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Firm's programme gets careers moving

Published on Friday, 29 Jan 2010
Andrew Warneck

Financial conglomerate ING provides extensive services in more than 40 countries. As a result, its Insurance Asia-Pacific Young Talent Programme offers trainees a chance to build diverse skills and international experience.

"ING is global, that's highly attractive for younger people," says Andrew Warneck, head of leadership and talent management for ING Asia-Pacific. "It also offers a full breadth of services, five to six functional services."

Trainees taking the general management track of the programme gain experience in all these functions, Warneck says. Over three years, they have the chance to work in different places around the world - completing one post in Europe or the United States, one in Hong Kong and another in an Asian regional office. "Its four very different experiences in four geographies," he says. "And these are also different experiences in terms of the type of role."

A separate functional management track is tailored to those looking to work in a particular function of the company, Warneck says. For this track, candidates need to complete three rotations and assignments within two years. Alongside these longer international posts, the trainees all undergo three weeks of training in Amsterdam during the first year. This international exposure is coupled with good insight into the company, Warneck says, with trainees mentored by senior staff.

The international aspect of the programme is echoed in its recruitment. The programme selects people from, and aims to equip them for, markets the company expects to grow in the future, especially the mainland and India. "What's unique about our programme is that we groom individuals from diverse backgrounds to reflect our diverse customer base," Warneck says.

Since it began in 2005, the programme has taken about 70 individuals, 13 of whom are already fulfilling mid-career roles, while others are completing training. Suksit Srichomkwan is a trainee in his second year of the programme. He says his first rotation last year, in branding communication, has given him first-hand experience of crisis management and taught him the importance of having a clear communication strategy.

"I experienced how the financial crisis affected the sentiments of our customers, business partners and stakeholders," Suksit says. "My responsibility was to translate from English to Thai all the press releases and financial reports as quickly and accurately as possible so that we could send out the right messages and correct the inaccuracies in the market."

Despite having a master's degree and some work experience, Suksit says he has found this role a challenge. He has learned how staying calm during a crisis and getting facts straight better enabled him to reinforce the company's message and ease panic.

"The programme's a win-win situation," he says. "As trainees, we get to move across our business lines geographically and the company provides lots of support. When you see that the company is willing to go so far for you, you want to give back your best, be proactive and intellectually push yourself."

Warneck also says the programme offers benefits for ING as well. It has helped the company to address a shortage of young professionals who have the potential to fit senior leadership roles.

When selecting candidates the company looks for those with a can-do mentality, passion for teamwork and leadership qualities.

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