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It’s not every day one of our managers gets honored with the prestigious ‘The Other Manager Award’. Until last year November, when our very own Mashad Bani-Aman won the prize. ’I was already pleasantly surprised to even find myself nominated in the first place.’

Who are the people behind Accenture? What drives and inspires Laura van den Hurk on a daily basis? How has Daphne Koolmees life, career, ambitions and dreams developed over the years? What difficult choices has Sander van der Heijden made in his 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 Mashad, Senior Manager at Accenture Cloud First Technologies

Never in the 11-year history of the contest did a manager win as convincingly as Mashad, achieving the maximum score in every category. What a great honor!

Mashad Bani-Aman (Accenture Technology in the Netherlands) won The Other Manager Award

‘I personally strongly believe in cultural diversity and how it truly enhances individuals, teams and organizations. Diversity offers teams the possibility to be more dynamic, and provides it with different insights needed for alternative and more balanced solutions. It simply adds a whole different dimension to teams. My team comprises 30 men and women, with 7 different nationalities between them. It’s fantastic to witness the dynamics and creativity when they discuss a problem: everybody brings their cultural perspective to the table and, ultimately, to the solution. Even though there has been great improvement if you look at companies now versus 15 years ago, we still have quite a way to go. Change is still needed!’

Role models drive change

‘I believe the presence of role models can help bring about change. I’m both happy and privileged to be considered one of those role models, who inspires people. After receiving the award, many people approached me and told me how me and my story inspires them. “If you can do it, I can too” was the type of feedback I got.  And it’s true, as long as you’re focused; you work hard and challenge yourself you can transcend cultural and language barriers. If anything is going to hold you back, it’s your own fears.’

Amazing things (can) happen when you believe in yourself

‘Which is exactly why I think it is extremely important to provide platforms for cultural diversity groups, and to keep putting them in the spotlight. In doing so, bit by bit, we’ll hopefully break down feelings of hesitation, fear and self-limiting beliefs that many non-native Dutch people experience. Not necessarily because their environment or employer perpetuates that idea, but because it’s rooted in their personal beliefs. You will usually find that because their parents or even grandparents didn’t have the same opportunities as them, they often feel like it’s not possible. My message to all these young, ambitious people: ‘“Believe in yourself and stay focused on your goal; amazing things can and will happen when you do!”’

‘Personally, I also have a role model to look up to at Accenture: my manager, Ronald Krabben. I really admire his vision on diversity; how he looks at people and their performance, regardless of where they’re from. Moreover, the way he works and how he makes things happen also inspires me: he has amazing willpower, works very hard, but also manages to stay focused on the people he works with.’

Mashad working at Accenture Technology in the Netherlands

At the end of the day, we all speak the same language

‘One of the things I love about working at Accenture is the fact that we’re in an ever-changing situation. Business and technology are continuously evolving, and I love being a part of that. This constant innovation speaks to who I am. Learning new things and adjusting to new situations are some of the things I love doing most.’

‘We always want to be on top of innovation - for example, Accenture hosts the annual Innovation Awards. Every few years, we restructure the organization in order to proactively anticipate changes in the market. I love that approach and mindset, especially when you get to work with people who, in that respect, are very much alike. Even though we’re all different people and come from various backgrounds, in our work and drive to continuously be the best, we all speak the same language.’

The agreements that changed my life

‘A few years ago I read a book called The Four Agreements - A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Miguel Ruiz. It’s the type of book you finish very quickly - it’s a mere 80 pages long - but its content will resonate with you for a very long time. Ruiz highlights four different agreements you need to make with yourself, in order to really experience happiness. They read as follows:

  1. Be impeccable with your word;
  2. Don’t take anything personally;
  3. Don’t make assumptions and;
  4. Always do your best.

Believe it or not, but I think about them on a daily basis.’

‘It was a real life-changer for me: making these agreements truly made me a happier person. I realize I am fortunate to live in a safe country as a happy man with a great job, who is able to do the things I like to do. Besides being grateful for all that, I am not complacent and always strive to push myself a little harder - I don’t want to rest on my laurels, without being unsatisfied with what I have already achieved.’

Finding balance is still a challenge

‘Balance is essential: I need to make sure I maintain it in my life. The fact that I love my job and often find myself unable to stop because of ambition means I don’t always switch off when I should. If I don’t find time to relax, it backfires right away - the less time I take to unwind, the less productive I become. For me, sports are a great way to relax; I feel significantly better when I work out two to four times per week. Ideally, it’s a combination of running in the Amsterdamse Bos and a few hours per week in the gym that does the trick.’

‘Meditating and mindfulness are essential elements that bring balance to my life, too. Every weekend I try to make time for both: even if it’s just half an hour or an hour - I simply need to completely unwind. I also prefer reading over watching TV (I don’t even own one!) - after a day at work as it brings me peace of mind. Just like spending time with my family and friends does, of course.’

Mashad Bani-Aman, senior manager at Accenture Cloud First

Mashad Bani-Aman (1971)

Studied: MSc Computer Science, University of Amsterdam (1998), Executive International MBA, Rotterdam School of Management (2008)
Started working at Accenture: From 1999-2004, then left the company to launch my own IT company in Greece. I returned to Accenture in May 2011
Relationship status: Single with three kids (Melina, Stefano and Alexi)
Loves: Creative people, people who think out of the box
Gets annoyed by: People who complain
Favorite food: Italian food, especially pasta
On my nightstand: My cell phone and the book Co-active Leadership – Five Ways to Lead by Henry Kimsey-House and Karen Kimsey-House
Listens to: A variety of genres, it depends on my mood - ranging from top 40 music, Italian music or more mindful meditation music
Last purchase: New running shoes
Would like to sit next to in the plane: Richard Branson, Ricardo Semler or Elon Musk: the real out-of-the-box thinkers of this world
Life-changing event: My time in a monastery in the northern part of Belgium in 2005 – for ten days I did nothing but Vipassana meditation - all in complete silence
The best lesson life has taught me: Acceptance is the key to true and deep happiness
What I learned last week: Last week, during a leadership session, I was given the feedback that I can be too “dominant”, which causes some people to feel like they can’t express themselves. My lesson: give other people more space and be more in tune with the environment I find myself in
Most beautiful place on earth: Sicily, Italy
Hobbies/passions: Sports, reading, music
What nobody knows about me: At 17, I had the opportunity to become a professional football player for AZ. However, since I knew that wouldn't be a plausible option, I turned it down and focused on my education
Life motto: ‘Do your best every day’

 

 

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