Be collaborative

Monday, November 23, 2020

For Patrick Steemers, a partner at Deloitte Consulting for Telecom Media & Technology, diversity is essential. And even more so, inclusion.

His journey

Patrick received his master’s degree in Electrical Engineering in the early nineties at the Eindhoven University of Technology. In his career, spanning nearly 30 years, he has worked at KPN, Capgemini Consulting and finally Deloitte Netherlands. 

“When I started my career at KPN, digital technology was not a big thing yet. I was part of the team that launched the first dial-up internet service in the Netherlands, it was called Planet Internet. We felt like we were cowboys!”

With his passion for innovation and being a front runner, he went into consulting. Patrick says he is always looking for the next challenge.

“I am competitive and entrepreneurial by nature. And I’m a collaborative problem solver.”

And he explains this by comparing it to his other interest, Formula One racing.

“A racer has to make important decisions and very quickly when it counts. Yes, you have a team and you are prepared well for these decisions. In my early days, I wanted to ‘drive’ a lot. But what I have learned in my career now is that your team is very important. Following the analogy, you have to recognise when you might not be the best driver for a specific race. That is why you have a strong team who can step in. Now in my managerial role, I like to help my team members to be the best racers they can be.”

“At the end of my career, I want people to say that I motivated people and that I built and lead an impactful practice. And this ties in with my support for initiatives like RightBrains.”

Unconscious bias

For Patrick, it is about being courageous enough to talk about your own unconscious bias, learn from it and change.

“In one instance, my colleague and I went to a client meeting. We knew we were meeting a man. While waiting at the reception area, we were greeted by a woman who took us to the meeting room. We assumed that she was the man’s assistant. But then she started the meeting while we were still waiting for him to arrive. She was not the assistant, but the strategy lead for the project…”

“We were able to correct this rather embarrassing situation, but this experience taught me to be aware of my unconscious biases. In other cases, unconscious bias can for example lead to a very negative impact on equal opportunity for all.”

“This was a big eye-opener for me. I shared this experience with my team, and we discussed unconscious bias. It is so important to be more conscious of yourself and others.”

Creating solutions

“Inclusivity lets you learn from others and build better teams. With different projects, you need different perspectives to be successful.”

Patrick says at the junior levels in the teams he works with, there is better gender diversity. But he realises, at the senior level, it is still lacking. 

“We realise that in some cases female talent exits just before the senior level, and we are trying to remedy this. Role models are essential in this case to inspire young talent to aspire to senior roles. We want to create tangible solutions for this, and our support for the RightBrains App and community could be one of these solutions.”

“With the RightBrains community, our female talent can connect to others from different sectors, gain new perspectives, and bring what they have learned to Deloitte. I would like to think the RightBrains App, and what it offers, can be a part of our onboarding package to new talent.”

He believes, even in uncertain times, organisations should continue to support initiatives. 

“We had many discussions, and even though COVID-19 affected our business, we wanted to continue our support of initiatives we feel are important to us, our employees and our clients.”

And his advice to other organisations?

“If you want to be a true representation of society, you have to focus on inclusion and diversity to unlock value. Your business leaders play a critical part in changing behaviours across all levels. And my advice to young talent is to speak up whenever needed, realise your own potential and live up to it.”