02 April 2020 ... min read Listen

Wander van de Ven

Data science and music – my dream combination

The investment club while at university in Amsterdam first sparked Wander’s interest in the financial world, and a ‘Quantitative Finance Tour’ to London as part of his studies fanned the flames. Besides numbers and data, he has another major passion: music. 26,000 fans on Spotify stand testimony to his creative talent as a singer-songwriter.

“Once I realised that finance is inextricably linked to everything that happens in the world, I desperately wanted to know more. That curiosity, combined with my degree in econometrics and my interest in data, soon led me to ING – especially because ING is such a pioneer in innovation. I had a good feeling about it right from the very first encounter, and my enthusiasm just kept growing as I progressed through the application procedure. I could completely be myself. All the signs were there that this would be a good match, and luckily the click was mutual!”

“For my first assignment, which was in Market Risk, I wrote a user manual for a new model that shows how a change in interest rates will affect our balance sheet and profit & loss account. It was interesting work but largely solitary, which is why I really wanted to be part of a team in my second assignment – and I found the perfect role. In Risk & Capital Integration, I worked in a team alongside highly experienced colleagues to conduct the annual company-wide risk assessment, among other things. It was a huge challenge and I was given lots of responsibility.”

“That was followed by a terrific few months in Singapore. My assignment was at the interface of credit risk and the front office for Wholesale Banking. Everything fell into place; I learnt a huge amount, not least thanks to my manager who involved me in everything that was going on. And Singapore is a fantastic place... the atmosphere, the people, the food – it’s all wonderful. Plus so many great destinations are within easy reach of Singapore. Whereas we might go to Brussels for a weekend, from there you can go to Hong Kong or Bali instead. It was an unforgettable experience and I think it’s amazing that ING makes those kinds of things possible.”

“I’m back in the Netherlands now, and I’ve just started on an assignment within Compliance. It recently became mandatory for all Risk trainees to do a non-financial project, so this is mine. It will be interesting because there is still a lot of quantitative expertise to be gained in this field. I’m working as a data scientist. My job is to develop a model that will alert us to incorrect interpretations of money laundering transactions. I was really keen to join this team because it’s made up of people who really know a lot about this area. I’m going to be absorbing as much of that knowledge as I can over the next six months, while also putting my own knowledge to good use to help the team.”

“Outside of work, I spend the majority of my free time on music. Nothing beats performing on a Friday night, or heading back into the studio to write some more songs. The music world is so very different from the banking world. Combining the two keeps me happy and balanced.”

Working during the coronavirus pandemic

‘Whereas I’d normally send an email, I now tend to pick up the phone’ 

Like most ING colleagues, Wander is currently working from home – alongside three housemates at the kitchen table. 

“We’ve transformed the kitchen table into our flexible co-working space. It’s fine as long as I’m not working on anything confidential. Otherwise, I work in my bedroom. I keep in touch with the rest of my team by phone and Skype – which is especially handy because you can share your screen. It’s not unusual to work from home, but it’s different now that everyone is doing it. When I’m at the office I can stop by to see people whenever necessary, but now I save up all my questions and ask them in one go. And I talk to my manager to discuss the day-to-day issues at a fixed time every morning.”

“Whereas I’d usually email my colleagues, I now tend to pick up the phone. It’s more personal and you get an immediate response. Rather than catching up over coffee or lunch, I occasionally give fellow trainees a call to hear how things are going. And we receive a daily email from ING’s CRO with an update, an inspirational message or some words of encouragement.”

“Working from home saves me a 40-minute commute each way. I spend most of that extra time playing my guitar and writing new tunes. If I hit on something I like, I record it. Who knows, I might be able to use it in a song later. On a personal level I’m fine, but I have a strong feeling that this crisis will have a lasting impact. I recently read a fitting quote: ’This is the break the world needed’.”

Want to know more about the Risk Traineeship?

About Wander

Wander did a bachelor’s degree in econometrics at UvA, a minor in coding at UvA/Harvard online and a master’s degree in econometrics at VU. Music is his passion. The Dutch TV show called ‘Giels Talentenjacht’ was a good springboard for him in terms of studio time and contact with songwriters. Wander’s self-penned songs have received airplay on 100% NL and Radio 2 and are available on Spotify.

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