Digital leadership is the challenge of the future. As a pioneer among direct banks, we especially must always think ahead. I’d like to make a contribution to this.
As an IT Junior Expert, I have the opportunity to get to know different areas at ING. The program is versatile, flexible and in my opinion the ideal start to my professional career. I can find out where my interests and strengths lie, step by step.
Tell us a bit about your studies and how you came to the Junior Expert Program at ING?
Martin: After my master's degree in computer science in Darmstadt I moved to Frankfurt. I already knew ING well at that time, but more from the customer’s perspective. I liked the company's modern website, which stood out from the grey mass of other banks. That was why I decided to take a closer look at the company. I thought: "Hmm, ING must really have an interesting IT department. That could be the right fit for me." On the career page, I became aware of the Junior Expert Program for graduates and applied. I’m Currently working in the ING IT department with a focus on security.
How exactly does the Junior Expert Program at ING work?
Martin: The Junior Expert Program for university graduates lasts 18 months. During this time, they work in different departments and divisions of the company. Like all other JEP graduates, I go through "rotations" as a computer scientist. The IT department itself is huge and each department is a world of its own. The rotation model gives you the opportunity to get to know many different aspects of the field within ING. Everything has a strong practical orientation, and that’s very helpful for personal development.
How does it feel to be a Junior Expert? How was the transition from university to work?
Martin: Life as a Junior Expert is a big change for a student fresh out of the university without much experience in the world of work. Suddenly you're fully employed. A lot of questions come to mind: "How do I transition from theory to practice? What are my strengths? How can I get involved productively?" The good news is that it is somehow similar for all JEP graduates. You quickly get used to working and the internal processes. At the same time, you form a really good community and exchange ideas about all kinds of issues.
What’s so special about the Junior Expert Program at ING? How has your experience been?
Martin: You’re part of the team right from the beginning. In my experience, the intensive exchange with the other JEP participants, trainees and apprentices is important. Besides technical topics, this can also help out with the little things or simply involve personal discussions. Networking within the Junior Expert Program is important because everyone benefits from the experience of the others. It also gives you a better understanding of the internal connections within the company. From the IT business, to customer dialogue and the public web, you very quickly have a good overview of what is happening in the company. The exchange with specialists from other areas also creates a broader knowledge base for the development of IT solutions.
What exactly are you working on right now?
Martin: At the moment I'm working in security. It involves the whole range of IT security topics here at ING, along with the question of how communications within the company can be handled securely through the various channels and the recognition of potential risks. Hacker attacks, security gaps or encryption trojans are common topics for me at the moment. I’ve always been very interested in security. During my studies, I dealt intensively with cryptography. This is an important component of modern IT. Cryptographic methods are indispensable for the implementation of digital business processes. Here I can collaborate on very innovative tasks in this area.
How do you feel about the ING philosophy and corporate culture?
Martin: In my opinion, corporate culture has a lot to do with communication and about how we deal with each other. When I started here, it surprised me a little at first that everyone is on a first-name basis. At the university, I addressed my professors formally, of course. At the same time, I had the feeling that this informal culture wasn't fake, and that the exchange between colleagues always feels like an exchange among equals. As a JEP participant, I found working with my colleagues very pleasant. The importance of corporate culture as a whole can be seen from the fact that we as JEP employees are actively introduced to this topic at events such as "Working at ING" or "Welcome at ING". In my opinion, this makes a decisive contribution to identifying with the company and quickly feeling part of the whole.
What are the ideal criteria for someone interested in the JEP at ING?
Martin: You should enjoy taking the initiative. Because, here, you don’t really hear things like "do this or do that, please". When it comes to concrete tasks, your own ideas are needed. Of course, we have contact people who help us professionally or organizationally if we have questions, but it is essential to work through the questions yourself. There is a lot of personal responsibility involved. In contrast to the Trainee Program, the Junior Expert Program is very flexible and not divided into fixed sections. You don't go through a "training plan" but shape your development path yourself. Especially at the beginning, you need a bit of courage to ask your colleagues for advice.
How do you envision your future? What do you think will come after JEP?
Martin: "Digital leadership" is one of the most exciting challenges for me in the years to come. I’d very much like to make a contribution to the development of ING. As a pioneer among direct banks, we always have to think further ahead, because the competition is following suit. Traditional banks are jumping on the digitalization bandwagon, and the Fintech companies are also heavily involved. At the same time, the pressure to develop is increasing all the time. We have to prepare for this situation at all levels of the company and at the same time focus very closely on the needs of our customers. What moves them now and what will in the future? How can we use new technological solutions to attract older and younger customers? This spectrum of topics appeals to me.
How would you describe ING in one word?