Few things make Max happier than Saturdays spent grocery shopping for that night's dinner party. ‘Preparing the perfect meal correlates with my job as Marketing & Communications Manager. It’s about finding the best ingredients and ensuring they come together at the right place, at the right time.’

Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Stefan Rouwen and inspires him on a daily basis? How have Joëlle Mpinganzima's life, career, ambitions, and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices has Eddy Rotmensen' 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.

‘My love for cooking started when I was a young boy watching my mother in the kitchen. It wasn't that my mother was an extraordinary cook, but just her preparing dinner for the family every day piqued my interest. It started with me helping out with the stirring and cutting and grew to me baking cakes and assisting with Christmas dinner preparations. My mom also subscribed to monthly cooking magazines, which I loved browsing through and looking at recipes. During my time at the hotel school, I was part of the so-called “Kitchen Brigade”, a team that competed in cooking contests with other hotel schools, and I enjoyed it greatly.’

I love spending the whole day in the kitchen and seeing it all come together

‘It’s not just cooking I like, it’s the whole concept: it’s all about presenting a perfectly prepared meal, complementing it with a good glass of wine, decorating the table and ensuring everyone has a great time. Basically, I want the night to be a memorable experience for all. The process of creating something from scratch is also something I love. From visiting the stores and selecting ingredients, to going home and formulating a recipe based on taste and texture, the whole experience is thrilling.'

Chef Around the House

‘My wife, Inge, mostly sees cooking merely as a necessity. Sure, she can cook a decent meal - her boerenkool stamppot and meatballs are great! - but she lacks the passion for it and, thus, rather doesn’t put too much time and effort into it. This means that I get to play chef in our house most of the time. Luckily, our 9-year-old daughter Carlijn, who seems to have inherited my passion for cooking, plays sous chef often. So far, Carlijn mainly bakes cookies, makes scrambled eggs and cuts vegetables, but she is eager to learn, so I am hopeful.’

‘Good food or wine doesn’t have to be expensive, contrary to popular belief. Yes, I rather go to an artisanal cheese store and specialized butcher as opposed to the supermarket, but you won’t see me buying a bottle of wine that costs 80 euros. For me, it is about cooking something with love and passion, and I firmly believe that makes a difference in how a meal tastes. Moreover, if you use good ingredients, combined with passion, something delicious will come out of it anyway.’

The Right Time at the Right Place

‘That belief doesn’t only ring true in the kitchen, but also in marketing: when you create products and services with passion and conviction, it is very apparent in the end result. Not only is it visible, but it also surpasses a certain quality and pays dividends, so to speak. That’s not the only parallel I see between cooking and marketing, though. In marketing, it’s about gathering all of the best tools and ensuring you put them all together at the right time and place, too. In order to offer them, your clients or guests, the best possible meal, product or service, you need to anticipate all wishes and demands of your dinner party, look for the ingredients that suit their wants best and, if needed, adjust your menu accordingly. Ultimately, there’s only one thing that counts: whether your client thinks your “meal” was fantastic and all they had ever hoped for, or more.’

‘Becoming a professional chef was never on the cards. Cooking is definitely my greatest passion, but it’s not my “calling” or something I would necessarily enjoy doing every day. That said, I greatly admire Sergio Herman, a chef in a 3-star Michelin restaurant. I greatly enjoyed the documentary “Fucking Perfect” about his life: his ambition and level of perfection - which is art, really - is truly very admirable. However, it also makes you wonder if it’s a lifestyle you want to pursue; merely to live for the presentation of the plate. But I’ll admit, I often daydream about being grey and old and buying an old farm in Spain or France and starting a small table d'hôte. There I can just cook for a small group of guests every day, or just for Inge and me. One day…”

A Shattered Dream

‘Speaking about ambitions, thus far my career sort of just “happened”. As a young boy, I remember having two professional goals: the first one, I remember, was that I was going to be an acrobat, followed by becoming a biologist. The hotel school balanced hospitality and business with theory and practice. So, I had my mind set on becoming the country’s best F&B manager at a hotel. However, that dream was shattered during my first internship in Cologne, when I realized that the hospitality industry wasn’t the right fit. In the last years of my study I started focusing more on marketing and strategy, and officially bid farewell to hospitality after graduating.’

