Katja’s Career Advice: Dare to explore new areas! Don’t be scared to try out something new! It doesn’t matter how little experience you have in an area: You can always add value.
A worthwhile detour
It was a call that will stay unforgettable—for two reasons. The first: I had never expected it. The second: It should shape my entire career. I mean the moment about seven years ago, when a lady from Allianz SE “Group IT Controlling” called me and asked me to join them as a working student.
Initially I could not get it: Why did they ring me? Well, I had applied at Allianz to learn more about the insurance market after an internship with first insights into the reinsurance world at Munich Re. But I had hardly any IT expertise (except for some basic IT classes at university) and hadn’t worked in any technical IT projects before, either. In contrast: I was just in my Bachelor studies in Business Administration in Munich. So, I had “Controlling” in my mindset—but not “IT”. Nevertheless, I grabbed the chance despite some doubts, because I was really interested to join Allianz and also curious to learn about the world of IT.
The exotic bird in the IT world
I was something like the exotic bird in IT as the business girl and was questioned a few times in the beginning, how I could work in that department with my background. But the colleagues accepted me quite fast—not least because I did my homework. I really worked hard to get into things and to understand them. Not to be one of the experts, turned into a real advantage: I could act like a translation element between the two sides—understanding the complexities and technical constraints from the IT perspective but at the same time appreciating the business requirements and overall impact.
Today, several years later, I can say: It was one of my best decisions. I spent about 4 years in the IT world, and it was a great experience because I learnt a lot. Even though I never became a technical expert that did any programming work I got a really good understanding of IT and—let’s say—the operational aspects behind our core business.
Dynamic work in one of the most international entities
The period as a working student directly led to my first full-time job in the IT department of AGCS in London. This time was awesome because Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, that’s what it stands for, is one of the most international entities in Allianz Group. As the center of expertise for large corporate, industrial, and specialty risks they deal with global DAX or Dow Jones corporations —a very dynamic and global environment.
With this background and given my Masters degree in Insurance & Risk Management that I completed during my time in London, it was easy to come back into the business part of Allianz. Now I work in the Global Property & Casualty Department at Allianz SE, responsible for the so called Cross Border Business. We focus on commercial customers of Allianz, most of them medium-sized companies, operating on a global scale.
Among them there are many of the so called “hidden champions” in Germany, global leaders in niche markets. They have production units in China, for instance, and sell their products to the US or to Australia. In my team here at the headquarters in Munich we make sure that Allianz provides international insurance solutions to these customers, wherever they are.
“Dare to explore new areas! You can always add value.”
That means, we do not directly work with the clients, but closely collaborate with the Allianz Underwriting experts in the different local entities, who are in touch with them. We make sure that we have the right infrastructure (for instance, the global CBB IT platform!) and standards in place to enable smooth collaboration between our entities all over the world. That makes my job very international: I regularly run training sessions in local Allianz entities, for instance in Romania last month. As the central network team we support requests and advise on technical aspects concerning international insurance coverage on a daily basis. On one day I am easily in touch with people from 15 countries or so.
I the nutshell: My career path has not been very typical. Coming from business, then several years in the IT world and then back to business. But it was definitely a worthwhile detour, because I still benefit a lot from my experience. My learning is: Dare to explore new areas! Don’t be scared to try out something new! It doesn’t matter how little experience you have in an area: You can always add value.