The bank is not a playground

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Mehmet Akkoc

Most boys dream of growing up to be a professional football player or a pilot. Not me. Ever since I was a little boy in Amsterdam and was welcomed to the ABN AMRO branch with my father, who was a successful businessman, I’ve known I want to be a bank manager. I’ve always known what I want. At ABN AMRO, I can map out my own career and make conscious choices along the way. And I need to make choices, because I’m very enthusiastic and would otherwise grab hold of every challenge. This goal-oriented, passionate attitude is now serving me well during my traineeship, but it also means I sometimes need to be kept in check.

In every assignment I do, I always look for partnerships and try to connect people. Mehmet Akkoc Mehmet Akkoc Trainee


The nice thing about a traineeship is that you can work on a variety of assignments. I am currently posted at the HR department and am working on diversity. This subject really appeals to me, partly because I’m the chairman of Anatolia, the Turkish student association. In every assignment I do, I always look for partnerships and try to connect people. I take a personal approach and am curious about what drives my colleagues, what they are passionate about. This informal approach is key to the ABN AMRO culture and puts me at ease whenever I start a new assignment.

Two heads are better than one

Hierarchy is an obvious aspect of a large organisation like ABN AMRO. As a trainee, you have a special position within the hierarchy. I have the opportunity to explore the bank like a puppy, while making a valuable contribution through my various assignments. Other trainees who work elsewhere in the organisation share their experiences with me. So I get to learn about every facet of the bank and can discover what I’d like to do after my traineeship.

Professional support

The advantage to being a trainee is that many doors are open to you and colleagues are always willing to help. My assignment while working at the Operations department was to draft a strategy for the coming two years. The morning of the presentation, the senior manager who was my supervisor arrived at the office at 7 am to go through my presentation with me. The presentation was a success and the document is still being used by the department. It’s a great feeling to make a contribution like that.

Personal development

Trainees also get support in their personal development. We receive training in time management and setting priorities, important skills that will come in handy throughout my career. You also learn much more about yourself. For example, I’ve discovered how I come across to other people. An important issue is organisational sensitivity. I’ve learned to put myself in my colleagues’ shoes and to see things from a different department’s perspective. I always say, ‘The bank is not a playground’. There is a professional atmosphere at ABN AMRO. Trainees are taken seriously, and we’re expected to act like professionals.


For my final assignment, I’d like to work abroad – an unusual step within a traineeship. I feel less and less constrained by national borders and would like to experience how it is to work for ABN AMRO outside the Netherlands. But only if the assignment appeals to me, of course. I’m confident I’ll find an interesting assignment in New York, Singapore or Dubai.


I know what I want, and I know what I have to offer. This is very important in a traineeship. You need a healthy dose of ambition, must be open to new developments and should be able to convince others. There are plenty of opportunities, but the bank doesn’t have a ‘manual’. You have to find your own way and have a lot of confidence in yourself. So if you’re self-confident and can inspire and persuade people, a traineeship is a first step towards a great career.


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