Aside from digital innovation, ABN AMRO offers plenty of room and freedom to innovate yourself

6 September 2022

As IT Engineering Lead, Jim Wittermans manages a team of more than 20 developers, which he does at ABN AMRO Clearing. While this subsidiary is sometimes hidden from the outside world, it has an enormous impact. Jim advocates self-innovation as well as digital innovation within the bank. But is innovation possible at a large bank like ABN AMRO? Absolutely! In fact, it is essential.

Finding your way in the world of technology 

‘I've been a techie ever since I was a kid – I was already building websites when I was ten. The Internet was completely different then than it is now. Every website I landed on, I wanted to know: what code is behind this? By trial and error, I found my way in the world of technology. Years later, I got my bachelor's degree in Business IT & Management and master's degree in Business Information Management. After that, I wanted to get practical.’ 

From consultancy to ABN AMRO  

‘I wanted to get to know different organisations and working methods, which is why I chose a consultancy firm. I worked for a different company every few months. That's how I ended up at ABN AMRO Clearing. Behind the scenes, ABN AMRO Clearing is a major player in the investment market. We vouch for customers who buy or sell shares, for example. My first project was to revamp the business portal for customers, which I ended up liking so much that I stayed on as an in-house developer. A year and a half later, I took the opportunity to lead two development teams. ABN AMRO gave me the opportunity to really build something.’ 

Staying ahead of the game  

‘In the digital landscape – which is huge at the moment – you want to stay ahead of the game as a major bank. We want our customers to work as efficiently as possible. At the same time, innovation is also an important pillar for attracting talent, especially in IT. Some people feel that innovation and banks don’t really mesh, but the opposite is true. Sure, we're a big organisation, which means we have processes. But the possibilities are endless. Got a good idea for a new programming language or working method? Then you'll get the chance to demonstrate the added value through a so-called proof of concept. With this, we test the feasibility, technology and functionalities. Does the concept offer added value? Then we will take it further. For example, we have just successfully implemented our first serverless components.’ 

Same service worldwide 

‘A real challenge for the bank is to offer customers the same service worldwide. It's tricky, because each country has different restrictions and regulations. On top of that, some systems are already years old. We are gradually renewing these systems at ABN AMRO Clearing. We do this by breaking down the functionalities into small pieces and then rebuilding them. In this way, we connect old and new. And offer better service.’ 

Learning from and with each other 

‘Besides the opportunity to work with new technologies, ABN AMRO also offers a lot of room and freedom to innovate yourself. Basically, if you want something, you can do it. I should know! In the past few years, I’ve taken on many new projects and gained the confidence to manage and grow a team. In addition, the bank is so big that you always have professionals around you from whom you can learn. I am most proud of my first project, the business portal. That team grew from 2 to 15 colleagues and we went from 10 impressions a day to 15,000. And to top it all off, I got to roll out the portal in Singapore and Sydney together with a colleague. That was great.’ 

Empowering people 

‘My next step? Further develop my soft skills within the bank. I believe that as a team lead you are of immense value if you can learn to empower others. I want to encourage everyone in my team to receive compliments with pride. And I want to help our customers with the latest technology. Ultimately, that is one of the goals I want to continue to work for!’ 

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