Where do Erasmus University students end up? In this column graduates speak about their career and life: what have they learned? By sharing their story, they also provide tips along the way regarding dos and don’ts when building a career.

Name: Gabriëlle van Boven (33)

Study programme & year of graduation: Graduated in Econometrics & Management Science at Erasmus School of Economics in 2009 (bachelor and master).

Current job Actuarial analyst at Nationale Nederlanden in Rotterdam: “I develop tools that carry out automatic calculations and analyse them every day. What I like best is to spend the whole day programming, happily writing code.”

Career path: Spent three years as a working student at Aon Hewitt Risk & Financial Management, where she met her husband. Although she had the option of continuing there after graduation, she chose something new. She started as a management trainee at the insurance broker Marsh. In this job she realised she missed working with numbers and decided to join Nationale Nederlanden.

Solves a blank Sudoku puzzle in half an hour. “Just lock me up in a room with a computer and numbers, that’s what makes me happy. If no one calls me to come to lunch then I’ll work straight through until the end of the working day. Sinking my teeth into numbers and calculations is what I enjoy the most. If strange figures come rolling out of the computer then my colleagues turn to me. Gleefully I go on to examine all the systems and dive in for as long as it takes to sort it out. At home I enjoy concentrating on the nine-by-nine squares Sudoku puzzles without any of the numbers filled in beforehand. If my little boys give me a few minutes of quiet then I solve the puzzle in half an hour.”

Gabriëlle van Boven. Image credit: Anna Mazur

A costly error. “Numbers anchor me because they’re always the same. That’s why I need to fully understand something before starting to work on it. For example, I want to test a tool I’m building on all fronts to make sure it works perfectly. Unfortunately, there’s no time for this in practice. This makes me feel uneasy. Recently, that had major consequences when I delivered a tool before I felt it was ready. I made an error that cost the company quite a bit of money. I felt quite sick about it until my manager got me out of my slump. ‘You corrected the problem immediately and that’s what’s most important’.”

Insecure. “I also have a fear of making mistakes outside of my work. For example, before this interview I was a bit nervous because I wasn’t sure I would give the right answers. And as the playmaker in volleyball I’m always preoccupied with setting up a good rally. It would be good for me to distance myself from my work but that really brings me out of my comfort zone.”

Brilliant colleague. “Willem van Ruitenburg taught me a lot about databases and programming, he’s brilliant. It’s funny that he now regularly asks me for advice. Willem focuses more on the big picture while I’m obsessed with the details – in that respect we complement each other.”