Of all the novelties Renée van Brummelen, Technology Consulting Analyst at Accenture, had to get used to when she moved to the Netherlands as a 19-year-old girl, the two biggest were cycling in a busy city and using a strippenkaart.

'When I was younger, I dreamed of becoming a doctor. My dad worked as an anesthesiologist assistant and I just found the medical world fascinating. Whenever my dad took me to the hospital, I was very impressed by all the “cool” people working there. But when I found out how long it takes to study medicine, let’s just say my enthusiasm faded quite quickly. Nevertheless, I never lost my passion for the medical world.’

‘It was also my dad and his wanderlust that pushed my parents to move to Curaçao after my older sister was born. Even though both my parents were born and raised in Holland, they always dreamed of living elsewhere. While I was born in Curaçao, when I was two, my parents moved back to the Netherlands, but they got restless again pretty soon afterward. This time, they moved to Switzerland, to a tiny village near Bern with a mere 3,000 inhabitants - and twice as many cows.

'Growing up in such a small community and protected environment was great when my sisters and I were little, but as we got older, it became rather boring. When we started high school, we would take a train to a nearby town - that was our idea of an adventure!’

Taking the plunge

‘After high school, I went to Curaçao for six months. The idea was to use this time to think about my next step - what to study - and to explore my birthplace. But I must admit, instead of rediscovering my roots, I spent most of my time “discovering” the party places. I met a lot of foreign students who were doing internships or studying on the island, and it made me realize that there were other options for me too: I didn’t have to stay in Switzerland to study; I could also move somewhere new. I started investigating the option of studying in the Netherlands. After all, I was Dutch, spoke the language and had extended family living there. I decided to take the plunge and enroll at the Utrecht University.’

I also had to get my head around the Dutch “bluntness” - as a somewhat shy, insecure girl, I wasn’t all that comfortable with being so straightforward.

‘Even though my parents gave us a very Dutch upbringing - they only spoke Dutch to us, celebrated Sinterklaas almost religiously and followed many other traditions from Holland - moving to Utrecht was still quite a culture shock for me. Despite having visited the Netherlands numerous times before, there were still some things that took some getting used to. Cycling in a busy city was one of them; another was the protocol around how to use a strippenkaart. I felt so embarrassed about my lack of knowledge about the latter that I pretended to be an ignorant tourist and asked the driver how the system worked in English. Lastly, I also had to get my head around the Dutch “bluntness” - as a somewhat shy, insecure girl, I wasn’t all that comfortable with being so straightforward. During those first few months, I took the train from Utrecht to Hillegom to spend the weekend with my grandparents at least once a month - I needed the emotional support and advice.’

Leaving all options open

‘Slowly but surely I found my feet. I loved living in Utrecht - I still do! - and enjoyed my courses. My decision to study Information Science was a strategic choice. I liked the IT component and I have definitely always had a thing for exact sciences, but I also wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as a career and I figured that choosing a broad area of study would leave all options open, so to speak.’

Of course, making a profit is important, but surely there is more to a career than that.

‘But when I graduated from my bachelor’s degree, I felt a little unfulfilled. Above all else, I felt that the program focused heavily on the business side of things, but neglected the more human, social considerations. Of course, making a profit is important, but surely there is more to a career than that. I decided that doing a Master’s in Medical Informatics would bridge these two worlds, while also giving me access to the healthcare world, which I still found intriguing. But before I went back to university, I headed to South America to travel for six months.’

Conquering the world

‘Although I was a little scared to travel alone before I left for this part of the world, those three months turned out to be nothing short of amazing. I traveled from Peru to Brazil, via Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, and during that time, I learned how to truly rely on myself. It was an incredible confidence booster to undertake such a trip by myself, and I realized that I was capable of dealing with whatever challenges this world throws at me pretty well on my own.’

This drew in opportunities like moths to a flame - my phone wouldn’t stop ringing.

