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I want to inspire, drive and engage people in tech

Sakura Orihara

After completing her studies, Sakura Orihara applied for a number of trainee programmes. “I wanted the chance to get to know a company and its vision, and felt that a trainee programme would be a good way to do this,” she says. “During my interview with SEB I could see that the bank’s tech programme was really a good fit for me since I would have the opportunity to drive and influence.”

When Sakura Orihara read in the advertisement for SEB’s tech programme that the participants would get to work with an actual problem that the bank currently had, she decided to apply.

“That was the deciding factor for me ­– having the opportunity to find solutions for an actual problem that the bank had. It was for real, plus it was a genuine position of trust.”

What was your role during the programme?

“I worked as a Digital Channels Specialist with a focus on authorisations – i.e., studying what types of data and systems various employees in a company should be given access to. It was natural to take the role as product owner for the Trainee Business Challenge project. The project involved building up a system for managing authorisations in a portal that we have developed for our corporate customers so that they can administer, update and maintain control over their companies’ authorisations.

“Before my time as a trainee I knew what it entailed to be a product owner in theory, but not in practice. But everything worked thanks to the support I got from my department and the teams and other colleagues, who took extremely good care of me. I also received the necessary training to gain a clearer idea of what authorisations entail, which systems we use, who works with what in the various systems, and so on.

“Working with authorisations might not sound so exciting at first, but the more I got immersed in the matter, the greater the understanding I got for what authorisations actually entail. I also gained an understanding of the reason for having an authorisation overview. Moreover, I became aware of what impact such a review has on the bank. In the end, even my trainee colleagues became interested in authorisations, which was a win in itself.

Anything in particular that stuck out during your time as a trainee?

“I had not counted on having a seat at the table, being able to influence and drive as much as I actually had the opportunity to do as a trainee. I was given free reigns to be creative, take responsibility and influence decisions that would affect SEB as a whole and our customers. And then I got to meet so many genuine and nice people who believed in my drive and my work since day one. It is truly an experience that I will always carry with me.”

What do you do in your role?

“For the past half-year I have been working as a product owner in Authorisations. This means that I am responsible for the prioritisations that have to be made in the bank with respect to authorisations, and that this work is in line what the bank’s management team wants us to strive for.”

What is your advice for others who are thinking about applying for a trainee position at SEB? 

“Dare to be yourself from the start! Remember that what you don’t know today, you can learn tomorrow. Drive and engagement are attributes that SEB attaches a premium to. So ask yourself: Does SEB feel like a company that values that same things as you? Is it an interesting role? Is it an interesting area? Then APPLY!”

What are your thoughts about the future?

“I want to inspire, drive and engage people in tech. My dream is and always will be to be one of the most powerful women in the tech world. By being engaged in everything I take on, making that extra effort and inspiring and driving others, I hope one day that I can declare that I have fulfilled that dream.

“SEB is a company where I can grow both as a person and in terms of knowledge. They have the means I need to be able to develop and advance. I therefore want to be a part of customers’ decisions to choose SEB.”

About Sakura Orihara

Title: Product owner – Authorisations, Digital Enablers, Group CIO.

Education: Social Analysis and Communication, Social Science, Halmstad University; Digital Marketing, Stockholm International Business School (SIH).

Noteworthy: Sakura grew up in Stockholm, the daughter of a Finnish mother and Japanese father. Sakura means cherry blossom and cherry tree in Japanese,