The more complicated the problem, the more I enjoy it

Tom Janssen, Data Steward


“People often say data is the new gold. But for that to be true, that data must be of exceptional quality — only then is it truly worth its weight in gold. With the introduction of the new pensions system, the eight pension funds APG is working for will transition from one collective pension pot to 4.8 million smaller, individual pots. As part of a transition of that kind, it is extremely important for all data to be correct and properly organized, so they can be moved seamlessly.

And that’s exactly what I’m working on. Five years ago, I applied for the role of Data Steward. I had previously been working in administration at APG’s Pension Administration division, and before that, I worked for AZL, another pension provider. During my time in these roles, I became more and more fascinated by the systems behind the various administration applications — and that soon pushed me in a more technological direction.


As a Data Steward, I am responsible for creating insight into data and improving data quality. Using new data analysis methods, my co-workers and I can prevent and more accurately detect any inaccuracies or omissions in our pension administration data. Sometimes, other divisions refer data issues to us. If an incident occurs, we check whether it has affected multiple participants of a pension fund, and if so, just how large the total group that has been affected is. We track down the cause of the issue, and we find ways to resolve it. The solution might involve a tweak to our software, for example, or a working procedure might need to be changed. We can also arrange extra, automated checks. Once we have tackled the issue, we keep an eye out to make sure the problem doesn’t reoccur.


The ‘steward’ element in the job title might come across as a little strange — when I first saw the job vacancy, the first thing I thought of was cabin crew on an airline. As I see it, I do actually have something in common with that role: the service aspect. We make sure that all of our systems and procedures run smoothly: We facilitate the use and management of data. In doing so, we act as a bridge between APG’s main business — providing pensions — and ICT. We also promote awareness of the importance of correct data within the organization, as well as the importance of everyone handling that data with care.

I am part of a team, but I’ve got plenty of freedom and flexibility in my role. Most weeks, I work from the office for two days, and I spend the rest of my time working from home.


The aspect I find most interesting is when we sit down together with multiple parties from across the organization to look at a problem. When we analyze a problem, we get right down to the roots of it. To me, the more complex a problem is, the more I enjoy it. Solving the problem is just the first step; we also need to check whether the solution we have opted for is legally watertight. In some cases, an error might have been made some time previously, so you want to everything you can to proactively rectify that. How do you communicate that to the participants? Those are the things that make this role so incredibly dynamic. Things never stand still when it comes to technological developments either. Inside the organization, we are switching to a new toolset; externally, the new pension system is just around the corner. We work in a rapidly changing environment, and you have to have the right mindset to be able to deal with that.


With that in mind, constant self-development is extremely important. The fact that APG offers an endless range of training programs really persuaded me to apply for this role. You’re given all the opportunities you want to take courses while you’re on the job. I took all the training I needed to become a Data Steward right here at the company, for example. I also recently completed a Python programming language course,

and I’ll soon be starting a PowerBi course. If you can show that you’ll do whatever it takes, APG offers all the opportunities you could wish for to develop yourself.”

Constant self-development is extremely important here