Conversion Weekend

Mobile DevelopmentWhen you hear the words mobile, upgrade, application, development, launch, Saturday, working, 28 hours…what do you think? Well those were the words that I heard out of the conversation about the M&T Mobile App Upgrade.  Coming into the bank in July I was aware that big things were happening in the technology space.  I was excited to get to be a part of the changes that will help advance M&T as a whole.

As a new employee to the online and mobile technology I was thrown into a lot of different projects with no true role on any of them – except to learn about the technology team and the different areas it supports and covers.  I liked it because it was like the best orientation to the department that I could get.

Because of the way the MDP program was structured I was missing seven of the last eight days leading up to the Mobile Upgrade launch on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of August so I was not able to have a functional role on the launch team but my manager thought that it would be beneficial for me to join the team as they went through the functional testing of the new app during conversion weekend.   I thought this was a good opportunity for me to see how the conversion process worked at the bank so of course I agreed even though I was wishing I could have a role that helped the team launch.

As technology projects go this project had been in the works for nearly four years since the launch of the original M&T Mobile App.  It was exciting because the banks focus of technology was now shifting and more projects like this are on the horizon for the bank – helping to bridge the gap from small community bank to a large bank with a community feel.

Coordinating TeamFlash Forward Three Months: After being with the bank for a few months now, I am pleased to say I had a much larger role on the UI Project. For those that are unaware, M&T just upgraded their online banking platform. I was part of the testing team that came in at 1pm Friday afternoon left around 5 returned around 9pm left around 11pm and returned to work at 4am for another 11+ hour day.  Needless to say, it was a long week that was not over after that.  I returned to work on Sunday at 8am and was supposed to work Veteran’s Day but thankfully the system seemed to be in pretty good shape that my boss decided that it was more beneficial for the team to have the day with family and friends. But though the time seemed long and drawn out it was being a part of the experience for me that was really important.  If you look like you are an employee that is not willing to help out when your team needs it then what value are you adding to the team?

I know that the project would have succeeded without me but I also think my presence helps other people on the team become aware of my teamwork skills and my desire to help wherever I can.  When it comes to an implementation, no job is to small and that is one of the key skills I would recommend to any new employee, future college graduate or just to people in general.  It doesn’t matter what your rank is, what your title is, how long you have been in the business or how long you have been working on projects – team members expect that everyone is going to do everything in their power to get things done.

After seeing the way that the team handles issues that went along with the conversion, the bumps in the road and the smooth portions as well, I came to a conclusion.  A true team, the best kind of team really shows its colors when solving something that is not going perfect.

Team Work on Project TeamsAt the end of a project it is important to complete a lessons learned document to help future projects improve and learn from the past.  One of my biggest lessons learned is communication.  Simple things like sending out an email, making sure everyone is called or is calling into a status call, giving detailed instructions when something has changed etc.  Everyone gets tired especially when you are up for 24 hours straight.  In the real world, most people are not programmed to function for the all-nighters like they could in college.   Making sure that everyone is doing what they need to in order to be the most efficient is so crucial to the success of a project. What was really nice to see on this project was the reactions to difficulties.  There were team members bending over backwards in order to get a server fixed or to code a fix for a problem that was coming up in testing.

The effort that went into coordinating both the Mobile projects deployment and the Online Banking platform takes an amazing project manager as well as an awesome team from the management level to the developers to the testers to the project leads to the off-shore team.  I am so fortunate to have been able to learn from the experience.

Group Project: Do You Have the Skills?

Learning to work in teams is a huge part of the MDP program.  Not every department in the bank functions in project teams; however, at some point in your career you will have to work on a team.  As an MDP you are given a five month long project to work on with your team that is supposed to help you develop group fundamentals.  To me the idea of this task was just par for the course as I had been working on teams since Day 1 of RIT with the Business 1, 2, 3 program. Group Projects

But what I wasn’t aware of going into MDP but I probably should have been was how different everyone in the program’s project experiences were. At RIT, you work hands on with real world clients. RIT does not believe that you should work with hypothetical scenarios when there are so many real world situations that the course concepts could be applied too.  Big shout out to RIT for preparing me for how projects actually function – that is one thing that if you are looking at colleges to think about – how does the school prepare me for the real world?

