Following her internship at Ortec Finance, Tessa Kuijl was offered a contract but almost turned it down. During the past 16 years, she has watched the company grow from a family firm into a global player. Tessa is now happy that she signed that initial contract because, since her first position during the financial crisis, she has taken huge but sometimes unexpected steps. How did she arrive at where she is today, and what has she learned along the way?

Despite her initial reservations about signing that first contract with Ortec Finance, she took the plunge as her friends and colleagues were struggling to find a job due to the economic downturn. Tessa says it was the right decision: “I was 21 and wanted to work in a dynamic environment. The position I was offered at the housing association department seemed a bit too quiet. But I soon began visiting clients, taking on bigger projects and more responsibilities. It made that first job a lot of fun.”

How did you move into advising pension funds?

“After a couple of years, believe it or not, I found myself in a relationship with a colleague. Nice, but it wasn’t ideal. To avoid complications, I went looking for a new challenge and found it by becoming part of Ortec Finance’s pensions department. It was certainly not just an escape. I learned a lot, developed my analytical skills, and gained more in-depth knowledge of strategic policies. I advised pension fund managers on taking the right decisions and achieving an optimal balance between investment risks, returns, and costs. Quite complicated but very interesting.”

You travelled the world as part of your job. What was that like?

“Ortec Finance was steadily growing and expanding internationally. This gave me the opportunity to put my department on the map globally. I flew all over the world. Singapore, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Sweden, Finland, and Switzerland. I’ve been almost everywhere. Pension funds in other countries operate completely differently, and I sometimes found myself jetlagged while sitting across a table from a potential client. But those trips brought us many new clients.”

Tessa Kuijl
Managing Director Global Wealth Solutions

What did you learn during your time in sales?

“Due to the company’s enormous growth, it was no longer feasible for me to serve all those countries. So, I began to focus on the Nordics from our office in the Netherlands, which broadened the scope of my work. I became increasingly involved in sales and sustainable investment, a relatively new concept back then. It was an ideal position for me at that time, given my thirst for knowledge. Although sales was not really my thing, it gave me the opportunity to get to know the company even better. You become less attached to your own department because the work is more cross-departmental.”

Was moving into management a natural progression?

“I was working as a business developer when my current position became available. Looking back, I enjoyed my time in business development very much. There was a great deal of freedom, and I was able to explore new markets. I also had time to think about my future within the company. Fortunately, a management position came up. I was familiar with many departments by that stage and realized it would be a great opportunity to further develop and grow. This period was a milestone. I not only moved into management but also became a shareholder. I was given even more responsibility and was totally committed to the company. Moreover, a management position allows you to gain an overview of the business and key strategic issues.”

After 18 months in management, what insights can you offer?

“The beauty is that I can now convey the same type of trust that my more experienced colleagues placed in me. I knew they had my back and would be there if something went wrong. I therefore had the confidence to take risks and forge ahead. And that made me who I am today. It’s great to assist others by offering the same kind of support that helped me develop and by motivating people to achieve their full potential. They sometimes take steps they never thought possible, and it’s really satisfying when you can serve as a stepping stone for colleagues.”

How important is it to grasp opportunities?

“You must accept that not everything will just fall into place. You learn from your setbacks. They change you and set the stage for further growth. So, seize opportunities when they present themselves, even if they don't initially seem to fit in with your career goals.”

And what became of that early relationship?

“It lasted for five years but regrettably ended. At the end, though, he wasn't working here anymore. That was fortunate because leaving Ortec Finance would have been a difficult thing for me to do. Although we have clients all over the world, the company still retains its unique culture, and I very much feel part of it.”

Global Wealth Solutions

For more than 40 years, we have been doing this for the largest global institutional money managers. We apply these capabilities to individual client accounts to provide a realistic projection of how their portfolio will grow over time, and evaluate the feasibility to meet their long term goals.

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