UNFILTERED. With alumna Jacqueline Olivier.
- 6 min read
This week we have the pleasure of presenting you the story of a young talent who embarked on a journey dedicated to sustainability: Jacqueline Olivier. After two impressive internships with Ritz-Carlton and Tommy Hilfiger, this Dutch alumna graduated in 2015 with a Certificate of Excellence and pursued a new adventure far away from home, in San Francisco. Discover her life lessons and find out her opinion on the future of sustainability in the following article.
Written by Răzvan Dumitru
What did you do after graduating?
It’s been quite a journey! In the summer of 2015 my partner, Sven Tettelaar, who is also an alumnus of Hotelschool The Hague, and I decided to go to the United States to further our education. We decided to pursue different master’s degrees. I started International Marketing while he enrolled for International Business.
Besides exploring everything that San Francisco has to offer, we also met many people from all over the world. One of the benefits of this master's program was that after nine months, we had the option to rotate to another location of the business school, which brought us to New York. This was a completely different, exciting experience that enabled us to see the other side of the country. After many memories and journeys, this adventure was crowned with our masters’ degrees for which we both received distinctions.
The next step was to come back to The Netherlands and start looking for jobs! We were both very motivated and could not wait to join the business world. By doing so, I found a job at Deloitte. Within this multinational, I have had different roles that eventually brought me to the one I have always desired: a sustainability-related position.
How did Hotelschool The Hague contribute to your career?
It has contributed in many ways, and I have become aware of it as my career was unfolding. From teamwork to presentation skills and working in an international environment, Hotelschool The Hague endowed me with many attributes. However, throughout my professional life, the soft skills were the ones that mattered the most and helped me flourish.
From your point of view, what did the pandemic change most in your industry?
Deloitte offers services to companies across many different industries and hence, I have seen various consequences of the pandemic.
On the topic of sustainability, the pandemic triggered a reflection process in most of us regarding life before this unfortunate event. Before, people used to live as if there was more than just one Earth, but the general mindset is shifting towards realising that changes are needed in order to live in a better world. To put it briefly, the pandemic moved sustainability higher on the agenda of priorities.
Your role as Project Manager for Sustainability at Deloitte involves the coordination of the company’s own internal sustainability transition. How can businesses respond to the climate crisis in the most effective manner?
It depends on the business model of the company. However, all businesses need to identify, understand and measure the risks associated with climate change on a short, medium and long-term basis. Failing to understand and properly assess the risks might result in a future inability to mitigate or reduce the effects. Therefore, the most effective approach is to begin by creating an assessment of the risks. After having compiled such an analysis, a business should develop plans for mitigating its impact on the environment and society at large. In order to ensure successful execution, it is essential to set goals and targets. In this way, the effort can be tracked and measured, making room for adjustments and interventions if necessary. However, most importantly, the approach should be integrated into the core business strategy and culture. Sustainability needs to become part of a company’s DNA. This is only possible if leadership openly supports and promotes the approach and their commitment. In this way, the entire organisation should eventually be able to function in a responsible and sustainable way.
How do you envision the future of business in The Netherlands?
The future of business will be strongly influenced by the speed at which our society starts responding effectively to the environmental challenge that we are facing. Fortunately, many businesses already expressed their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals or the Paris Agreement. In my opinion, the more companies commit to these kinds of sustainability missions, the greener our future will be.
However, it takes time to change internal processes and shift to a sustainable mindset. Such a change is not made in one day. It is challenging, and we will all learn along the way. But if we want to create a more sustainable world for future generations, it is essential to make these changes.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Having the function of Sustainability Project Manager at Deloitte is the greatest accomplishment for me! Ever since I started my career at Deloitte, I made a continuous effort to attain this position.
During my first year, I worked as a Marketing Consultant and had the pleasure to meet the Deloitte Impact Foundation team. After having expressed my ambition to work with them, it became reality in one year. After that, I went on a secondment for Deloitte North & South Europe which allowed me to expand my network outside of Deloitte Netherlands. This course of action culminated with meeting the COO of Deloitte Netherlands. Upon discovering my ambitions, set of skills and knowledge, he offered me the position that I currently have.
It has been a 4-year journey during which I have grown and learned a lot. In the beginning, I had little faith that I would end up working in a sustainability role due to my educational background. I thought it would require a period of time longer than 10 years and perhaps even another master’s degree. Nevertheless, I kept on working and achieved my dream of making the world a better place through my work.
My advice is to set your mindset to your dream. Do not give up on it and opportunities might cross your path!
What do you consider your biggest failure?
It might sound like a cliché, but I do not believe in failures. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I do sometimes wish to have realised earlier that sustainability is a better fit for me. In hindsight, I should have listened more to my passion for protecting the natural environment and pursued this in my education. Thus, I encourage everyone to “listen” to what their heart is telling them every once in a while and to not forget about their dreams.
What is your best memory of HTH?
It was my first internship, I loved it! I worked for the Ritz-Carlton in Tenerife, Spain. Besides having an amazing time there and making life-long friendships, I also met Sven who is still my partner to this day. He has been my biggest supporter ever since. I am grateful for that internship and will always remember it because it was the moment when I crossed paths with the person that brings out the best in me.
After hearing her story, we asked Jacqueline a couple of short and direct questions that we hope will enable you to learn more about this sustainability enthusiast. Here are her answers:
What is your favourite book?
“I Am Pilgrim” by Terry Hayes. I am a fan of thrillers.
What is your favourite movie?
Seven Pounds, starring Will Smith.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I am none of them. I am a “day” person. I do not like waking up in the morning and during the evening, I tend to get sleepy quite early.
What is the first part of your routine?
I cannot start my day without breakfast! I would be hungry and definitely not in a good mood. I think it gets your engine going for the day.
What is your biggest dream in a few words?
My biggest dream is to make use of my drive, knowledge and experience to positively impact the natural environment and the creatures we have the pleasure to share Earth with. I would be pleased to make a difference, regardless of how small it would be.
What is the greatest lesson you learned at Hotelschool The Hague?
The main takeaway was how important teamwork actually is. At Hotelschool The Hague you have the privilege to work together with people from so many cultures and with different types of personalities. This experience was so valuable because I have to work in teams every day at my workplace.