Sofie and Riet: completely themselves in Claims Management

Nine years ago, Sofie and Riet both applied for jobs at Vanbreda Risk & Benefits. Each of them was in search of something different at the time: Riet wanted a supportive team environment, while Sofie was after a fresh challenge. Today they form a strong duo in Claims Management, support our new joiners and have a great friendship both inside and outside work. They have found what they were looking for.

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Getting off to a good start is very important. What was it like for you starting at Vanbreda?

Sofie: When I applied for a job at Vanbreda, I didn’t have a clue what role to apply for. I didn’t come from the insurance industry at all. Fortunately, time is taken during the application process to get to know you and discover where you would fit in best. I was open to anything and Vanbreda thought I was right for Claims Management, so that’s what happened! Nine years later, I’m the one supervising the new people in our team. So you can certainly go far here, regardless of your background.

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Insurance was completely new to me. It was a huge learning curve, but thanks to the support and opportunities I received here, I was able to grow to where I am today.

Riet: I started a short time after Sofie. Switching from a small real estate agency to the largest insurance broker in Belgium was a big step, but the warmth and openness I felt at Vanbreda made it an easy transition. What struck me was how welcome I felt in a very natural way. That sense of acceptance and diversity is something that Vanbreda really excels at and continues to grow in.

The right match: you get on well and working well together. Is this something that’s often taken into account when putting together teams?

Riet: At team level, we use little initiatives to encourage connections between people so that they get to know each other better. This also makes it easier to give a warm welcome to new people. We’re growing fast, so it’s definitely a challenge, but it remains our priority to ensure that everyone feels happy in the team.

Sofie: It’s important to be on the same wavelength and to be there to listen to one another. Having a friend who is a colleague means that someone completely understands you when you talk about work. That’s why we motivate each other as a team and there’s always room for a laugh in the midst of a busy day. We’re a really great team to end up in.

Riet: The whole of Vanbreda is great, but our team is the greatest (laughs).

To what extent can you be completely yourself at work?

Sofie: I don’t think my colleagues see a Sofie different from the one my friends know. If you have to repress yourself, you won’t be able to keep it up. I don’t parade my entire private life in front of everyone, but we know each other’s personalities very well. For example, we know who’s got a sweet tooth in the group. We have enough social chit-chat and special activities to get to know each other in that way.

Riet: Allow me to introduce myself – I’m the one with the sweet tooth (laughs). That’s right, I do keep a part of myself to myself, but in terms of personality, my team knows me inside-out. We recently did a speed dating session with a series of unusual questions. It meant that we chatted about something different from what we usually talk about over lunch. It worked really well.

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I came from a small real estate agency and especially needed interaction with colleagues. I immediately found more than that within my team. Sofie and I have been colleagues and friends for nine years now.

What makes Vanbreda unique as an employer?

Riet: You get enormous growth opportunities here. It’s an advantage that Vanbreda is the largest broker in Belgium. When you start here, you know that you’ll have to fully commit to quality. It’s a different way of working, but one that’s feasible thanks to your team. You’re surrounded by people who are real specialists in their field and whose doors are always open. You’re not a jack of all trades here: you’re trained to become the best in your specialisation. That sets us apart from others and makes me truly proud of what I do.

Sofie: For me it’s also the training opportunities. You get a wide range of options both internally and externally. In addition, you can come up with ideas of your own for technical, professional and personal training. And perhaps most importantly of all, you’re also given the space to actually do the training. Your diary is cleared, your colleagues keep an eye on your work, your clients aren’t neglected and you can focus on your growth.

Why should someone come and work at Vanbreda?

Sofie: Because we work here (laughs), and because Vanbreda has won the Best Managed Company award several times for a reason. You’re not a number here. If Pedro – the CEO – is in the lift with you, he’ll always chat with you and he’ll know very well who you are too.

Riet: You’ll end up in a friendly, open-minded company with lots of opportunities and support, including outside work. For example, you can optimise your work-life balance by working from home and you get a backup plan in case of illness, which means that you’re especially well looked after if you’re off work for a long period of time. That provides a lot of security.

Sofie adds: On top of the many fringe benefits, you also get an attractive personal reward plan here. This allows you to build up additional benefits, which you can use to lease a bicycle, for example, or buy a smartphone or even take extra days of holiday.

Riet: There are also several events every year to strengthen the team, such as the family day and the New Year’s reception, and you get a lot of support and guidance from your manager and teammates.
In short, you have all the advantages of a large company – such as the security and benefits – together with the friendliness of a smaller company.

Sofie: That’s a good summary – add a few more hashtags and the picture is complete: #bestmanagedcompany #completelyvanbreda

Vanbreda has a broad, open view of society. It makes you really feel welcome here for who you are.

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Mario and Lies have been a couple for twenty years now, and for the last year they have also been colleagues at Vanbreda. Lies joined us in January 2022 – with Mario’s encouragement. Mario followed in her footsteps eight months later. ‘Mario has had a high opinion of Vanbreda as an employer for a long time. My good experiences here added confirmation to this,’ says Lies.

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“Ik kwam uit een klein makelaarskantoor en had vooral nood aan collegialiteit. Binnen mijn team vond ik meteen meer dan dat. Sofie en ik zijn ondertussen al negen jaar collega’s én vriendinnen.”

- Riet

“Verzekeringen waren volledig nieuw voor mij. Het was een gigantische leercurve, maar dankzij de steun en de kansen die ik hier kreeg van het team, ben ik kunnen groeien tot waar ik nu sta."

- Sofie