Showing initiative and being curious can open doors to career adventures
Aleksander Christensen works as Head of Commodity Sales, overseeing the sale of commodity products across various markets such as the Nordics, the Baltics, Germany and the UK. Having started as a trainee, his journey at SEB has seen many exciting turns, including moves to China and Sweden.
“I started as a Summer Intern in 2013 in Risk Advisory, a department within markets working with risk management for clients. After I graduated, I had the chance to join the bank as a trainee and found the programme really amazing. It’s one year long and you get to explore many different sides of the bank, while learning about leadership and connecting with people working in a variety of departments.”
During the early years of his career, Aleksander pointed out to his managers that he could be flexible and move around between various geographical offices for the bank if the bank saw a use for him elsewhere. This allowed him to be seen as a piece that could fit multiple puzzles.
After a few years, an offer to go to Shanghai came up where Aleksander would work with setting up commodities as a new product offered to clients.
“I was in China for about eight months, and it was an important experience. Living and working in one of the largest countries and cities in the world is something one simply must try out."
“Some years after I came back, there was an opportunity to permanently move to Sweden. Off the back of working in Stockholm for some months during 2018 the chance to manage the Swedish Commodities Sales team came up, so I took that. After three years in Sweden, I recently moved back to Norway and took the position of Global Sales Head.”
Having been in SEB for close to a decade now, Aleksander has noticed that the bank offers many tools to support career development, but he notes that you also need to show initiative as an employee.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky with my managers who have given me so many opportunities from early on, such as the chance to travel to China. They gave me a lot of room to grow and the ability to shape my own workdays and career. Freedom with responsibility. If you take initiative and show determination and curiosity, there are always people encouraging you.”
Aleksander finds that expressing your own opinions and ambitions will create opportunities at SEB. Career-related opportunities, based on his experience, usually come from having shown interest in more responsibility, other product areas or geographies within the bank.
“I believe the bank has been able to create this kind of environment where people can share their thoughts and that you should not be afraid of sharing your ambitions if you want to see them happen.”
“Opportunities might not be readily available at the time you show interest, but it plants a seed with managers and those in charge. This goes for showing initiative too. When you demonstrate that you can shape your own workday beyond just your daily tasks and develop these tasks further than just your job description, your team and your managers appreciate it and take note for future opportunities.”
At the bank, along with initiative, curiosity is key.
For Aleksander, curiosity is at the heart of everything. Being curious opens you to the positions and situations you want to be in. It causes you to learn, meet new people, and become a valuable asset.
“When I speak to students and younger colleagues, I encourage them to explore outside of their own home unit and be active when it comes to out-of-work activities. Organisations that are relevant to what you’re doing is a great place to start, like ACI or YoungShip. Nobody tells you to join them, but if you are curious, the world is open to you.”