On a windy day, don’t be surprised if Youri  closes his laptop early, leaves the building to grab his kitesurfing gear and drives straight to IJmuiderslag. Don’t worry about whether the Innovation Consultant will finish his work in time, because he always does - before or after his kite session. 

Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives Savitri Groag and inspires her on a daily basis? How has Mashad Bani-Aman's life, career, ambitions and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices has Laura van den Hurk 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.

Introducing Youri de Koster, Innovation Consultant at Accenture Netherlands. 

Image: Youri de Koster, Consultant at Accenture

‘People sometimes call me a “hipster”, although I’m not entirely sure if that’s an accurate description. The way I look and dress is just who I am, I guess. True, there are not many other people walking around in this office looking like I do (his rolled up sleeves reveal tattoos of Indonesian wayang dolls and his beard is neatly trimmed) - so I guess I do look sort of “different”. My intention is not to make a statement, it’s just who I am.’

‘It was only a few years ago that I passed the Zuidas by train. I looked out of the window and said to my former girlfriend – “please make sure I never end up working at that company” while pointing at Accenture’s office. I pictured all these people working in these offices for 60-70 hours per week on meaningless jobs, all being generalists. Life certainly does have a sense of humor, because in my last year at university, an old study friend, who then worked at Accenture, informed me about an internship opportunity that he thought would pique my interest. I had my interview on Monday, but the Friday before I had partied until the crack of dawn, resulting in a slightly scruffy version of me walking into Accenture’s offices on Monday morning. However, when I walked out four (!) hours later, I was completely revitalized, energetic and extremely enthusiastic: I wanted to work at this company and truly focus on the combination of the energy industry, innovation management and robotics. After I completed two research internships and my degree, plus two short interviews, I was offered a job within the resources practice as a management consultant.’

"I am a firm believer that there is more to life than work"

My Mom’s Passion and Perseverance

‘My outspokenness and sometimes blunt approach characterizes me. Although, I’ll admit it’s not always palatable, especially not outside the Netherlands. But there is more to me: I have a strong passion to succeed in life and am a firm believer that there is more to life than work. Whatever I do, I ensure that all my ambitions come to fruition. I must have inherited these traits from my mother, who, after she left my biological father when I was very young, ended up on welfare, but subsequently went on to enjoy a successful career and to be an awesome mother. She is currently a top manager at a local government in Friesland responsible for successful implementation of the WMO, subsequently followed by complete integration of three municipalities. Needless to say I’m extremely proud of her.’

‘My mom and the man she married three years ago and who I call my father – got together when I was four years old. The two of them ensured I had all opportunities while growing up. I started gymnastics at a young age, and as it turned out, I had some talent - but it soon became apparent I was even more disciplined. Up until I was 17, I competed both nationally and internationally, training 32 hours per week in the gym with Epke Zonderland. I gave up gymnastics when I left Friesland to study in Groningen – just like I had planned to. During my studies, I wanted to focus on other things, which is why I started working for the Energy Academy Europe. I realized how much I like being part of something that focuses on society and our future – the energy transition in this case – which is still what I hope to do one day: combine everything I do with technical innovation and the human perspective.’

Pioneering from A to B

‘Despite what I said in the train that day, there are many reasons why I love working at Accenture as much as I do. For instance, I appreciate the fact that opportunities are endless and that there is great focus on each individual employee. How you get from A to B is up to you, but you can utilize all the tools the organization has to offer to reach your destination. There’s freedom to pioneer, as long as you can explain why you’re doing what you’re doing.’

‘Personally, I am way more passionate about innovation management, especially Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. When I indicated this, my hiring senior manager and I made a case for it and started a new group within Accenture Emerging Technologies: The Innovation Go To Market. This is purely focused on implementing the latest and greatest of our R&D department (Tech labs and ET) to drive business value for our clients. After just a year in, we can say we are truly successful: numerous projects kicked off, and our Dutch strategy, vision and offerings are now used as the global standard!’

