Meet Adam Bollands
"Key IT projects, variety of challenges and building excellent relationships"
When I joined Allianz, I was unsure about the direction I wanted my career to take so it was important for me to join a graduate scheme that offered me a diverse experience. Allianz certainly ticked that box as it gave me the chance to get involved in a vast range of projects and roles across a multiple divisions. I got a great vibe from all the team at interview and Assessment Centre stage so the people also played a big part in my decision– and I haven’t been disappointed.
The relationships you build and the variety and exposure you get is excellent throughout the scheme which keeps the role both exciting and challenging. The role is both exciting and challenging. The scheme offers variety and exposure across Allianz, as well as the opportunity to build excellent relationships.
Initially, I was interested in the insurance industry due to the pace of change and recent technological advancements. As an IT Project Manager – I’m responsible and accountable for driving some of our key IT projects forward and making sure they’re delivered successfully to both time and cost measurements. I’m currently project managing the development of mobile insurance websites for two of our key strategic partners in Retail IT. This is a very interesting project to be leading; I’m able to see tangible output from the work we’re putting in.
A typical day can be quite hard to pinpoint because as we progress through the project lifecycle, my day-to-day role changes. I tend to start off the day by hosting a conference call with my Project Team to ensure they’re all aligned on tasks. Forward planning is a crucial part of the role – you must be aware of your environment and it’s important to ensure that the team is always focused and motivated on the current requirements for a particular phase. I’ll spend a lot of my day meeting with various stakeholders including business customers, the project team, suppliers and senior managers to keep abreast with project progress and manage risks, issues and changes.
As an IT Graduate, you rotate across three different roles – IT Project Manager, Business Analyst and Systems Analyst. In order to support these rotations, you complete three professional qualifications: Prince2 Foundation, ISEB Business Analysis Practice and ITILv3 Foundation courses, all supported by Allianz as well as a number of ‘softer skills’ training courses. The skills you develop are very useful and as I’ve moved from team to team, the level of projects I’ve been working on have gradually increased in size, cost and profile; giving me the next step of exposure when required.
Within my first two months, I was working closely with the Director of IT to produce the Corporate Plan and was able to contribute to high level strategic decisions. After working with the company for a year, I was given my first solo project to manage. Each stage of the project was a relatively new concept for me so steering the project alongside continuous learning was definitely a challenge, but the skills I’d picked up from working with experienced Project Managers during my first 12 months helped me succeed. Even though I was no longer in their department, I still had the contacts in my network that were more than happy to provide guidance when I needed it. You have access to a broad support network on the scheme including Line Managers, mentors, buddies and previous graduates – all of whom are always happy to assist.
At Allianz, you become an important part of the company from day one and get involved in a number of tasks outside your daily responsibilities. It makes your role even more varied and enjoyable. Last year, another graduate and I planned, organised and hosted the Allianz BA Conference: creating workshops, organising presentations and managing the entire conference for over 60 Allianz Business Analysts. The experience of organising an event of this magnitude was great fun and allowed us to be creative and innovative in our approach. I’m currently helping to organise a global architecture conference for Allianz companies across the world and really hoping it’s going to be as successful as the last!
When I look back to my first day on the graduate scheme, I can see how far I’ve progressed both professionally and personally. The great thing about Allianz is that because they only take on a smaller number of graduates, the level of development opportunity you receive is tailored and plentiful from day one and this is something that I don’t see changing after the scheme. Some companies tend to take on more graduates than they need so that they can cut a proportion part way through the scheme but Allianz don’t take this approach – instead they place a key strategic importance on developing and retaining future talent. This is evidenced by ex-graduates who I’ve seen move into management positions during my time at the company. The Professional Development Frameworks in Allianz provide structure for your professional career path, highlighting the necessary experience and qualifications to take the next step. This means that, at Allianz, personal and professional development doesn’t stop when the graduate scheme does.
Adam Bollands – Information Technology Graduate