An internship at Aegon Asset Management inspired Josephine Slangen (22) to want to contribute more to the world. And to make the transition to corporate sustainability.
On Instagram, she scrolled through an ad placed by Aegon for a brainstorming session on how the company can attract more young women. 'I wasn't specifically interested in Aegon Asset Management, but I thought it was interesting that they're working on this.' Where Josephine originally imagined Aegon as a financial institution, in a cold and harsh world, she was overwhelmed by the versatility of the company.
Where did your image of the financial sector come from?
"I didn't think of myself as the money type. Surely there is a stigma attached to the financial sector that it is cold, maybe even selfish. Money can sometimes feel corrupt. I had never really considered that you can use money to focus your business on doing something good. Something good for the world. I think that is a striking vision for a financial institution. Although I was quite skeptical at first, I found out that my core values actually fit in perfectly with this vision."
What kind of core values do you mean?
"Equality, sustainability and diversity are themes that I find important. You can use money to make a positive impact. Strange, actually, that at first I thought money couldn't do anything good. Actively contributing to meaningful change is something I want to find in a job after my master's degree. Making a difference is now much more tangible than just standing in the street with a megaphone and an 'equality' banner.' And while I still love to be on the street with that megaphone, I can now make a difference in other ways too. That's exactly what I like."
What do you do at Aegon?
"Before I started at Aegon Asset Management, I wanted to follow the master's degree in Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Management . This is a business administration master's degree on diversity in the workplace. At Aegon I found out that sustainability themes make me even happier. So at the moment, in addition to my internship and a board year, I am doing a part-time pre-master for the master's program Corporate Sustainability.
In the Responsible Investing department I am mainly concerned with fixed income and responsible investing. Fixed income is a strategy that deals with more stable investments that involve fewer risks than, for example, equities."
'Aegon is really much more than just Finance. They are really socially involved and devote a lot of attention and energy to sustainability and diversity.'
Is the financial sector really such a man's world?
"Fortunately, my first image of Aegon as a boring mortgage lender is incorrect, but the image that it is a man's world is correct. At most I notice that I like to make a good impression, but I think most interns do. So it is certainly not negative, maybe even positive in my case. I came here because of an event to attract more women. Aegon's pursuit of a balance between men and women is apparently working out well!"
What would you like to pass on to students who are orienting themselves?
"I gave a company that I didn't know very well a chance. And that is exactly what I want to pass on to the current students. You can try something and learn a lot from it. Don't be afraid to take a chance every now and then."
Do you necessarily have to be interested in investing, business or economics to enjoy yourself at Aegon Asset Management?
'A company of this scale really needs someone from every discipline. If the business operations and vision appeal to you, keep your eyes open for departments that have more in common with your field of study. After my master , I will probably continue in the field of corporate sustainability . It doesn't have to be an exact copy of the work I do now, but I've found that making a difference is important to me. Making the world a little better every day. That makes me very happy.'
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