To be honest – when I first started working as a working student at the Global Digital Factory (GDF), I had no idea what to expect. This is the innovation hub of Allianz, but coming from a consumer banking background, I had never heard of tech jargons like DevOps, Scrum, and Agile. I felt a bit like an ancient dinosaur in the modern world – confused and a bit intimidated. As a part of the Communications Team, was I going to be able to understand everything enough to write about them?
Some might wonder why I wanted to work at the GDF when I knew so little about technology and innovation. Surely, it would have been easier if I went back to the financial industry. But as much as my past career was secure and comforting, I also felt like I wasn’t learning anything new. Digitalization is sweeping up the world in a storm, and it seemed that if I didn’t change with it, I would become a thing of the past – just like the dinosaurs.
Change is never easy, but one of the things I learned at the GDF is that change is easier when done together. Collaboration and co-creation are key ways for the GDF to support other Allianz entities in laying the groundwork for customer-centric innovation across the company. It is a place that is open to both new ideas and knowledge-sharing, so that people are encouraged to work more creatively and effectively. In just my one year of working there, I have already met numerous Allianz employees from all over the world who came for collaborative events, as well as witnessed that brought developers from various Allianz entities together.
Needless to say, the culture of the GDF is one great support. Even though I was just a working student, no one ever treated me like one. I was always given the same respect as an embedded team member, and even had the opportunity to lead the Communications Team. For me, who is used to working at the bank and having my every move monitored, I found the freedom to pursue work in my own way and have my ideas heard to be empowering.
Perhaps what I am most grateful for at the GDF is the chance for personal growth. Having many areas of interest there (like UX/UI, data analytics, and digital marketing), I wanted to learn as much as I could about each of these topics, and am always pleasantly surprised by how willing others are in teaching me about their work. Most of all, even though I have no prior experience in anything data-related, I was still given the opportunity to move from working in communications to data analytics. GDF invested the time for me to learn from the basics, and gave me a mentor with probably the most patience in the entire world to teach me everything from dashboard creation to data implementation.
Although there are still times now when I feel like an ancient dinosaur, working at the GDF has made me feel much more at ease with the concepts of innovation, digitization, and digital transformation. I no longer feel like I am standing still in the middle of a storm, about to be swept away into the oblivion. I have learned so much, and am continuously learning something new each day that I work there. The GDF has taught me that although change seems frightening at first, the way to overcome that fear is by opening ourselves up to new ways of working and thinking, knowledge-sharing, and collaboration. It is this mindset that makes GDF the perfect catalyst for change within Allianz. Most of all, through all of the change, it never loses sight of what is most important: its employees and customers.
Special thanks to the whole Product Design & Optimization Team for being such a welcoming and supportive team, for always making time for me even with his busy schedule as a manager, and for being the nicest and most patient mentor in the world, who has taught me so much about data analytics.