At age 18, SAP Consultant Ruurd Feitsma (31) and two friends 'road tripped' through Europe for three months: a life-changing experience. ‘It was like a crash course in independence; it taught me how to deal with challenges and the unexpected; I returned home more mature and self-aware than I left.’

 

‘Along the way, we passed through 27 countries and covered over 27,000 km, staying at various campsites on the route. The three of us met in high school and we all started studying straight afterward, but all dropped out around the same time. Doing some traveling before the second attempt at university seemed like a smart idea.’

‘And it really was! Over the course of those three months we did, saw and experienced so many crazy things - from navigating an endless pothole-filled road in Romania with one of us on the car roof as a guide, to dealing with corrupt cops in Zagreb. I remember a night in Bucharest when my two friends, after a few drinks, got into a fight over a girl and I had to mediate. If anything, the experience taught me how to deal with challenges quickly and effectively.’

A Beta with Alpha Aspirations

‘After that, it was time for that second attempt at university, this time in a program that I’d hopefully stick with for more than three months. During high school, I excelled at the more beta-focused subjects, like maths and physics, which is why, prior to my travels, I had enrolled in studies at the Delft University of Technology. But I quickly realized that I was looking for something that wasn’t just technical and beta focused, but which incorporated business thinking too. Aside from coming up with clever technology, I was eager to get involved in figuring out how best to market and implement that tech in companies. Studying Science and Innovation Management turned out to be the perfect choice as it essentially bridges my two areas of interest: business and technology.’

‘After completing my Bachelor’s degree in Utrecht, I continued to do my Master’s at the University of Amsterdam. While in Utrecht, I was a good student but I sort of just went with the flow. However, during my Master of Business Studies, I became a whole lot more diligent. I had really found my “thing”, and, as we all know, once you’ve discovered a path you enjoy, it’s so much easier to give it your all. That said, I still knew how to have a good time and would make room every now and then for a break, the occasional beer (sometimes more than one) and the partying that is an unavoidable part of student life.’

Find a Girl That Resembles My Mother

‘I met Loes seven years ago while we were both studying in Utrecht. She comes from Zwolle, but moved to Utrecht to study and now works as a nurse in the Cardiac Care Unit. Which is odd because my mom has a comparable story: she studied in Zwolle and also went into nursing. So when people say men choose women who resemble their mothers, they kind of hit the nail on the head in my case.’

Building Our Dream House

‘We recently bought our first house together. After having lived in an apartment in the heart of Utrecht for over four years, we are now moving to a house for “grown-ups” approximately 300 meters from the city center. While that’s still very close, it’s a big change for us to not be in the center of the action anymore. I suppose it’s time to bid farewell to drunk students and deal with yuppies with their Bugaboos and bakfietsen.’

‘Since we got the keys, we have been doing a fair bit of DIY work around the house. My grandfather, who used to be a furniture maker, taught me how to work with my hands. If time would allow it, I would love to do all the refurbishments myself, but since we want to move in sooner rather than later, we’re leaving the big renovations to the professionals. I love watching TV shows that feature people building their dream homes, which is secretly something I hope to do one day too: find an old church or factory and completely transform it into our dream house.’

Challenged in Every Way

‘I have been working at Accenture for 4,5 years now, so I suppose it’s a good time to reflect on my journey here. Before I started at the organization, I did a short stint at another company, where I had signed for a two-year traineeship shortly after graduating. What I had hoped would be a fantastic experience with diverse challenges and international opportunities turned out to be anything but that. I remember the sense of disappointment I felt on my first day already, worrying I had made the wrong choice. But I figured I couldn’t quit after just one day, so I committed to sticking it out for three months to see if it would improve. It didn’t. Shortly after I resigned, I got in touch with Accenture. Within 1,5 weeks of sending my motivation letter, I had a signed contract in my hands.’

‘Everything I felt I was missing at that other company, I found at Accenture. Right off the bat, I was placed in a group working on a request-for-proposal (RFP) pitch for a big client, and I spent the next three months on this. Being part of such project straight away and having the chance to get deeply involved in all the ins and outs was extremely challenging, in the best way possible. And every project I’ve worked on since has been just as rewarding. The past 4,5 years have been a steep learning curve. I have gained so much knowledge in every area, from the on-the-ground technical stuff to how to supervise a team, interact with staff and maintain relationships with key business stakeholders.’

Everything I felt I was missing at that other company, I found at Accenture

‘There are many reasons why I love my job and working with SAP in particular. For one, being an SAP Consultant allows me to bridge the domains of technology and business, which, as I mentioned earlier, is a balance I’ve long enjoyed. On the one hand, there’s the technology that has a zillion applications, and then on the other, there’s a company that has a problem it wants solving. Some people are convinced that SAP is a bit old-fashioned, but it’s definitely not: in fact, it’s the software’s innovations that intrigue me most. SAP sits at the forefront of the drive to integrate new innovations into the software so as to best support organizations in today’s disruptive markets. It’s never a case of just taking existing software and mass applying it to organization’s challenges. Rather, every project requires that we take inventory, make adjustments, redesign features and customize - and this applies to both the software but even more to the organization itself. It’s a complex process that requires knowledge of technology, processes, and human behavior. As an SAP consultant, I find myself in the middle of that triangle, which makes my role challenging, fascinating and fulfilling, all at the same time.’

What’s a Party Without a Smoke Machine?

‘Loes and I are getting married at the end of May. As we were both born with a healthy dislike of rules and conventions, we’ve planned a less traditional celebration that suits us. It will be a three-day event taking place at a campsite, or should I say, “glamp”site. The whole event will be a little hippie-esque, starting with welcome drinks on Friday night and ending with a brunch on Sunday. All guests will stay over at the campsite, and over the course of the weekend, there’ll be a ceremony, ball games, some more drinks, a lavish barbecue, a DJ and a big party. Back in the day, my younger brother and I used to have our own drive-in show, which left me with a deep love for disco lights and smoke machines. So, while the wedding will hold a few surprises for our guests, they can rest assured there will be smoke machines present. Afterwards, Loes and I are off to Italy for a one-week honeymoon. The second ‘real’ honeymoon will then take place later this year when we travel to South Africa for three weeks.’

Ruurd Feitsma (1986)

Studied: MSc Business Studies, International Management, University of Amsterdam (2013)

Started working at Accenture: January 2014

Relationship status: Engaged to Loes

Loves: Watching Utrecht wake up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning

Gets annoyed by: I’m not easily annoyed, but I don’t like it when I hear people - colleagues, especially - bad-mouth others

Favorite food: Beef Rendang

On my nightstand: We still need to buy nightstands

Listens to: During work hours I like to listen to Radio 4 (classical music), but outside of work I’ll happily tune in to a techno set by Joris Voorn

Last purchase: A new dining table and couch

Would like to sit next to in the plane: Loes

Life-changing event: The European road trip I did with my friends, Maarten and Michiel, in 2006

The best lesson life has taught me: Never put yourself above others

What I learned last week: How important it is to prioritize, especially if you’re trying to do more than one thing at a time

Most beautiful place on earth: Carretera Austral, a 1240-km highway through rural Patagonia in Chile

Hobbies/passions: Fine dining, gadgets

What nobody knows about me: That I am hearing impaired in my left ear and have had a titanium hammer implanted to correct the problem

Life motto: Live life to the fullest

Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Judith Blenken Blijdenstein and inspires her on a daily basis? How have Max Smidt's life, career, ambitions, and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices has Stefan Rouwen 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.