Who are those people who are consciously choosing to work in the pension industry? What is it they do all day for your pension? And do they truly enjoy their work? We take you with us to have a look behind the scenes. Latifa el Haddar (40) is all-round pension employee at APG. “To be honest: it sometimes drives me crazy altering an account number for the sixtieth time a day. But, luckily, not every day is this boring.”
‘All-round pension employee, that sounds like a jack of all trades. What is it you do exactly?
“I work at the department BTER, which stands for Bedrijfstakeigen regelingen (industry-wide schemes). I am engaged in all the additional schemes employers and employees of the BTER funds are able to utilize as per the CAO (Collective Labor Agreement). An example is the Tijdspaarfondsregeling (time saving fund scheme), intended for people covered by the CAO Construction & Infrastructure. Their holiday allowance and vacation days are deposited into a pot and we manage that pot. We are also involved in the Zwaarwerkregeling (heavy-duty labor scheme). That scheme, allowing employees to stop working sooner, can be applied for through our department. We will then make sure they get paid benefits until they are entitled to receive AOW (state pension). These people often use those benefits together with an early retirement. Participants currently receiving sickness or unemployment benefits, can also contact us to apply for a supplement arrangement. Our department is involved in a total of fifteen schemes.”
Does this mean your work is only indirectly pertaining to pensions?
“Yes, that's correct.”
Yet, you work in the pension industry. That industry is not known for being the most vibrant line of business.
“LOL, let's be honest: it can be extremely boring at times. It sometimes drives me crazy having to enter sixty account numbers in one day. But fortunately that's not the case on a daily basis.”
What is it you enjoy about your work?
“I enjoy being quite autonomous as a team. Our team consists of eight members and, if we believe things have to be done differently, we are able to take decisive decisions quickly and easily. The lines towards the management are short. I also very much enjoy the freedom I have. As long as you work the hours you are hired for, it doesn't really matter when you do this. A colleague of mine starts at five o’clock in the morning – rather her than me. You are able to log in whenever you want and if you go outside for a while in between, that's all good. There is no 9-to-5 mentality. That suits me.”
It probably wasn't your childhood dream to work at APG. How did you end up here?
“It came on my path really. After my HBO study, that I didn't complete because my parents decided to move back to Morocco in my third year and I had to face reality on my own, I worked for many temporary job agencies. At some point I was invited to a job interview at APG, or Cordares back then. During that same period I also had a job interview at Wibra, for the position of branch manager. I had to make a choice when both companies were willing to hire me.”
Why did you decide to opt for APG?
“After due consideration I decided it just wasn't my thing to open a store every day and to have full responsibility for such business. APG seemed like a nice employer offering plenty of prospect for the future. And that proved to be true. I have been working here for fifteen years now and was allowed to complete many training courses. I was able to obtain my green belt, for example, by learning to recognize improvements within processes. I am now holding the position of improvement specialist at my department. It is never an issue if people want to follow a training course or education. So, I am still glad to have chosen APG back then. Prior to my position at the BTER department starting four years ago, I worked at the customer service and was involved in pension for the construction industry, cleaning industry and housing corporations. I have meanwhile also joined the works council as a member. Every department has taught me something about myself. That entire journey through the company has shaped me into who I am today.”