‘When I graduated from my master’s, I uploaded my CV to Monsterboard. In my profile, I mentioned some of the programming courses that were part of my curriculum, and this drew in opportunities like moths to a flame - my phone wouldn’t stop ringing. Accenture was one of the companies that contacted me, and the recruiter’s passionate narrative about the organization’s Health and Public Services really piqued my interest. The trouble was that I was about to board a plane to travel to Southeast Asia for three months (yes, another lengthy trip). I had hardly unpacked my suitcase after coming back from that trip when the recruiter called me again. Shortly after that, I signed my contract. One of the most significant reasons I chose to work for Accenture is that the company, and especially the Health and Public Services department, really considers both the business side of things, as well as society.’

Work hard, play hard

‘That was in December 2015. Looking back, these past 2,5, almost 3, years have been incredibly challenging. Working for Accenture has definitely been a case of “work hard, play hard”, and I’ve loved that, but what I’ve enjoyed even more is how diverse my professional life is. Every day, something different lies in store for me, and that’s what keeps my job so interesting and stimulating.'

Every day, something different lies in store for me, and that’s what keeps my job so interesting and stimulating.

'As an analyst, I have to both be knowledgeable about systems and projects and be part of the actual implementation. I used to think that consultants remained quite distant from the organization they’re working with, but I was wrong: consultants actually become an integral part of the client’s team.’

‘My boyfriend, Tim, is also a consultant. We met through a mutual friend at a festival four years ago. Even though consulting is definitely an industry that can keep you working around the clock, I have learned how to say "no" over time. That said, if I don’t say "no", Tim will on my behalf: he’ll sternly tell me to put away my phone after 7 p.m. on weekdays or over weekends. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance and making time to relax is very important to us.’

Good wine, good company, good times

‘For me, relaxing means various different things, but ideally, it always includes a glass of good wine and great company. I have never really cared much about food, but I truly look forward to a glass of delicious wine. This is probably enhanced by the fact that I associate it with time spent with Tim on our (tiny) balcony, or evenings with friends on a terrace or at a bar, where laughter and great conversation are the norm. That said, I’m definitely not a wine connoisseur. On the contrary: I pick a bottle based on whether I like the label.’

I’m definitely not a wine connoisseur. On the contrary: I pick a bottle based on whether I like the label.

‘A big passion that Tim and I share is traveling. We often joke that if we didn’t both love exploring the world as much as we do, we probably wouldn’t have been together. While his focus is often on food - he likes to sample all the local cuisine in a new country - I put more emphasis on the climate of the destination. I love visiting places with lots of sunshine. But not because I want to lie on the beach all day; quite the opposite: we want to experience life as the locals live it. To me, that’s one of the most fascinating parts of traveling: learning about other people’s customs and lifestyles. Tim and I once spent ten days in Myanmar - that was by far the most fantastic place we’ve visited together. We hope to live abroad for a longer period of time - to travel not just for a holiday, but to work elsewhere for a few years. One day...’

Renée van Brummelen (1990)

Studied: MSc Medical Informatics (cum laude), University of Amsterdam (2015)

Started working at Accenture: December 2015

Relationship status: Living with boyfriend Tim

Loves: Good wine; summer (preferably combined with a glass of good wine); winter (snow!); Sinterklaas; and cats

Gets annoyed by: Having to wait for things (I am very impatient) and traffic jams

Favorite food: Paneer butter masala, sushi, and frankfurter sausages

On my nightstand: I don’t have a nightstand

Listens to: The Black Keys, Coldplay and ‘Your Daily Mix’ on Spotify

Last purchase: A router

Would like to sit next to in the plane: Tim

Life-changing event: Moving to the Netherlands when I was 19 - my first step towards independence

The best lesson life has taught me: That just ‘okay’ is sometimes good enough, too

What I learned recently: How to use the Accenture Delivery Methods (ADM) Estimator

Most beautiful place on earth: San Vicente, Palawan, Philippines

Hobbies/passions: Snowboarding, diving, going on holidays

What nobody knows about me: That I like sewing. I love going to the market on Saturday morning to buy new fabrics that I turn into clothes that I never end up wearing (because truth be told, they never really turn out to be as pretty as they were in my head)

Life motto: I don’t do life mottos!

Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Tu Ngo and inspires her on a daily basis? How has Sebastian Veldman's life, career, ambitions and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices did  Giovanna Römkens have to make 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.