AWAREWAYS Learning & Development

Pascal Koelemij

31 March 2022

Let’s introduce: Pascal Koelemij, psychologist

AWAREWAYS has grown into an organization of over 40 creative staff members, effectively doubling in size since last year. A huge milestone, but it also means that introducing the newest members through instalments of our “Let’s meet” series is almost impossible. Today however, we are pleased to introduce Pascal Koelemij – providing a keen opportunity to tell you a bit more about Learning & Development, the team in which he has come to play an important role.

“Knowledge transfer is an important part of learning, but for AWAREWAYS the step towards lasting behavioral change is the real goal of our efforts.
That’s why it’s crucial that you also understand the material, and learn how to practically convert that knowledge into the right skills and competences.
Over at Learning & Development, we focus on all the necessary steps between knowledge transfer and actual behavior.”

Background & education

If you browse through Pascal’s LinkedIn, you’ll find that he brings several fresh degrees in support of the ‘psychology’ pillar of our vision. His record includes a BSc from Leiden University and an MSc from the University of Amsterdam. “Initially I was mainly interested in philosophy. I really like different ways of thinking, especially how people can differ in their thinking. From a young age I was very involved in leadership, where it always struck me how two people’s reactions to the same message can be completely different. At the same time I was looking for a more practical interpretation, which philosophy sometimes lacked for me, so I soon ended up in the arena of psychology. I still did a philosophy course within the minor part of the program, but in the end it’s really behavior and what’s behind it that I find super interesting.”

After Leiden, Pascal took a break from studying to focus on a host of other things – including producing in the film industry, doing interviews for documentaries and managerial position at music complex TivoliVredenburg. “A varied mix, at least on the surface, but there was also a lot of overlap: it was all focused on empowering people and unlocking their potential. My strength in these roles is mainly in communication, translating goals into results and getting [you] closer to [your] potential. At the same time, I started missing the kind of profundity my studies had offered, so I set out in search of a fitting master’s program.”

Learning through experience

Although Pascal earned his bachelor’s degree in Leiden, he found that new challenge in Amsterdam: a program called Training & Development. “It was all very practical, small groups, focussing on translating theory into experience-driven work forms. Training people in interviewing skills, covering the psychology behind it, thinking about ways to translate subject matter into a practical understanding of it – and then into grasping it in a way that sticks, just like we do at AWAREWAYS with, for example, gamification. In other words, offering knowledge, insight and skills in an overall experience rather than simply just feeding you knowledge.”

“Designing that kind of experience turned out to be a commonality in the various courses, at least for me. Very cool – I’d like to explore this some more. From learning objectives and scientific literature, creating an experience in which you don’t even realize you’re learning because you’re immersed in the experience, but in the end take great strides in absorbing the knowledge in a way that sticks. And that’s what I’m working on right now as well!”

Learning & development @ AWAREWAYS

After his master’s degree in Training & Development in Amsterdam, Pascal worked for two years as a trainer at, but together with Maarten, Anniek, Tommie and Baan, he is now part of our Learning & Development expert team. Their backgrounds in psychology, education science, UX/UI and gamification have turned L&D into a dynamic pond of ideas and ambitions, which translates into products and solutions to (measurably) make a difference. “We know what our approach can be, or should be, and work together to deliver that,” explains Pascal. “We are always looking for what needs to be learned to continue facilitating sustainable behavioral change. From that ambition, we work on challenging experiences that maxime the ‘return on learning’.”

Expert teams are central to our organizational structure, ensuring many different perspectives on our approach to behavorial change in information security. How does L&D contribute to that perspective?

“Knowledge transfer is a huge part of learning, but for AWAREWAYS sustainable behavior change is the real goal. Part of that is also understanding the material. Awareness can be achieved through knowledge sharing – but if you don’t understand something, then exhibiting the desired behavior is very unlikely. L&D focuses on the steps between knowledge and behavior. If you can’t figure out why a wrong link in an email is dangerous, or how to recognize that link, then you’ll never learn not to click on it – or you’ll have to avoid links altogether!”

Competences are key

“To be able to take the next step, we’re in the process of building long learning lines using accessible interventions. ‘Accessible’ also means that we are offering the right interventions at the right level. As I said, you have to be able to understand the knowledge in order to be able to do something with it. Knowledge and understanding are really prerequisites for a skill, which is why we start a campaign as broadly as possible. At the same time, we offer practical interventions to contribute to developing skills and competences.”

“To offer an appropriate intervention at the right level, we always approach a behavior change issue from the perspective of the goals we’ve set for learning a particular piece of knowledge and the corresponding competences. Once we have a clear picture of those goals, we can develop well-founded interventions to get closer to the desired behavior in a structured way.

“In tandem with our learning interventions, we offer simulations, communication campaigns and culture scans. The broadness of the program and the interaction between the various interventions is what makes our approach truly unique. It is precisely between knowledge and behavior that the most valuable steps can be found. From a completely new foundation of learning objectives, we systematically tick off all those goals, so that we can even better support our underlying goal – real and lasting behavioral change.”

Want to learn more about our other expert teams?
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