Being authentically you
Heleen Ries von Bergen’s story is one rooted in giving unconditional love, being authentic and brave enough to make choices that are best for you and your family.
“I believe we should never chase an Instagram life, because it does not bring you true joy. During Covid-19, I have often heard people say that they do not want to return to the rat race of old. Everybody is unique and we all have that one special job designed especially for you that you are being prepared for. Stop comparing your own life to that of another, it will steal your joy at the end of the day.”
Ries von Bergen believes that there is always something to be thankful for, even during hardships. “Recognition is seen in the small, everyday things. Do not be set solely on big awards. Recognise and pay it back, starting off with basic everyday actions in life.”
Ries von Bergen is a senior dealer in money and capital markets at Bank Windhoek who greatly values people and building positive relationships.
“There are a variety of different role players in the financial market and in treasury and I get to meet and work with so many of them. It is important to understand each one’s role and to support each other accordingly. What matters most in every career are people.”
After completing grade 12 at Windhoek High School, she went on to study at the University of the Free State and completed her B. Com Degree in 1997.
“I started my career in banking in January 1998 as an executive trainee. This training programme entailed working in sprints of nine weeks in various departments,” she said.
Ries von Bergen used this opportunity to ask a myriad of questions and learn everything possible during every department she was attached to during this period.
“I did everything from processing cheques, opening accounts, working as a foreign exchange teller, manning enquiries and advising on savings and investments. I applied for the trainee dealer position in the treasury apartment and started my career in treasury in September 1998. “
Her training in the branch provided her with a solid foundation in preparation of the exciting world of treasury, the engine room of the bank as she calls it, where all money flows come together.
She then completed her ACI Dealing certificate, attended various advanced courses in Johannesburg and spent time in different dealing rooms to broaden her exposure.
“I got married in 2000 and our first child was born in 2002, after which I was fortunate to have a very understanding and supportive manager who allowed me to work flexi hours to accommodate my new role as a mother.”
She joined the Bank Windhoek Treasury Department on 1 August 2007.
“The work environment allowed me to continue working flexitime before our eldest started grade 1. The support I received from my manager has led to a blessed work life balance, allowing my passion for my work to be expressed whilst supporting my family and children’s activities simultaneously.”
At Bank Windhoek she also obtained the ACI operations certificate as well as a National Certificate in Financial Markets and Instruments.
Ries von Bergen is responsible for managing the funding of Bank Windhoek, as well as various asset portfolios (trading and liquid assets), overall interest rate management and works closely with the asset and liability committee.
“I enjoy that no single day is the same. Even though there are certain tasks that are performed daily, the market is quite volatile and that brings along the variety and excitement that I need,” she says.
When her children were young, Ries von Bergen made the courageous decision to step away from a big promotion that would have affected her flexible office hours. “Not everyone understood it at the time, but it was the best decision for me and my family at that time. I have never regretted it. Even though it was quite a challenge to say no, it was also an accomplishment, making my family a priority. I have proven that I can do my best at both by being allowed the flexibility needed.”
Ries von Bergen is a multifaceted woman who lives unapologetically every day.
“My relationship with God is most important to me. I love my family and spending time with them. I enjoy being creative and doing some gardening. I love to travel and have been fortunate to do this often. I also enjoy camping in the outdoors.”
She is also musically talented and plays the piano and has started playing the harp.
Ries von Bergen believes that one should always remain authentic and true to yourself. “Be yourself. Do not rush the journey at the bottom of your career or any other phase. Your most valuable experience is at the bottom of the ladder. Ask a lot of questions, learn a lot and make every moment count. Do more than just what is written in your job description and be curious about your team and what they do. You must crawl before you can walk.”
Ries von Bergen’s compassion for others is at the very centre of her being. “I care for people and enjoy being involved where I can give love to others and make a difference. I am inspired by people that are humble and kind and people who manage to survive and achieve greatness regardless of the hardships they face,” the seasoned banker says.
Photo 1 and 2: Heleen Ries von Bergen is the senior dealer in money and capital markets at Bank Windhoek.