The most inspiring job I've ever had

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The most inspiring job I’ve ever had

My name is Jacoba Sieders. A university degree in classics and philosophy led me to a number of minor jobs. But my second education to switch to a career in IT brought me where I am today: Head of the Identity & Access Management (IAM) department at ABN AMRO Bank for customers and employees, worldwide. Also, I am a member of the Advisory Board of IDnext.

IAM has kept me busy for more than fifteen years. It all started when I rolled out the global e-Identity for all employees across the ING Group in sixty countries. Security, data protection, and aligning foreign partners were interesting challenges. After that, all possible IAM topics came by during my career. I also dived into the details of service management, security, Lean and EU legislation. I lived and worked in New Delhi for my then employer, working with an Indian IT provider. But IAM remains my favorite topic and the focal point of my experience.

What does work look like for me? I start early to have an hour to move around the office, for personal contact and coffee with my team before the formal meetings start. IAM is a large department, dedicated to Identity and Access Management, part of the Corporate Information Security Office (CISO). It was set up just before the beginning of 2014, and at that point, I joined ABN AMRO to manage it. We are still structuring the department into an even more mature team with capabilities on strategic, tactical, and operational levels. My employer has a strong vision on security and IAM as strategic functions for the bank, and allocated a strong global mandate to security and the IAM department. We own the strategy, procedures, tools, IT factory, and service portfolio for all IAM-related activity for the bank, both for customers and employees. Being relatively new to the company, I am impressed with the vast, profound knowledge of the team, and with the professional skills and way of working to secure the bank.

One of these activities is an ambitious architecture-driven IAM program to support the bank’s future Service Oriented Architecture. Role-Based Access Control is all very well, but these days, customers and employees want access at any time, any place, through any device, on any type of secure or insecure network. Add ease of use and an accurate level of security, with the growing professionalism of cyber criminals… and the good old role-based concept alone may not be sufficient much longer. Too static and too inflexible. Context-aware, rule-based access control and data centric security are the new concepts supporting these requirements, in addition to the existing role-based one. And of course, with fraud detection and the Security Operations Centre as partners in protection.

Beside that, there is plenty to attend to in the existing IAM world of the bank. Aligning with the business to ensure its requirements are met. Responding to audit items. Staying up to date with the ABN AMRO Innovation Center and with the corporate strategy office. Keeping an eye on new developments and trends in the identity and security market. Gathering such knowledge from conferences, and ensuring that all members of the team get their fair share of relevant education. Finding the best people for tasks ahead. Hosting a floor visit of a member of our Executive Board, who wants to know all the details on data centric security. In between, I am preparing lectures on attribute-based access for other IT departments and for the business partners. This month, I paid a visit to our business partners in Asia, together with other colleagues from our Corporate Information Security Office. It’s a wonderful challenge to explain such technical concepts in understandable language to people from completely different domains.

Another presentation I am preparing is the one for IDnext’s e-ID seminar this month in Amsterdam, hosted by ABN AMRO bank. I have been a member of the IDnext advisory board for two years, which is a very useful addition to my professional life. IDnext as a platform helps me to stay in contact with trends in my area of expertise, exposing me to different IAM professionals, opinions and products from those I would meet at work. And to other organizations who have the same, or completely different challenges in the area of IAM than we do. This gives me lots of energy. Especially the connections with European colleagues from the public and private sectors are useful. I am really looking forward to the seminar on November 26, where we will have inspiring sessions and of course the networking event at the end of the day! And my work? The most inspiring job I’ve ever had!

Jacoba Sieders

Head Identity and Access Management ABN AMRO

Advisory board member IDnext