‘Traveling Brings out the Explorer in Me – Curiosity Motivates Me’

Succeeding a Country Managing Director with a track record like that of Manon van Beek is by no means an easy feat. But if anyone can successfully fill her big shoes, it’s Irine Gaasbeek. As of June 1, she’s officially the new Country Managing Director of Accenture the Netherlands.

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‘If I were to pick a phrase to describe my life, "off the beaten track" would be a perfect choice. Being adventurous and finding alternative routes is what I like doing most, both in my professional and personal life. I love traveling to unusual destinations, for instance. Over the years, I have traveled to places such as India, Tibet, China, Africa and Alaska. Traveling brings out the explorer in me – curiosity motivates me. How do other cultures live? What norms and values do they have? It broadens my horizon and forces me to look at myself through different eyes. It helps me stay grounded and put my life into perspective: “Do I really have to worry about this as much as I do?”

Cultural Restructuring

‘I like to innovate at work. Every few years, I take on a different role at Accenture and delve into a new adventure with new clients and colleagues. I love building things, takings risks. Successfully completing a challenging assignment is incredibly satisfying and boosts my self-confidence. I love empowering a team that hasn’t reached its full potential just yet. Or putting a new team together, like in Financial Services, the department I was responsible for. The financial sector finds itself in the middle of a cultural restructuring. My team reflected that transition: it was an eclectic mix of men, women, traditional consultants and IT consultants, all with experience in different sectors and diverse backgrounds. The banking and insurance industries are traditionally known to be quite elitist, which drove me to purposefully build a diverse team in order to promote and support cultural reform. It’s only another example of me taking the road less traveled.’

No Longer a Company of Suits

‘With such diversity comes a whole new company dynamic, and I enjoy that thoroughly. I’m fascinated by people and the way they interact. It’s a fascination I have had for as long as I can remember. In college, I was a very active member of the student organization, which provided a perfect foil for my technical studies. Working with people contrasts nicely with the brainwork that consultancy primarily is. Diversity is not only seen in my teams, but stretches more and more throughout the entire organization too. Accenture has made great strides in this over the past years.’

Diversity is not only seen in my teams, but stretches more and more throughout the entire organization

‘Contrary to what people might think, it’s no longer a company where people walk around in suits, but has become a place where authenticity is welcomed. The focus is on the quality of the results and not necessarily on how it’s achieved - this enables a better work-life balance for all.’

Outsourcing All Domestic Chores

‘My personal and professional life need to co-exist seamlessly. I work when I feel like it and have the time for it, and, if need be, go above and beyond to meet an important deadline. A client meeting in Amsterdam is easily followed by a bit of shopping. Similarly, I am more than happy to open my desktop for a few hours of serious work on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I don’t have children, work full-time and have outsourced all domestic chores – including grocery shopping and ironing – so no need for me to worry about any of that. The time I save through this is spent on easy starts and perfect finishes to a work day: by reading the newspaper at the kitchen table or checking my e-mail.’

Portrait Irine Gaasbeek - Country Managing Director - Accenture the Netherlands

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Exciting Combination of Classic and Contemporary Design

‘Even though my work is my main hobby, I have other passions too. In addition to traveling, I am also fond of architecture and interior design. I live in a beautiful house in the center of Baarn – built in 1880 – which I restored to its former glory and decorated in an exciting combination of classic and contemporary design. In a different lifetime, I probably would have pursued interior design as my profession. In line with this passion lies my interest in fashion, which is all about colors and styles, too.’

In a different lifetime, I probably would have pursued interior design as my profession

Talking through the Day with Bruno and Karel

‘Until fairly recently I worked back to back. Nowadays, I take more time to relax. I live a healthy life and practice fitness and cardio regularly. On the other hand, I enjoy good food and dinners with family and friends. My friendship circle isn’t that big and consists more of a few special and loyal people. Every year, the girls from our student association embark on a city trip in Europe, and once every five years we fly to a sunny destination. Those are the best holidays. Although, my two grey cats, Bruno and Karel, help me relax most of all. They really imbue my house with warmth, so it doesn't feel like I'm coming home to an empty home. Holding them and feel their warmth when I cuddle them is a great feeling every time. I even talk to them about my day and, unlike people, they always listen.’

Irine Gaasbeek (1971)

Studied: Technical Mathematics, TU Delft (1994)

Started working at Accenture: April 1994

Relationship status: Living together with two cats

Loves: Chilling on the couch with a glass of wine at the end of the day

Gets annoyed by: People who don’t keep their promises

Favorite food: A delicious piece of cheese to go with my glass of wine

On my nightstand: My iPad, on which I read the newspaper and books, and sometimes play a game

Favorite music: The sound of a purring cat on my lap

Last purchase: An online order of my weekly shopping at the pick-up point

Would like to sit next to on the plane: Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba

Life-changing event: Almost every day, but you have to be open to a life-changing event when it comes around.

Most important lesson life has taught me: Learning to say “no”

Best advice I was ever given: Make sure you can take care of yourself and don’t have to depend on others

Most beautiful place on earth: Wow… there are so many. And still so many to explore!

Hobbies/passions: Traveling and architecture

What nobody knows about me: I have a knack for numbers and adore math puzzles

Life motto: Enjoy life!

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Author: Marike van Zanten