"The smallest design changes can make a big difference"

Published on: 7 February 2022

Who are the people who choose to work in the pension sector? What do they do there all day for your pension? And do they really like their job? We take you behind the scenes.

Brettney Vlieland-Pijst (33) is a marketing & communication consultant and visual designer at APG. "It's a challenge for me to make information as simple as possible, so that it's accessible to everyone."

What exactly do you do at APG?

"Officially, I'm a marketing & communication consultant, but that's actually a catch-all term. One is a marketer, the other a content specialist. I'm a bit of an odd one out. The work I do is very diverse. I'm now a visual designer, because I'm now also involved in graphic design."


So what kind of work does it involve?

"For example, I prepare reports, but also the welcome card that pension participants receive and much more. The visual identity of a fund is extremely important. We manage people's money; a reliable, recognizable appearance is essential. Within APG, I mainly work for bpfBOUW, the pension fund for the construction industry."


How did you get here?

"I started at APG more than five years ago at the customer contact center, which is a good place to get to know the company and its customers. I then switched to the employers' desk, where I helped employers with collective agreement-related questions. After that, I became a content specialist at the marketing & communications department. In this position, I secured more and more graphic work. I was hired for that purpose too, I think. I've previously worked at an educational publishing company." 


What made you think: I'm going to work in the world of pensions, that's where it happens?

"Before APG, I was self-employed. I was constantly busy getting new assignments. Once I had children, I needed a little more security. In addition, I missed colleagues around me. I didn't have a lot of affinity with the pension world as such, but I do have a soft spot for construction. My now retired father worked in construction, and other family members still do. That's great fun, because they're my sounding board. If I have an idea, I present it to them; after all, they're the target group."

"Family members of mine work in construction. That's great fun, because they're my sounding board"

What did you do when you were self-employed?

"I was a photographer. I'm quite a careerist and that has taken me far. That's how I ended up in a book as one of the hundred best emerging photographers in the Netherlands. That was awesome."


Don't you miss your photography work?

"A bit, but luckily I still shoot regularly in my spare time. For bpfBOUW, I also take care of photography and video recordings with external parties. For example, we made a video about how a divorce affects your pension. I thought that was really fantastic, to find people who wanted to talk candidly about such a sensitive subject."


What gives you job satisfaction?

"I want to be able to make a difference. Taking photos is fun, but when I design something that makes people suddenly understand how to fill in something, I make a lot more impact. I have a weakness for target groups that, for example, have difficulty reading. It's a challenge for me to make content as simple as possible, so that it's accessible to everyone. You don't just do that in text, but also by using - say - two columns instead of one, so you get shorter sentences. And you can also make a huge difference with symbols and infographics. All information we provide must be clear, simple and well-arranged. It gives me satisfaction to contribute to that."

What qualities make you suitable for this job?

"My enthusiasm and creativity. I'm also someone who always thinks in possibilities: how can I achieve this?"


What does a working day look like for you?

"First, I check my email to see if anyone needs help. It could be anything; from editing a photo to posting a video to YouTube. People also often ask me whether I can check to see if something fits with the house style. Then I continue with my projects, such as the pension handbook. I don't have a specific daily routine. That also brings challenges; you have to plan everything well, because it's easy to be overwhelmed by the work. If you accept every small job, you no longer get to the most important work. But it wouldn't be like me to do the same thing every day. I like variety and change, I thrive on that."


What do you do when you're not at work?

"My son (6) and daughter (4) take up a lot of time. I like to take them on day trips, to the zoo for example. Other than that, I prefer to work. Yes, I'm a real workaholic."


How do people around you react when you tell them about your job?

"There's always a discussion about pensions and that there's nothing left for them. I then try to explain to them the importance of collectivity. That usually helps. If I tell them exactly what I do, they will understand why I'm here at APG. My friends will never think I have a boring job, they know me too well for that."


What do pension participants notice about your job?

"A lot, in my job, I make information more accessible and understandable for them. For example, we're currently working on a pension manual for employers. Many employers in the construction industry are informal. They're the first to know if something changes in the personal situation of their employees. For example, if someone is getting a divorce, the employer can provide a to-do list, including the aforementioned video, so that his employee knows exactly what to arrange. The smallest changes can make a big difference. To cite another example: forms were often not signed because they didn't have a specific field for that. Adding something as simple as that, and making a checklist with ticks - 'you must do this, you must hand it in this' - should improve things in the future. This also prevents forms having to be sent back and forth."