Feature: Anouk van Berkum

Hello Anouk, could you please briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Anouk van Berkum, and I am 22 years old and currently a fifth year student. I just finished my bachelor in Business Administration and started my masters Organization and Management Control in September. I originally come from Zwolle but I live in Groningen for five years now. I like to go out with friends, have drinks and do other nice things with them.

What have you done within Risk?
I was still in my first year when I became a member of the Risk Activity Committee (RAC). This is a committee that organizes several informal events for younger students, mainly focused on the accountancy students, to get to know Risk. While I was still in the RAC, I also became a member of the board as an Internal Coordinator. I was mainly responsible for the promotion like designing flyers and posters, but also the applications for the committees. Besides the general things the board does like the strategy and all the meetings, I supported 7 committees, so I had a lot of meetings during the week. Right now I am a participant in the International Financial Program (IFP), we are going to Cuba and currently busy with the acquiring of companies to participate.

Why did you decide to become an active member of Risk and what did you learn during your active membership?
After attending an event Risk organized, I came in touch with the board and several active members. They told me they were looking for new active members and that the Activity Committee is a good committee to gain experience, so this is where it all started. I am very enthusiastic about Risk and the way things are done. It is very professional on the outside, but also very fun on the inside, like a family. What I have learned is a tough question because I have learned so much. But I’ve probably learned most from my board year. You don’t always know how to solve things individually so we learned how to work as a group. We all had a different perspective which led to a lot of discussions. This really helped me to learn how to work with people. Another thing was that committees you guide don’t always agree with you. You can’t just say: we’re in the board, we decide.
Besides that, I’m more confident now than five years ago. For example with public speaking, I really didn’t like to the first time, but now I don’t mind giving a presentation anymore.

What do you want to do when you graduate?
I am not sure about that, I am still deciding whether I want to be a controller or a consultant. Right now I don’t have preferences between the two, it’s 50-50. After my master I want to do an internship, but that is 1,5 years from now, so I have quite some time.

Why did you decide to study Organizational Management and Control and what did you learn from these studies?
I chose this master because Business Administration is a very theoretical study, and to my own surprise I missed working with numbers. I was done with theories but didn’t want my masters to be too financial. I have always liked the management side and wanted to combine this with my need for numbers.

What is the most exciting story in the financial world that you are following at the moment?
The story I am following at the moment is the reorganization of ING that I saw on the news. What I’m shocked about most is that they are losing 7.000 jobs and that they are putting a lot of money in digitalizing. They claim they are the first mover and that if they show that it works, a lot of banks will follow.

Would you be able to tie it into your study of OMC? Is the digitalization a good idea?
I understand why they are doing this, because everything is becoming more digitalized. An ING Officer mentioned that if they did not take this step, they could disappear like other firms who do not keep up, like V&D. You have to stay ahead and I understand that, but 7000 people is a lot of people. They also mention that jobs are changing, but I think they should let their workers adapt to changes rather than firing them. People are very important and you need to respect those employees who are loyal to your firm. ING should offer trainings to current employees and give them a chance to adapt.

You mentioned you were involved in the Risk IFP, could you tell us more about the choice of Cuba as this year’s destination?
Well what we do in IFP is we form a group of 21 students, 5 board members and 16 participants and complete projects internationally for companies which we have built a relationship with. Together we made the decision with companies to choose Cuba because so much is happening right now regarding growth. It is at the beginning of a turning point and this is optimal for companies because they can get ahead of the majority of companies that will arrive in 1 or 2 years from now. There is also a good relationship between the Netherlands and Cuba for trade.

What advice would you like to give your successors? (all future cover interviewees on the Risk Magazine)
I want to advise everyone to gain as much experience alongside your studies. These extracurricular activities are valuable and shape you as a person. I see the lessons I learned through my extra activities as of equal or more importance than lessons through school. They set you apart from all the thousands of students you are competing with in the Netherlands.