She loves that her job continues to challenge her daily - much like her two-year-old daughter Vivienne does at home. However, rules are strict: ‘When I’m with Vi, my laptop remains closed and my phone out of reach, and when I am at work, I don’t whatsapp the nanny every hour.’
‘After finishing my Bachelor in Economics I found myself feeling very unsatisfied. I enrolled in a pre-master’s program at the Free University, hoping that it would be more challenging. And it certainly was - all of a sudden I knew what it meant to really have to study. Although I wasn’t entirely sure of what I wanted to do career-wise, at some point I found myself moving in the direction of IT and Knowledge Management, an area that appealed to me. It’s funny, my mother is an accountant and my stepfather works in IT - without even meaning to, I turned out to be a well-balanced fusion of the two of them.’
‘When I was four years old, my younger brother and I moved in with a lady we called “Tante Tiny”. She was an older Dutch woman living in Heemstede who had no children of her own, but became a foster parent to more than 30 Chinese children over the years. We lived with her for three days during the week and went home the other days and on weekends. As my mother was a single parent working two jobs and studying at the same time, this arrangement was an ideal solution and the only way to make things work. While she was born in Hong Kong, my mom moved to the Netherlands when she was 14, a few years after my grandfather opened a Chinese restaurant here.'
'My dad, on the other hand, is originally from Singapore, but he wasn’t involved in our upbringing and he passed away when I was 14. My mother and her siblings had to work in my grandfather’s restaurant, but all had different plans for their futures. In her free time, my mom studied Accountancy. If it wasn’t for Tante Tiny, my mother would never have been able to build her own career the way she did - I am extremely proud of her for making it happen.’’
Tante Tiny and Her Little Namesake
‘My daughter Vivienne’s second name is Catharina, which was Tante Tiny’s real name. She was an amazing lady who meant a great deal to me. She used to wash dishes at the local Chinese restaurant, until that became too much for someone of her age. One of the chefs then asked her if she would be interested in looking after his children for a few days every week. Apparently, one thing led to another. Everybody in town knew who she was. She used to drive around in a van, dropping off “her” Chinese children at school and picking us up again. While other people might have thought it was strange, it felt completely normal to us - it was just the way things were.’
‘All in all, I lived with Tante Tiny for eight years, until I was 12, and my brother stayed with her for even longer. During this time, one of my cousins and two other girls also lived there, and I’m still extremely close to them today - I consider them my sisters. Sadly, Tante Tiny passed away two years ago on the 29th of February at the age of 89. The fact that she died on leap day, which only occurs once every four years, is very appropriate considering the unique and remarkable person she was. Vivienne was born just two months after Tante Tiny died. I wish she could have met her, but sadly, it just wasn’t meant to be.’
The Wolf Pack - and Baby Wolf
‘All my friends truly are like family to me. Most of them have been in my life since high school, or even primary school, so we know each other inside out. We have gone through life’s ups and downs together and we’re always there for each other during crucial moments in our lives. Particularly special to me is a group of five of us - one guy, Do, and four girls, including me - who call ourselves the “wolf pack”. Until two years ago, we’d spend every summer holiday together in Hong Kong. For five weeks we’d stay with each other’s families, travel around and just have the most amazing time. I must admit that since I had Vivienne, that tradition has somewhat fallen away - our last trip was when I was five months pregnant.’
‘Although I’m the only one of my close friends who has settled down and had a baby, we’re still a close-knit group, and they are extremely involved in Vi’s life - we often joke that Vi has four moms and two daddies. They call her “baby wolf” and spoil her rotten. As far as spoiling her goes, I’m also guilty as charged. Especially on Wednesdays, my “mamadag”. I am currently in the process of changing my work hours to 4x9 hours. It’s an option that was only recently introduced, and I am very pleased it was. Wednesdays are really just for me and Vi. On these days, I have no difficulty switching off from work completely - I don’t feel I need to take calls or respond to emails.’
