Finance and tech is my favourite combination
You don’t always have to follow the standard route to become an ING trainee. In fact, it’s sometimes better if you don’t. Having travelled and worked abroad and even run his own e-commerce company for a couple of years, Michiel Slebos is living proof of that.
Michiel developed a taste for travel while doing his bachelor’s in Business Administration at Erasmus University, when he went to Thammasat University in Bangkok as part of a six-month exchange programme. He returned to the Netherlands and finished his degree, but he struggled to settle. “I wanted to head off again, so I went to Australia for a year. I spent the majority of that time working, and then I travelled around for a couple of months. The owner of the Airbnb I stayed at turned out to be a supply chain manager at Samsung. They were performing a product recall so they could use an extra pair of hands.”
“When I got back to Rotterdam, I started an e-commerce company with some friends while doing my master’s in Finance & Investments. It was fun, but I wasn’t exactly living my dream. By that time, I’d realised that what I actually wanted to do was a traineeship at a bigger company. In view of my educational background, a leading bank was a logical choice.”
“I felt a good click with ING right from the start. I saw that it had an innovative and entrepreneurial side and what really struck me was the open and upbeat atmosphere. I could sense that we were all on the same wavelength, and I still feel that every day, even though we’re doing everything online now. That’s pretty special.”
“I joined in October 2019 with a fantastic onboarding programme. It felt like starting university all over again. I still have a lot of contact with the people I met back then. And my first project was brilliant; I was a project manager in a financial accounting team responsible for the launch of a new dashboarding tool. The assignment was at the intersection of finance and tech – my two key fields of interest.”
Trading floor at home
“For my second project, I was due to go to Istanbul as a currency trader in the Treasury department. When I heard that the overseas assignment had been cancelled (COVID-19, of course…), I was actually waiting to get my visa at the Turkish embassy, just like my fellow trainee Seb. I didn’t have a Plan B, but luckily I was soon able to arrange something in the Dutch Treasury department.
As a beginner you start with a small currency, so I was given the South African rand. Then you gradually advance to bigger currencies – in my case, the Russian rouble and the Norwegian krone. By that time we were all working from home, so it was a pretty weird situation. Whereas films always portray the trading floor as a noisy and hectic place, I was working in the calmness of my own living room. Even so, it was still exciting because you’re dealing with huge sums of money and you have to stay on the ball to react quickly to changes in the market.”
Full of learning opportunities
“After that assignment I wanted to do something completely different, and that was possible in a third rotation, so I’m now working as an analyst in the Investment Banking Front Office for Wholesale Banking. We help other financial institutions to obtain money from the capital market through bond issuances. As an analyst, I’m mainly involved in pricing and market updates. This is a really interesting place; it’s very commercial, whereas my first two rotations had a more internal focus.”
“I’ll soon be starting my first permanent role within the traineeship, as a business analyst in Financial Information Management. It’s another place where I can make my favourite combination: finance and tech. I hope to learn a lot again, because I thrive on that. I’ve already started on SQL and SAS. So far my traineeship has been full of learning opportunities and I’ve made maximum use of each one.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic Michiel used to go to the gym regularly, but he has now taken up running to keep fit. As soon as international travel is allowed again, his first trip will be to a surfers’ paradise in Portugal.