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Jacqueline Lommen

Jacqueline Lommen graduated in 1988 in economics. Pensions and Europe are the topics that determine her career. She has been Director European Pensions at Robeco since 2011.

"Diversity at senior management levels in an organization leads to demonstrably better company results. It reflects vision and courage of men if they appoint strong women at a high level."

Why did you choose to study at Tilburg University?

"Just a few people from my high school in Venlo went to university, but my parents raised me to be ambitious and I like to challenge myself. General economics appealed to me and you were confronted with it on a daily base, in newspapers and other media. General education at its best. Rotterdam was more focused on business economics, which did not appeal to me as much."

Who was your favorite professor and why?

"Professors Jacques Sijben and Piet Duffhues were passionate teachers, who taught very well. They combined monetary economics with corporate finance, at the time combined by both departments in 'financial economics'; they were ahead of their time. Sijben also connected theory to practice. Through him, I acquired an internship at a Belgian bank and found my first job at the Rabobank. Also philosophy and logics taught by professor Plattel was very interesting. He taught me to look at the bigger picture, a skill that still benefits me today."

Can you tell us an interesting anecdote from your time as a student?

"At that time, in the doctorate, some oral exams required two to three months of preparation. Professor Schouten’s small office in the C building had a chalkboard as big as three meters in length. On this chalkboard I wrote down long formulas, which we consequently discussed. Luckily, I did well and it was an experience to remember. Also the early days before the founding of student field hockey association SHOT was a special experience. We chalked lines on the field at the Verbernelaan, just around the corner of the sports center and the flags were also handmade. It is great to see that our initiative was continued by the later generations and SHOT still exists!"

'Pensions and Europe'

What has your career been like?

"Pensions and Europe are the topics that determine my career. Pensions are about asset management mixed with societal relevance, this is appealing to me. Via Rabobank, AEGON and the Nederlandsche Bank, I joined EIOPA, the new EU pension authority in Frankfurt. Since 2011 I am Director European Pensions at Robeco. I am especially focused on innovations to make pensions sustainable in the future.  Primarily, by developing retirement solutions, driven by IFRS accounting and risk management, for big international companies. The Dutch pension industry is like a dinosaur when it comes to change, however, new retirement arrangements and efficient retirement institutions, like PPI and cross-border pension funds, are finding their way to the polder. The good thing of growing older is that the impact of things you have done in the past is becoming visible and my experience in the public as well as in the private sector helps me bridge the gap."

What role did Tilburg University play in your life and how did it influence your career?

"Via Professor Alting von Geusau I was able to take part in a MBA program at Indiana University in the United States. In those days education in the US was very different, they already used case studies, workgroups and computers. Tilburg University offered me a lot of possibilities to develop myself and I eagerly took those opportunities. I was an intern abroad, graduated in two majors, wrote two theses and was very active in my student life. All this contributed to me becoming the person that I am today."

Is Tilburg University still a part of your life, if yes, in what way?

"Of course, because of the industry I’m in, I have contact regularly with Lans Bovenberg and Theo Nijman of Netspar. In addition, I teach Master classes at TIAS, the business school of Tilburg University and the University of Technology in Eindhoven. I also encounter more and more ‘Tilburgers’ in business and I keep in touch with some of my fellow female students. We were a very small minority in the lecture halls back in the days and formed a strong bond of course."

What are your further ambitions?

"I hope to be an example for other women in the financial sector. Diversity at senior management levels in an organization leads to demonstrably better company results. It reflects vision and courage of men if they appoint strong women at a high level."