‘While I might make that sound easy now, it definitely wasn’t when I first came back from maternity leave. I struggled to find a balance between being a mom and being a working woman: when I was at the office, I thought about Vi constantly, and when I was at home, I worried about falling behind at work. It took a few good talks with friends and colleagues to realize the importance of separating the two roles. These days, I adhere to some pretty strict rules: when I’m with Vi, my laptop remains closed and my phone out of reach, and when I am at work, I don’t want to whatsapp the nanny every five minutes to ask if Vi is alright and if she has slept and eaten well.’
Vi’s Atypical Sleeping Pattern
‘Talking about sleeping, Vi is quite a late riser - she usually sleeps until 9 or 10 in the morning. It has turned out this way because she also goes to bed relatively late, at around 9 p.m. My boyfriend, Yueng, works at night because he runs his own restaurant, so the mornings are his time with Vi. I, on the other hand, have to leave for work before she wakes up, so the hours after I get home in the evenings - usually no later than 7 p.m. - are my quality time with her. Other people might think that it is slightly odd, but for us it works like a charm. My night with Yueng only really starts when he comes home from the restaurant around 10 p.m.: we’ll watch some Netflix, eat together, I do some work or we have friends over. I am a true night owl: I hardly ever go to bed before 1 a.m. Luckily, my body is used to getting little sleep.’
I think it’s important [...] to connect with one another, next to our daily work
‘I’m not sure if I expected to still work at Accenture nearly eight years later - it’s the first company I started working for after my studies, after all. What really keeps me happy and on my toes here is the continuous challenge provided by all the different projects, clients and industries I’ve been involved with over the years. Moreover, my colleagues within the SAP Group definitely play an important role in my job satisfaction. We’re a pretty great group of talented, motivated professionals who are driven to provide the best results possible. Within the SAP Finance Group, we have monthly “Lunch & Learn” sessions, which I think is a great initiative. I think it’s important that we learn about what others are dealing with, and just have time to connect with one another, next to our daily work. As much as I can talk to Yueng and my friends about my work and what it entails, no one understands this part of me quite like my colleagues do.’
Iris Mei Li Wong (1985)
Studied: Master of Business Administration, Free University Amsterdam (2009).
Started working at Accenture: November 2010.
Relationship status: Living with Yueng; mother to Vivienne (2).
Loves: When my daughter wakes up in the middle of the night and wants a hug - sleepy as she is.
Gets annoyed by: Insincerity.
Favorite food: Grandma’s food and Asian street food.
On my nightstand: My phone and my glasses.
Listens to: Spotify – Sevn Alias, Trey Songz, French Montana, Drake, Frenna, Jonna Fraser.
Last purchase: Outdoor lounge set for our garden.
Would like to sit next to on the plane: Tante Tiny.
Life-changing event: Vi’s birth.
The best lesson life has taught me: I always had this preconceived idea that the ideal consultant is a slick, smart guy. And I don’t fit this bill at all. I can be quite an introvert and have often been told that I am too quiet and should speak up more. However, I have always believed that staying true to who I am is the only thing that works for me, and I’ve managed to get to where I am today without having to become slick or loud
What I learned last week: You don’t know what you don’t know. I was moving our developed functionality (a new subject to me) into the test environment recently, and everything was working fine in the afternoon. But that evening, while doing some additional tests, I kept running into the same issue, which was hugely frustrating. The next day I consulted a colleague, who pointed me to a simple step I didn’t even consider, because while he had seen it a million times before, I had no knowledge of it yet.
Most beautiful place on earth: Hong Kong - it’s really a 24/7 city where you can eat, shop and have fun every hour of the day.
Hobbies/passions: Wakeboarding, shopping/fashion, cooking (when I have the time) or long dinners with friends or family.
What nobody knows about me: That I can have a proper meal at 1 a.m. It happens quite often that I ask friends who come over to get me some McDonalds (which is down the street) or we order via Thuisbezorgd.nl at odd hours of the morning. And no, I wasn’t even pregnant!
Life motto: Always stay true to yourself!
Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Vincent Kneefel and inspires him on a daily basis? How have Ruurd Feitsma's life, career, ambitions, and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices has Judith Blenken Blijdenstein 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.