Meet Cecilia and Ben, who joined the BNZ Business Banking Graduate programme in February 2017. After four months as graduates at BNZ, they share their experiences so far, including insight into their roles and advice they would give to anyone considering applying for a graduate role with BNZ.
What did you study and why did you apply for the graduate programme at BNZ?
Ben: “I studied a Bachelor of Management Studies, majoring in Strategy and Economics at Waikato University. Actually, for me, banking wasn’t on the radar at all. I’ve always been inspired by people who have really cool ideas but not necessarily the know- how to run a successful business, therefore it’s always been my goal to get to a place where I can help people accomplish their dreams.
When I heard someone from BNZ speak about the company and their role it was clear this wasn’t a corporate machine trying to churn out results. It was a bank that really cared about its customers and helping New Zealand be good with money. That really inspired me and made me realise that this was a great opportunity and a step towards achieving my goals.”
Cecilia: “I studied a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Information Systems and Marketing, so totally not what you might expect for someone coming into a banking role. I like that the graduate programme has a really clear goal of becoming a Partner and is very people focused, as I’m someone who likes to be out and about and customer facing.”
What have your roles involved so far?
Cecilia: “I’ve been working with two mentors, a Senior Associate and a Partner, and essentially I guess we help to grow our customer’s business through financial analysis and lending. While we do go out and meet customers there is also an element of admin such as credit checks and credit assessments, which play a vital role in our lending decisions.”
Ben: “The roles that different graduates take on do vary quite a lot. I’ve been out to factories and spent a lot of time getting to understand how my customers operate, whereas others have learnt a lot more of the credit skills early on, or been more involved with various sectors, such as property or health.”
What has surprised you the most about BNZ?
Cecilia: “The culture really lives up to the hype. All through the application process every employee raved about the culture and came across as incredibly passionate about their roles. In also like that BNZ genuinely encourages flexible working, which I think really goes to show that they trust and empower us even as graduates and really do care about their employees and their wellbeing.”
How did you find transitioning from being a student to working in a large corporate company?
Ben: “I’m not going to lie, the mornings have been challenging at times, but it’s been really great to be involved in the real world where our actions have consequences and we can go home at night really feeling like we’ve made a difference to someone’s business and ultimately, their lives -rather than just talking about the theory.
We’re helping make credit decisions on millions of dollars and getting to see the excitement in your client’s eyes when they reach the success and growth they’ve worked so hard for.”
What have you enjoyed the most since joining BNZ?
Cecilia: “I’ve really enjoyed the diversity in terms of the people I’ve met and things I’ve been able to work on. Different ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, experience and it’s just great knowing you’re going to be dealing with different people and tasks every day.”
Ben: “The people have definitely been a big part of it. Everyone is happy to have a conversation no matter what their salary or role, and they’re not superficial conversations. People have really taken the time to get to know us and why we’re here, while being really keen to share their story as well. A lot of the leaders in BNZ Partners started as grads, which I think is really cool.”
What’s been the biggest challenge?
Cecilia: “Financials! I don’t have a financial background and had no idea how to read a balance sheet or income statement properly, so that was a huge learning curve for me. It’s still something that I’m working on, but in all honesty, it’s something that anyone can pick up with the determination and a drive to learn.”
What advice would you give to someone applying for the graduate programme this year?
Ben: “I think the big thing is just being yourself, as cliché as it sounds. It’s not what you’ve studied, it’s not what you’ve done, it’s what you want to achieve for yourself and for others that matters.
For those thinking of applying, don’t let what you have or haven’t done in the past stop you, this is a really awesome opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone, try new things, and be part of something great.”
If you’d like to apply for the 2018 Business Banking Graduate Programme, click here.