Who are these people who consciously choose to work in the pension sector? What do they do all day for your pension? And what do they like about their work? We take you behind the scenes.
British Hillary Ovaga (39) is a DevOps Engineer. “I was excited about an adventure like that in the Netherlands.”
How did you end up at APG?
“I used to work at a company in the UK that supplies important software to APG. After about nine years, I was ready for a new challenge and a new environment. I like the idea of an adventure abroad. By chance, APG associates approached me for an expat position. I was instantly attracted to that. In 2019, I applied to APG and was then hired as a Senior Business Application Consultant. Now that’s called DevOps Engineer 4.”
What attracted you to the Netherlands?
“My dad lived here for a while in the 1980s on a scholarship, the Netherlands Fellowship Program. He told us wonderful stories about the country and we used to have postcards from his Dutch friends around the house. That made me feel that I had an affinity with the country, even though I am very different from my father. He is much better at language and has learned to speak Dutch, but it’s not that easy for me yet. It is something I really want to do, and APG facilitates language lessons, but I have been so busy with work and fatherhood lately that I just haven’t been able to get around to it so far.”
How do you like the Netherlands now that you are actually living here
“I think it is a great country. The people are a bit more relaxed than they are in England. I also really like the cycling culture here. Dutch people are very helpful in many ways, especially when it comes to language. If I had gone to Germany, I would have been under much more pressure to learn the language. But you people are so good at English and don’t expect expats to speak your language. I do have difficulty sometimes with how direct you are though. In England, we carefully ‘wrap’ a message; here you just say it as it is. I had to get used to that. But it does have some advantages. Another thing I like about the Netherlands, incidentally, is the tax advantage expats like me get (the 30-percent scheme for knowledge migrants, ed.) That makes up for the high cost of moving to another county, to some extent.”
And so, now you are a DevOps Engineer 4. That sounds like a secret language. What exactly do you do?
“I work with a team that focuses on the design, creation and maintenance of the software around the reconciliation process and corporate action. I’m one of the Business Application Consultants for the reconciliation software.”
“The reconciliation process is the daily mandatory and essential final stage of any asset management and investment business. APG buys and sells; we pay people and people pay us. All those transactions have to be checked. Very simply put: if we sold five shares, did the other party really receive five shares, and were we paid the right amount for them? The software we have built verifies this. This step is essential to detect, for example, errors, discrepancies, inconsistencies and fraud. Failing to do this can lead to losing control of cash and assets, fines, reputational damage and potentially a negative impact on returns, which is ultimately bad news for both APG and pension clients and the hard-working public that contributes to pension funds. I am involved in designing and building that software. I have to make sure, along with my coworkers, that it does what it is supposed to do. If our users encounter a problem, it is partly my responsibility to solve it as quickly as possible.”