For Babs van Ballegooie, it feels like she’s living in greater Europe within Maastricht. She is organized at work, but constantly finds herself looking for keys and bank cards at home. ‘My life and career have been shaped by choices I made based on feelings, rather than on strategic considerations.’

Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Martine Verloop and inspires her on a daily basis? How has Javier Leonor's life, career, ambitions and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices has Youri de Koster made in his life? Through a series of portraits, we answer these questions and introduce you to our people: those who make Accenture the thriving company that it is.

Introducing Babs van Ballegooie, Team Lead PMO at Accenture Netherlands.

‘When I was younger, I always envied friends who knew exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up. At high school, I wanted to become a pilot, so I seriously considered enrolling at the flight academy. It was mostly the traveling and adventurous aspect of being a pilot that appealed to me. However, it wasn’t long after that I decided to pursue International Business studies instead; after all, a degree in business would allow me to travel the world, too. There have definitely been moments where I cursed the day I decided to study International Business, but looking back, it has taught me to persevere and always keep my goals in sight.’

Beautiful and Heartbreaking Experiences

‘My fascination with traveling, and especially with other cultures and people, was really sparked during a six-week trip I embarked on with a friend to India when I was 22 years old. It was amazing; the trip itself, the beautiful nature, the people we met, everything. The fact that we could completely immerse ourselves in the Indian culture and see how other people live was incredible. In my travels, I’ve been exposed to both beautiful and heartbreaking experiences, which made me realize that seeing the world strongly influences how you grow as a human being.’

‘Which is exactly why, when a project for a client in Munich presented itself, I didn’t have to think twice. I started in Germany in June for an initial three-month period, but that’s likely to be extended to the end of 2017. One of the main reasons I want to work abroad is my interest in finding out how work dynamics differ from country to country - everything from work ethic, hierarchy, rules and personal relations. After just three months in, I have definitely already gained a pretty good idea of differences between working in the Netherlands versus working in Germany. After struggling a bit in the first week, it’s safe to say I’ve found my feet. It’s things like realizing I couldn’t address the CEO by his first name, but rather refer to colleagues using ‘Herr’ or ‘Frau’, for instance. Recently a colleague told me “I was Dutch, but not too Dutch”, which I, smilingly, took as a compliment.’

Gut Feeling Over Strategic Decisions

‘I joined Accenture in early 2015. I actually had just received an offer from another consultancy firm, when I scrolled past a job opening at Accenture in Heerlen. I called them that day and was invited for an interview the next. The day after, I signed my contract. Even though it all happened in a flash, it felt right from the beginning. I’ve learned to make decisions not always based on strategic planning, but on gut feeling.’

‘You are in the driver's seat of your own journey’

‘My gut feeling proved to be right: I love working at Accenture. One of the things I particularly like about this company is the freedom it gives you to create your own chances and shape your own career. In my previous job, I felt like my path was already clearly mapped out, while at Accenture, you are in the driver's seat of your own journey. That freedom allows you to develop and empower yourself based on your personal strengths and ambitions.’

A Healthy Level of Competitiveness

‘Next to the opportunities, it’s the driven and passionate colleagues I get to work with every day that makes me enjoy my job as much as I do. Everyone is more than willing to lend a helping hand, yet there is a level of healthy competitiveness present, too. More than anything, we all feel the desire to change - much like the world around us. I love the flexibility and innovative mindset that’s rooted deeply in Accenture’s DNA. As a cherry on top, the challenges, rewarding moments and recognition I feel as a person and employee keep me motivated, on my toes and happy.’

Missing Maps: Truly Making a Difference

‘There is another reason why Accenture appeals to me as much as it does: their focus on corporate citizenship. I would very much like to make the world a better place. While I may not be the one who initiates launches or organizes events, I make sure I do my part. Every six months I join one of our Do Good activities, like our Coach a Refugee Program, CodeMasters and, more recently, the Missing Maps program. Recently, I’ve volunteered to act as a point of contact for this program; an open, collaborative project that aims to map areas affected by natural disasters, making it easier for humanitarian organizations and NGOs to meet the needs of vulnerable people. It’s programs like these that can truly make a difference in the world.’

‘Speaking about differences - when I started at Accenture early 2015, our Heerlen office was little more than a garage, where a mere six people worked. There was no Accenture sign to be found, nor a real Accenture corporate identity. The company started growing steadily, yet we still only had one meeting room for 30-40 people where, on hot summer days, temperatures could rise to 40 degrees. Fast forward to today, and we have a stylish Accenture- office where a hundred people work. That transformation has been absolutely incredible to witness.’

The Place to Be for Epicureans

‘In my last year at the Maastricht University I met Philip, my now husband, and we still live happily in Maastricht. For me, Limburg is my stomping ground; I was born in the small town of Oirsbeek in the east side of the province. Even though Philip is originally from Zwolle, he also feels like Maastricht is “home”. Over the last few years, many of our friends moved to the Randstad, and as much as we love visiting Amsterdam on weekends; at the end of the day, we’re genuinely happy when we’re in our car heading back south. Philip and I are epicureans: we love good food, good wine and great company. Maastricht is perfectly suited for people like us.’

‘But perhaps one day we will leave Maastricht, buy an old run-down villa in France, completely redecorate it and start a bed & breakfast. That’s the romantic dream we share for when we’re “old and grey” - very much ‘Ik Vertrek’, yes. We love watching that show and critiquing the contestants and their choices. Philip has a background in hospitality, and while he extremely enjoys working in an office nowadays, this joint dream reignites that part of him. Considering my project management mindset, I think we would make a great team. While I am more realistic, he is definitely the dreamer: the perfect combination!’

Babs van Ballegooie (1986)

Studied: MSc International Business, University of Maastricht (2011)

Started working at Accenture: September 2015

Relationship status: Married to Philip

Loves: Cooking a multi-course dinner with Philip for friends, accompanied by a good glass of wine and enjoying a fantastic evening together

Gets annoyed by: Injustice

Favorite food: Pasta Vongole

On my nightstand: My cell phone and Philip’s wake-up light (truth is, I need it more than him)

Listens to: Coldplay, French music (chansons and modern)

Last purchase: Traditional “dirndl” for a team event at the Oktoberfest in Munich

Would like to sit next to in the plane: Floortje Dessing – I totally love her show ‘Floortje naar het einde van de wereld’

Life-changing event: It’s not a single event, but all of my combined experiences from my travels have broadened my mind

The best lesson life has taught me: Don’t just enjoy the destination, but the journey as well

What I learned last week: During a business update I was asked whether “I feel at home” in my work. I, once again, realized how perfectly in place I feel where I am right now, surrounded by inspiring colleagues both in Heerlen and in Munich

Most beautiful place on earth: Patagonia, Argentina (but actually the whole of Argentina)

Hobbies/passions: Traveling, quality time with friends, cooking and drinking good wine

What nobody knows about me: I am an open book

Life motto: Seize all opportunities life throws at you, make the most of it, and, above all, enjoy!