“I want to inspire girls to get involved in technology from a young age”

Dorien doesn’t do things by halves. She gives 100% as a Technology team lead, wellbeing ambassador and role model for women in IT. As one of the Top 5 Young ICT Ladies of the Year 2019, Dorien uses her passion to inspire rather than impress.  
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Meet Dorien Van Steenberge, Technology Consultant at Accenture Belgium & Luxembourg 

‘I discovered Accenture thanks to a guest lecture on campus about Data Monetization. I found the people dynamic, and the content also spoke to me. Then came the Accenture Master Class (now called Meet & Inspire). All my friends wanted to attend the local round at Vlerick Business School in Ghent, and I decided to join them. I had low expectations, so it was a nice surprise to be selected for the national two-day final! That experience convinced me to join Accenture and after more than three years, I’m still convinced. I believe in connections between people, and I have nothing but good connections with Accenture people.’  

My drive is motivating people to grow and get things done

‘Technology is constantly changing, risky, complex and creative, all at the same time. What intrigues me the most is the impact technology can have on businesses, people and even an entire country.

‘My drive is motivating people to grow and get things done. I could work from home some days, but I always prefer to be with my team: listening to them, helping them, speeding things up, suggesting new ways of doing things, answering their questions... I don’t always have the answers, but I make sure I find the people who do.’

‘Sometimes, as a team lead, you can lose sight of your scope. I can’t chart my own progress; my progress is that of the team. To balance this, I have side projects. For example, I lead Accenture’s University Action Team at Ghent University, focused on engaging with students and professors on campus. I am also a facilitator of Design Thinking workshops for undergraduates there. Since my own Master Class experience, I’ve been a regular coach and jury member for local rounds at Vlerick Business School in Ghent each year. Coaching of students on how to solve a real-life business case, how to present, what to watch out for, is extremely rewarding.’

Reaching the Top 5 was a great feeling. I’m already a winner!

‘While participating in the 2018 Orange Young Potential Boostcamp, with Annemie Depuydt (head of ICTS at KULeuven) as my mentor, I met the 2018 Young ICT Lady of the Year, Laurence Schuurman. I was impressed by her and amazed at what she had achieved. So, when one year later Accenture asked if I would agree to be nominated for this award, I was thrilled but (again) had low expectations. How could I stand a chance compared to her? Then in January, I received a mail from Data News saying I was in the final 10! A big thank you to everyone who voted for and encouraged me (including all my colleagues in India)!’

‘Reaching the Top 5 is a great feeling. I’m already a winner! I see it as a great opportunity to share my enthusiasm for technology with other young women. A one-day workshop at Accenture about diversity convinced me that we must invest more in growing the number of young women considering an IT career from the earliest stages instead of only focusing on achieving a 50/50 women/men balance at the end of the journey, when they enter employment. I want to inspire girls to get involved in technology from a young age. Not as an Instagram influencer, but as an IT influencer.’

‘But diversity in technology goes beyond gender. We need people from different cultures, backgrounds and studies. Yes, you need an affinity for technology, but this can originate from anywhere. The subject you choose to study should not box you in. University teaches you complex thinking, how to absorb and use knowledge. If you have those skills, regardless of the subject you studied, you can work at Accenture Technology. And if you have a specialty industry, that’s an added bonus when it comes to connecting with people in that sector. At Accenture, I have colleagues from a wide variety of study backgrounds, ranging from bio engineering to design.’

I had too many rabbits!

‘My daily goal is centered on investing in my own professional growth by helping others grow. My ultimate goal is to become a high performing, people-centric woman leader at Accenture, with her own leadership style, who serves as a role model for others!’

‘I’m lucky in the fact that Accenture encourages me to look ahead, to evaluate how I feel, establish clear lines and when something feels wrong, to stop and talk about it. For example, during a recent training program, we learned about elephants and rabbits… no, not the animals but a concept describing tasks that either give or take energy. Big tasks you can focus on that give you energy are elephants; smaller tasks, answering questions, being distracted are rabbits. I discovered I had too many rabbits! This helped me to take a step back and refocus on what my energy givers are. It’s a typical example of the future-oriented training we receive at Accenture.’

‘Another example is the Future Leaders Program, a six-month deep dive into defining your personal long-term vision at Accenture. I am currently following this program along with nine other women colleagues and ten male colleagues. Through this program, I’ve met nine women I did not know before. They are colleagues from completely different parts of Accenture, specialized in areas I know nothing about. We really learn from and inspire each other. Most importantly, if you get stuck with a question and can’t see the wood for the trees, they offer good advice and objective insights from an external perspective. Accenture really invests in developing the DNA of its future leader and encourages us to recognize and live by our personal values.’

Even in challenging work environments, inclusion is important, possible and adds value

‘Being a people ambassador is what I’m most passionate about. It is definitely what has helped me most in my career so far. Being able to talk to different people, convince them and work with them. Reaching a consensus is not always easy. But if you know how to connect, listen and understand the issues, then you’re already more than halfway there. I always try to find common ground on which to connect.’

‘Through our Corporate Citizenship program, I also have the opportunity to work some unique people via Passwerk, a company specializing in using the skills of autistic people for software testing. We are piloting this partnership on our project and after six months, our autistic colleagues say they feel like members of the Accenture team! This proves that even in challenging work environments, inclusion is important, possible and adds value.’

As a Fit At Work Ambassador, I need to work efficiently within a timeframe that allows me to train

‘Being selected as one of 12 Fit At Work Ambassadors this year has been life changing. It has impacted my mindset and way of living. Our challenge is to train for an epic cycle up the Passo dello Stelvio in June 2019 and raise awareness about clean air (Climb for Life). As an asthma patient myself, this is a very important personal challenge! I have never done anything like this before, and I’ve always been cautious about climbing on a bike due to my lungs. Supported by Energy Lab, we are thoroughly screened and followed up. Thanks to this, I have learned about my limits and how to train healthily. As a Fit At Work Ambassador, I need to work efficiently within a timeframe that allows me to train 3-4 times a week. It's a positive circle: I feel physically better and have more energy thanks to training, which makes me more efficient!’

‘At the end of the day, my creativity and interest in people nourishes my role at Accenture. Thinking out loud, talking about it, interacting with different people each day. I have also discovered a talent for pitching ideas at Accenture, which is very useful when it comes to making private decisions and even helping friends. For now, I want to invest 100% in my career. I’m in a good place for that at Accenture.’

 

Dorien Van Steenberge (1992)

Studied: Business Engineering – Operational Management
Started working at Accenture: 2015
Relationship status: In love
Loves: Being creative, in all kinds of ways
Gets annoyed by: Negative people
Favorite food & drink: A good pasta with a nice glass of red wine
On my nightstand: A big bottle of water
Listens to: Florence & The Machine, The National, Hot Chip and electronic dance music
Would like to sit next to in the plane: Gert De Mangeleer (chef) or Joachim Boudens (owner and manager) of Hertog Jan (***)
Life-changing event(s): Three knee surgeries during the last three years, impacting my daily (sporting) activities
The best lesson life has taught me: Don’t lose energy over negative people or events
What I learned last week: How to buy a house in Ghent in only 15 minutes
Most beautiful place on earth: The top of Mount Rinjani, an active volcano in Lombok, Indonesia
Hobbies/passions: Cycling, swimming, painting, cooking
What nobody knows about me: I like writing poetry and playing with words
Life motto:  Go through life with a smile, it will energize yourself and others

Author: Liz Morrison