"I love how we venture new paths and show clients the true impact of new technology"

With respect to my sector, emerging technology, I love how we venture new paths and show clients the true impact of new technology. Innovation doesn’t only lie in new technology, but also in demonstrating what it can do if it’s used in different ways. Additionally, I find it fascinating to work with so many smart, passionate people from all over the world.’

‘On a personal level, I love that respect for the individual and integrity are two of the core values at the organization; for example, on days when the wind suddenly picks up and I have no urgent deadlines or meetings, I’ll close my laptop and drive straight to IJmuiderslag to get on my board. My colleagues know that, without a doubt, I’ll finish my work later that night. My colleagues and clients know I always keep my promises. It’s one of the biggest compliments I was ever given by one of the directors at Accenture:‘ Don’t ever doubt whether Youri will get the job done, because he always does’. It’s true; I feel 100% committed to my work. I commit wholeheartedly to everything I do, and I always want to push myself to the limit.’

Image: Youri on his kiteboard

Will I Jump Higher Than 15 Meters This Time?

‘That also holds true for what I do outside of work: my commitment to my job “ends” when I’m done for the day, finalized my deliverables (and often something extra) and close my desktop. On Friday, I switch off my work phone and only switch it back on, on Sunday night. When I’m not in the office, I’m committed to whatever it is I do at that point. On a windy day, you can bet your bottom dollar that you will find me on the sea because kitesurfing is what I love doing most. I started three years ago with my sister, and I have been hooked ever since. For me, it offers the ultimate relaxation, yet also sparks my creativity. Even though I don’t think about anything but my next jump – “will it be higher than 15 meters this time?” – while I’m out there, I always find I have great, new ideas when I open up my laptop later that night. All in all, kitesurfing just brings out the best in me. I still have that top sports mentality where I try to push my boundaries every time - both in sports and in my work. Over the past six months, I’ve also been given kitesurfing lessons, which I absolutely love.’  

‘Offering people to learn something new and providing them the opportunity to obtain new insights as well as gaining new experiences is one of the things I love doing most. It’s funny, I come from a very socially aware family; most of my family members work for the government, in healthcare or education. My commercial career slightly makes me the odd one out, but deep down, I have the same goals. Last year, I taught coding at primary schools, which was fantastic. Ask me what my real dream is, and I will tell you I would like to open up a sports center in Indonesia one day. I have Indonesian roots, and I would love to be able to go to a place where it is not self-evident that young people can utilize and exploit their talents, both sportwise and business wise. To be able to combine some of my passions like sports, education and Indonesia would be ideal. One day.’

Image: Ready to kite

Youri de Koster (1990)

Studied: MSc, Industrial Engineering and Management, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (2015)
Started working at Accenture: Started my internship in February 2014, officially joined as an employee in May 2015
Relationship status: Single
Loves: Peace and silence found in nature
Gets annoyed by:  Dishonesty and injustice
Favorite food: Indonesian meal cooked by my mother called ‘frikandelpan’|
On my nightstand: Piece of art made for my grandfather, which I also have tattooed on my back
Listens to: Very diverse: at work, I like to listen to deep techno like Speedy J, Charlotte de Witte and Recondite, but at other moments I prefer Radiohead, Portico, Weval, Alt J, Bob Moses, Howling and London Grammar
Last purchase: A second hand kite
Would like to sit next to in the plane: If it could be people that have already passed away: my great-grandmother or Nelson Mandela. Otherwise, I’ll settle for a seat next to grandmother and mother on our way to Indonesia
Life-changing event: Meeting my childhood love in 2007. While we ended our relationship this year, I still consider it the most valuable time of my life
The best lesson life has taught me: You are always responsible for your own happiness
What I learned last week: That clear and honest communication can also work against you, and that political correctness sometimes leads to quicker results
Most beautiful place on earth: Unfortunately I can’t reveal the exact name and place, but it is a campsite in the south of France, near Avignon. I have been going there for twenty years, and it’s truly paradise, located on the river, between fig trees
Hobbies/passions:  Sports, kitesurfing, listening to music and being on the road (I drive over 50k per year)
What nobody knows about me: Ask me anything and I will always give you an honest answer – which is why I have zero secrets
Life motto: Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to nobody (so better make the most of today!)