18 October, 2022
#23 Portrait of a woman in finance: Coleet Vynckier
“If I could talk to my younger self, I would say: just go for what you are good at. You will arrive further than you would have imagined. You will over time develop other talents, see things differently. Just jump. Embrace the experience, the good and the less good.”
Coleet Vynckier, Head of prudential supervision on (re)insurance companies, NBB
What are you doing ? As prudential supervisors, we are assessing if insurance undertakings are managed soundly and prudently to ensure that they will honour their commitments towards the insureds. It involves analysis of lots of reporting, but also discussions with all stakeholders on governance, organisation, financial robustness and risk mitigation.
I love the complementarity in my job: we work with teams with very different profiles (finance, legal, actuarial, IT, … ). This is essential for taking well-balanced decisions.
What did you study ? When I was 18, I liked the beauty of maths. I decided to focus on what I liked and to see later which direction to go. So, I studied maths at KULeuven. At the time, we were a perfectly balanced group studying math: 36 female and 36 male students graduated. Not sure if we would find that balance nowadays.
What was a key moment in your career ? I didn’t have a real career path : it all went organically : after my studies (PhD in Mathematics) I saw a job offer as a quantitative analyst at CERA/KBC (there were not a lot of quantitative analysts in the sector at that time). Then I moved to the banking prudential supervisor (CBF), which after the financial crisis became part of the National Bank.
At that moment I thought everything in my life was settled. When my two children were barely 1 and 3 years old I was diagnosed having breast cancer. This felt as if someone had pushed the pause button on my life, living with lots of uncertainty, especially about what would become of my little children. I took some time to reflect. We started a group for women (EnVie) going through this. Women with totally different backgrounds that I would never have met in different circumstances. It brought another dimension to my life.
Looking back now, ten years have passed since my cancer. It made me stronger.
It also made me richer as a person.
Back at work after six months, I let pass by some job opportunities due to the uncertainties I had gone through. After a while, I had the opportunity to move from being a quantitative analyst in banking supervision to become the head of a team with mixed profiles in the insurance supervision. I decided to stop my resistance towards new challenges. It was a big stretch which, a few years later, gave my career a boost when I applied for my current position. I was not sure I could and wanted to do this job, but my female friends encouraged me and my husband told me “JUMP”, which I did.
What helped you in your career ? Throughout my career I encountered some very inspiring managers. Positive, enthusiastic, believing in my possibilities. They truly played a mentor role and kept showing interest in my career after I had left their team.
What would I tell my younger self ? “Just go for what you are good at. You will arrive further than you would have imagined. You will over time develop other talents, see things differently. Just jump. Embrace the experience, the good and the less good.”
What is your advice to female students? : Finance is omnipresent within the society. The sector of finance is evolving with the needs of the society. The world has become more complex. Next to the financial risks, new risks are emerging (sustainability, GDPR, climate, cyber…). We need lots of different profiles, personalities and skills for the years to come. When I asked our teenage daughter what kind of work she thinks she will be doing later, she just replied that her future job most probably doesn’t exist yet.