Us women are stronger than we think!

From intern to manager: find out all about Sanja's career path at ING.

Can you describe your career path at ING and your current position?

I started as an intern in Wholesale Banking (WB) during my studies. I've been here for almost 10 years now. It’s no wonder I feel like an orange lioness now. 😊 Since I started, the number of employees in WB has more than doubled. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many different colleagues and experts – and I’m proud to call some of them my friends. I worked in Client Coverage for 4 years and then moved to Corporate Sector Lending in 2018, where I still work today. I currently work as a Parent Transaction Manager and manage a portfolio of clients in the Food & Agri sector, a sector with very high potential in Germany. At the same time, I am the manager of our Junior Pool: a group of young talents with exceptional skills and creativity who are an invaluable asset to our team.

If you had to explain your job to your grandmother, how would you describe it?

Something like this: Well grandma, more or less everything you eat and drink these days is produced by companies that we finance. Our financial support helps them to grow – and to further improve the quality and variety of their products to meet our needs. And in terms of my role as manager of our Junior Pool, I would say that just like I have children at home, I also have my "children" at work. I help them grow, motivate them, offer them protection and, above all, I take care of their development.

What do you like most about working in Wholesale Banking?

The diversity. Not just in terms of gender, but also in terms of nationality and cultural background. I am a woman, a mother of two, a part-time employee and a foreigner – with a very different cultural background compared to the country I live in. And yet: I have climbed the career ladder from intern to manager. This is what ING strongly supports. And also what I think makes ING really a great employer.

In addition to your career, you have a second role: you are a mother of 2 children. Tell us something about your family - how old are your children?

My son Aleksej is 5 years old, and my daughter Nada is 2.5 years old. They are inseparable, although they have completely different personalities. Nada often tries to emulate her brother: she doesn't like princesses so much as superheroes. I think that's good in a way. Because we want to teach them how important it is to be brave in life and stand up for yourself while still being empathetic, helping others and contributing to society.

What were or are your biggest challenges in building your career with family and children?

The biggest challenge for me was definitely returning to work after a year of maternity leave – and in my case, twice. New people, new processes, new responsibilities. Then there was the new virtual way of working due to the pandemic, which made it even more difficult to get in touch with people. I began to doubt myself. My skills, my goals, my purpose. But as I am always ready to take on new challenges, I just saw this as another one to overcome. Thanks to my colleagues, I have managed to get to where I am today.What still makes it hard sometimes is the fact that our family lives in Serbia – so we do not have someone to jump in to babysit on a short notice. But it is important to face the challenge, find the balance and organize yourself – and I think that my husband and me are doing it quite well so far.

What strategies have you developed to juggle everything and balance stress at work with the needs of your family?

I know it sounds clichΓ©, but when I have a stressful day at work, I look at my kids or think about them. Then I realize how lucky I am to have them. That's my biggest motivator – so no matter how tired or stressed I am, I know that any problem can be solved or it can wait – most of the time 😊.

How have the children affected your perspective on your career? And has being a mother affected your work-related decisions?

Becoming a mother for the first time was admittedly a bit scary. It meant that I was no longer at the center of my own life. There was someone else for whom I was responsible. Shaping their character, nurturing their growth and development and providing unconditional love and protection. But as you might imagine, I quite enjoyed it. It was all much easier the second time around. I realized that taking care of others made me happy. That also made me apply for the manager position. Today, I can say that this part of my work is very close to my heart. As a parent, I am constantly learning something new about myself or my children. In my opinion, the same is true for good managers: every good leader is also a learner.

What advice would you give other women in similar situations?

We are stronger than we think! Becoming a mother has shown me how brave and resilient I am. Besides, we multitask all the time anyway – and sometimes without even realizing it.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I am more than grateful to ING for the opportunities I have been given. They have enabled me to get to where I am now. I am happy to share my story and hope that it inspires and motivates others on their journey.

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