27 November 2018 ... min read Listen

Jens Panneel

Chapter Lead is a good fit with my development and the traineeship

After a highly promising yet all-too-brief career as a professional athlete, Jens Panneel decided to study informatics. It became increasingly clear to him during his degree that he wanted to work in the financial sector, which ultimately led to him becoming an IT trainee at ING. In his first ‘proper’ job during the traineeship he is currently working as Chapter Lead Front End Development within the Investments & Private Banking tribe.

“It took me eight years to complete my degree at the University of Ghent because of all my extra-curricular activities – not only as an athlete, but also as chair of a student association and various student jobs. Plus I was involved in a start-up. It was definitely time for me to start thinking about taking my first step on the career ladder, but I hadn’t really started looking in earnest when I received a LinkedIn invitation from an ING recruiter in the Netherlands. I already knew that I wanted to work for a bank, because I believed that they could make great strides in terms of digitalisation. The idea of moving to the Netherlands also appealed to me; my girlfriend and I both graduated at the same time so we weren’t attached to any specific location.”

Right place

“The traineeship is really interesting because you get the chance to try various things. My rotations couldn’t have been more different; I started at Payconiq, a very innovative division which is much like a start-up, where I spent six months as a back-end engineer. My second rotation at the Touchpoint Architecture Office took me to the other extreme – the material was much more abstract. I found that tough going; I like to see results more quickly, so I switched to Core Bank Research after three months. That was interesting and I did some very pioneering R&D work there, but I missed the direct impact on customers. I took my time searching for my first ‘proper’ job. I gave a lot of thought to how and where I want to grow and what suits me. And thankfully, I now feel that I’m in the right place in my current tribe. I started as an engineer for the mobile Investment app. I’d only been on board a couple of months when there was an opening for this role as chapter lead. I immediately put myself forward; this step is a good fit with my personal development, my plan and the traineeship.”

I really love the autonomy that teams have

Improving as a whole team

Our squad is responsible for the new mobile Investment app from start to finish. It’s one of the larger projects within the tribe. Our squad is made up of engineers, UX specialists, customer journey experts, visual designers and investment experts. As chapter lead I’m responsible for all front-end development within the tribe for the app and the website. I’m still in the same place and in the same team as when I was only working as an engineer, but my responsibilities have shifted. I now spend approximately 60 percent of my time on development work and 40 percent in my chapter lead role. That primarily entails coaching colleagues so that the whole team improves from a technological perspective and we keep raising the standard of our work together. Most of my coaching is for the mobile app because that’s what I’m most involved in. Thankfully we’ve got really good senior engineers in the team who are keen to share their knowledge about the web aspect with their colleagues. Out of all my new tasks, I enjoy coaching the most. We’re striving to develop good, secure software that works efficiently for a very large group of users, and it’s interesting to think about how we can achieve the best result as a team. Our field of work is technically complex because, as a bank, we have to take a huge number of factors into account, and that’s an exciting challenge for an engineer. It’s even more challenging because our team works end-to-end, so you’re involved in absolutely everything. Our successes are our own but so too are our failures. I really love the autonomy that teams have. We’re one hundred percent behind our results and that kind of mindset and approach suits me down to the ground.”

About Jens

When he was 17, Jens was one of the 12 best 400-metre runners in his age group in the world. When he was forced to quit the sport due to injuries, he turned his attention to his degree in informatics instead, which he’d embarked on in his final year as a professional athlete. He later obtained a master’s in computer science with a specialisation in software engineering from the University of Ghent in Belgium. Nowadays he mainly enjoys watching sports, although he still runs and cycles, including mountain biking. Another of his favourite pastimes is mixing cocktails and exploring Amsterdam’s restaurant scene. “The gastronomy could be better in the Netherlands, but Amsterdam is OK.”

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