‘I knew right there and then that one day, I wanted to work for this game-changer of a company’. A Dutch Air Force pilot was what Sebastian Veldman wanted to be but he soon switched to plan B, which was a fantastic turnaround point. 

After obtaining his Masters in Technology and Design, his practical, hands-on experience combined with his academic achievements make him a perfect all-rounder, fully equipped to be Innovation Lead at MOBGEN | Accenture Interactive.  

‘For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about The Royal Netherlands Air Force; flying an F-16 or Apache was my dream. The things these machines do up in the air - it’s magical. However, as disappointed as I was when I failed my test, it didn’t depress me as much as one might expect. The fact that my passion for the Air Force didn’t only rely on a passion for flying or being a pilot, but also had a lot to do with my fascination with technology. Before applying to join The Royal Netherlands Air Force, I had already done my Bachelor in Communication and Information Science - I knew a backup plan might come in handy, one day.’

‘So, when becoming a pilot was no longer possible, the question of “what’s next?” popped up. While I had really enjoyed my studies, the nature of the bachelor course was very hands-on. I felt like a well-rounded multimedia professional - the program had taught me great designing and developing skills, which I liked - but I felt I lacked a theoretical framework. Looking back, I am extremely happy I made the decision to pursue a Masters degree. The two years at Tilburg University complemented my practical know-how with the much-needed theoretical knowledge. From that point onwards, I felt comfortable calling myself a professional. 'Because I have knowledge of both sides of the spectrum, I can communicate effectively with coders as well as designers.' 

'I think this kind of all-rounder experience is essential when you are in charge of coordinating the type of projects we take on at MOBGEN.'

‘My first encounter with MOBGEN was during a 2013 national contest I competed in. When my pitch - I had developed a mobile broadcasting platform for citizen journalism - made it to the final eight, I had to face a professional panel of ten experts, which included MOBGEN’s CEO, Ron Vrijmoet. His presentation blew me away - when he talked about MOBGEN and what his company aimed to do, I knew right there and then that one day, I wanted to work for this game-changer of a company. The apparent digital-first approach, the focus on mobile innovation, design - it seemed almost too good to be true. Straight after his presentation, I went up to Ron to introduce myself - and that laid the foundation for where we are now.’

While I didn’t win the competition, I still felt victorious because I believe I “won” a new focus.

In many ways, the competition and the presence of companies like MOBGEN made leaving my job a no-brainer. Shortly after that, I resigned from my job as a digital media consultant at an advertising and marketing agency. At that time, I didn’t have a new job lined up, but deep down I knew it was going to be alright. And I was right.’

From on and off to a solid team - and much more

‘I started at MOBGEN in February 2014. I’ll admit that when I applied for the position of project manager initially, I knew it wasn’t my dream job, but I really just wanted to get a chance to work for this company. But I decided to be strategic about it: if I was going to be hired as a project manager, I may as well be the best project manager they had ever seen.  And it paid off: a year later I was promoted to business analyst. Fast forward another year and Accenture acquires the company. Back then, the so-called MOBGEN Lab was a bit of an on-again, off-again, project, which, as a stable part of the company, could turn into something great and enhance the MOBGEN brand. Of course, that required necessary resources, such as time and money.’

'I was fortunate enough to be given the chance to build the lab and gather a team of extremely talented people to help realize our goal: explore different technologies, hardware, and interfaces and see how they can improve the products and services for our clients. Starting with a team of four people sitting around one table on the third floor, we now have a team of twenty working from A Coruña and Amsterdam and a fully equipped LAB in an entire wing of the Amsterdam office. I am extremely proud of how we’ve grown and what we’ve achieved in just two years.’

A truly awesome team

‘Among these twenty people, eleven members are of diverse nationalities. We have experts from The Netherlands, USA, Spain, Romania, Taiwan, Singapore, Italy and Ireland. Also, there is almost a 50/50 division between men and women. The youngest person is in his early twenties, while the oldest team member is 60. This diversity wasn’t created on purpose; it just “happened”. Our oldest team member was one of our employee’s former teachers. The former student spoke so highly of him that we offered the teacher, who was on the verge of retiring, a job. 'But what truly makes us - and MOBGEN - unique, is the fact that we have all different talents operating under one roof: designers, developers, business analysts and project managers.'

'This interesting mix allows us to offer a complete end-to-end service and cultivate a unique dynamic. I believe that is our recipe for success'.

‘I met my wife, Macarena (Maca for short), nearly four years ago at a Friday afternoon drinks get-together at MOBGEN; she was the plus 1 of one of our Spanish employees. Maca grew up in Madrid but moved to the Netherlands 4 years ago. Was it love at first sight? Close enough, I’d say. The words that came to mind when I saw her were “Holy shit”.  This June, we got married in Madrid - I am truly over the moon’.

‘Maca has a background in art and helps upcoming artists to get a platform in Spain. One of our shared passions is the new wave movement of art interacting with technology. It's called experiential design, and it combines art and science, design and engineering, with a great story at the heart to create memorable and meaningful experiences. I find this trend very inspiring, and I love how Maca and I both look at it from different perspectives. She has a more industry angle, while I bring in the appreciation of all things technology and design. Needless to say, it makes for interesting discussions about art and how inspirational it is.’

Sebastian Veldman (1987)

Studied: MSc Business Communication and Digital Media, TIlburg University (2012)

Started working at Accenture: MOBGEN - February 2014

Relationship status: Married to Macarena

Loves: Travelling around, exploring different cultures and trying new things

Gets annoyed by: People who say they’re ready to try something new, but end up sticking to the old

Favorite food: Spanish cuisine

On my nightstand: my iPhone and Apple Watch

Listens to: Experimental electronic music like Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Eprom, Gorillaz, Gaslamp Killer

Last purchase: V≠L - a book by Japanese sound artist Ryoji Ikeda and American mathematician Benedict Gross

Would like to sit next to on the plane: Elon Musk

Life-changing event: Our wedding in Madrid – sharing love and happiness with family and friends

The best lesson life has taught me: Get out there, try new things, be impulsive and don’t be afraid to take risks.

What I learned last week: Always keep communicating with your team - also, when things are going well, it’s vital to acknowledge it. Not only about projects and business related matters, but also on a more personal level.

Most beautiful place on earth: Madagascar (I suspect), Japan

Hobbies/passions: The intersection of music, art, and technology

What nobody knows about me: I’m half Polish, half Dutch

Life motto: Wake up and be excited about what you do. If not, do something else.

Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Giovanna Romkens and inspires her on a daily basis? How has Magdelijn Emaus' life, career, ambitions, and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices has  Fenna Jansens 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.