Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 2:58 PM
Subject: So how are you all doing?
‘coz me, I’m doing just fine. Mostly. I’m feeling a little sick these days (ha! – just a small flu).
If you joined recently, I’m a guy with a funny disease that sends out long updates on how I don’t intend to have my life cut short. You’re perfectly welcome to ignore my ramblings.
I was always fond of my job, but I’ve really come to love it over the past months. I never understood managers who said “I’m so EXCITED about this new whaddyacallit (strategy/product/gizmo/organisation/whatever)”. Yet those are exactly the words I’d use right now – I’m so often so EXCITED about what we’re doing… The investment fund Marc Dijks is helping us set up, the research institute that Ronald Krabben worked with Prof. van den Berg on, project Xavier that Bob and Ray are taking all across the world, and then there’s Treeway, the biotech start-up that Edwin is coaching, who are going to bring more ALS drugs into a clinic in one year than the whole industry did in five years, etc etc.. I was compiling a list of everyone who have helped to get us this far by spending their weekends and nights (please stay chargeable people) and I came to more than 60 names so far. And that doesn’t even include the 40 of us who joined in the City Swim. Man!
As an example of how this goes into action let me tell you about a meeting we had with the team of Project MinE, the largest genetics research effort in the world, aimed at finding the genetic roots of ALS. At the first Accenture-MinE-meeting, I understood exactly the first 24 seconds of their presentation about GWAS imputation in WGS data. Imputation, is that even a word? Smart minds at work there…! Luckily, we had brought our Enterprise Architect with a Ph.D. in DNA data analysis (this is not a joke), so she could follow, but the rest of us were as the popular song from Led Zeppelin goes: Dazed and Confused. Then we asked: so what are your challenges actually? What would you need to make this project go any faster? “Well, we have some data quality concerns, and our storage system takes three months to just download the DNA data that we received last week (this is also not a joke), and we are figuring out how to get different parties across the globe collaborating on this project, and data privacy is a tough issue with DNA from so many countries, and why are you Accenture guys smiling like that all of a sudden?” Ah, because this happens to be right in the middle of what you guys do best. Isn’t that convenient?
At first, an incurable disease is like ‘well, crap, that’s it then’. Like any unsolvable problem, like trying to attain world peace, no use trying. Best to go sit on a mountain and enjoy the life that’s left. But every now and then somebody goes “If only there were something I could DO?”. And then I get to say: well, yes, actually, here’s an action list, I’ll put you down for these fourteen items, shall we, and don’t be late in delivering please, or Lucas Fung will be chasing you. My old MBA class started to chip in and now there’s no expertise we don’t have access to. And with all those small and big individual contributions we are really getting somewhere. I quote Prof. van den Berg, the biggest mind in ALS, who says: “Accenture is just what we needed!”. I quote the 800mln-fund manager that saw our first teaser for the investment fund: “Well. This is unique. Would you like to house it under my company? I’d love to be a part of this”. And I could go on and on. We’ve got so much power for change inside of us, inside of this company. OK, I’m getting a bit new age here. Sorry.
I do miss the customers though, now that I spend my time on these things (some people are never satisfied). Let’s get that fund up and running so it can be a worthy Customer.
On to a more personal note. If you see me in a sweater it’s not disrespect. I’ve known Javier for nearly 10 years and last week was the first time ever he saw me dressed in something else than a suit. But, cufflinks and buttons take a lot of time with one hand (especially the one on the sleeve with the working hand). Right hand is still working but getting pretty weak and clumsy. Therefore, a word of caution: Sit across from me in the restaurant and you have a serious chance of having my soup all over your plate. Oh, and if you see me around the office carrying a Mac, it’s because I’ve decided that life is too short for a Dell (sorry Xander). And I’ve got a Stephen Hawking voice! Only my artificial voice doesn’t sound like Stephen Hawking, it sounds so much like me that most people that hear it at first don’t realise it’s a computer talking. I don’t need it just yet but it might mean that you _still_ have to listen to me even if I can’t speak anymore. Ha!
Enough joking now. Kicking ALS in the balls is good fun; this paragraph is serious. For the next few months you’ll still be seeing me, 2-3d/wk in the office. Then in July and August I go on a short 80% retirement break (I’ll call in sick, heh). Because, this summer it’s time for the only item on my bucket list to get ticked off. Iris is planning to give birth to our child on July 22, although the doctor doing the echo/sonograph said that the kid looked like he/she was holding a phone to his ear and was trying to figure out how to speed up this process of pregnancy, so who knows! … enough joking. I’m so without words when I talk about this topic.
One last thing. I managed to dent the most expensive car in the Zuid-as holding the best lawyer of Europe (in 2011 and 2012 at least), just the other day. Don’t ask me how it happened but the end result was that her whole department will be joining the Amsterdam City Swim this year. Time for us to start practicing – no way that lawyers are going to outswim us!
Cheers all, keep on contacting me if you want to join the fight!