It’s like pioneering at a start-up, but at an organization that’s already earned its spurs in the business. Pension specialist Sarissa van Veenendaal helped give birth to Capgemini’s new pension service, and she plans on building a future there as well.

“I don’t actually have any experience with pensions. I studied health care management, but after graduation I thought: who am I to make policy without any experience at patients’ bedsides? So I worked as a temp at a variety of organizations, and eventually ended up in the pension sector. What’s the charm? As a pension specialist, I can help people make important choices. Everyone hopes to be able to enjoy retirement someday, but you have to take care of it today.”
“The choice for Capgemini was based on my gut feeling. There isn’t another organization where I can see myself continuing to develop over the long term. Whether you want to specialize in your field or go into management, you can do that here. As long as you see opportunities and seize them with both hands.”

Building what we need today

“Capgemini is new to the pension provider world. Our pension service has only been around since 1 January 2021. Evolving from nothing to a good pension provider in a very short time is a great challenge, both for the company and for me personally. Especially since we’re building our own pension administration system. To make the entire operation a success, you need a lot of flexibility and persistence, both as an organization and as an individual.”
“At Capgemini, we build what we need today: an intuitive system for the user. We’re trying to automate as many processes as possible. For example, participants can log in to their personal environment to make changes themselves. Like requesting a pension, changing their relationship status, or changing their payment details. The process doesn’t require a pension assistant, and it’s easy to understand. Participants can access their details 24/7, so they know exactly what’s going on.”

Learning from other cultures

“As a pension specialist, I support the front and back offices. I help colleagues with questions and issues they can’t take care of themselves, and I test functionalities developed by my designer colleagues. Say that participants want to change their bank account number. I test how easy it is to go through that process. I don’t need a lot of technical know-how. In fact, it’s better if I don’t, because that makes it easier to put myself in the participants’ shoes. After the testing phase, I edit the work instructions so all my colleagues are aware of the changes to the process. If a colleague asks for help because a work instruction is incomplete or unclear, then we work together to correct it right away.”
“Our team is made up of a lot of different cultures. Many of us don’t even work in the Netherlands. For example, around thirty colleagues in Poland help with the administrative work that isn’t automated. We want participants who aren’t digital natives to be able to submit changes. Our colleagues in Poland process some of those changes. The designers of the pension administration system are located in Vietnam and India. All of those different cultures have their own strengths. In Poland, they work with the utmost precision. You’re not likely to catch them making a mistake. In the Netherlands, we don’t have as much of a hierarchy, but that freedom in our work creates more space for innovation. It’s great to be able to take advantage of one another's’ strengths like that.”

Pitching to the manager

“Where would I like to grow from here? I’m not sure yet. I’m still searching and discovering. But when an opportunity presents itself, I’ll seize it. Pension provider and system construction is a unique combination, and I want to get as much out of it as I can. That’s also because of how we work. If you have a good idea, you can pitch it to your manager. If you can convince them it’s a good idea, then you can start working on it. It’s a bit like working at a start-up. We sometimes joke: ‘In a few years we’ll be able to say: we’ve been here since the beginning – the originals.’”
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