28 November 2018 ... min read Listen

Niels Denissen

You have the flexibility to choose your own area of interest. See what you like, and go for it!

ING's graduate programme in Financial Markets has given 24-year-old Niels Denissen the opportunity to work in a field he loves: data science and predictive analytics. "My masters was in artificial intelligence, so this was really cool!"

"I finished my masters degree in artificial intelligence last summer, and spent a month or so looking around at different companies I might like to work for. I knew I wanted to be part of a big company where I could get experience in different aspects of an organisation. It's really cool that ING's graduate programme gives you the chance to work with three different teams, on different projects. It gives you the opportunity to look around and see what you like best. And of course, ING has a lot of IT."

Calypso and Spice

Niels discovered that predictive analytics and data science, both areas that ING is investing in, combine his love of computer science and artificial intelligence. "I was allocated my first four-month rotation, a prediction project called Spice, and got to choose the other two. I was really lucky that they were all in the field that interests me most."

Niels was part of one of five Calypso Scrum teams – Calypso is a back-office application in the area of trading and risk. "About half my time was spent working with the rest of the team on their daily activities, like automation and continuous delivery, and the rest of the time I worked on the Spice project."

"Our solution went into production"

Spice was challenging but satisfying: "At the end of each working day, after processing all the different trades that come in, the Calypso teams have to submit a report to Finance. It had been getting more and more difficult for the teams to meet the deadline for this because the system was becoming overloaded."

Advanced Analytics

Niels worked with a data scientist from Advanced Analytics to provide insights into why this was happening. "We set up a process to predict how long it would take to handle the trades on any particular day based on the data we had collected." Niels and his colleague delivered a working solution that went into production and is now being used in ING's Wholesale Banking business. "It was really satisfying to see the Spice project through from start to finish."

Private cloud

As a result, Niels became very interested in Advanced Analytics. "I spoke to the manager of the ActivePivot team – they were planning to use Docker to migrate applications to a private cloud, and I got to work with them." One of the things Niels loves about this graduate programme is the freedom he is given to think up new things and see them through, working with leading-edge technologies. "People with everyday jobs have other responsibilities too, but on this programme you have time to focus on the cool stuff!"

Docker technology

Niels particularly enjoyed working with Docker – container technology that wraps up software, making sure it runs the same whatever the environment. "We worked on the horizontal scaling of applications, moving them to the cloud with Docker. It was really interesting, learning how to containerise a solution. By carrying out benchmarks we could see how software performs if you move it to another infrastructure. I got to use a lot of analytics – my big interest."

International environment

Because Niels is a self-confessed techie, he didn't have a big interest in getting closer to the business side of things. "But if I'd wanted to, I could. It depends on the individual, there is a lot of space to accommodate your interests. My sole interest is in technology, analytics and I was able to focus on that." 
Niels spends most of his time talking English. "It's an international environment, which I like. And a very flexible culture. They look at the results you deliver, not what time you get in to work."

Freedom and flexibility

For his final rotation, Niels is working in the Advanced Analytics team. "I want to stay in this area as much as I can. Predictive analytics is an area ING wants to grow in, and they have provided me with a data science training, which is great. I think that's what's impressed me the most here, the freedom and flexibility you get to choose your own area of interest, see you what you like to do and go for it."

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