Moving back to the Netherlands after working and living in Lithuania for six years. Leaving a tried-and-trusted employer to start a new job, and switching from compliance to risk management in the process. Bas de Vries, Expert Consultant in Risk Management could never be accused of shying away from doing something new. After joining the company in September this year he talks about his work experience so far, and about making the switch to ITDS.
Always up for something new
“I have a pretty broad scope of interest and I’ve always loved doing new things. It was a conscious decision, for example, to follow the fairly broad Technology and Policy programme at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Eventually, through my master’s I specialised in Energy and Sustainable Development. I then kicked off my career in the area of renewable energy. But despite the fact that I have a natural interest in this subject, I thought the assignments were too focused on the long term. It can take 20, or even 50, years to make a real impact, while I prefer to see more immediate results from what I’m working on.”
“After working for a few years I decided to made a radical switch; I quit my steady job and started working as a freelancer. I wanted to broaden my horizons by taking on more variety in my work and seeing more of the world. In Lithuania I met the woman who would become my wife and we decided to settle down there. I landed a permanent position in the financial sector. For me, it was a completely new – and ostensibly less idealistic – industry, but I really enjoyed the work. From a compliance perspective, and with a globally consistent approach, it was my responsibility to securely place digital products in the market. The projects typically had a lead-time to completion of 12 months and seeing relatively immediate results gave me a lot of job satisfaction.”
Skills more important than knowledge
“I am a firm believer that soft skills are more important than purely substantive knowledge – at least on a business level. I reckon companies should select employees more on this basis. Grass-roots knowledge is, of course, very important. But as long as it is in place, complementing it with the right personal skills will make all the difference. As for my own strengths, I have strong conceptual and analytical skills. Furthermore, I like tackling problems that other people prefer to take a wide berth around. If you have skills like these you can apply them in any and every company and sector.”
“I realised with my previous employer in Lithuania that having such skills can bring you success. I worked for a large American Payment Provider. It was a fascinating mix of the extrovert American culture and my somewhat more introverted Lithuanian colleagues. While many Lithuanians preferred to work within the confines of their own area of expertise on the basis of content, I enjoyed helping people by explaining things or by connecting departments or different areas of expertise. This type of mentality takes you further with an American company. On the face of it, this didn’t exactly make me the best project manager in the team. However, because I could help a specialist apply his or her expertise, it made it possible to translate it all into an understandable process. Subsequently, we managed to convince the rest of the company, including the management, just how useful this approach could be.”
First few months at ITDS
“That’s how, from working on compliance with a large corporate, I switched to risk management with a consultancy. As such it was a modest leap, because compliance is not really that far removed from risk management. In both disciplines you have to make sure that processes run smoothly and then evaluate the risks. In the past these were mainly compliance risks and problems but nowadays they are more generic risks and problems. I like consultancy and I enjoy working on tricky problems that companies cannot solve. I suppose that, without realising it, I was also a consultant with my previous employer. I was happy to take on problems that others considered to be too complex. I’m glad that I chose ITDS. The work suits me, the atmosphere at the office is good and I’m surrounded by enthusiastic colleagues.”
“My first assignment at ITDS is with an insurer. The sector is new to me, but the underlying structures are often similar to those in other companies that I have worked for. However, I am working on new products and frameworks, which I have to carefully read up on. Despite not yet being fully up to speed in terms of content, by applying my skills I can quickly make a contribution to the client. Within the risk unit I have been involved in proposition development from the outset. In addition to investing the necessary hours with the client, this also involves thinking about the future of the unit itself. It has been gratifying to see that I have quickly been able to make myself useful to both the client and ITDS. It all goes to show that sometimes you just have to take a chance. And not be afraid of trying new things.”
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