Team meeting in Riga
As I mentioned in my last post, I work as part of the corporate finance Baltic team. They meet up once a quarter in one of the three Baltic Swedbank offices. In July, this meeting was in Riga and I was lucky enough to be invited to take part of their two-day meeting. This was an excellent opportunity to meet the other team members and engage with the wider Baltic finance topics. Seeing Riga was of course a bonus, especially with the amazing views from the 22nd floor office at Swedbank. As part of the evening team building, we went riding WOLFTRIKE electrical drift trikes (google it) – doesn’t get much more fun than that! 😊
Kickstart Challenge continued
Kickstart Challenge, which is part of the internship program, has now officially started. We are divided into teams of three or four people, where each team has a specific problem to solve over the course of this project. Each challenge has been defined with a real problem in mind, where Swedbank and partner institutions are looking for innovative solutions. We have four Design Thinking methodology workshops (half a day, every two weeks) to help us on this journey. At the final event of Kickstart internship program (end of August) all the teams will pitch their solutions to a panel of judges, with scholarships available for the best teams.
My team (a group of four) was assigned the challenge – ‘how to get people to donate all-year round’. We are researching this problem to help the charity called ‘Ma armastan aidata’ (translates to ‘I love to help’) to increase their population of regular donors. First, we carried out customer interviews to empathise with our user. Next, we had a workshop on defining and ideation, where we used the information gathered from our interviews to nail down our problem statement prior to brainstorming all the possible ideas for solving that problem. Once we had gathered over 50 ideas, these were divided into categories and ranked in order of importance from the customer perspective. We then summarised it in a value proposition formula. Upcoming stages include prototyping our best ideas, testing it on users and getting ready for the final pitch. I am very excited to take part in this challenge and glad to be able to put my OPTIMA skills to good use here! 😊
As part of Kickstart, Swedbank has also been posting short stories on their Instagram (@swedbankeestis) about the various people taking part of the program this year. I was featured there last week.
Rebuilding bog trails with the team
Swedbank gives employees the opportunity to take a day off work each year to do charity work as part of their ‘Annetame aega’ (translates to ‘donating time’) scheme. Our floor is heading out to help rebuild a walking trail in Keava bog this week. As wetlands cover 22% of Estonian surface, with 6% belonging to bogs, walking in bogs and picking berries is quite popular in Estonia all year round. Hence, helping to rebuild walking paths is a worthy cause that will help to sustain the tradition of bog walking. I am certain it will be a fun day out of the office.
What else has been happening?
Last weekend I finally visited Saaremaa, the island where I am from. Kuressaare, the largest town on the island, is about 4 hours away from Tallinn. However, to get to the island, you need to take a 30 min ferry across the sea as part of the journey. Saaremaa is full of beautiful beaches and gorgeous scenery (but it’s also worth noting the 14th century Kuressaare castle and the Kaali meteorite crater) that attract tourists from around the globe, especially during the warm summer months. For me, the weekend meant seeing more family and friends I had not seen yet during the summer. Of course, the best place to catch up was on the beach whilst enjoying the 30 degree heatwave.
Bittersweet thoughts of Edinburgh
With one month to go on placement, it is bittersweet to think I head back to Edinburgh to finish my PhD (13 months until I have to hand in my thesis) soon. However, I have my first powerlifting competition to look forward to at the beginning of September and a long overdue holiday to Crete with my other half straight after, so it is safe to say I am planning to ease myself back into PhD life as slowly as possible.