Gabriela Matei

A journey full of surprises

While growing up in Moldova, Gabriela always had the ambition to become an outstanding finance professional. Thanks to ING’s Finance traineeship, she’s well on her way to achieving that – but not necessarily in the areas she expected.

“I always loved numbers and I was good at maths at school. I even took additional lessons to dive deeper into specific aspects. At the same time, my father pushed me to be the best in everything I did. That led to me attaining scholarships for various schools and universities, plus a professional career in the national basketball team.”

Unusual choice

Despite her longstanding interest in finance, Gabriela made an unusual choice: she successfully applied for a scholarship at a renowned medical school. “But I didn’t abandon finance nor sport; I attended accountancy classes in the evenings, and basketball training in the afternoons.” That busy schedule made Gabriela reconsider what she really wanted… and it definitely wasn’t a career in medicine. Thanks to her basketball skills, she secured another scholarship to pursue her dream in finance.


An International Economics course in Prague prompted Gabriela to set her sights beyond borders. An opportunity arose in the shape of a scholarship at a German university, followed by a prestigious exchange programme at Rotterdam Business School, part of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. “I did an internship at Philips, which was interesting, but I always knew I wanted to work in an environment where finance was the core business. I was immediately attracted to ING’s International Trainee Programme. It was the perfect chance to learn and explore, and find out what I really wanted from my career. I was very curious about the banking world. In fact, I think curiosity is the most important asset for a trainee.”

The people make the place, and I am definitely in a great place now

What do I really need?

Gabriela has surprised herself during her traineeship. “Besides knowing that I wanted to work in an international environment, I was also certain that I preferred management accounting. But where am I now, in my first permanent job after three very different rotations? At the Dutch retail bank, in financial accounting – an area that I hadn’t always found very appealing. The main reason was a very dedicated manager, who asked me questions that triggered and challenged me to think about what I really needed for my further development. As a result, I am now running two big projects for his team. They are both very demanding, but I feel hugely supported and empowered thanks to my amazing team. In fact, the people make the place, and I am definitely in a great place now.”

No wrong moves

“Along the way, I’ve come to appreciate financial accounting much more. As the source of all the numbers within the bank, it is linked to every process. I already know that I want to stay here for a while, which is something I’d never have expected at the start of my traineeship. That’s a great benefit of the traineeship, provided that you approach it with an open mind. There are no wrong moves or choices; every step is a learning experience. There might be some surprises, but just let things happen!” 


  • Is originally from Moldova, a small country between Ukraine and Romania that was formerly part of the Soviet Union.
  • Now lives in Volendam, the Netherlands, with her boyfriend.
  • Has quit professional basketball and switched to the gym and the swimming pool.
  • Loves to travel, preferably for outdoor activities.
  • Enjoys making handcrafted personal gifts.

Back to top