‘I joined Accenture in 2014, after having worked for my previous employer for nearly 15 years. Making the decision to leave a company after a substantial period of time wasn’t easy, but on the other hand, I was ready for a new challenge. I didn’t need long to realize I had made the right choice: I find the enormous diversity in subjects, knowledge, and dilemmas we deal with fascinating.’

‘This month marks my fourth year at Accenture; four years in which that fascination has only grown. I love the speed at which things happen and evolve, there’s truly never a dull moment. Reflecting on the past is only relevant when focusing on what you can learn from it, but all eyes are set on the future; that’s where we can truly make a change. There is power in focusing on what lies ahead because you can influence outcomes. I firmly believe people should live in the present and experience the now as consciously as they can.’

Happy Saturday Mornings

‘One of my happiest times is definitely Saturday morning. While Inge and Carlijn sleep in, I get up early - I’m not a late sleeper - walk downstairs to get the newspaper, turn on some jazz and make myself a real espresso. Reading the paper from front to back while sipping on a good cup of coffee in a house so quiet you could hear a pin drop is the highlight of every week for me. That said, I’m just as happy a few hours later, when I find myself on the hockey field coaching Carlijn’s team - it’s great to see her and a bunch of other girls play their hearts out.’

‘Carlijn’s birth changed my life. Of course, every father would say that, but it’s a different story with us because getting pregnant was quite the emotional journey. We would’ve loved to have more children, but fate had something else in mind for us.

Carlijn is the biggest gift of our lives, and we are so grateful that we get to be her parents. She has been the center of our universe since day one. For the past nine years, we have been trying to help her grow and develop, offering her all we have - advice, knowledge, experience, a lot of fun but also tears. Slowly but surely, you see her develop into her own personality. I find witnessing a human being “become” absolutely amazing.’

I find witnessing a human being “ become ” absolutely amazing

‘Both Inge and I have our alone time with Carlijn; while Inge spent three days with her in Paris last summer, I get to take her to Rome later this year. Last summer, all three of us took a surfing course in France, which we all loved. After finishing the first course, Carlijn and I signed up for another round. Getting up early together, walking to the beach, conversations between a father and his daughter - there is nothing better. Especially when at the end of the day, your little girl brags: “Dad, I managed to stand on my board and get to the beach around ten times - I don’t think you did even once, right?” Nothing makes me prouder.’

Max Smidt (1971)

Studied: Hotelschool, The Hague (1996), Masters in Marketing, TiasNimbas Business School (2002)

Started working at Accenture: April 2014

Relationship status: Married to Inge, father of Carlijn (9)

Loves: Quiet Saturday mornings, spending time with family and friends, enjoying tasty food and a good glass of wine, creating new memories

Gets annoyed by: When people don’t show confidence in co-workers and micro-manage them constantly

Favorite food: Anything, as long as it’s made with passion and good, fresh ingredients

On my nightstand: My alarm clock

Listens to: Jazz - specifically Ibrahim Maalouf

Last purchase: New skiing pants

Would like to sit next to on the plane: Carlijn - she has only experienced a plane trip twice and she thinks it is amazing. She’s itching to travel again

Life-changing event: Carlijn’s birth

The best lesson life has taught me: As fantastic as dreams are, don’t forget to live in the present and truly experience it

What I learned last week: At times, life can be cruel and difficult so always count your blessings

Most beautiful place on earth: Torres del Paine, Chile

Hobbies/passions: Cooking, sports (hockey)

What nobody knows about me: I have no secrets

Life motto: Whatever you do, do it with passion and commitment or don’t do it at all.