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Catching up with Zainab at Development Bank of Wales

Zainab is a graduate on the Financial Services Graduate Programme. She’s nearing the end of her second placement with Development Bank of Wales, so we caught up with her to find out how she’s been getting on and what she’s looking forward to on her final placement.

Tell us about yourself…

My name is Zainab and I’m currently on placement in the HR department of the Development Bank of Wales. I’m really enjoying my rotation and am also excited to start at Admiral in January. In my spare time I’ve been doing up my house and have learned all sorts of new skills such as decorating, woodwork and plastering! I tried to do some gardening in the summer but I’m not sure it’s my best skill…

What has been your experience of the Graduate Programme?

I’m very appreciative of the Welsh Financial Graduate Scheme as having moved here from London and not knowing where to look, it has introduced me to a wide range of companies, contacts and friends. The best part of the programme is that it’s given me the opportunity to try out different roles such as HR and Marketing before I decide on what I want to do as a long-term career.

I have always wanted to do a Masters in a management related subject, but I couldn’t decide between HR or Marketing as a career. The programme has given me the best of both worlds and a chance to experience which is a better fit for me.

You said you moved to Cardiff from London, that must have been a big change. What attracted you to Cardiff and how have you been finding it?

My husband is from Cardiff and after we got married, we settled here, one of the reasons being it was much cheaper! I was born in London and have only ever lived there, even during university, so moving to Cardiff was a very big change and I struggled at first. It wasn’t familiar to me and my friends and family were all far away. I enjoy it now and my friends and family would come and stay with us often (pre COVID, which is great, but I still feel a bit nostalgic when we go back home.

Cardiff is great as everything is so close to me and the work-life balance here is unmatchable, I used to work an hour and a half away from home and it took me 2 hours to get to uni on the train in London! It makes a big difference not having to do that anymore!

How are you finding your current placement with Development Bank of Wales?

It’s been great, I’ve been given lots of responsibility and have learnt a lot. HR has many aspects to it and my responsibilities included elements of recruitment, Cascade system work and projects. My main focus has been project based, first creating a new and digitalised onboarding process for new starters, and then working with the HR & Strategy Director and the Marketing team to create a document, the People Strategy, to kickstart our employer brand. This had led to a lot of work with the Marketing team to continue to build on the employer brand in various ways.

What is the culture like at Development Bank Wales?

DBW has a very warm and friendly culture. My role involves speaking to a lot of people from different departments so I’m very lucky that’s they’re all so approachable and easy to speak to. The agile and flexible atmosphere has been so enjoyable, and my team is amazing.

How did the lockdown affect you and your role?

Lockdown meant that I couldn’t go back to London as often, so I’ve missed my friends and family a lot. My manager has been really supportive and when the restrictions lifted, I was able to work from London for a few weeks, so that’s been lovely. Apart from that, my role has not changed massively as we already had a flexible working policy pre-covid and worked from home a day or two a week. On the whole I’ve found working from home has been a really great experience and it’s allowed me more time to learn new things! I do miss the interaction with others though so it will be nice once we have our vaccines and things get back to some normality!

How have you found studying for the MSc alongside your full time work?

It’s hard work but I’m not surprised as I anticipated this when I heard about the programme. I think it’s very rewarding and it is worth it as it’s helped me understand financial services more. My manager has been very supportive in my learning.

What are you most looking forward to in your final placement?

My placements have been in mainly HR so far, so I’m very excited to try out Marketing. My new manager seems lovely and I’m excited to meet the rest of the team in our Murder Mystery event!

My final rotation will help me determine which area I am most interested in, but I think a role in Marketing would suit me most within an innovative company. I think the environment you work in contributes most to how you feel about work, and so I’d like to work for a company that holds this value.

Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking of applying for the Programme?

Make the most of the rotations and try out new things. Once you choose a career path, it is more difficult to change your course completely, so I’d say see which roles you could be interested in and have a go!

Thanks for your sharing your experience Zainab, and good luck on your final placement!