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Success should be celebrated together

Robert Dijkhuizen - BeingYou@AIG

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Robert Dijkhuizen - BeingYou@AIG

Being able to be yourself, we embrace it. Regardless of your gender, religion, sexual preference or ethnicity we embrace who you are, what you think and what you feel. In the BeingYou@AIG series you meet people who make AIG unique. "I dare to say that I never noticed anything like a ‘pink ceiling’ at AIG," said Robert Dijkhuizen. He started as Senior Claims Handler at AIG 11 years ago, soon grew to Major Loss Claims Handler and recently started as Legal Counsel. "I am convinced that when you put in positive energy, something positive comes out." How an enthusiastic Jack of all trades thrives in an international environment.

At some point, I always look for a new challenge.

How did your working life start?

I always had the motivation to help people. Moreover, I like to investigate cases extensively and find a solution. In 1987 I started my studies in Law with that mindset. After my studies, I started as a lawyer in Rotterdam. I had a general practice there for 3,5 years in which I dealt with all sorts of cases, such as criminal cases, divorces, and matters relating to employment law and administrative law. As a result, I have laid a broad foundation in legal knowledge. Eventually, I wanted to further develop myself and looked for specialization. For example, I have been a labor lawyer for 7 years and then ended up in the world of professional and managerial liability. My starting point has always been: go all-in, learn from it and go for the next challenge.

That has been the case outside of my working life too. I can do things very enthusiastically for a while but at some point, I will look for a new challenge. To give a few examples: I rode horses for many years before switching to fitness, I was once a sailor on a barge, have been trying to master playing the piano since I am 50 and recently started a running course as I have set myself the goal to run a 1/4 marathon. I love that variation and I want to hold that for a long time.

How did that attitude lead you to AIG eleven years ago?

I was informed by a former colleague of a position as Senior Claims Handler at AIG. I was told that AIG was the place-to-be when it comes to claims within Financial Lines and it was. As a market leader in that field, I have learned a lot by seeing and handling large and interesting claims from all over the world. I took all of that with me as I progressed to my position as a Major Loss Claims Handler.

As a Major Loss Claims Handler, you work on really complex cases with major interests. The business you also read in the newspapers, such as directors' liabilities with large organizations. Cases where you work together with specialized lawyers. These are very instructive situations and you get a lot of insight into the corporate side of The Netherlands. That is what I find so unique: you are not mentioned in the newspaper by name, but you are part of the situation that is described, such as a large settlement. I think there are few organizations where you gain that kind of knowledge and experience.

AIG gives a lot of freedom. But with that freedom come responsibilities and if that’s what you’re into you can thrive here.

In addition to an intensive working life, you have a husband abroad. Did this long distance relationship ever affect your development? 

Indeed, that is not always easy as the travel distance to my husband is about 7 hours, door to door. But we still like to do that and the times I travel to Ireland I often use to read professional literature. As far as my development is concerned, I think that a lot is possible at AIG and that you can get every opportunity regardless of origin, sexual orientation or religion. I have never noticed anything like a pink ceiling at AIG. This is also evident from my career here. I am convinced that when you put in positive energy, something positive comes out. That is also what I see here. If you show that you are honest and hardworking, you will get opportunities. That’s what you see in the freedom and appreciation that you receive here.

This company offers you a lot of freedom to think for yourself; both as an individual and as a team. This applies to almost every discipline within this company. But with that freedom come responsibilities, of course. If that’s what you’re into you can thrive here. And I believe that is what I do. It all appeals to me: getting freedom, taking responsibility and moving forward in that way. At the same time I feel that the company has your back.

In the end, it's about celebrating success together.

To what extent do you feel that the insurance industry has stimulated your development?

I started in the legal profession and legal assistance and only later rolled into the insurance world. The legal profession has provided me with a good basis in terms of legal knowledge and experience. But I see that this company offers a lot of great opportunities to young people, like the foreign programs that newcomers can join. When I was a young person, I would have liked that myself. There are many opportunities to develop yourself which you will not find at every employer. Besides, within AIG you have to deal with many international contacts. I have enjoyed and learned a lot from that, for example by communicating in English at a high level.

On what topics will you go all-in in the coming period?

In my new role as Legal Counsel I hope to contribute to the structural (legal) professionalization of the organization. I hope that I can ensure that knowledge is built up and transferred and that we continue to learn from each other. I would love that, because in the end it's about celebrating success together. I am certainly looking forward to it.