My name is Caitlin Craigie and I am a Future Me graduate in Corporate Banking.
I joined ASB in February 2015, having previously studied law and science at Victoria University. Having been raised in Christchurch, becoming an Aucklander was a somewhat controversial life decision but having thoroughly enjoyed my first year here, I am confident that I made the correct call. One aspect of the graduate programme that has really stood out for me has been the focus on professional development, and so I would like to share my personal experiences.
Each year the graduates receive the profiles of ASB staff throughout the business that have volunteered to give their time to mentor a graduate. Having a mentor has given me the opportunity to learn more about other areas of the bank, to have my thinking challenged, to map out my short-term and long-term career ambitions, and ask candid questions with confidentiality assured. We are encouraged to seek out multiple mentors so that we can find the ones that we click with best.
One aspect of working in a large organisation that can be challenging is being able to keep track of all the names and faces. One incident that motivated me to seek advice on this issue was when a colleague in the elevator asked me to send him a copy of a report I had written, only for me to agree and then later realise typing “male, 40s, brown hair” into the Outlook recipients bar probably wasn’t going to find me his name! You can bank on the fact that a minor sleuth mission ensued to reveal his identity. My mentor was able to provide practical strategies for recalling names, suggested staff members with a strong networking record who might have additional tips, and informed me of tools that could be useful such as internal organisational charts.
The Shared Learning Project
In the first year of the programme, all Future Me graduates participate in a Shared Learning Project (SLP). We split into teams and seek to respond to a specific question/challenge raised by a stakeholder in the business. We are given three months to plan, research, suggest a solution and present this to the Executive Leadership Team (ELT).
In many regards the process is considered to be as important as the response. During my own project, I learnt so much about how the business operated as I interviewed around 20 people across the business about the current tools and projects they have that were relevant to our project’s aim. Upon reflection, my biggest takeaway was the power of collaborating rather than competing. Our response was far stronger when we moved away from proposing an entirely new initiative and instead proposed a strategy that incorporated many of the current initiatives.
The SLP was also a great way to learn more about ourselves as individuals. The learnings ranged from the speed at which we prefer to make decisions to our tendency to veer towards big-picture thinking versus honing in on the details. As team leader, I had to learn to balance my own personal preferences with those of the wider team. For example, even though my natural approach is to discuss topics and make the associated decisions in quick succession, I needed to instead summarise the discussion and give the team longer to mull over the options.
Only through receiving feedback during our dry runs for our presentation did I learn of my tendencies to violently gesticulate (and the associated risk of literal eye contact) and talk rapidly enough to consider rapping as a fall-back career path. This reinforced the importance of extensive preparation and we were very pleased to receive positive feedback from the ELT in our final presentation.
Training and off-sites
Each Future Me graduate is provided with an introduction to the major systems used by ASB, as well as additional training following discussions with our managers. Having come from a non-commerce background, I was pleased with the targeted training ASB provided me to help remove the angst out of finance.
Every six months the graduates participate in full-day off-sites. The agenda of these off-sites can range from sharing our experiences, to mapping out our personalities, to soft skill training on topics such as running effective meetings.
I have really benefitted from these professional development processes, and they don’t even touch the surface of the opportunities we have at ASB. We’re continually given chances to grow and develop our skills; whether that’s through challenging rotations, attending industry conferences or even being challenged in our thinking as we discuss new ideas. Thanks to ASB and the Future Me community for making this all possible.