ING banks on its future leaders
Today, many young people choose to forge their professional experience by working for several different employers. Despite this, the International Talent Programme, an eighteen months pathway designed to train the bank's future leaders, is thriving. And here is why: for the 15 places available this year, the bank received more than 800 CVs.
The ING Belgium International Talent Programme is a pathway eighteen months, open to young Master's degree graduates who are drawn to the world of banking or finance. During this "cross-business"programme, the trainees will be assigned three successive roles, generally based in different departments of the bank. Additionally, they are offered a post in a different country.
Alongside this practical experience, the trainees are invited to take part in various development programmes. On the agenda are: banking subjects, obviously, and the theory of project management and process improvement, but disciplines more strongly linked to behaviour are also studied, such as developing managerial skills.
ING Belgium's longer-term objective is to see these trainees progress towards middle management as people managers, high value specialists, or even project managers.
A well-considered career path
Orea Lika joined as a trainee in October 2013. Newly qualified in business engineering from Solvay, she immediately joined the Wholesale Banking division, and more precisely, the Debt Capital Markets department within financial markets. "I have always been attracted by finance generally. But at ING, I have discovered that I have a real passion for financial markets, and this is the direction I intend to progress in."
We expect our trainees to be proactive with regards to their career path.
Ward Torrekens, who has also been a trainee since 2013, is a Marketing Engineering graduate from the University of Ghent. So his first role within the "Content and Conversation" team in the Marketing department was a natural step forward for him. Called to the Retail Banking division to pursue his training programme, he wants to continue his development in a commercial role, where he can be in direct contact with the client.
"We expect our trainees to be proactive with regard to their career path," explains Isabelle Van Der Snickt, Early Career Talent Manager at ING Belgium. "While their first role and many different training programmes will be assigned to them, the trainees are also encouraged to discuss with their managers the specific knowledge and competencies they would like to develop."
A real-life international adventure
In October every year, 15 new recruits begin their traineeship with a development course in Brussels lasting several weeks. These courses aim to bring their knowledge of banking up to the same level, but for the trainees, they are also a chance to get to know each other. Later, they will be off to the Netherlands, where they will take part in another three-week training programme – this time with their counterparts from across the world (i).
ING creates the right conditions to allow the trainees to form a bond.
Personality first and foremost
Trainees are selected with great care and in an objective manner based on their qualifications, as well as certain other criteria such as their leadership ability and resourcefulness. Experience working with a youth movement, an Erasmus programme, or a holiday job can demonstrate such capacities.
Empathy and an ability to listen are also qualities sought during the selection process. Intelligence is evidently important, but the same value, at least, is given to emotional intelligence.
I would say I'm a naturally curious person, but above all, I'm enthusiastic.
Ultimately, personality is definitely the watchword during this process. "We are looking for young people who are genuine, enthusiastic, agile, who take on board feedback and are able to question themselves," adds Isabelle.
Will they stay or will they go?
As for whether the trainees will stay with ING beyond the programme, the bank knows that will essentially depend on whether it can offer them the opportunities they need to achieve long-term professional satisfaction.
Some will perhaps move on, as did the two young professionals who left to set up their own company just a few months after meeting on the International Talent programme. But most of them, like their predecessors, will remain at the bank and continue to benefit from the breadth of opportunities it offers. They will progress by moving between roles according to their ambitions and preferences, which is possible thanks to the internal mobility principle so important to ING Belgium's human resources staff. As Ward notes: "Rik Vandenberghe, who is today ING Belgium's CEO, began his own career 30 years ago as a trainee at BBL."
[i] The International Talent programme operates in every country where ING has a presence: from Belgium and Singapore, to Germany, the UK, Poland, Turkey, and the USA.