“Long relationship, yet with constant change“

After more than 30 years at SEB, Cathrin Uebel can affirm that her relationship with the bank is one of the longest in her life. “Having one employer for so long may seem strange and appear as if I had stood in the same place the whole time. But in a company like SEB I have had infinite opportunities to find new and inspiring challenges,” she says. 

Cathrin relates how SEB first came to her attention during weekend visits to a friend while in high school:

“My friend’s mom worked for SEB and I often heard her say that she couldn’t wait to get back to work again after the weekend. I thought it was cool to feel like this about your job, and it inspired me to apply for a summer job at SEB in Södertälje.

“After graduating from high school, I had actually planned to continue studying at a university, but around the same time I was offered a customer service job at an SEB branch office, and that’s how it turned out.”

Since then Cathrin has held many different positions in many SEB departments.

“I have worked with private customers, corporate customers, medium-sized and large companies, and the bank’s card business,” she says. “Even though the roles have naturally differed from each other, the work has often involved efficiency improvements, changed conditions and reorganisations.

“Owing to my background, today I have a very large network that I am very happy for. My daughters often remark about how I run in to colleagues no matter where we may be – on Gotland, in a village in India, or on an escalator at Hötorget.”

During a period Cathrin’s husband’s job took the family to Amsterdam, during which time she chose to study Business Administration remotly at Uppsala University.

“I worked extra at IKEA’s head offices in Amsterdam, and it was a big culture clash. I showed up as a newly appointed bank administrator in a white blouse and blue blazer with gold buttons and realised that leather jacket and boots was more the style,” she recalls.

“I also worked for a couple of years in SEB’s loan department in Hamburg, Germany. Even though English is the official language at SEB, I quickly learned that it was German that applied at the time. I found that being immersed in such a situation is good way to learn a language!”

At SEB Cathrin is perhaps most well known for her three years as head of SEB Experience Center – a new type of meeting place where personal meetings, digitalisation, inspiration and training were in focus.

“It was great to have the opportunity to start something entirely new, to think new and test new ideas and concepts together with an engaged team and create an operation that was held in high regard by customers and colleagues alike. I learned so much during those years, above all the importance of listening to customers and then delivering what they wanted.

“And since we had very generous opening hours – 12 hours a day, seven days a week – we had time and the opportunity to take a genuine interest and ask the extra questions you otherwise might not have time for, plus the opportunity to test new solutions. If there was something that didn’t work so well, we would test something else. On the other hand, if there was something that worked very well, we could help implement it in other parts of the branch operations.”

Today Cathrin works with various projects, including a pilot that involves recruiting students who are interested in working extra at an SEB branch.

“A lot of this project work is being conducted remotely, especially now during the pandemic,” she says. “But when I ask students I am in contact with about their digital literacy, they hardly understand the question. For them it is second nature to meet in digital channels.”