IT Academy: preparing for a changed IT landscape

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Jolanda Smit is currently participating in the IT Academy. Her goal for the future is to work as a Solution Designer and make a significant contribution to the new developments at the bank. She has spent the past five months working hard to learn all that she can – both for her own benefit and for the bank’s. Although it has not always been plain sailing, looking back Jolanda is pleased.

During the orientation week we were given a light-hearted introduction to ABN AMRO, from the Managing Board to our own department. Jolanda Smit Solution Designer

Taking time to share

Jolanda comments, ‘During the orientation week we were given a light-hearted introduction to ABN AMRO, from the Managing Board to our own department. We were included in the plans for the IT transformation, we found out what our MBTI scores were and what they meant and we were introduced to some of the bank’s partners. The week ended with drinks and an opportunity to recap what we had learned. The organisation, speakers and managers all joined us. It was very motivating to see so many people taking time out during our orientation to share their expertise with us.’

Hanging on to your autonomy

The IT Academy is based on the following principle: 70% of your time is spent learning by working, 20% is for coaching and feedback and 10% is devoted to training sessions and courses. Jolanda explains, ‘I started with a buddy and coaching session. My manager was also on hand for that first talk with my coach. First we were asked to describe each other’s strengths. Then we discussed the areas where I needed to focus particular attention to achieve my learning outcomes. This approach resulted in an open and constructive dialogue that helped me bond with my manager and offered a solid foundation moving forward. During the second week Jan Robat gave an expert lecture about IT at ABN AMRO: where the bank currently stands, and where we’re headed. He also shared a piece of personal advice with us: hang on to your autonomy. Make sure that you stay independent and keep working on your development. Those closing words were a great tip to take with us during the rest of our time at the IT Academy.’

Preparing for the new IT landscape

One element of the IT Academy is the Solution Designers Essentials Training. This involves interviewing the members of the SD Board – representatives from a variety of domains – about their experiences as Solution Designers. ‘We experienced a day in the life of a SD expert, and we discussed the various shapes that this job takes,’ Jolanda recalls. ‘The learning process can be based on any of five different profiles: Mainframe, Front-End, Java, Business Intelligence and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). We also discussed the differences between Business Analysts and Solution Designers. A Business Analyst looks at a problem from a functional perspective, whereas the Solution Designer translates that functional description into a solution. Over the next few months, the SD Board will help us to learn more about how as Solution Designers we can prepare for the new IT landscape – and of course what methods, techniques and tools we’ll use.’

Travel plans: India

She still has a long way to go before she has completed the IT Academy. Nevertheless, Jolanda and her group are already busy planning a trip to India for when they finish. Jolanda explains, ‘That’s where the Indian members of our team are based. It will be great to finally meet them. We’ll spend some time working on our projects while we’re in India, to experience what it’s like for our offshore colleagues. In the meantime we’re having fun talking about our visit, so that’s very encouraging!’


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