Working in project teams is a skill that most people do not think about or at least most people coming out of college. Most young people feel that project management and working on a team is easy but when it comes down to it – it is not always sunshine and rainbows.  It can be quite challenging when different backgrounds, different skill sets, different personalities all come to work on a common problem.  Sometimes there is perfect chemistry and other times there are group dynamics that just do not work well together.

At RIT I experienced all of these scenarios in both the educational setting and with athletics, work and clubs.  It happens all over the world.  But being able to understand to adjust on the fly when things are not going perfectly is what makes you stronger.  It is important to remember that not everything is going to go perfectly but how you react when things go wrong or you make a mistake is how you grow.  It is instilled in us from Day 1 as MDPs that mistakes are what you learn the most from.  group-dynamicsA team that never experiences trials or tribulations will probably not have as good of a learning experience as those that went through the five stages of a group project: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. I think often times we think this process of group project stages is more of a waterfall style; however, to me it is definitely more agile.  You can cycle through Storming, Norming and Performing multiple times before the conclusion of the project and I think that it is important to remember that is normal.

Stay tuned as I will be sure to talk about what stage my project is currently in for MDP and the MDP project experience.

Walking That Swagger Line

My boss made a great point the other day in our meeting where he challenged me to figure out my end goal.  He said, deserve before you desire.

Now you may be thinking, what does that mean and if you are a potential MDP for M&T I would take notes.  What he meant by that statement which was advice given to him by his father is that you should deserve something before you want it.

setting goalsThroughout M&T, the MDP program has a mixed message and people share mixed feelings about the program and it is very apparent to the MDP class.  There are some employees who love the program, there are a lot alumni of the program within the bank that remember going through it, there are employees who do not like the idea of the program and try to hide it and then there are employees who do not like the program and will let you know it.  Now I do not say that to intimidate you.  The point of me saying this is because as an MDP you are exposed to the entire bank, you are visible and you have opportunities that some employees will never get.  That is a huge advantage of the program, you are being groomed for management at a much faster pace than others.  Now when I say that, you may be in a program where you are expected to move-up quicker in the bank but nothing is handed to you.  This is where the phrase, “deserve before you desire” comes into play.

Just any company with a rotational program, there are employees who have had a great experience with their past MDPs and there are others who have not had as pleasant of an experience.  It is important to recognize that there is a trend which has shown there are two kinds of MDPs, the Entitled MDP and the Grinder MDP.  MDP is a title but more so it is a privilege, it does not make someone better than the rest but it does mean you are watched closely and people know who you are.  There are expectations of you to be good but you cannot just assume that you are good.

I learned a long time ago that there is a fine line between cocky and confident and you have to always walk that line in a professional manner.   When I was being recruited for college basketball, my future coach at RIT really loved that I walked this line and balanced on it very well.  Every once in a while she would notice that I was slipping towards appearing cocky but loved it because I knew how to pull myself back.  It was not always easy and it was not something that I always noticed but more so it was part of my personality.

courtney tennantI had had a really good freshman campaign but by the end of it I was demotivated, we were not winning, we lacked leadership and there was drama within the team.  I had never been a part of that kind of culture so I did not know how to react and I began shutting down.  I was border-line depressed and everyone around me knew it.  My “swagger” was gone and I did not know how to get it back.  Going into my sophomore year I had a few health issues that set me back even further in my goals for my playing career which made it hard to try and recover that ability to walk the line.  I can honestly say, I do not know if I ever walked that line in my playing career as confidently as I did my freshman year.  People can say there is more pressure as you progress through the year but for me I don’t think that was ever it, I think the problem really happened when people saw “my swagger” as a threat to them, though it was never meant to come off that way.  I tell this story because I would never want someone to lose that fire, that swag, that desire or passion because of what other people say.

