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KickStart 2019

Kirsty RossJul 16, 2019 Placement highlights
Kristel Sepp is currently on placement with Swedbank in Tallinn, Estonia.

A home from home

I started my placement journey to Tallinn on 2nd June when I flew from Edinburgh to Tallinn, Estonia. I was not only extremely excited for the upcoming new challenge for the next three months but was also happy to be able to spend the next three months amongst family and friends. Yes, Tallinn is my home town prior to moving to Edinburgh almost 8 years ago now to go to university. The last time I spent such a long time here was 6 years ago (where does time fly?). So, moving for me was somewhat less stressful than perhaps some other OPTIMA students who moved across the globe to new exciting locations for their placements. However, I am so, so happy to be here and think it is just what I needed at this moment in my PhD journey. 😊

New home for 3 months. Ready for first day. Arriving at Swedbank office. View from my 8th floor desk.

Focus of my placement

So, what am I doing for my placement? I started at Swedbank Estonia as a financial analysis trainee in the Financial Analysis and Planning team. Swedbank is the largest bank in Estonia earning over 200 million Euros of profit in 2018. Swedbank AS is part of Swedbank Group AB that operates in Sweden as well as Latvia and Lithuania. Being a large corporate company, it has an equally complex organisational structure. To put it simply, the financial analysis and planning team that I am a member of, is divided into different working areas – country, corporate, private and channels. My direct supervisors are financial analysts of the corporate segment in Estonia, but they are also part of the wider Baltic team of corporate financial analysts. This means as a trainee, I get to be a part of the Estonian team as well as the wider Baltic team.

Tallinn old town views on my daily commute to work.

Full immersion from day 1

From the first day of placement, I was immersed in their world. That included participating in my first financial analysis team meeting on my first day. Safe to say their language sounded like Chinese to me at first. Now, four weeks and countless training courses later I can say my financial vocabulary has developed exponentially – as well as my Excel skills. I have learned to use a specialist database program to extract relevant information and can now handle this data like I never knew was even possible a month ago. I have been given important tasks right from the beginning, and I am continuously learning new skills. It is everything I wanted from this placement and more!

In addition to my tasks as a trainee, I get to take part in Swedbank’s internship programme called KickStart. About 100 interns from Estonia and abroad join the bank over the summer in various roles across the company. Although most interns are Estonian, they also accept foreign candidates who don’t speak Estonian (for anyone wanting to apply from OPTIMA 😊). KickStart brought together all the interns for extensive training courses over multiple days to learn about Swedbank’s business. It was an extensive programme where we learned about how does the bank work, risks in banking and how the bank fights money laundering. In addition, we learned how Swedbank uses data for Business Intelligence, as well as how data can be used to create more value for customers, and of course, we discussed how the future of banking will look like. It wasn’t just a series of lectures, but involved a lot of group work, presentations and tasks that made it possible to get to know all the other interns as well – something OPTIMA students are excellently trained for 😉

Over the course of the summer there will also be a Kickstart Challenge for interns – a competition for teams of interns to solve a number of real-life problems established by Swedbank and its partner companies. Anyone from my year of OPTIMA students knows how much I love a competition :D. More on that in the next post when it has already started.

KickStart internship program kick-off day orienteering challenge.

More to life than just work

Other exciting things that have made me happy here over the last month – warm summer weather and being able to spend my weekends with family and friends enjoying the sunshine and good food 😊. Oh, and free coffee! Yes, free unlimited coffee at work – PhD students dream!

Seaside in Pärnu. Saturday nights with family. Walks in blooming gardens. Free coffee in bamboo cups :-)