You may be surprised to hear it, but even projects relating to groundbreaking technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence are among the possibilities during a traineeship at ING. And Niels Oskam knows this all too well, because he has been working as a business consultant at the Centre of Excellence Robotics & AI since October 2016.
After completing his bachelor’s in business administration in Groningen Niels spent a year as a board member of his student association, which ING was the main sponsor of. He subsequently did an internship at the bank, immediately followed by a master’s in finance. ING continued to intrigue him, and after attending the ING Bootcamp traineeship experience Niels decided to do the Retail Banking traineeship. “I wanted to be involved in innovation, data analysis and change management, and there’s no better place than here for some terrific developments in those areas.”
His first rotation was in the Corporate Lending Service department as part of the Risk Management team, which was developing a new process for business clients who were in danger of getting into difficulties with their loan repayments. There, Niels worked to improve the processes behind the scenes. He did his second rotation at Global Change Management. “A lot of trainees choose to go abroad for their second rotation, but I purposefully decided not to. I wanted to challenge myself with an assignment that I could really get stuck into, rather than risk being distracted by all the secondary factors that play a role when you go abroad – although that’s a great experience too, of course. So it was the sensible choice, I guess, but one that I don’t regret for a second – especially seeing as I was able to secure a really interesting role within Global Change Management as part of Robotics & Artificial Intelligence. I’m currently working on a smaller assignment for our robot, Ginger, but I spend the majority of my time on Chatbots as a Service, which we intend to roll out in all ING countries. As project manager, I’m mainly involved in facilitating things and bringing teams and departments together. I ensure that everyone has all the information they require, and I maintain contact with the offices abroad and with Risk, Infra, Procurement and external partners and consultants…so it’s a very broad role which I’m enjoying immensely, and I’m learning a lot too.”
“The Chatbot team is made up of people from various different countries: experts, project managers and people from Risk, Infra and Procurement. It’s really interesting to be involved in thinking about how processes can be improved and made more efficient. Setting up something new is much more fun than working with existing processes. This really is change management in action: we’re working to ‘embed’ expertise in all countries, we’re involving teams in the changes and ensuring that they remain engaged. It’s fantastic to be able to add value for colleagues and hence for customers too.”
Just do it
Besides that, this role allows you to see a great deal of the bank, both at international level and across the various product groups. I’m lucky in that I’m working for a very pioneering part of the bank, but if you’re considering the Operations & Change traineeship then the most important thing is the project management component. You need to enjoy that aspect, no matter which discipline or which part of the bank you end up working in. Your analytical skills are really put to the test, as are your powers of persuasion and ability to win people’s support for change. You arrive on a project as a consultant and it’s your job to involve the people in the changes. They have to provide you with the input you need to make progress. It helps if you’re quick to grasp things, if you’re flexible and if you’re a good team player. In return, the role gives you a lot of responsibility and autonomy. Some of the things I really like – on top of the extremely interesting work, of course – are the ‘just do it’ culture here, the fact that the colleagues are really open and always willing to help, the ease of brainstorming and discussing things, and that there’s always time for a bit of humour. I really feel like we’re working on the future, and that’s exactly what I wanted.”
When Niels started Robotics & AI formed part of Global Change Management, but it has since become an independent Centre of Excellence.