Thank you to our friends at the Financial Study association Amsterdam (FSA) for providing us with this interview, wich is also very relevant and interesting for us.
On Thursday February 13th Esmee and Laure (FSA Marketing committee) had a conversation with DNB trainees Thomas van de Berg and Liza Lunstroo. Liza, 28 years old, studied International Relations at the University College Maastricht. She also completed a Research Master in Middle Eastern Studies in Lund (Sweden) and a Master in Economics. Before she started the traineeship she also worked for a year. Thomas is 24 years old and completed two Bachelor’s programs, one in Political Science and one in Economics and Business. Next to that, he completed a Master in Quantitative Finance. Last year, he took part in the FSA Research Project.
What brought you to DNB?
Thomas: “On LinkedIn I saw a video about the traineeship. I got in touch with a DNB trainee and realized the traineeship was awesome. In contrary to other banks and M&A boutiques, the tasks within DNB are much more diverse while also touching upon politics and a policy-making component.” Liza looked into a variety of subjects during her studies. At DNB, she is given the chance to further develop as an economist. Especially the public interest of DNB’s work was an important motivator.
What does DNB do?
DNB’s core business comprises first of all being responsible for Dutch monetary policy as the Dutch central bank. That is why DNB president Klaas Knot is a member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank. Secondly, they are constantly monitoring the financial sector, and lastly, DNB is the Dutch resolution authority, meaning they layout the plans if banks are on the verge of going bankrupt.
What does a day at DNB look like?
Liza: “Basically every day I have meetings with colleagues to work on some report or research. I am also meeting with other trainees to work on projects. A project we are doing now is “DNB’s greatest idea”. Everybody within the organization can send in ideas and the winning idea will be executed by the group of eleven trainees that I am part of. Of course, as trainees, we also have trainings about a variety of subjects, but as a trainee, we are quite free to determine our schedule.
What project are you currently working on?
Thomas' first and current position is as a financial risk analyst at the department for supervision on Pension Funds. Next week, he will conduct interviews with an insurer as part of “DNB on-site” to assess how the institution is handling a specific topic. He also often receives parliamentary questions addressed to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, which require the expertise of DNB to be answered. Liza is researching the dividend policy at major European banks, and, with her team, is preparing Supervisory Board meetings at the ECB for Frank Elderson.
What do you like most about the projects and working at DNB?
Liza: “In my previous department, “Monetary Policy”, I really enjoyed reviewing the ECB's monetary strategy. Those are political-strategic and economic-substantive issues.” Thomas: “I find it interesting to delve into the insurance sector, where acquisitions are currently taking place. DNB must approve these acquisitions. Our job is to assess whether the acquisition is not harmful to the policyholder.”
For whom would a position at DNB be interesting?
Thomas: “Many DNB employees have a social goal and a heart for public affairs. The study backgrounds within DNB vary from finance, international relations, law, political science and economics to econometrics, physics to technical mathematics.”
What is the working culture like?
Thomas: “The working culture differs per department. There are seventeen different divisions, all with their own departments. In some departments the average age is a bit older, for example, I am now in a team where the average age is around 40, but more and more young people are currently being hired. For example, a third of the 1900 DNB employees are under 36 years of age. In addition, hierarchically, the lines are very short. If you show interest in the next placement and send an email to the relevant manager, you will never hear a “no”. Everyone is very excited to explain what his or her department does. You have to be careful that the conversation does not last too long!” Liza: “It is a fairly flat organization, but there is a lot of bureaucracy in which you have to coordinate a lot with each other. DNB is an organization based on what you do in terms of content and if you do it right, you will also be seen and appreciated. At DNB, the culture is not one in which everyone picks up the best jobs for each other. It is a collegial organization, people like to help each other. A lot of drinks and jokes are made. If you like political and economic issues, you fit in well!”
Why did you pick DNB?
Thomas: "I had a conversation with a friend who came in as a trainee one year before me and she made exactly the same considerations. Every new application round I became more enthusiastic. In addition, the selection day was opened by Frank Elderson, who explained with so much dedication and passion why he chose DNB, that I could easily decide for myself as well. From that moment on I knew that this was the organization I wanted to work for.
Liza: “I recognize what Thomas says. Through the selection procedure you not only get to know DNB, but DNB also gets to know you through lunches, speed date events, meet-and-greets and sessions with trainees. There is enough space to ask questions, which made me enthusiastic.”
Can you describe the applying procedure?
The selection procedure starts with a motivation letter, CV and transcripts of your Bachelor’s and Master’s that you must send. You will then hear whether you have been invited for an e-assessment. Based on that, you may or may not be invited to the first selection day. This consists of a substantive case and a motivation pitch. This is followed by a personality test, whereafter the second selection day will take place. This second selection day takes place a week after the first selection day. This day consists of two interviews and a group assignment. Thomas: “For me, this entire selection procedure - from sending the first letter to the results - took one month, after which I knew I was hired.” Robin Pape, DNB's campus recruiter, adds: “This year, two different traineeships will take place, both starting in September. Firstly, the regular traineeship, but also the data & technology traineeship.”
What will your future look like?
Thomas: “I will stay with DNB after my traineeship, I'm sure of that! There is plenty to do that I find very interesting.” Liza: “I am finishing my traineeship this year. From this traineeship, I experienced many different components up close at DNB. There are many things I still want to do here!”
How does DNB support you in your personal development?
Thomas: “DNB provides a lot of training. In addition, your traineeship includes a personal development program that includes various training courses. For example, I followed a training on personal development with actors who teach you how to deal with different situations. Besides that, there will be enough opportunities in each department to follow substantive training.” Liza: “Indeed, there are many opportunities from the DNB to further develop yourself.” Robin adds: “We consider the development of trainees very important at DNB, both professionally and personally. As a trainee you therefore spend about two days a month on substantive training, skills training and personal development. You do this individually and jointly with your fellow trainees. You will be guided by the program manager of the traineeship, a former trainee, your manager and your trainers.”
Do you have any tips for students considering a function at DNB?
Thomas: “Go for coffee and use your network! This enables you to ask critical questions and to see whether you really fit within this company. In addition, motivation is very important for your application.” Liza: “I agree, use your network. Who has an interesting job? Go and have a coffee with that person, so you can learn more about a company. Talk to people a lot and practice telling your passion and motivation, which helps if you have to do this during an interview.”
What is different than you expected from DNB?
Thomas: “DNB is much younger than I expected, traditionally it still has an image of old men in gray suits, but from the very first selection day I have been convinced that is not the case. It is much more dynamic in reality.”
For more information about the traineeships at DNB, or for questions about working and/or doing an internship at DNB, please contact campus recruiter Robin Pape or Rosanne Gossen, via E: email@example.com or take a look at the website Werkenbijdnb.nl.