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- Interview: Sander Peels - February 20, 2017
Before we start off, please introduce yourself .
Hello! My name is Sander Peels and I have been the Treasurer at Asset | Economics in the fantastic year of 2013-2014. This implied that I was making the budget, controlling our expenses and revenues and in general, safeguarding the association.
Which part of your function as Treasurer did you like best?
The Bachelor and Master in Economics teach only the very basics of Accounting. To experience a learning-by-doing approach instead of merely becoming book-wise – that is valuable. You get to learn many useful tricks. I have not necessarily become a more critical thinker, but I am more capable to quickly scan for relevant information.
A board year brings many positive aspects. What are the things you did not want to miss?
Of course there’s the warm atmosphere, the constant networking with people who have the same interests and similar occupations. But it’s also about self-development in a social and organizational way. And you learn how to absorb unexpected changes or drawbacks.
What do you consider to be the drawbacks you’ve experienced?
When I started my board year I was convinced that doing some sports such as volleyball or running would easily fit in the schedule. The actual truth was, that after one year, my physical condition was approaching the zero lower bound. Furthermore you sometimes experience situations in which there is a conflict of interest between different departments, apparently we are still not one Asset…
Does your function as Treasurer relate to your current job?
Currently, I am working at a department within the Ministry of Finance which controls the Dutch state participations. This implies that I am granted to a state participation and fulfill the role of a shareholder. I meet with the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Directors on a regular basis; I have to be able to answer questions about the year accounts within the Ministry of Finance. Of course, the budget of a multinational is different than that of a study association. But the fundamentals are the same. In both situations, your quantitative skills have to be strong.
What have you been working on recently?
I’ve been involved in an investment proposal of TenneT, a major transmission system operator (TSO) which basically transports all high voltage power within the Netherlands. Since 2010 the company expanded to Germany. Together with my colleagues, I had to evaluate an investment proposal of 1.2 billion euros and give advice to the Minister. Why should you want the plan? Is it financially feasible? Have the risks been mitigated? What would the longer-term benefits be? Have the externalities been included? It’s a lot of questions but very thrilling to work on.
What does the nearby future bring you?
I’m currently doing my traineeship at Generale Thesaurie. As a trainee, I shift between the four parts of this department. From March 1, I’ll be joining Financial Markets. That means I will be cooperating with Dutch banks and the AFM. I will need to be thinking about FinTechs, capital ratios, further development of the banking union etc. – it’s a strong financial character.
Board year versus working… what are the differences, what are the similarities?
A major similarity is the structure. You have to be present at a fixed time and stay until a more or less fixed time. Regardless of how late it was during the night before, you are still expected to be in time. What I notice is that there is less freedom when working than in my board year. You cannot be drinking coffee for an entire hour. You can’t just go cycling through the city if the tasks you’re performing are not going so well. Also, you meet more expectations and responsibilities. Though I must say: Asset is a rather professional organization and while you enter as a rookie, you still learn to behave in a formal way as well. You get used to wearing a suit and talking with companies and recruiters becomes more natural. And then you start working, and it all gets real…
Finally Sander, we have arranged some devilish dilemmas for you. Feel free to expand.
– Beatles or Rolling Stones? Beatles. Though my favorite songs are Clocks, by Coldplay, and Man on the Moon, from R.E.M.
– Bicycle or public transport? Bicycle, it’s slightly more than 5 minutes to the office in The Hague.
– ACM or the Ministry of Economic Affairs? ACM is part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, so it’s not really two separate worlds. Nevertheless… ACM.
– New car or world trip? World trip. I’d go to Japan, Cuba and Vietnam. I already did a part of Vietnam last month.
– Cooking, or walking to the Vietnamese restaurant? Cooking. Then I can at least make a decent and healthy meal. Preferably some broccoli, potatoes and a piece of meat. Also, I tend to bring carrots and tomatoes to my work. I was already considered the ‘fitboy’ in my board year.