How many 37-year-old grandfathers do you know? Not many, right? Meet Harm Jan Nijlunsing, Manager Digital Interactive and Mobility at Accenture Netherlands, but also a (foster) family man you don’t often come across. ‘I have always believed there’s more to life than work.’

Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Savitri Groag and inspires her on a daily basis? How has Mashad Bani-Aman's life, career, ambitions and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices has Laura van den Hurk made in her 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.

Harm Jan Nijlunsing, manager Accenture Digital, playing with his kids

Introducing Harm Jan Nijlunsing, Manager Digital Interactive and Mobility at Accenture Netherlands​. 

‘Sure, work is important, particularly when you like - or even love - the work that you do. But enjoying life is just as important. Making sure your life/work balance is intact is essential to me, especially considering the fact that my personal life is both fantastic and intense at the same time.’

‘I met my wife when I was 20 years old. She is a decade older than me, and when I met her, she already had two children from a previous relationship. At the time, they were 6 and 8 years old. Fast forward to today, and they are fully independent adults aged 23 and 25 who have blessed my wife and I with two grandchildren. This doesn’t mean our house is an empty nest; on the contrary, after my two stepchildren left, we became foster parents to children with special needs. It was thanks to my wife’s role as teacher at a school for children with special needs that she realized there is more she can offer these children. By becoming foster parents, we felt like we made a positive contribution to their lives.’

From a shy, anxious boy to a naughty, fearless one

Soon after that, a little 4-year-old boy moved in with us. He was a sweet, but very shy and anxious little boy who came from a broken home. We welcomed him into our family and tried our best to make him feel safe and loved. At that time, his 1-year older sister was in a foster family where things didn’t work out and was about to be sent to an institution. Instead, we decided we wanted to see if we could integrate her into our home too.’

‘Today, he is 9 and she is 10, and they’re both doing relatively well. Of course, it’s not always easy, they both are kids with special needs, but it’s fantastic to see how they have grown and developed over the years. If I look at him now - a sweet, naughty and sometimes even fearless boy - it’s hard to picture him as the shy, anxious boy he was five years ago. Witnessing that change is truly fantastic. Last October, we also welcomed a 2-year-old girl to our home, but that’s temporary - if all goes well, she’ll move back in with her mother in the next few months. The others will stay with us until they’re 18 years old - or even older. To me, being a foster parent is the perfect balance to being a manager at Accenture.’

Harm Jan together with his family

Becoming a manager never occurred to me

‘It’s funny, when I was younger and someone asked me what I wanted to become when I grow up, it was always very clear to me: I wanted to work in IT. Being a manager never occurred to me, but I found myself on that path over time working at Accenture. I started at the company 15 years ago, at an organization called E Factory, which was one of Accenture’s sister companies. My roles have always revolved around technology and everything it encompasses, which is great because technology is my true passion.

Accenture has pushed me to be more ambitious in my career.

‘However, I had my doubts when I initially interviewed for the position at Accenture. I thought the company possibly was too much of a consultancy firm for me. Yet, when I started working for the company, I quickly realized I was in the right place: my first project was at Schiphol and lasted three years. In that time, I got all the opportunities to do what I love, try new things, experiment, programme and above all - fulfill my passion every day. Over the years, I have had various roles at different clients and within the organization - the possibilities were endless. Initially, I didn’t really have a long-term vision. In all fairness, Accenture has pushed me to be more ambitious in my career. In 2012, I became a manager.’

‘The fact that Accenture provides the opportunity to constantly be on top of new, cutting-edge technology is one of the things I love most about my job. For instance, last week, when I attended the Internet of Things Day in Utrecht, a conference that focused on technological developments. I picked up a Hololens and the Oculus Rift; by having these first-hand encounters with groundbreaking inventions, I stay inspired and motivated. It stokes the fire of my passion.’

The digital hipsters have taken over

‘I also like that the company is becoming less consultancy-oriented and more focused on the “techies” of the world. Ten years ago I had to wear my suit every day; these days, it’s fine if I wear jeans and a shirt. I see this ‘informalizing’ process as a good thing. The times techies were locked up in a basement coding are behind us; the so-called “digital hipsters” have taken their place. They are dedicated and communicative people who love talking about their passion and sharing it with others. That’s why I think it’s essential to have technical people in higher positions - there’s no way a leader can manage and inspire people if he or she doesn’t feel that true passion for technology.’

Harm Jan's wife Quira holding their foster child

Harm Jan Nijlunsing (1979)

Studied: Computer Science, Hanzehogeschool Groningen (2001)
Started working at Accenture: January 2002
Relationship status: Married to Quira, stepfather of two children, stepgrandfather of two children, foster father of two children  
Loves: Gadgets
Gets annoyed by: Commercials: I try avoiding them as much as I possibly can (meaning I don’t watch commercial TV)
Favorite food: Lamb chops
On my nightstand: ‘Als dan toch’ by Garmt van Soest and ‘Ik ben oke jij bent een sukkel’ by Berthold Gunster (the last one was a gift from my stepdaughter)
Listens to: Pink Floyd
Last purchase: A USB switch on DX.com
Would like to sit next to in the plane: Preferably no one. As soon as I board a plane I order a double whisky, put in earplugs, wear my sleep mask and drift away
Life-changing event: Registering as foster parents for children with special needs
The best lesson life has taught me: Try not to grow too soon - you can only grow upwards; taking a step back is difficult
What I learned last week: At the Internet of Things Day in Utrecht I learned new ways to apply augmented reality on everyday life
Most beautiful place on earth: British Columbia, Canada
Hobbies/passions: Walking (both with friends or with the dog), movies and playing Grand Theft Auto V (a terrible game, I know)
What nobody knows about me: Nothing, I’m an open book
Life motto: Be grateful for what you have - many people tend to focus on what they don’t have, while I often look around me and can’t help but think how lucky I am to have all the things I do.