Savitri Groag
Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, BeNeLux-France at Accenture in the Netherlands
May 23, 2018

How Many Ping-Pong Balls Fit into a Boeing 737?

Savitri with child

Sometimes, life turns out differently than you expected.

My ultimate goal in life is to make a positive impact in the world. I try to do that by being a good person, living a conscious life and being curious about the people around me.

After graduating from university, I worked for several nonprofit organizations and government offices. After having worked in this sector for more than six years, I became terribly frustrated by the lack of funding and the slow pace of change. It was reason enough to explore a new path. I was going to make a drastic career change—or, at least, an unusual one.

I came across a job listing for a Strategy Consultant at Accenture—a big, multinational corporation on the Zuidas, the rapidly developing business district in the city of Amsterdam. The job, and the company, felt like the antithesis of what I was looking for. But that is also exactly why I applied. I wanted to test and challenge my own assumptions about the corporate world.

Skeptical, and surprised
The recruiter’s reply was interesting: “You’re not suitable for the role you applied for, but your CV intrigued us and we’d like to meet and see if there’s perhaps another, more suitable position for you at Accenture in our Change Management practice.” I was positively surprised. Not often do you come across a recruiter that looks beyond the role they’re recruiting for.

I was still somewhat skeptical when I went for my first interview. Me, a consultant on the Zuidas, really? Yet after that first, very pleasant interview, three more equally pleasant interviews followed. All meetings were with women, which surprised me, as did the actual interviews.

I was expecting questions like, “How many ping-pong balls fit into a Boeing 737?” but instead, I was asked about my experience, my dreams and my beliefs. Bit by bit, my perception about this big corporation changed. It felt like the right fit, and I was hired as a Change Management Consultant.

Half a year later, the opportunity came along to apply for the position of Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for Accenture in the Netherlands, a role that had my name written all over it.

My role puts me in the position where I can use the best of what Accenture offers, for the purpose of making a positive impact in the world. I can tap into the support of a company with ample resources and access to 400,000+ incredibly intelligent people and their smart solutions and services. I never expected to be able to make so much more of an impact here than I had in the nonprofit sector.

One of my proudest moments
One of the things I’m most proud of is launching the Refugee Talent Hub. It was around the time when all those images of refugees trying to make their way to Europe dominated news headlines. These images struck me, but I also thought of all the potential talent among these people. If that could somehow be recognized, it would offer them the chance to rebuild their lives.

While partnerships between commercial and nonprofit organizations are a good start, I realized that to truly make a difference in the refugee crisis, we needed a partnership that comprised more than just two parties. As soon as we started approaching other organizations, we received the commitment of 20 CEOs in no time.

To date, 70 companies—and counting—have joined the Refugee Talent Hub movement. The ripple effect is amazing. It still gives me goosebumps when I think about what we pulled off in such a short period of time. And I feel proud to work for an organization that puts in the funds and effort to make this happen.

The rebel in me
I have now been with Accenture for almost seven years. Who would have thought so, after making such a drastic career change?

Some people start looking for a job in a more purpose-driven organization after working in the corporate world. It is quite unusual to do it the other way around. But at Accenture, I followed my own career path.

While I still feel like an “anthropologist on Mars” every now and then, this is truly the most fantastic job. I get the opportunity to excel in the work I do, maintain a healthy work-life balance and at the same time contribute to making a difference in the world.

Do work that truly makes a difference. Achieve your ultimate goals with a career at Accenture.

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