Guest blog by LSE students Charlotte and Laura who recently visited Frankfurt to attend a Female Talent Day at the European Central Bank (ECB):
Our day at the ECB started with a brief breakfast where we met participants from other universities around Europe. Almost every country was represented and students came from very different backgrounds, from Economics to Civil Engineering among others.
The welcome speech given by Michael Dimer, Chief Services Officer, led to a panel discussion about women and careers at the bank. Valerie Saintot, Head of Division Outreach, who has been working at the ECB for over 17 years, chaired the panel composed of another five inspiring women who work in different areas of the bank. The conversation gave us a clear idea of the working environment one finds when joining this institution.
In addition, they shared with us three important pieces of advice:
- In the first place, they believe there are three main characteristics one should look for when choosing a mentor: seniority, honesty and a different area of expertise.
- Secondly, they highlighted the importance of networking, encouraging us to reflect on which are our natural circles and think how can we interconnect or grow them.
- Finally, they argued that leadership can have many forms, suggesting that we, women, should avoid words that express doubt in our conversation.
After such an interesting discussion we were ready for the buffet lunch. There were two activities organised during the break. We could either visit a CV-checking stand where Human Resources professionals gave us tips and tricks or network with trainees and permanent staff from the different Divisions of the bank. This was an excellent opportunity to get first-hand information from people actually working in the position that interested you most.
After lunch, we were given career tips by Hetty Brand Boswijk from the Rotterdam School of Management. She emphasised the importance of finding a career in an organisation which lines up with your personal core values in order to be truly happy in your work. We also got moving, learning to find our inner ‘wonder women’, standing and walking with confidence and power.
Finally, representatives from the ECB HR team gave us information about all the possible pathways to joining the ECB. They focused on Traineeship and Graduate schemes which are the most common points of entry for young graduates. We also heard from a current graduate scheme participant who explained more about the interview process. This was incredibly insightful and really helped us to understand how to ‘get our foot in the door’ at the ECB in the future!
The event was closed with a speech from the ECB diversity sponsor and executive board member, Benoît Coeuré, reviewing the day and reaffirming the executive board’s commitment to diversity.
The final and perhaps the most exciting part of the day was a tour around the ECB’s impressive workspace where we got to admire beautiful architecture, numerous art exhibitions, an indoor waterfall and stunning views over Frankfurt. Certainly an inspiring environment to work in!