There is a nice and open culture where I can be myself

Author: Brechje Boeklagen – I&T Platforms&Technology

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2 March 2022

I am Brechje Boeklagen, 24 years old and I am originally from Amsterdam. I just moved to Soesterberg where I have the great opportunity to work from home and take a walk in the forest during my lunchbreak. I sometimes go to our office in Amstelveen when I have the opportunity to carpool with my partner. My hobbies are ballroom dancing, board games, playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends, building leg sets and bouldering (climbing sport on 4,5 m height I enjoy ballroom dancing for almost 6 years now, of which I’m dancing with a close friend and colleague from ABN AMRO. I am a member of the students ballroom dancing association  AmsterDance and participate regularly in competitions. My favorite dance is the samba. 

I am also a fan of Harry Potter and I am quite knowledgeable on this, you can consider me as a ‘walking encyclopedia’! I also have a large lego collection in that theme. 
Looking at all these aspects and the fact that I studied a bachelor Information management and a master Data Science, I consider myself quite nerdy. In my team I am mostly busy with data analyses, data engineering and development. I get enthusiastic about complex data related problems that I can apply structure to visualise problems (and solutions) and onboard data sources. 

Where in ABN AMRO do you work and tell more about that department?

I work in the department Digital Workplace of Platforms & Technology within IT and Innovation & Technology. Digital Workplace is continuously improving the digital workplace of all colleagues. I work in the team Operational Business Intelligence (OBI) where the goal is to deliver high quality data (analyses) to teams within and outside our grid to enable everybody to work data-driven and realise a good employee experience.

How did you get this job and why do you like it?

As part of a traineeship at Solid Professionals (formerly Hermes Partners) I applied on the vacancy data engineer. It was immediately a bull’s eye hit: the job description and the interview was exactly all about what I loved to do after my study. I like to help people by using data and my study was the so-called marriage between data, business and psychology. During that conversation I got the advice to not be afraid to be thrown in the deep end.  Good thing is that I am very motivated and am pro-active, so I could start immediately. 

What surprised you most when you joined ABN AMRO?

What surprised me most, positively, is that from day one I entered the office – still 22, just finished my study and had no working experience yet – the whole team took me very seriously.  I speak up and share my (critical) feedback and knowledge. The fact I can and could do this openly, made me feel accepted and valued. This strengthened me in my development and building up my confidence. 

What is your biggest challenge to work as a woman in this department?

Working together is a challenge in itself when you consider the different priorities in the teams and grid. The OBI team works on many products that also require support: we try to plan the communication and improvements as good as possible, but that can be difficult sometimes. I haven’t experienced a specific challenge because of being a woman nor the ‘glass ceiling’, so that’s very positive. There are sometimes challenges in a different area, mostly caused by communication. It has happened that I share a plan (already pre-discussed with my own product owner) with a product owner outside our team, but he/she only accepts the plan when my own product owner responds again. I experience this as a hierarchy limitation as I am in a junior position. Next to these very rare occasions I experience our part of the organisation as ‘flat’: when my partner and I were house hunting, she was very sympathetic with our situation.

What do you love most about your job?

Working in my team is different every day: my activities have a high variety. I mostly like the brainstorming with my colleagues and to come to a conclusion or solution together, to implement it and – most of all – ensure that the solution really works ! I have a lot of fun in working together in our team, we have a great culture, we take care of each other and everybody is available when you need help. Keeping focus with an overflowing agenda and running from meeting to meeting and sprints filling up with tasks, can be a challenge. To have good planning skills does help me here!  

Why is I&T an attractive workplace, also for women? 

There are quite a few women working in Digital Workplace, so the department has a good diversity in my view. Everybody has different work and study backgrounds, there are also colleagues with more or less ‘technical’ experience. This brings us very interesting conversations. I am in a team with men only which I am fine with. There is a nice and open culture where I can be myself. When it comes to work there is a ‘no bullshit zone’: with our open culture we can give each other quite direct feedback to help each other and to develop. So, for women reading this: with OR without having affinity with IT or match or with having considerations on the man/woman ratio: don’t limit yourself. Step up and just do what you really like to do!

What is your quote for women in I&T and ABN AMRO?

Go for it! Do the work you believe in!  

Author: Brechje Boeklagen – I&T Platforms&Technology

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