“If you want to go for something, the world seems to be open to you here”

Published on: 8 January 2024

Who are these people who consciously choose to work in the pension sector? What do they do there all day for your pension? And what do they like about their work? In “The person behind your pension”, a series on apg.nl, we take the reader behind the scenes. This episode: Myrthe Kolsteren, Group Digital Officer & Lead Digital Academy at APG. “I mainly deal with the human side of technological developments.”


Before this, you worked at KLM, among other companies. Many people will see that as a more dynamic work environment than a pension administration organization. Why the move to APG?

“That’s quite a story. When I had just spent a year at KLM Cargo as an external worker, the Covid crisis began. KLM was hit hard, so the externals on the project were all laid off. So, there I was, suddenly on the street with my blue heart. While looking for a new job, a vacancy at APG caught my eye that described exactly what I did at KLM and what I enjoyed so much. I had to look up APG, though, because to be honest, I had never heard of it. And I must confess that as I read more about it, I had doubts about trading the dynamic environment of aviation for the gray world of pensions. Still, I applied for the job an hour before it closed. During my first interview, I was quickly proven wrong: ‘This world is not that gray at all. In fact, it's cool what they are doing’, I thought. And, sure enough, right from day one I was able to find the challenge in my work that I was looking for. APG has positively surprised me in many ways.”


What are some of those other positive surprises?

“When I look at what I have been able to learn here over the past few years, I am quite amazed. I think APG is the ideal employer for that. Because of the professionalism of its employees, but also because of the variety of organizations we work with. Over the past two years, for example, I have worked regularly with Maastricht University. This taught me a lot about other disciplines; how cool is that! I also really like the opportunities that you get at APG. I dare say that right from the start I have been given opportunities that I could not have had at a young age in other organizations. If you want to go for something here and you have a good pitch, the world seems to be open to you. For example, within three years I was able to hold three different positions. Not every big organization will offer that freedom.”


Your position won’t necessarily ring a bell with everyone. How do you explain to your friends what you do at APG?

“I mainly deal with the human side of digitalization. I try to do that by inspiring, motivating and training colleagues in the fast-moving, digital world. To this end, my team and I set up the Digital Academy at APG. The Academy consists of various learning paths and interventions to best guide employees in their digital journeys. Because no matter where you work, we will all have to participate a more digital and data-driven way of working.”

What does your average workday look like?

“That’s different every day. Overall, my work consists of a lot of talking. Talking to colleagues and other departments about their needs in terms of digitalization and data-driven work. And then translating these needs into training plans to develop the necessary skills. The Digital Academy is now in place, and therefore the work for it is starting to become more operational again. So my work involves different projects all the time, and that variety is what makes it so much fun.”


You studied business administration, among other things. When did your affinity for digitalization and data start?

“I have a very broad education and after graduating, I started working at KLM as a trainee. There I ended up - as a digital illiterate - in the IT department. My focus during the traineeship was on change management and that is pretty much what I still do. So after KLM, I consciously sought a position at the intersection of change management and digitalization.”


How do you ensure that you are helping to bring colleagues to a more digital and data-driven way of working?

“Mainly by discussing with colleagues how digitalization can make their work easier or more fun. So it's not like ‘we from WC-Eend advise WC-Eend and think you should do it this way or that way’. Digitalization is just a tool, and above all, it should enrich our work.”


What character traits of yours come out best in your work?

“Perseverance and the ability to connect with people have helped me the most in recent years, I think. Bringing the right parties together and creating something from nothing, like the Digital Academy. Entrepreneurship and creativity also fit well with that. Formulating a vision, working out a strategy for it and then getting the stakeholders on board with a plan.”


Finally, where do you see yourself in five years?

“Haha, I really hate that question, because I never know the answer to that. I think I am well aware of who I am, what I can do and what I want now. I also manage to look about six months ahead, and that's enough for me. Fortunately, I always notice when I start to lose my challenge. What I do know for sure is that I want to continue working in an environment where I can make my contribution to digitalization and data-driven work. A new challenge outside APG will undoubtedly again have to do with what we call ‘digital workforce transformation’. So again, the question: how do we get people on board with this change, how do we inspire and motivate them, how do we train them? People remain central to this. That is really where my heart and my passion are.”