Company of the Week: Nordea – “Why banking?”

“Congratulations! …and by the way, why banking?” This was a question that some of my friends asked me when I told them that I was chosen to be part of Nordea’s Graduate programme. A very good question, since my Master’s major at Aalto Business School was Information and Service Management, and Business Technology on the Bachelor level. I, too, thought initially that you’d need to be a finance enthusiast to be qualified for having a career in a bank. After talking with some Nordea people, I discovered that the reality can be quite different. After graduating in fall 2014, I started my career journey in Nordea.

As a Graduate, I got to explore Nordea and discover the diverse types of roles we had in the bank through participating in the Graduate seminars, working with my fellow Nordic Graduate colleagues and doing job rotations. During the Graduate period, we took deep dives into ourselves as individuals, both to discover our personal potential and to develop ourselves. Of course we also had fun hanging out and networking with each other! Our background is diverse, for example some of my fellow Graduates are now working as quantitative analysts in asset management, whereas some others have become branch managers. For me, I really enjoyed working with creating and improving digital experiences, and this is what pulled me back into my home organisation, Digital Banking.

My journey in Nordea started from Digital Banking (DB). In this organisation, our developers, designers and data scientists work together to create better customer experiences to our consumer and SME customers. My first home base was Analytics IT unit, where the magic around data happens. Quickly I became involved in supplier negotiation and implementation of agile way of working in the team. Together with my manager at the time, we created a development plan to help me achieving the goal of doing customer analytics by the time programme ended. By the end of Graduate period, I was convincing enough for the leader of that specific team to take me in.

The Nordic set up was strongly present in DB, and our customer analytics team was a good example of it: We had few colleagues in each Nordic country, and we talked with each other nearly everyday. Being the most junior person in the team, my seasoned colleagues taught me a lot about theories and practicalities related to predictive modelling. With my background in IT team and doing data management studies, I also sometimes had the opportunity to share that knowledge with others, too. Sometimes we also did data/modelling hacking sessions together side-by-side, working on our models until hunger made us realise that it was already late evening.

A bit over year ago I took up the opportunity to join the Engineering organisation in DB. And it was a great leap for my personal development. Being part of the leadership team in a software development organisation with 400+ people meant challenging myself in an entirely new way and stepping out of my comfort zone. In addition to coordinating our team of leaders, my responsibilities ranged from internal communication to driving changes into implementation. Working with my inspiring colleagues has helped me to understand organisational dynamics and leadership much better.

Back to the original question, why banking? Well, working with banking means that you can make impact on everyone’s everyday lives; starting from small things such as doing groceries, to big life events such as buying your first apartment. The banking industry is transforming, thanks to the technological advancement and the regulations. This creates space for new opportunities and new innovations to emerge. Along with the transformation journey we are on, there will be many interesting challenges and opportunities ahead. That’s why I chose banking.

Yali Wu