“We openly discuss what’s possible and what’s not. No backroom politics”

Published on: 17 August 2023

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 what do they like about their work? We take you with us to have a look behind the scenes. Con Snijders is People Manager at APG. “Our work has real meaning; it’s truly something different than selling soft drinks.


You have been working at APG for the most part of your career. Are you that much of a pension enthusiast?

“A pension enthusiast is a bit of an overstatement, but I am certainly interested in the topic. The outside world often perceives pension as boring. But as soon as you start working here, you discover all kinds of things are happening. Our work has real meaning, as it’s all about people’s income for the future or in case something happens. That’s something different than selling soft drinks. As far as I’m concerned, the challenge is bigger because you can really be of value as an employee of a pension administrator. Why have I been working here for such a long time? It particularly pleases me that there’s always something new to do. I have held various positions throughout the years. From ICT to marketing management and to my current role as People Manager. APG offers plenty of opportunities to fulfil your own ambitions and potential.”


What do you like about working at APG?

“APG keeps an eye on a good balance between people and work. That really comes to the fore when someone is going through difficult times. The company then demonstrates a true sense of understanding and space for the individual. Two core values within APG are collaboration and result-oriented. In order to achieve sustainable success, you have to properly work together. That is an important area of attention. There is little egocentric behavior as we need one another to succeed. That’s something I often hear from new colleagues; everyone is willing to help each other. And that’s really not always the case at other companies. Why is that? It is embedded in the company’s DNA. And in the product, the pension. Pension is also about collectivity and solidarity. That has always remained in the years I have been working here and that pleases me!”


Have a lot of things changed in the course of time?

“A lot has changed, but a lot has also stayed the same. The complexity of the stakeholders’ field, for instance. With social partners, employees, participants, politics. All of those different parties have various interests. That doesn’t change. I do notice that APG has grown from an implementing organization into a professional service provider exercising the utmost care in the field of IT. That is also something I hear from colleagues who have switched from other large companies. That we are so professional. And that also has to do with the qualities of the people who work here now.”


You work as a People Manager. What does that mean exactly?

“This position was introduced by APG four years ago within the program of agile working. We make a distinction between guiding on contents - through product owners and business owners - and on people, by means of People Managers. Being a manager, I give people the proper, genuine attention in order for them to function properly and to continue developing themselves. I am part of the line organization, so not of the management, like HR, at which you would usually also find these kinds of positions. We also have to perform within that line organization. That is a critical success factor we measure. The greatest value of our role is that people feel seen and heard. There are four ways for me to realize that: I interact with them, I challenge them should that be necessary, I facilitate people in their development and training, and I coach them. Line managers are first and foremost responsible for the contents and therein also lies their priority. As People Managers, we are close to the employees. Issues can be properly discussed and that is also what people do. That leads to less hassle and dissatisfaction.”


Can you give an example?

“Think about the renewed pension system we are currently working on. Many people are happy to take part in that change. At the same time, the existing system also requires attention. As People Managers we work according to a transparent process in which we ask the people what they want as an employee. We assess their level of interest, look at what is possible and match those desires with APG. If you assign people to projects and processes without paying attention to their desires, they leave. That is why we openly discuss what’s possible and what’s not. No backroom politics.”


What about your own wishes?

“I would like to continue developing myself and I am constantly learning something more about myself. And I also want to recognize my own patterns and break through these patterns should these not be effective. This to make sure it also has meaning in a sustainable way and provides me with meaning and satisfaction for the rest of my life. That is also the reason why I want to be engaged more in coaching as an independent entrepreneur in the future, and currently work as a People Manager.”

What would require some additional attention in your opinion?

“APG is strongly committed to inclusion and that pleases me. That is also necessary and the right thing to do. As far as I’m concerned, we could all take some extra steps in that respect. By also looking at the seemingly small things that ensure people to be themselves. Let me take myself as an example. I work from home wearing shorts. And when it’s warm, I do the same at the office. I am being questioned for wearing shorts. The comments are both positive and negative and vary from ‘It’s great that you do this’ to ‘Honestly, you cannot wear shorts to the office’. I believe inclusion is about creating space for people to be themselves and to freely express themselves. In all kinds of ways, including their clothing. And in my case, those are shorts!”