“Now that I know you people, I don’t think of pensions as boring at all anymore”

Published on: 11 June 2021

Imagine: you are 14 years old and get the opportunity to take the reins at APG for half a day. Chayma Charafi, a student at Sintermeertencollege in Heerlen, seized that opportunity with both hands. As part of the national initiative “Tomorrow’s Boss”, Growth Factory “boss” Anne-Marie Le Doux handed over her chair to Chayma. Virtually, that is. But it didn’t make the day any less special. And instructive, for APG too. “We can seriously learn a lot from how young people view pensions.”


“Now that I’ve gotten to know a few of the people that work here, I no longer think of pensions as boring,” Chayma exclaims enthusiastically at the end of the morning program. A nice by-product of the assignment that morning: finding an answer to the question of how APG can make the learning programs on complex issues such as pensions and investments more attractive to young employees. Anne-Marie Le Doux and some other coworkers are helping Chayma this morning to make her temporary new role as memorable as possible.


More images, less text

“I expect to learn a lot today and am looking forward to it,” Chayma posted on APG’s Facebook and Linkedin account in the morning. And that mission seems to have succeeded. In fact, Chayma is also teaching APG a lot. In her presentation, she comes up with a number of apt recommendations to better reach young APG employees. “Use more images and less text. I’m seeing this in the teaching materials at our school, too. We enjoy watching interesting videos with a good storyline much more than having to read a long, boring piece of text.” This is a big eye-opener for the people Chayma hangs out with that morning. Anne-Marie: “That really is today’s theme: if you make learning fun, it also gets absorbed better. At APG we are sometimes inclined to take our work far too seriously. And that is reflected in the way we communicate about it or provide information. Chayma makes us realize that it is not effective to make things too heavy. Because in learning programs for young employees, they just don’t even absorb that.”

Colleagues in videos

Other recommendations from the student? “Make more use of social media to refer to interesting information or channels. It’s really not a bad thing if it’s not all created by APG itself, but I do think it’s a good idea to have employees who have a lot of knowledge about pensions and investing tell you about it in videos.” Birte van Ouwerkerk, who helped with the presentation, notes that Chayma’s generation thinks much more in images. “We still need to create that image in our minds, whereas young people, they just get it right away. That’s very valuable.” 



As Chayma talks, you can see the people she worked with smile. Raban van Deursen: “We can seriously learn a lot by looking at our work through the eyes of a 14-year-old. When we asked Chayma how young people would look at retirement, her immediate response was: have you asked them yourself?” Ronald van Hengel was also impressed by the young boss’ analyses that morning: “Young people really have a different outlook. Sharper even. And that keeps us alert. I’m impressed by how quickly she understood the ‘problem’ and went to work on it.”

Get to work

Tomorrow’s Boss is an initiative by JINC for schoolchildren from disadvantaged neighborhoods who could use a helping hand to get a fair(er) chance on the labor market. According to Anne-Marie, Chayma doesn’t really need that support: “I met Chayma a few times before and got to know her as a super enterprising type. She just gets to work and gets things done! We adults can also learn something from that.”

Being educational is great, of course, but what is the real point of Tomorrow’s Boss? Being the boss of course! Did you enjoy that? “I think it worked out quite well to be in charge. I was able to come up with my own ideas and also implement them,” Chayma says. When asked if she will be working at APG soon? “Who knows. Someday.”

Right now, the focus is on the things that really matter to a teenager: taking pictures, playing sports and having dinner with girlfriends. Right you are, Chayma.