Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background
I grew up in a little town in Italy and, as I was young, unsure on what to do and relatively reckless, I left home to embark on a big adventure and moved to the UK to study at Economics and Business Management at the University of Aberdeen. This was my first long experience not only far away from home, but also in a different country, studying something completely new in a different language. I had mostly learnt English at school, and whilst I had a comprehensive vocabulary, understanding Aberdonians was not easy at first!
How have you found working from home?
As many others, I started my current role working from home, which isn’t always ideal as you don’t get to meet the people you work with on a daily basis. However, my team has really made it easier for me, organising a range of activities to keep the team engaged. For example, we go on a virtual walk every morning and we chat about work but also our personal life. During our weekly team meeting, we also in turn have to prepare a topic to stimulate discussion. When it came to meeting my colleagues in person for the first time, I felt like I knew them already!
What was the application process like? What was the hardest part and the most enjoyable?
Like most graduate programmes, the application process is stressful and involved many steps: from online tests, to video interviews to an assessment centre, but at Allianz you get supported throughout! I remember being surprised when Allianz Graduate Manager actually took the time to call me to explain the process.
I think the hardest part but also the most enjoyable at the same time was the final step - the assessment centre. This is where I was able to experience the company culture first hand, as you get to meet so many people within Allianz. You have the opportunity to ask questions and get the feel for the experiences of senior staff members and learn about all the possible career paths. The assessment centre is certainly a full on day which includes many tasks, such as a written assessment and a presentation - finishing off with an interview. It was also really bad timing for me as I had my university exams scheduled for the following week!
Top tips completing a video interview
I think the main thing is to try and pretend it is a face-to-face interview. Remember, there will be someone watching you at the other end, so try and speak in a natural voice, sounding positive, speaking clearly (although it’s normal to be a bit nervous!), smiling and looking at the camera.
What is the company culture like?
Allianz has an open, welcoming and inclusive culture. The myth that insurance is only old white men and that decisions are made top-down couldn’t be further from the truth at Allianz. Employees are directly asked which initiatives would make the whole work environment more enjoyable, from throwing Christmas parties to launching more serious working groups, looking at issues such as diversity and inclusion.
As my family live in Italy, for me it was important to work in an environment where colleagues also became your friends, and this has definitely been the case in my experience so far.
How important is diversity to you and what is Allianz doing in this space at the moment?
Diversity is hugely important to me and I feel it’s particularly close to my heart as I am female and I didn’t grow up in the UK. Allianz does a lot to show its commitment to diversity and inclusion to employees and customers. For example, it has recently started sponsoring England women’s Rugby team and has become title sponsor of the Allianz Inner Warrior grassroots programme, which encourages girls and women into sport. Allianz also has formed several “Employees Networks”, which look at improving diversity and inclusion throughout the organisation, including using an inclusive language in any communication issued. Finally, and maybe most importantly, Allianz commitment to diversity and inclusion is clearly visible in my daily role, as everyone I speak with is extremely mindful of potential issues within this space.
Have you had the opportunity to get involved in any virtual social activities?
Loads! Whilst it’s fair to say it’s probably not the same as face-to-face activities, they have provided a great opportunity to stay in touch and chat about things other than work, which really reminded me that we are all human beings at the other end of a screen.
Has anything surprised you since you started?
Only how helpful and understanding people have been with me. Having very little insurance and underwriting knowledge, I was very conscious of the sheer amount of questions I had to ask on a daily basis to busy people but I have found everyone at Allianz makes the time to help others.
Any tips for anyone who'd like to apply for a similar role at Allianz?
I know it’s a cliché but do your research on the company and on the role. Allianz really values people who have taken time to speak with current graduates to really understand more about the industry, the programme and the organisation. This will also naturally put you in a better position both when you apply for the role and when you start.
Would you recommend the Allianz graduate scheme? Why?
I definitely would! I have learnt so much since I started. I sometimes struggle to believe I only joined the company 2 years ago. Allianz is such a big and exciting company to work for and there is so much to get involved in as a graduate looking to find your path.
Have you been involved in any side of desk projects away from your day job?
So many, and this is indeed how I got to know the area I currently work in and, eventually, how I got my “off scheme” role. I would always recommend side of desk projects to graduates, as they are a great way to get to know other people and areas of the business, developing different skills, without fully committing to a role.