Work hard, connect with intention

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Muriel Zeegers is the MD Commercial Client Support and Monitoring at Van Lanschot Kempen, focusing on aspects including mid-office, internal control, first-line anti-financial crime activities such as transaction monitoring, KYC and sanction screening. She recently sat down with us to share some pivotal moments and realisations throughout her career journey, why mentorship matters to women, and what her goals are for 2023. 

Muriel’s current position is, to her, a culmination of purposeful decision-making throughout her career. She initially studied for a bachelors in Commercial Economics, which was an international programme between International School of Economics Rotterdam (HES) and Ecole Supérieure de Commerce Bordeaux (FR). Even though Muriel loved spending half of her time in France, she set her sights on securing a position that would provide stability when she entered the workforce. 

From reflection to direction 

It was later, during her tenure at Randstad Uitzendbureau, that she seriously took stock and realised she absolutely loved her position. “I reflected honestly about what was resonating with me and pinpointed that I had a great vantage point on the commercial perspective, while being well-positioned to canvas the industry.” After three years, Muriel took the leap to consult at KPMG, where she focused on honing her management skills in the fields of process improvements and change management. From her consulting days and throughout her later career, she had always been drawn to the intersection between ‘people and the balance sheet’ – with her eventually setting her sights on an HR Director role following her time as the HR Manager: Private Banking for Van Lanschot Bankiers. On route to this goal, was her intention to become a leader in the field of Operations; and within this field, she found a home. “It’s within this organisational field that innovation and the use of technology drives real and tangible change, if managed well – and I find the process of delivering operational excellence and digital transformation incredibly fascinating.”

The value of formal – and informal -- mentorship 

Muriel believes that the right mentorship can ignite inspiration and broaden one’s ambition and vision. She has experienced being both a mentor and mentee, but has also benefitted from inadvertent mentorship in the form of advice and guidance from colleagues that she has looked up to professionally. Her advice to those seeking a fresh perspective by pursuing a new mentorship opportunity: “Don’t expect a big, and sudden change in all areas of life as a result. Sit down with your mentor and pinpoint the two or three skills you want to learn, and be open to the experience. Be honest about any barriers that might be holding you back.” She feels that platforms like RightBrains foster valuable connections beyond one’s current organisation, and that it’s important to broaden one’s network by leveraging mentorship platforms women have access to. She believes that it’s within these external relationships that professional and even personal topics can be discussed more freely, because “women used to have such easy access to a village – but now we have to seek it out and nurture it.” 

Inspiring intrinsic motivation

To Muriel, it’s critical that leaders inspire and leverage intrinsic motivation when it comes to creating fulfilled and productive workforces. “If people are trained for the skills they need, feel supported by their leadership, team, and purpose, and have autonomy in their work, intrinsic motivation will arise. Once this is in place, ambition can thrive and people can push beyond their comfort zones.” 

Being pushed out of her comfort zone was a catalyst to Muriel’s own success in her role as Managing Director of Commercial Client Support and Monitoring for Lanschot Kempen, which was awarded the title of ‘Best Private Bank in the Netherlands’ in 2022 at the Global Private Banking Awards. Two years ago, she was approached for the position during some shifts in her personal life, and just as the pandemic gained momentum. She initially felt quite overwhelmed by the level of responsibility the job entailed, especially because it was such a transitional period – but she powered through and sees her success to date as one of the achievements she is most proud of in her career. Her advice: “If you get the opportunity to do something great, you have to do it. Timing will probably never be perfect, and there will always be obstacles. Do it anyway.”

The year ahead 

In 2023, Muriel and her teams will keep close to the rising client expectations and ever-increasing applications of AI in the field of anti-financial crime; her department specialises in building high-precision models to pinpoint suspicious customer behaviour. She is also curious to delve into the threats opportunities and long-term impacts brought about by emerging AI tools like ChatGPT. Her personal vision for 2023 is to push herself to keep innovating and learning in her professional environment and to enable her teams to thrive but to also connect to her loved ones with focused intention. “Finding the right work-life balance with more and more post-pandemic face-to-face gatherings and travel is obviously always challenging, but meaningful connection with my loved ones is something I want to pursue mindfully this year.”

Connect with Muriel on our platform today!