Welcome to one of our first inspiring leadership stories! She goes against the grain, arises through taking risks, often strives for the greatest heights, and has a strong compassion for others. In this edition, I will evaluate the Queen of the M&A’s successes by delving into the true nature of this individual. Let’s have a look at the Managing Partner of Accuracy Netherlands: Leontine Koens-Betz.
Not following the career her father had in mind for her.
After finishing high school, Leontine decided to leave the safe haven of Rotterdam to study Business Administration at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. This meant she did not follow her father’s advice to study engineering. Back in the old days, engineering was the future, in contrast to Business Administration… Leontine always wanted to be different and not take the easy option. “Did I know what I was doing? No of course not”, she said.
From beginning in accountancy, to starting her own firm in The Netherlands.
After obtaining her degree in Business Administration, Leontine started working at Arthur Andersen with no accountancy background but based on the sole message: ‘we are looking for diversity!’. Leontine started working at Arthur Andersen (American Accounting firm) without having the proper education, but was able to find her way as an auditor. She learned all the fundamentals accounting and financial analysis techniques, but left Arthur Andersen to continue her career in the dynamic M&A world. After gaining experience with KPMG, she set up a new establishment: Accuracy Netherlands. Again, “Did I know what I was doing? No of course not!”.
Leontine always wanted to be part of a male dominated industry. But she is a woman, after all. In my opinion, this is her advantage, because it makes her stand out in the crowd. On the other hand, this could also be a challenge. For example, Leontine was in a conference room with her client. The male host asked her, “could you pour the coffee please?”. She replied, “I think that the men should pour the coffee, to avoid giving in to the stereotype assumption”.
“Did I know what I was doing? No of course not.”
At Accuracy we look at the fit with the team.
Nowadays the job description at Accuracy is not set in stone, through which she has managed to create a diverse team from different academic disciplines. During the job hiring process, Accuracy focusses on a ‘fit’ with the organization. According to Leontine, diversity in a team is an important facet! Everyone is different and brings something unique to the table. Try to resist pressure to conform and follow your heart with every step of your career.
From Leontine’s point of view: “the happiest people my age are those that have a job they didn’t choose when they were young. You walk your path and not the path your parents have chosen for you. Passion is key. ”.
M&A is a game of chess.
According to Leontine, M&A is a game of chess. Every deal is unique in its own way. We work with different clients who have different objectives, and goals but we also work in a changing environment where the dynamics and trends change over time. This requires us to adapt and to create different strategies. Just like with chess.
Besides working on the deal, you also get to work with people from diverse environments with different norms and values. “It is more about the experiences, where I could learn about social and cultural aspects”. She gave me several examples, of which one is quite fascinating: during the high tension period in Israel, she had to travel there to work on a transaction. When arriving after passing multiple checkpoints in Tel Aviv at the hotel, there was one problem… Her credit card was blocked and her normal card was not accepted, she was asked to withdraw cash at an ATM machine on the streets – from her taxi she saw armed military on the street corners to prevent further attacks. While doing cross-border deals, you sometimes find yourself in unpredicted situations with different social and cultural aspects. It can be challenging to adapt to these, however you also learn a lot personally and professionally.
Work-life balance according to Leontine.
The perfect work/life balance for Leontine? Combining a married life with children with a full-time job and meeting her personal ambitions. For quite some women, it is difficult to set boundaries for themselves and to make their own decisions. “Nothing important on my agenda? Okay, then I will pick up my children from school to go cycling together.” The consequences of seeing your children grow up is having to work in the evening. “It is all about making concessions”, she replied. Leontine highlighted that it is her perfect work/life balance based on her working environment.
“The happiest people my age are those that have a job they didn’t choose when they were young. You walk your path and not the path your parents have chosen for you. Passion is key. ”
Accuracy is a fast-growing financial – strategic consultancy company with an international network and 17 offices around the world, with more than 450 consultants. At our office in Amsterdam, we work with a team of around 30 consultants. Our client base consists of private equity funds, multinationals, financial institutions and law firms. We help our customers make decisions in a wide range of situations, including transactions & investments, business performance, corporate strategy & finance and disputes & crises.
As Accuracy, we are looking for graduates and young professionals to strengthen our team in Amsterdam. If you are a team player, with strong analytical skills, and would like to work in an entrepreneurial environment, you could be the perfect fit for our team!