When I was 19, pretty much straight after I’d passed my secondary school exams (HAVO), I started in IT. I worked at an IT company where I gained a basic knowledge and learnt to program. Soon after that, I started work at Nationale-Nederlanden. I’ve been here around ten years now. First I worked in testing, but quickly I was able to progress my career – something that I’d always intended to do and what’s also made possible here – and I started to develop and manage applications.

I work on development and operations in a cloud environment. To do that, I learnt to work with .NET, a framework for seamless cooperation between applications. Working in the cloud, however, is very different from how we used to work here. Then, we had a lot of data centres at Nationale-Nederlanden. To get the information you needed for your work, you had to go through complicated and lengthy processes. But now, in a cloud environment, you can work with the latest technology and access resources in no time. As a result, I can come up with new applications in a day and know that they work. Nationale-Nederlanden gives us the rights and the confidence to work in the cloud and to do great things.

On a typical working day, I deal with a variety of issues. For example, I check whether the systems have been running properly overnight. I can then see what needs to happen on the sprint backlog. This could be anything: from developing a new functionality to getting stalled processes up and running again.

We recently found an application that had been written in Clipper. This is an old programming language that was used a lot to make programs under the DOS operating system. The language was mostly used to make database programs. Hardly anybody is familiar with Clipper these days. The language doesn’t work on Windows 10. So, we converted the application, in continuous interaction with and feedback from the users.

Initially, you can get a bit despondent working with such an old language, but after we’d asked the users what they did with the application, we started deliberating, grappling, testing and building. Suddenly, we had something! We took it to the users. It didn’t look that great to begin with, but they were incredibly enthusiastic, because the application was much better than they were used to. We then discovered that we could use Bootstrap for this application. Bootstrap is an open source with tools for websites, such as typography, forms and buttons. Suddenly, the interface looked much better. Yes, you really do have the scope here to develop applications and that makes me very happy.

And there are lots more challenges we can embrace if we have the right IT programmers in house. For them, Nationale-Nederlanden is an exciting and inspiring environment. Because if you’ve got good ideas, you’re given all the scope and freedom to carry them out. You see, at Nationale-Nederlanden, we make sure that people don’t need to worry. That’s our strength and it will stay that way. But IT does play a very dominant role in this.

Marco Kerstens
IT Engineer Nationale-Nederlanden Non-life & Income