App developer at Achmea: “Almost biting off more than you can chew”

A nice job, a decent employer and close to home, even. Wouldn’t we all like to have that? Hylke Bron (27) and Jeroen Leenarts (40) had the same dream but they actually made it happen. Both of them now work for Achmea, the largest Dutch insurance company. Every day Achmea, together with her power brands ‘Centraal Beheer’, ‘Interpolis’ and ‘Zilveren Kruis’ aim for a better quality of life for 10 million customers. Hylke and Jeroen work as app developers for Achmea IT on the Centraal Beheer customer app. Hylke focuses on the Android side of things while Jeroen works on iOS.

They both have been working for Achmea for roughly 1.5 years at the corporate office in Apeldoorn. Hylke: “Before I worked for Achmea I had a job in Zwolle, which was close enough to home since I live in Apeldoorn. However, my previous employer moved their office to Rotterdam. They invited me to join them but…all the way to Rotterdam. Too far for me. Time for a change.” Jeroen’s story: “I used to work as a software development consultant. Next to that I also chaired the ‘CocoaHeadsNL’ foundation, which is a Dutch foundation for iOS and MAC developers. Before my transfer to Achmea I worked for a start-up in Amsterdam where pressure on delivery was incredibly high.”

Close to home

Now they’re both here at Achmea. How did that happen? Hylke: ”While browsing for job openings I noticed one at Achmea. I applied and they hired me! It was perfect and even more importantly, close to where I live!” Jeroen’s experience is a bit different: “Completely different! I had already been in touch with Achmea over a sponsorship for an event for my foundation and since then pretty much every other month I was contacted by one of their recruiters. At a certain point we started talking about employment conditions and benefits and once we got to that point it became very difficult to decline! Besides that I also live in Apeldoorn, so their location was a big plus for me as well.”

Tough choices as lead developer

Both Hylke and Jeroen currently work as lead developers. Jeroen explains: “You have to be aware of everything concerning a particular project or sprint. You’re always the one making the tough calls to break a stalemate. You decide if the team turns left or right.” Hylke continues: “But only after a compromise proves to be impossible. As lead developer you’re looking towards the future. You have to consider architectural choices and business demands as well.”

“Awesome! An app for 100.000 users”

It’s quite apparent that both gentlemen enjoy their time at Achmea. And why wouldn’t they? Jeroen: “For example, the technical aspects of the job as well as the subject matter. There’s just so much to take on, and with a satisfying salary and, again, close to home. That latter one in particular is important to me. That’s also why a company car wouldn’t be as tempting to me.” Hylke feels the same way: “Besides that, Achmea is an excellent employer. They really care for their employees. For example, you are entitled to a free yearly health check, and working ‘full-time’ means having a 36 hour contract. Next year that’s even reduced to 34 hours with no loss in earnings. You’re able to schedule those hours in a way that suits you and even partly work from home. And…I get to learn so much in so little time. Building an app for 100.000 users simply feels amazing!”

There’s no room for your ego

Okay, so a nice job-slash-employer, but what about work atmosphere and colleagues? Jeroen: “In just a few words? Open communication and established trust. Both personally and professionally you’re free to speak your mind. There’s no room for your ego here. If you know more about a certain topic, you share that knowledge. You don’t keep it to yourself. That’s our way of working and I can appreciate that. I mean, obviously, technology is important but to me, it’s even more vital how we actually reach our goals.” Hylke fully agrees: “We’re working on a single app with the same features. A sense of unity is crucial.”

Working Agile

From theory to practice: How and when do you take on a new assignment? Hylke and Jeroen: “We’re driven by business demand which, for us, means non-life insurance and financial services. They provide the input. Apart from that we are free to improve on aspects of the app that we, ourselves, feel needs improvement. That way we can prevent that parts of the app become ‘moldy’, which can happen if something is live for years and years. We’re working Agile, so every two weeks we move from one sprint to the next. As a team we determine which tasks we take on in the upcoming sprint. We try to clarify all expectations and concerns .That’s our way of working and that’s how we ensure that our app functions optimally. For Achmea and, of course, our customers.”

This article described how Hylke and Jeroen enjoy their work at Achmea. You got to know them as lead developer, the tasks they focus on and how they connect to their employer. Would you like to know more about their role as app developer? Soon you’ll be able to read their blogs, in which they will focus more on their day-to-day activities. If you wish to know more about working for Achmea, please consult our website: for current positions.

Hylke Bron Achmea
App developer at Achmea