Gary’s career path:
· Studied Computer Science & Business Management
· 2007-2011: Accenture (from Analyst to Manager) working for major Belgian Telco providers
· 2012-2014: Project Manager & Business Analyst at Entrust-IT
· 2014-2015: Business Analyst at Tech Mahindra
· 2015-2018: Business Analyst at Orange Belgium
· 2018-present: Business Analyst at Alpha Networks SA
· 2014-present: Co-founder, designer & maker of diamond jewelry at Nude Diamond
What are your strongest memories of Accenture?
Actually, the entire period I worked for Accenture remains in my memory. It’s a great company and I enjoyed each and every mission. Highlights include my first project, working with a local team of around 50 consultants on a big transformation at a leading Belgian Telco. Many years working for another local Telco turned out to be the most inspiring time of my Accenture career, an experience that still shapes my current understanding of what it means to ‘deliver’. And of course, great ‘after work’ times with colleagues who became firm friends and for the luckiest among them, this even resulted in marriage. Last but not least, Core Analyst and Consultant School. Do I really need to explain why?
What did you learn at Accenture that you still use today?
The Accenture Delivery Methodology is still my ‘work religion’. It is tremendous to have this common way of working and looking back, I now understand how it helped me to have the right attitude and acquire the skills needed to get promoted from Analyst to Consultant to Manager. I still benefit from it today.
In 2014, you co-founded Nude Diamond. How did this come about?
I’ve always been attracted to work in startup environments. I have a passion for brainstorming about what could be different and how to realize it, regardless of the industry. Today, I work with startups as a freelance consultant alongside my main activity as a Business Analyst and other personal projects, including Nude Diamond! The idea came about when Nude Diamond co-founder Fabrice Elfassy told me he was looking for a ring for his wife. He observed that with classic jewelry, you only see a tiny part of the diamond. Why pay so much for a diamond if you only see part of it? My personal connection to diamonds goes back a few generations: my grandfather started as a diamond cleaver in Antwerp and taught the trade to my father. So, I’ve always been close to the industry although not really attracted to it as a career…
What makes Nude Diamond innovative?
Our approach is a new type of setting. Our diamonds have a tiny hole made in them and they hang freely and can sparkle from every angle. The stones, not the settings, are the ‘stars’. In theory, we can revisit all classic designs and of course, this technique opens the door to innovative ideas.
Did you pioneer the technique, or has it been done before?
It’s not a new technique as such, except today we use laser drills. In the 17th century, the briolette gemstone cut was a favorite of royalty and aristocrats. And a particularly fine example is a diamond necklace presented by Napoleon Bonaparte to Empress Marie Louise containing 10 diamond briolettes weighing more than 4 carats each. This necklace is now in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. Nevertheless, there are a lot of parameters involved in a making a hole that will remain strong and viable for a piece of jewel. And you need a lot of skill and experience to know how big (or how small) the hole should be, where exactly to drill, etc.
Your jewelry is handmade in Antwerp. Who designs the pieces?
Some of our ideas come directly from our customers, like the Angel necklace, which we’ve now added to our collection. Whenever I have an idea, I put it on paper and send it to my wife, who also designs for Nude Diamond. Anyone can suggest an idea! If it’s a good one, then we make a unique piece, give it a name, collaborate with a well-known blogger on Instagram and launch it… Got an idea for a design? Just drop us an email. In the future we will add a section to our website to encourage this!
How will you continue innovating with Nude Diamond?
We still have a lot of ideas up our sleeve to surprise customers. They range from being creative with diamond colors or shapes (our last collection, Spirit of Nude Diamond, combines black and white diamonds) and I even have a prototype of diamonds shaped as the letters of the alphabet. The challenge before was how to set a diamond in a piece of jewelry. My answer is, drill it!
Is the diamond industry also being disrupted by digital?
The diamond industry is very broad. If we look more specifically at the jewelry industry, I think people are seeking brands with a strong identity and image, brands they can trust… That’s similar to what’s happening in other industries. For example, ethical questions and awareness of conflict-free diamonds (with which we work exclusively) has grown thanks to the Internet.
Do you have customers around the world?
The response to Nude Diamond has exceeded all expectations. We have customers almost everywhere, from Belgium, France, the UK, Spain and Denmark to the US, Canada, Russia, Singapore, Hong Kong and even New Zealand!
Where can Alumni buy your jewelry?
We sell almost exclusively online, so please pay us a visit! And specially for St. Valentine’s Day 2019, we are offering Accenture Alumni a unique promotion of -25% on all our products! Simply visit our website and if you find something you like, apply the promotion code ACN14FEB.
Finally, what is the added value of the Alumni Network for you?
I stay in touch with most of my former Accenture colleagues via social media and more closely with those who became friends (including holidays and our kids playing together). However, the Alumni Network is an opportunity to remain connected face-to-face with an extraordinary network of people I can trust and who share the same work ethic. Why not launch an Accenture Alumni startup program?