There are no limits to what you can and cannot do
For Mikaela Sterner, the interest in technology has always been there. However, it wasn’t until after completing her studies in Business Economics that she realised it was what she wanted to work with. So, after a second degree, this time in data and computer science, she started working within tech at SEB. Today, she is a Team Manager and Product Owner for a system within IT Asset Management.
– During my studies I got to try various programming languages, but was particularly drawn to the object-oriented structure as it resembles human thinking. At SEB, I felt that I could make use of that interest but also develop long term, as the bank strives to be innovative while standing on solid ground. However, as a woman within tech, I expected to be met with a tough environment where I would need to prove my competence. But once I started at SEB, I was met with a very open and welcoming atmosphere, and was positively surprised that there were so many other women in technical roles.
– Despite this, I was very shy when it came to being in the centre of large groups, and also felt quite unsure with speaking English in the beginning of my career. Luckily, I had a manager who picked up on that and gave me reasonable challenges to continuously develop. I also took rhetorics courses to gain valuable tools. Today, I have been with the bank for nine years and have taken part in several projects and tried out different agile roles alongside being a developer. It’s thanks to the fact that I took the time to work with both my shyness and my English skills that I have been able to do this, and also why I’ve dared to apply for leadership roles later on in my career. As my interest in leadership had started to grow I immediately said yes when I got the opportunity to try out the Product Owner role.
Tell me more about your role and the product that you are Product Owner for!
– I’m the Product Owner for an IT Asset & Configuration Management system, which is an application used internally within SEB. It interacts with 50 other platforms and systems within the bank, and gathers asset data from these, in a large database. An IT asset could be described as something that processes and stores data, and primarily includes hardware, such as network equipment, servers, and laptops, but also softer parts such as systems, databases and deployments. All of these parts are in some way connected to each other, and by relating, aggregating, and structuring the data we can get a better understanding of the bank's resources and IT assets. The data we collect can therefore be used to enable automation and ensure that various regulatory requirements are met. It can also be used for monitoring and incident management, life-cycle management, KPIs or for decision-making.
– The core application has a front-end that is built in Angular, which communicates with a back-end developed in .NET via a Rest API. However, as we interact with so many other platforms and teams, we have the opportunity to try out many various and new technologies, which is both fun and appreciated by the entire team. When creating an application from scratch, it also becomes incredibly flexible and there are really no limits to what you can and cannot do.
What is the best part of your job?
– Each day is very different, and the job varies a lot! I really enjoy the agile way of working and believe that it’s essential if we want to adapt to the rapid changes happening, both in technology and on the market. But what I find the most enjoyable with my job is innovating different solutions. A lot of the time, you might have your own ideas, but once you start bouncing them off others, you always get more dimensions to that initial idea. It allows you to create something beyond what you initially envisioned, which feels very rewarding. It’s so important to share knowledge if you want to move forward. That’s something I would say that we are very good at within my team, where everyone is incredibly skilled and truly values each other's differences.
– I also have a great personal interest in data and data analysis, and find it exciting to see and understand how data can be used for larger contexts. Having that interest also creates a personal drive, which is crucial if you want to keep developing within your role. If you have a bit of drive, SEB is quick to pick up on it.