‘It feels like working at NN was meant to be'

Anano Basilaia- IFRS17 Consultant, maths wizard and miniature memory-maker

Solving puzzles in my grandfather's library

‘I discovered my passion for mathematics when I was a little girl.  My grandparents met and fell in love when they were both studying mathematics, and my mom is a mathematician too. But it takes more than genetics to excel in mathematics. You have to constantly learn and improve your skill. Without the hard work, all the talent in the world will never be enough. And I love it. I love the process of facing a new problem, and at first having no idea how to solve it. And then, slowly, with time and patience, working through it until the solution becomes clear. It’s important to enjoy the process instead of focusing on the solution.

‘I grew up in Georgia, and I lived with my grandparents and my mom. My grandfather had a library in our house, and I remember spending hours with him there, solving puzzles and discussing mathematical theories and approaches. It was my favourite place in the world, and it really enhanced my love of maths.’ 

Carrying the passion forward

‘Throughout my teens and into my twenties, I competed in maths Olympiads and competitions that strengthened my skills and connected me with great people. I got my Bachelor’s in Mathematics from the university where my grandfather was a professor. We talked about going together to a university abroad – me to get my Master’s, and him to teach. But unfortunately, he passed away in my third year of college. I had another puzzle to sort out. How to carry on without my beloved grandfather, who always shared my passion and supported my work. But I knew he would want me to pursue my dreams.’

Maing a name

'Moving to the Netherlands to get my Master’s was a bit scary, since I’d never lived away from my family before. My classmates were surprised that I would call home sometimes six or seven times a day. But the school and the community really welcomed me. One of my classmates even helped me find my dream job. He interviewed for a position at NN, and mentioned my name and some of the work I had done. A short time later, I got a call from a recruiter, and I interviewed for a Quantitative Developer position. If it hadn’t been for that classmate, I might have never ended up at this place that suits me so well. I feel like it was meant to be.

‘NN encourages you to use your skills and talents in the way that best suits you. And I felt free to learn from my colleagues every day. I worked hard to solve the puzzles my job entailed. NN appreciated the work I was doing, and within a year they asked me to join the IFRS17 team. It was a challenge I couldn’t refuse. IFRS17 is not just one set of regulations to implement. It’s a principle-based system. I’m part of the team that’s testing out different ways of processing and reporting our data and making accounting choices that represent NN as it truly is.’

This article continues after the pictures.


Connecting in corona times

‘I was hired during the pandemic, so I’ve been working remotely for my entire time at NN. Still, I feel very connected to my team, and we meet online for coffee talks and moments to touch base. There’s always a colleague nearby to help. 

‘I’ve also been able to split my time between the Netherlands and Georgia, which has helped me stay close to my family in this difficult year. When I’m in the Netherlands, I usually have two laptops on all day – one to do my work, and one to have my mom and grandmother on video call. Even if we don’t talk much with each other throughout the day, being able to see and hear them in Georgia helps keep them close.’
Spreading the passion

‘Of course, I have a lot of equally passionate and talented colleagues. We’re all eager to learn more about our field and pick the brains of the talented people we work with. But in the very busy day-to-day work at NN, there isn’t often an opportunity to share knowledge. So, I asked my department head if I could start up a kind of masterclass within CFO. Every month, one of the experts on the team explains an aspect of his or her work to the rest of us. 

‘It’s really helpful for the younger colleagues who are just getting started in their careers. The senior-level colleagues take the time to prepare interesting sessions, and they answer all of our questions and make the whole exchange very exciting. We’re becoming closer as a department because of it. The sessions are taking off now – and we’re opening up to include high-level colleagues in related departments, like Risk. And we’re recording the sessions so future colleagues can benefit from them, too.’

small piece of home

'My favourite hobby also has a mathematical component. I love building miniatures. It all started when I got a tiny little kitchen – just 12cm tall – as a gift. You can actually cook with it! Since then, I’ve been designing and constructing my own miniatures. It’s a great way to carry your memories with you, everywhere you go. 

‘Right now, I’m working on a miniature version of my grandfather’s library, and working hard to ensure every detail – down to the last book and chair – is correct. The work combines so many of my passions. Mathematics helps me get everything to scale. My love of learning comes in handy as I learn to build miniature, working lightbulbs and furniture. My patience and passion for puzzles and creative thinking makes the whole thing fun. And my love of family will always be with me when I have this tiny, beautiful reminder of my grandfather and everything we shared.’


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