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Talent development in an agile world at Dutch insurance and asset management company Nationale Nederlanden

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There aren’t many industries that have gone through more changes in HR management in recent years than the financial sector. Automation and agile working have soared and in many companies it has become part of their DNA. 

We talked to Anjo Marcelis, Manager of the NN Academy at Nationale Nederlanden, the Learning & Development programme at one of the largest insurance and asset management companies in the Netherlands. 

Where previously you had to be strong in maths, law and commerce – banks, insurance companies and pension funds are now mainly looking at IT skills. So how does that affect Talent Development? 

Q: In the past year Nationale Nederlanden took over Delta Lloyd – what did this mean for your L&D department?

The different Learning & Development strategies had to be merged as a functional whole. This not only had an impact on the content of our training offering but also the organisation of it.

Mergers usually bring about duplication of roles, especially in companies like ours where you have a lot of employees. In addition to keeping our people’s role-specific knowledge up-to-date, our goal is to make sure everyone stay employable.

Personal development accounts for 50% of the evaluation in appraisals and our employees are in charge of their own personal development. We offer the tools to achieve this and Bookboon’s eLibrary provides a very easy way for our employees to improve themselves in various areas.

We take a blended learning approach and the eLibrary fits in perfectly, especially around themes such as presentation and career management skills. These are also very useful for employees that are retraining for a different career, inside or outside of Nationale Nederlanden. We offer them the opportunity to go into more depth with a trainer afterwards but given the detailed information that the eBooks hold this is often not necessary.

Q: What do you think of the results of the Bookboon eLibrary?

In the summer of 2017 we rolled out the eLibrary to all global managers and in one day more than 3,200 eBooks were downloaded.

We went for a gradual approach where we informed certain groups within the organisation about the eLibrary. Especially trainees and interns found the offering very attractive, but also our agile specialists were particularly interested. These groups then served as ambassadors to promote the eLibrary in the rest of the organisation. At a later stage we did the same with our career coaches. Additionally, line managers promoted the eLibrary in appraisals.

So, we picked a few frontrunners, and this caused a snowball effect. I had a bet with our Bookboon contact, Jan, as to whether it would be a success. Jan won without a doubt: we extended the contract.

Q: Would you recommend our eLibrary?

I would recommend it to everyone. If you’re in doubt, just try it out for a few months. Bookboon will provide plenty of marketing support. If it doesn’t work, you just leave it at that. But if it does, you’ll start seeing it in your numbers very quickly.

Q: You introduced us to Prof. Abdul Rahman who’s authored four Bookboon eBooks on insurance. What made you recommend him?

Despite his busy schedule, Abdul has flown over from Canada multiple times to do training for Nationale Nederlanden in the past and he’s always been a real success. He’s truly unique in his way of thinking and his method of training.

It’s great that a part of his knowledge has been captured in Bookboon’s eBooks. This way the eBooks can get our people started on a specific topic. Later in the learning process Abdul can provide complementary training to top it off. This is a very efficient way of working and allows us to reach a very wide audience.

Moving a part of our training into a new format has made our L&D offering all the more successful since it enables us to distribute content about a specific topic among our employees more quickly and more easily.

Abdul’s books being published by Bookboon is a win-win for everyone.


The financial sector is marked by extreme changes. Hence, talent attraction and talent development need to constantly evolve as agile organisations require agile learning methods. Soft skills play an essential part in setting these businesses up for success. 

Bookboon offers businesses bite-sized personal development eBooks written by industry-leading experts on an incredibly easy-to-use platform that can be installed within minutes.

Find out more about Bookboon’s corporate eLibrary.