I first joined Allianz on a nine week summer internship. I was at university at the time so my main aim then was to gain relevant experience in Finance to see if it was the right area for me. It’s such a huge global company which is something I found really appealing and I enjoyed my summer internship so much that I came back on the graduate scheme a year later. For me, what really sets Allianz apart from other companies is the fantastic level of support you get. Because the company takes on a smaller number of graduates, much more time is devoted to the schemes – and that goes right across the organisation. From my mentor and my buddy to senior account managers, everyone will always make time to help you no matter how busy they are so you feel comfortable approaching anyone if you have a query. It’s normally the first thing that people comment on when they start; that they can’t believe how friendly everyone is!
One of the things that I enjoy most about the Finance scheme is the different rotations. It means you get to learn a variety of skills and gain experience in a range of key business areas. So far, I’ve completed a placement in Management Accounts and I’m currently just finishing up in Technical Accounts before moving completing my final placement in Risk. The rotations can be really varied too, which keeps things interesting and provides new challenges. For instance my current role within the Technical Accounts team is quite structured so I’ll come in and check our monthly schedule to see what tasks need to be carried out that day. At lunch, I’ll often go for a swim and then have an afternoon meeting to go through reconciliations. Whereas in my previous Management Accounting rotation, certain periods during the year were, by nature, incredibly busy so I’d be rushing around for weeks at a time, helping to ensure everything was completed and also answering queries from colleagues across the business. During the budgeting period, I think I spent the whole two weeks running off adrenalin – it was a challenging yet highly valuable learning experience.
The excellent support and development you get continues throughout your time on the graduate scheme. As soon as you start you’re assigned a buddy (a previous graduate) to help you settle in and also be there if you have any questions. In Finance, we also have a monthly meeting with the graduate scheme owner to discuss how we’re getting on and on top of that, all graduates are assigned a mentor who you meet up with regularly as another point of guidance. You get great exposure to senior colleagues too and I’ve built up close working relationships with many senior account managers. The scheme provides the perfect mix of on-the-job training and professional study. Allianz supports ACCA and CIMA qualifications and if I need extra time off to study, my team is always happy to help.
I’m hoping to become ACCA qualified in the next year and then work in one of the Accounts teams after the graduate scheme. Over the next few years, I’d like to progress into the role of Team Leader. The opportunities are definitely there for the taking at Allianz and internal vacancies and moves are regularly advertised and encouraged. One thing I would say with the Finance scheme is that you need to want to progress with your career and be dedicated enough to balance work and study. Having said that, I think the pressure here is a lot less painful than in some big accountancy firms. I’m challenged, yes, but my role certainly doesn’t stop me having a life outside of work and I’m lucky enough to be able to switch off in the evening or head out for lunch with the team. My colleagues really are fantastic – I couldn’t ask for nicer people to work with, which makes it generally a very pleasant place to work. The company has big plans to grow in the coming years so it’s a brilliant time for graduates to come and join us!
Rosie Robinson – Finance Graduate Scheme