“Vision and strategy keep me busy in my personal life too”

Published on: 2 May 2024

Who are these people who consciously choose to work in the pension industry? What do they do there all day for your pension? And what do they like about their work? In “The people behind your pension”, we take the reader behind the scenes. This episode: Marjanela Girigori-Willems, business consultant at APG. “For me, it is the diversity that makes this job so attractive.”

How and when did you end up at APG?
“After obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Business Economics, I worked through a secondment agency at several organizations, including APG. I officially joined in 2018, and I was struck by the fact that no distinction is made here between direct employees and hired workers; everyone is seen as a full-fledged colleague. This open and stimulating work environment, where there is active investment in employee development, appealed to me greatly. It was one of the reasons I chose to continue my career here. Shortly after joining the company, I was able to get my master’s degree in Business Administration with the support of APG. When I came here, APG was in the midst of developing its vision and strategy, with an emphasis on core values such as connection, simplifying complex issues and continuous improvement. These aspects aligned not only with my professional interests, but also with my personal values.”

Can you tell us a bit more about that?
“One example is my moving to the Netherlands. I certainly didn’t plan on doing that when I was still living in Curaçao. But twenty years ago, I took a leap of faith to come to the Netherlands for love. Together we have built a strong relationship, a great career and a nice circle of friends. This typifies some of my core qualities: a love of adventure, drive and the ambition to continuously develop myself and grow both professionally and personally. For me, this is what vision and strategy mean: setting goals and consciously working toward them.”

Your current position is business consultant. Previously, you were a pension specialist and project manager, among other things. What does a pension fund participant notice about the work you do?
“As business consultants, we deal with various assignments, most of which are currently related to the new pension legislation. These are often part of the somewhat larger projects, and the participant would not directly notice anything about that. But indirectly I do contribute to improving their pension experience, by working on projects that promote the stability, efficiency and transparency of the pension fund.”

What does your average day as a business consultant look like?
“My workday is dynamic and includes a broad range of activities, such as facilitating workshops, analyzing issues and business processes, advising management and updating reports. This diversity is what makes it attractive to me. I enjoy coming up with creative solutions to complex challenges that arise during my projects. Collaboration with colleagues is essential in my position. By working together effectively, we can join forces, integrate different perspectives and achieve better results. Although every assignment is unique and sometimes presents challenges, I always have a proactive attitude toward problems. I often find a way to a solution.”

Which of your character traits really comes into play in your current work?
“My drive and my penchant for adventure. It ensures that I am often on the lookout for new opportunities and challenges. I am also very creative, and since my work often involves facilitating, analyzing, advising and coming up with solutions, that creativity comes in handy. And then there is my focus on results; when I start something I have to finish it. But the common thread is ‘with passion’: I work on things that excite me, challenge me, give me pleasure and contribute to APG’s services.”

Outside of work, what gives you energy?
“Outside of work, I get energy from writing, conversation, swimming and music. I translate my thoughts and experiences into inspirational quotes and poems. I am a passionate swimmer, both professionally and recreationally. Here in the Netherlands, I combine swimming with fitness to keep it interesting. I enjoy dancing, listening to music and singing. On Friday nights, my husband and I often have ‘Happy Hour’ at home, where we let loose to music together and shake off the work week. It’s a wonderful thing to try out yourself!”

You describe yourself as driven and adventuresome. Do you see yourself still working at APG in five years?
“Probably. APG is a large organization with plenty of room for personal growth and holding various positions. I see myself going in the direction of management and coaching. My future can lie inside or outside APG, depending on the opportunities that come my way.”