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Charlene Venter and Bishnu Panda on their growth at Varrlyn

6 July 2023

One of the most important things many professionals look for in their work, is something which challenges them to grow. Charlene Venter and Bishnu Panda sat with to speak about how their time at consulting Varrlyn has helped them develop their careers.

When Charlene Venter joined Varrlyn a little over two years ago, she was excited to start working on her “dream assignment” – but at the same time, it was “a daunting prospect”.

Moving from South Africa to the Netherlands – to take a role in Varrlyn’s Amsterdam office – Venter did not know what to expect, and there were many tasks personally and professionally which needed completing before she could properly bed down.

“Retrospectively, I am proud of my journey and look back positively,” Venter explained. “In the beginning, there were many mixed emotions. Onboarding was particularly difficult because when we first arrived, post lockdown and working remotely, not having personal contact and interaction with colleagues made the process very challenging.”

“But I have been fortunate to work in the same squad over the last two years which has really been a consistent environment to deliver in and additionally allowing and encouraging personal growth.”

Bishu Panda is a more recent recruit, arriving at Varrlyn at the start of 2023. He also came to the consulting firm having previously worked in a different country – initially shifting to the Netherlands from India, via an engagement as an Automation Engineer with ABN Amro. After three years in that role, he decided the time was right for a new challenge, and hasn’t looked back since.

“I am really happy with the decision to relocate to Netherlands,” Panda admitted. “And since I moved to Varrlyn, the firm has provided me with a fantastic project opportunity. Varrlyn also helped me with sponsorship activities and other required procedures, which will help me maintaining a better work-life balance.”

Elsewhere in the company, Venter has also enjoyed seeing the impact her work has made. As a Murex Consultant, she helps banking clients with the use of the financial software for trading, treasury, risk, and post-trade operations within financial markets.

Most recently, she has been working in a team at a large banking client to replace its back office system for all linear products. Her role in the team has been to work alongside the developers building automation solutions, contributing more on a global usage of the system as well as automate test cases for iterative testing cycles.

“Currently, we are finalising our user acceptance test and our go-live is fast approaching, the excitement is mounting,” Venter noted.

“A personal high in this journey has been the delivery of the futures contract matching test package. Whilst running in UAT for final validation, the test package identified a formula issue in the workflow that prevented all external exchange legs being imported and resulting in no matching. We were able to adjust the formula, the risk was mitigated and a successful implementation into production achieved.”

Panda has also been involved in the project. In his case, he has mainly been applying quality assurance expertise and banking domain knowledge to the project – helped by his past seven years of experience at ABN Amro.

Future ambitions

“This has been a great starting point to grow my career in Varrlyn,” Panda asserted. “Looking at my future with the firm, it is also a great opportunity to be part of the asset management team – where I am contributing towards the quality of the application and helping to make it more robust and sustainable. I am utilising my past experience and knowledge, which can help me grow on a professional level as well as personal level.”

To help both professionals add to their previous knowledge, Varrlyn provides abundant opportunities for further training. The firm sets aside a training budget for its staff, which allows them to identify relevant courses to fill in gaps in their knowhow, and constantly upskill. At the same time, the firm uses quarterly review sessions to identify areas for improvement which client feedback has referenced.

All this has helped both Panda and Venter nurture their technical and interpersonal skills.

Home sweet home

In spite of the challenges that come with international immigration, such as administrative bureaucracy and notable cultural differences, the pair now safely both call the Netherlands their new home.

Before moving to work with Varrlyn in the Netherlands, Venter spent the best part of two decades as a Murex expert in South Africa. Latterly this saw her work as a Developer with Standard Bank Group. Coming from that very “intense” market to the Netherlands’ more “work-life balance” oriented environment, she initially found the switch a challenge.

She added, “Personally, I am a very eager and persistent person who wants to do as much possible all of the time. I was driven and fully focussed, work, work and work but when looking retrospectively, there was a lot to learn about the work-life balance of the Dutch people. I have been encouraged to slow down and think about my own life’s sustainability. I have been challenging myself to work only within the hours allotted and then to embrace the time with my family. It has been very rewarding on both ends.”

Similarly, Panda is also positioning himself to take advantage of the different opportunities life in the Netherlands brings. These include chances for both professional and personal growth.

He concluded, “On a personal level, I have always loved traveling and photography. Now that I live in such a well-connected hub of Europe, exploring the continent’s culture, visiting new people and places is one of my biggest goals. At the same time, here at Varrlyn, I hope to keep honing my understanding of the company’s long term vision, and find even more ways to make positive impacts here.”