Achieving your ambitions in an international environment

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The world of Clearing is one of a kind, and it moves at breakneck speed. Starting out at ABN AMRO, I thought I already knew a thing or two about it. But it turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg. Although I’ve been working here for some time now, I’m still surprised sometimes at the pace at which we do business all over the world. As a release manager, I know what it means to beat the clock. Working in my department sometimes feels like running a race, but I enjoy that.

Personally, I thrive on the adrenaline rush Willem Jolen Willem Jolen Release Manager with Clearing

My job is to make sure our systems and operational processes are always functioning smoothly with those of the central counterparties (CCPs) and the exchanges our clients trade on. If we want to settle transactions quickly and correctly, it’s essential that our systems are talking to those used by the exchanges we deal on throughout the world. We work with a total of fifteen CCPs and an additional forty exchanges in Europe. They’re always updating and adding new features to their software. As professional traders, our clients have to be able to trade on those exchanges at all times. Our job at Clearing is to settle all their transactions correctly, assuming the risk and financing our clients’ trading. Clearing helps to ensure that the global financial system is and remains efficient and transparent. In fact, regulators are requiring clearing services for more and more financial products.

Adrenaline rush

Exchanges usually announce well in advance what changes they’re planning to make to their systems. But every once in a while, there’s a last-minute update. Then it’s all hands on deck to make sure we incorporate any modifications in our system ASAP. Although there’s generally a good work–life balance in the department, there are times when we all just have to roll up our sleeves and work overtime until the job is done. I actually thrive on that adrenaline rush, though. I mean, it would be pretty boring if everything always ran like clockwork, wouldn’t it? Plus it feels so much more rewarding when the team have given all they’ve got to tackle a challenge.

Working with people all over the world

Clearing is truly international, since we’re active throughout the world. Our team does focus primarily on Europe, but I come into contact with people from all sorts of backgrounds, from all over the world, every day. Our team is also very diverse. And we regularly travel for one or more days to the offices in Frankfurt and London, since we’re always in close contact with the people there. That exposure is key when it comes to your own personal development and collaborating with those offices.

Ambition is not a dirty word

My aim is to work at our Chicago office sometime in the near future. I think it would be great to discover a whole new world there. One thing I really appreciate is that ambition isn’t a dirty word around here. In fact, I’ve already discussed my medium-term goals with my manager, and he’s been very supportive. It shows that there’s plenty of room for personal development. But you have to earn those opportunities; by that I mean it’s important to be committed, do quality work, take responsibility and show you’re ready to work abroad. And above all, be clear about what it is you want and how you want to develop. We’re currently introducing Agile working at Clearing, which means were splitting software projects up into smaller parts and delivering each day as part of a multidisciplinary team. The result is that we’re working more efficiently and can produce complete software components more quickly. Plus it’s exciting to be learning new things all the time and to develop yourself on the job.


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