"It doesn’t matter how many times I hear the story about how my father escaped Vietnam, it still astounds me. Then in his mid-twenties, he, together with his brother and nephew, fled in a boat, and were picked up by a large Dutch cargo ship along the way. They were first dropped off at a refugee camp in Singapore, but later were granted Dutch asylum, based solely on the fact that it was a Dutch boat that had rescued them."
"My mother, on the other hand, came from a relatively privileged family in Vietnam, which meant her two brothers were able to study in Belgium. As exchange students, they were allowed to invite family members over, so that’s how my mom ended up in Belgium. My parents first met at a party over there – turns out my mother’s brother had gone to high school with my dad. They married shortly after that and built a new life together in Leiden."
"Unfortunately, my parents’ Vietnamese diplomas held no weight in Europe, so as two 20-somethings, they were forced to go back to school here. Today, my dad works at the Leiden University Library, but spends a fair amount of time helping out my mom, who runs a Vietnamese-Dutch translation agency. I’m incredibly proud of what they have both achieved."
Be sure to get the most out of life
"When my siblings and I were younger, my parents often told us stories about their childhoods in Vietnam. Sadly, not all of their memories are happy ones. After North and South Vietnam reunited under the North’s communist government, it became quite unsafe for residents of the South, like my parents, to live there. Added to this, my mother’s father has been missing since 1965, so my grandmother was forced to raise ten children on her own. While my parents were very loved, their circumstances greatly limited their opportunities. Because of this, they’re determined to make sure my siblings and I have a different experience, so they’ve really pushed us to live life to the fullest and embrace all the possibilities. Making my parents proud is very close to my heart."
"In the same way that my parents were close to their families, we have a very tight bond today too. Almost every weekend my brother, sister and I travel with our partners from Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam respectively to catch up at my parents’ house in Leiden - we love spending time together."
I have never felt 100 percent Dutch. Then again, I’ve never felt 100 percent Vietnamese either.
"As kids, we would speak Vietnamese at home, and my mother would teach us about Vietnamese culture and traditions every Wednesday afternoon. I remember never looking forward to those obligatory lessons at the time. Even though we speak mostly Dutch at home today, I am grateful to my parents for exposing me to the Vietnamese language and customs. I have never felt 100 percent Dutch. Then again, I’ve never felt 100 percent Vietnamese either. Of course my name is a dead giveaway - Tu means 'beauty' in Vietnamese - and obviously, my looks also reveal my roots right away."
The perfect overlap of people, technology and business
"Growing up I would spend hours designing clothes for my dolls or sketching out every detail of my dream house. But I didn’t want my studies to limit me to designing only houses and buildings. Then I stumbled upon the field of Industrial Design, and I knew I had found my calling. It’s the overlap of people, technology and business leading to innovation that I absolutely love. 'What do consumers need? What does the user expect from an innovative product? What is feasible when it comes to design? What technology can be applied? How does the product match the organization that produces it?' These kinds of questions fascinate me, and, luckily, they’re exactly what I deal with on a daily basis in my role as a Digital Consulting Manager at Accenture Interactive."
When I stumbled upon the field of Industrial Design, I knew I had found my calling.
"I always find it hard to explain what I do without using too much jargon, but let me give it a go: it’s my job to collaborate with our clients to develop digital innovations that guarantee the best user experience, so that people actually want to use them. Basically, once we’ve identified opportunities and created a concept, I lead the teams to implement and continuously improve the solution, also bearing in mind the values of the client's brand and how the organization can continue to develop new ideas."
"One of the greatest things about creating digital experiences, rather than more traditional material products, is how quickly one can see the impact of innovations. Back in the day, it could take up to a year, or even longer, before a newly designed chair would be on the market, but today you can design an app and have it out there within three months! On the downside, it also makes everything much more transient - something that was designed and considered to be ahead of its time a year ago is now probably outdated and has been adapted so many times, it’s wholly unrecognizable to the original designer. Of course, this sort of evolution is also necessary in order to meet customers' continually changing needs. And ultimately, that's where I, as a designer and consultant, can help out."
"What I love most about my work is the colorful range of people I get to interact with - all with distinct backgrounds, skills and areas of expertise. I firmly believe that this rich diversity of talent and perspectives is one of Accenture’s strongest assets. Another plus is the variety in the work itself. Over the past 4.5 years, I have been involved in projects for more than ten different clients, doing everything from the implementation of a new e-commerce solution to more creative jobs, like running design sprints. I love how Accenture gives you the freedom to shape your own career, gain as much experience and knowledge as you can, and constantly reinvent yourself. For me, that’s definitely one of the highlights of working here - learning and doing new things regularly is what keeps me motivated, inspired and happy."
What I love most about my work is the colorful range of people I get to interact with.
"What else makes me happy? Music! These days, I enjoy singing and writing songs, and I’ve started taking singing classes. Last December, I performed one of my own songs live on stage for the first time - it was awesome. At 25, I compiled a bucket list of things I want to achieve before I hit 30 - releasing an album featuring at least five of my own tracks is on there. So far, I have three or four songs that I consider good enough to put on the album, so I have another couple of months to write at least one more."
The next step
"That’s right, I turn 30 at the end of this year. But I don’t consider that my biggest milestone so far: getting engaged and being promoted to manager recently feel more impactful to me. My boyfriend, Han, surprised me in Malaga while I was on a summer holiday with my family and proposed to me in the most romantic way."
"When I was promoted to manager a few months later, I really felt like I was entering the next stage of my life. While inside I still feel like a youngster, I know I am slowly, but surely moving towards an exciting new chapter."
Tu Ngo (1988)
Studied: MSc Design for Interaction (Industrial Design Engineering), Delft University of Technology (2012)
Started working at Accenture: September 2013
Relationship status: Engaged to Han
Loves: Coming home after a productive day to a home-cooked meal with a glass of wine, followed by some chill time on the couch
Gets annoyed by: People who waste my time, beat around the bush and don’t make an effort to understand what I mean, even though I’m explaining things clearly
Favorite food: Seafood
On my nightstand: My iPad
Listens to: R&B and Soul, mostly from the 90s and 2000s
Last purchase: Some Irish whiskey fudge on a weekend trip to Dublin with girlfriends
Would like to sit next to in the plane: Oprah Winfrey
Life-changing event: It sounds cheesy and I don’t really believe in “the one”, but the moment it dawned on me I could spend the rest of my life with Han was pretty life-changing for me
The best lesson life has taught me: When you do what you love, the rest will follow
What I learned last week: To trust people more. I often try to solve problems myself, when I could be drawing on the support of many people around me. Now that I’m growing into more of a management role, I can see that there’s no way I can keep this up and that if I just trust my team more, not only will it take some of the pressure off me, but they will get a chance to grow as well
Most beautiful place on earth: What matters most to me is who I am with - that’s more important than any one particular place. That said, lots of sun is certainly a prerequisite for any place to make it to my favorites list
Hobbies/passions: Music (singing and writing songs), Netflix, traveling, shopping, cooking
What nobody knows about me: Most people wouldn’t expect that I - measuring 1.60m in height - was actually on a basketball team, one that fared pretty well, too
Life motto: #cheerstomore - also my go-to Instagram tag
Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Sebastian Veldman and inspires him on a daily basis? How has Giovanna Römkens' life, career, ambitions and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices did Magdelijn Emaus 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.