented adequately, stakeholders need to be convinced and workshops need to be facilitated. These are just a few of the things that also form part of my job, but don't require IT skills.’
Working as a SEO sales consultant in Bangkok
‘When I was younger, it was my dream to become CEO of the Dutch airline company KLM. I went on to do my Master in Business Studies at the University of Amsterdam. I got introduced to technology during an internship at a Dutch IT-company in Bangkok, where I worked as a SEO-sales consultant. I loved it! When I returned and was looking for a place to write my thesis, I applied at Accenture. I had heard good stories about the company – being a fantastic corporate consultancy firm, but not as corporate as, say, McKinsey and Boston Consulting. After my thesis and graduation, I backpacked throughout Asia for three months and returned to Accenture to work in the Technology Consulting team, focusing on retail and logistics.’
I hate being like a “mummy”
‘Fate intervened two and a half years ago, the day I had a conversation with the guy next to me who worked for the Cloud First Group within Accenture. I like chatting to whoever sits next to me, it’s typical Daphne. I hate being like a “mummy” in a space and enduring awkward silences. When this guy told me about Salesforce, my enthusiasm was sparked right away. Two months later I joined the team he was part of.’
Einstein predicts the future
‘Salesforce is the world's leading CRM software and enterprise cloud ecosystem. I personally find it fascinating for many reasons. As mentioned before, its rapid development is definitely one of them. Take Einstein, for instance. It’s the latest Artificial Intelligence program we developed that enables Salesforce to shift from being “just” a database to predicting the future. “What will your customers do in the future?” “What will they require from you?” But more importantly, the system knows how you – the organization – will react. This means that based on a specific track record, it can forecast – write the email, plan the call – what you will need to do.’
Six weeks between launching and presenting – wow!
‘Personally, I am very proud of a pilot we ran this year for a big container company. We implemented a pilot that applied machine-based learning where thousands of emails were scanned and sent immediately to the right customer service center, saving the company heaps of time and effort. With on-premise solutions, it takes quite some time before a functionality the customer desired could be implemented – not in Salesforce, where the project turnover rate is very quick. For example, we’re currently busy implementing an iPad app; a project we launched only four weeks ago, working with developers in the UK and Eastern Europe. In just two weeks, we’ll present the product to the customer – how cool is that?’
"Not many peers can say they are Gold Members at the Marriott Hotel and the Hilton Hotel, as well as at KLM and Scandinavian Airlines."
In ten years from now…
‘Being ambitious and hard-working can go hand in hand with a buzzing social life. Of course, I like the occasional drink with friends or colleagues, my weekends are filled with social events and I go for a run every Tuesday with my colleagues. On the other hand, if work requires overtime and working at night - I am there. Moreover, I spend a lot of time upskilling myself to get as many Salesforce Certifications as I can. I can quite proudly say that I am in the top 10 “most certified Salesforce Consultants" at Accenture Netherlands right now. It is a good way to show what you are worth to clients. It’s all part of my long-term plan: in ten years from now, I want to be MD at Accenture.’
An abundance of opportunities
‘Despite being relatively young, I have worked on quite a few projects abroad for Accenture in the past years - living mainly in hotels in Denmark, Finland, Belgium and France. It is also quite uncommon for consultants my age; not many peers can say they are Gold Members at the Marriott Hotel and the Hilton Hotel, as well as at KLM and Scandinavian Airlines. Partly due to the fact that I have always been quite open about wanting to go abroad and seize all opportunities, but it also definitely helps that Accenture is extremely “generous” when it comes to presenting opportunities. We have a world map on the wall on an internal website with arrows that indicate which skills you have and where future projects around the world are possible. I love that about Accenture: they make things happen.’
Daphne Koolmees (1989)
- Studied: Master of Science (M.Sc.), Business Studies (International Management), University of Amsterdam (2013)
- Started working at Accenture: Started my internship in the summer of 2012; officially started as an official employee in June 2013
- Loves: Meeting new people, on busses, trains, planes and work events
- Gets annoyed by: Indecisive people
- Favorite food: Anything containing cheese
- On my nightstand: My phone
- Listens to: Acoustic mash-ups
- Last purchase: Two tickets to the “Museumnacht” for my dad and myself
- What did you learn last week? How to involve customers more in the process and manage expectations. I realized how valuable it was to have clients sit in on a session, for them to see what we were doing and to give instant feedback.
- Would like to sit next to in the plane: Anyone except crying children
- Life-changing event: Working for Accenture
- The best lesson life has taught me: Life happens while you are busy making other plans
- Most beautiful place on earth: Although not always aesthetically pleasing, I find any big city beautiful in its own way – from NYC to Hanoi, to Hong Kong. I love cities; nature makes me restless.
- Hobbies/passions: Traveling, having drinks/coffee/lunch with friends, running, tennis, golf, traveling
- What nobody knows about me: I am pretty much an open book, so there are not many things that I keep truly to myself, but something surprising might be that I have my second brown belt in karate
- Life motto: Don’t just wait around for things to come to you, take action in order to achieve what you want!