Next year marks her tenth anniversary at Accenture. What started as an idea of ‘let’s work one year abroad before returning home’, ended up as a life choice for Dionysia (Sissy) Polymenakou, Technology Manager at Accenture. 'If life is treating you well where you are, why leave?'

Introducing Dionysia Polymenakou, Technology Manager at Accenture Netherlands. 

‘It’s very common for Greek university graduates to do a second Master study overseas. Of course, it depends on whether or not you can afford it, but it plays a big factor in gaining employment locally since it helps you differentiate yourself. While most students at the time chose to go to the United Kingdom, I applied at the Technical University in Delft.’

‘I visited the Netherlands and Delft before as a tourist, and I had fond memories of both. The Greeks consider Holland to be a very liberal and open-minded country and, thus, an appealing place to live. I was very happy to be accepted to the university. Although I didn’t make long-term plans back then - I still haven’t made any - I envisaged I would finish my two-year Master’s program, perhaps work for a year or so, and then return to Athens.’

I Never Thought of Myself as a Consultant

‘My four close girlfriends at TU Delft and I graduated at roughly the same time, and all five of us were hired by Accenture. If it wasn’t for my enthusiastic friends, I don’t think I would have ever applied. I just never thought of myself as a consultant; I was gearing up to be an engineer. At that time, I don’t think I was able to properly describe what a consultant does.’

‘Nevertheless, I went for my interview, actually, three interviews, all planned in one day. I remember my friend Nikoo advising me “not to be overwhelmed upon entering the fancy building”. The moment I stepped into ITO, I understood what she meant: the building is beautiful yet quite intimidating. At the end of the day, I left that impressive building with a contract in my hands - the one signature missing was mine.’

The Beauty of Cross-Cultural Diversity

‘What the...just happened? ’

‘Of all the things I had to get accustomed to when I moved here, the Dutch directness was the biggest hurdle. Newcomers can easily perceive the Dutch no-frills approach as someone being impolite. There have been moments where I found myself confronted on the spot with direct feedback, handed to me without a smile, leaving me wondering “what the … just happened?” The direct confrontation often felt weird and uncomfortable and I took it all very personally.’

‘Those days are gone: not only have I come to accept this, but I also appreciate it, and have even adopted it. Directness means transparency; transparency means you know what to expect and, thus, is the most efficient way to communicate. I still believe the ‘message’ needs to be delivered with empathy, but it needs to be delivered regardless.’

‘The beauty of different cultures mingling and the challenges that come with it is something I experience at work daily. At Accenture the Netherlands, we have over 65 different nationalities and we operate in more than 120 different countries globally. Not to mention, the diversity of our clients: imagine the dynamics! Learning to adjust, adapt and be effective in such a setting is a constant source of inspiration for me. To help others realize and harness the power of cross-cultural diversity is the reason I took over the role of Inclusion and Diversity Cross-Cultural Lead in the company and shaped a fantastic team to bring the message across.’

Keeping All Balls in the Air Was Not Easy

‘My world changed when my daughter was born: nothing had prepared me enough for the magnitude of love, responsibility and entirely new perspective I got when Gioia entered my life. Plus the impact she had at how I work, of course. Having a kid in the daycare means you need to finish your work within the designated office hours; a whole new mentality for me.’

‘Suddenly my work day was tight and everything had to fit in: client work, internal work and social activities with colleagues. Attending events in the evening requires thorough planning with my boyfriend and decision-making: am I putting Gioia to bed or do I attend the evening training session? I learned to pick my battles carefully, but it wasn’t an easy process. Finding balance and being at peace with things you might miss at work was the biggest challenge.’

Captivated by Intelligence

’I am truly captivated by intelligence. When placed in environments with the right conditions, smart people can make a real difference in the world. Take a team of Accenture go-getters, give them a ‘sense of purpose’, inspire them with a topic and there you go: before you know it, the most incredible things happen! Whether an innovative software solution or a non-profit impactful project in remote India, it’s truly amazing!’

‘I feel very privileged to be surrounded by great minds, not only at work but also in my Greek family, friends and definitely my boyfriend. Martijn is actually a genius, probably the most self-inventive, creative, handy and modest (all-in-one) person I have ever met. Next to his demanding job, he has around 10,000 hobbies, ranging from restoring cars to making music and building boats. We met in Delft, although we weren’t a couple back then. Obviously, we had seen each other around, but we actually got together in Amsterdam just before I started working at Accenture.’

‘Our relationship evolved, after a while, we moved in together, relocated to Amsterdam and after a few years, we bought our own house. It’s a fantastic house that we bought at the right time - I’m still very excited to live there. Luckily, it’s big enough for the three of us and, soon, four of us. I’m expecting our second child - a boy - late January.’

I Like Having Plenty of Choices

‘I love Amsterdam. Being from Athens, I am a true city person: I need to have things happening around me. I love its multi-cultural character and the abundance of things to do - going to theatres, attending concerts, shopping etc. I like joking that whenever I go out, I come home with a phone number in my pocket. When I take my daughter to the playground, for instance, I always meet ten new mom-friends.’

‘Accenture is also a place that offers an abundance of choices. I have experienced a number of different clients and roles both in the Netherlands and abroad, in commercial as well as non-profit projects. Working in Technology means constant change: you need to follow the latest trends, be at the forefront of developments and adopt them in your work method. You need to realize that your knowledge today might be obsolete tomorrow. But if you are open-minded, listen well, connect and work hard, a whole world of options opens up. Come up with a great idea, connect with the right people and the company will let you shine.’

Dionysia (Sissy) Polymenakou (1982)

Studied: MSc Chemical Engineering, Athens (2005), MSc Management of Technology, Delft (2007)

Started working at Accenture: April 2008

Relationship status: Living together with Martijn, daughter Gioia (3) and soon-to-be-born son (due 21 January 2018)

Loves: Slow Saturday mornings

Gets annoyed by: Discrimination of any kind, slow people behind the cashier, illogical conclusions, injustice and incompetence

Favorite food: My mom’s grilled fish, Argentinian lomo steak with chimichurri

On my nightstand: Two books, a glass of water, earplugs, a cookie and my cell phone

Listens to: Radio Paradise (RadioParadise.com)

Last purchase: Sinterklaas presents

Would like to sit next to in the plane: My late father, who sadly passed away. I would like this to be a long flight, so that we chat and catch up on everything he’s missed the last 1,5 year

Life-changing event: My father’s passing and the birth of my daughter. Both experiences taught me to put things in perspective and what’s really is important in life

The best lesson life has taught me: Do not try to control everything and learn to embrace uncertainty

The best advice I was ever given: From my very first supervisor at work (Hi, Pieter) in the context of being very expressive at times: ‘You do not have to change, just always be aware of how people around you perceive you’

Most beautiful place on earth: I know I am strongly biased, but I cannot think of any place more beautiful than a traditional Greek tavern next to crystal clear sea water on a Greek island. I would love to be there with Martijn, drinking wine, eating fish and preparing for our next dive

Hobbies/passions: Depends on who you ask: according to some, I am passionate about almost everything; Martijn says my calling is taking care of others and I personally like to think my hobby is writing

What nobody knows about me: I like watching Formula 1

Life motto: Quality beats quantity

Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Marissa Jaggan and inspires her on a daily basis? How has John Jaques' life, career, ambitions and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices has Yogesh Sokhal 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.