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by Ilakia Amirthalingam
Hi Ilakia! You joined Nordea last year as a Technology Graduate in Sweden. Tell us a bit more about yourself.
In the summer of 2022, I graduated from The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, where I studied a degree program in Design and Product Realisation and did an MSc in Industrial Management and Engineering.
I am currently doing my first rotation as a Graduate Project Manager within Sustainable IT. Not only is this an area that I am personally passionate about, but it is also an area where I can put my educational background to use.
Why did you apply to the Nordea Graduate Programme?
Applying for a Graduate position within the leading bank in the Nordics seemed like a great opportunity, but I was rather hesitant as I wasn’t sure if I had sufficient knowledge to enter the financial sector. However, the emphasis on the word "technology" in the job ad convinced me otherwise. Now that I have a broader understanding of Nordea, I would say there are several areas where my skills are needed. Nordea possesses a vast Technology unit that allows one to develop in different trajectories, both within and outside of Technology.
Aside from that, I was intrigued by the fact that here, I have the possibility to try out various roles across the organisation. I am quite certain that I am not alone in feeling a sense of uncertainty regarding future jobs immediately after graduating from university. That’s why I really appreciate the prospect of trying different positions and exploring areas I would have otherwise overlooked. Additionally, I believe that the length of the program allows you to get comfortable in a role and develop there before switching roles as part of a rotation.
What do you like most about your current role and the Programme?
My current rotation in Sustainable IT is a fairly new initiative, and thus open to new, innovative ideas. What I enjoy most about my rotation is that I am a part of building a completely new area within Nordea. It allows me to be creative and meet plenty of talented individuals, both internally and externally, to find sustainable solutions and new ways of working. It challenges me to think unconventionally and delve into unknown areas to broaden my knowledge. I am also encouraged to take initiative within the project, which may seem frightening as a new graduate. However, I have great colleagues that are able to support me whenever I need it.
From a more general perspective, the Programme enables me to broaden my horizons. I have the rare opportunity to completely change roles within Nordea, but with the comfort of knowing I have a safety net. Not only has this helped me expand my network, but it results in a much better understanding of the organisation as a whole. The Technology Graduate Programme is not pre-defined in terms of the rotations but more so catered to the individual's needs and preferences. Hence, I have been able to influence my current rotation, with proper support and guidance from my leader.
How have you found the working environment and your colleagues?
It came as no surprise to me that Nordea is a large organisation. However, despite the intricate organisational structure, Nordea maintains a strong working culture that continuously engages us as employees. I especially appreciate the Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which are employee-led groups with the aim is to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace.
A strong work-life balance is a priority for me, and I can see that this value is shared by Nordea. Though there is of course emphasis on delivering results, just as much emphasis is put on employee well-being. And most importantly, I am glad to report that the fika-culture* is upheld well in Nordea!
*- Fika is a Swedish custom where friends, family or colleagues take a break to drink coffee, eat cake or snacks and socialise together.
Could you share some positive surprises and valuable challenges you have experienced since you started?
I didn’t realise how diverse Nordea actually is prior to joining. I have met some amazing individuals along the way, and look forward to meeting even more.
A valuable challenge has been translating my knowledge from university into my work. A lot of my knowledge is theoretically heavy, and thus rephrasing it to make it clear and understandable in a way that actually benefits the organisation has required me to think differently and tailor my communication. Though this will be an ongoing activity, I enjoy thinking critically and being creative whilst doing so.
What is your best advice to others who want to join the Graduate Programme and Nordea?
My biggest takeaway thus far is that Nordea seeks and needs employees with diverse areas of expertise – so don’t feel discouraged from applying if you don’t fit the mould of a stereotypical ‘banker’. Though it may not come as a surprise that Nordea prioritises inclusion and diversity, I believe that there is a lot of effort and work put in to thoroughly develop and sustain an inclusive workplace here. I would also recommend being curious and doing your research about Nordea. There are various possibilities within the bank and great colleagues that can support you every step of the way.
The Graduate Programme offers the rare opportunity to accelerate your career by collecting a range of different experiences. If you bring an open mindset and the courage to try new things, even in the face of uncertainty, it will aid your personal as well as professional development.
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