I made a vow to myself that I would never let someone’s personal opinions, jealousy or all around negativity knock me down again.  I am in total control of myself and the progress or lack thereof that I have and that took a long time for me to realize – maybe it is called growing up but I know that I am always going to be a grinder.

but in the end the journey is the destinationBringing it back to what my boss said, I am determined to have goals but I am also determined to work as hard as I can so that when I deserve to reach those goals it is a natural progression.  Those who feel that they are entitled to a promotion because of a title they are given are wasting their time because they will never earn the title or respect of their peers or co-workers.  I strongly urge future MDPs to be mindful of falling into the entitled trap.  Even if you feel that your experience or degree(s) state that you are doing something you are over-qualified to do.  Do things right, follow-thru, make connections and jump at every opportunity and you will have a much more successful time at M&T and in your overall career than if you are entitledeven being in the program for a little over a month now, I have seen this.  I have already begun to see that M&T gives you opportunities by cracking the door open but you still need to open it and walk-thru.   

**The opinion’s expressed in this blog are strictly my own and are not endorsed by M&T.**

80 People…1 Situation

I will not lie the first meeting of all 80 MDPs was a little hectic and overwhelming.  When you are meeting so many new people that DAY 1 can be a bit of an information overload; however, when you spend a forty hour work week in one room with those 79 people you get to know them pretty quickly.  What I am really starting to love about this program is the fact that I have 79 other people that are in the exactly same situation as me.  Starting a new job, new experience and have just graduated college.  mdpIt is an experience but boy is it fun.

I was talking the other day to a few people about the program and the concept of a Management Development Program (MDP) and also the concept of a rotational program.  At the point I am at now in my life, I am confident that I made the right choice choosing to be a part of a program for the first year of my career. Unlike like so many other programs as mention in (insert older blog), MDP is unique because it does not feel like an internship.  This is a huge positive but can seem intimidating when you have to leave work for a week to go to an off-site training.  It is important to remember that as an employee of the bank you are hired for a role and your manager expect that you are going to get your work done.  Now I do not want to steer people away from looking into the program because I think this offers recent college graduates the best of both worlds and lets be real if you had any type of college experience you will not find it hard to balance your work life with your training schedule.  Sure there may be days you return to the office after training or you take work home with you but that is a part of the work life and can only help you.  To me the program is not much different from balancing the different dynamics of my college life.  In my graduate year I managed a full-time grad course load, had all the responsibilities of basketball and had to make sure I could complete my job as the Athletics Marketing grad.  Life is all about finding balance.  Reading this now, I suggest to any rising college senior you start practicing this key skill now.  Learning to balance studying, homework, health and fitness and having a social life, because yes that is an important element to mental health, is crucial and the sooner you learn the easier it will be to adapt to it in the real world.

TrainingProgramsWhat I love about M&T’s program is that those 79 people are all very similar in the sense that they are all smart individuals coming from great educational backgrounds but we are all very diverse just like if I walked onto a college campus such as RIT.  Those unique personalities form a really interesting and collaborative group that is going to help the bank grow and evolve.  Not only does the program afford you the opportunity to work with those 79 individuals but it also allows you to get to know those people.  It gives you the opportunity to connect and form bonds with people.  M&T helps create a social circle for you without you having to join a club or find a rec team to play on.  It gives you that initial jump on being able to explore the city with people.  Think about it this way, when you head off to college you are surrounded by hundreds of thousands of students (depending on the school) who just want to make friends, be social and do things – this is very similar, except you have to remember you are going to be working with these people into the foreseeable future and seeing them at least once a month for the next year.

So, if you are still reading you are probably considering being a part of a rotational program…maybe even MDP.  I would love to hear your thoughts about programs and will entertain any questions.  I am not a recruiter for M&T and I am not a marketing person at M&T, I am simply a girl with a blog who loves to share her life and what is going on in it.  But I am also someone who very recently went through the job search process, went through the interview process and is more than willing to help or share my experience.

**The opinion’s expressed in this blog are strictly my own and are in no way endorsed by M&T.**

The Program Break-Down in Tracks

mdpBefore going any further with my blog series I want to bring up a point regarding the M&T MDP program that I realize I have not mentioned before.  Within MDP there are two different tracks: Analyst Track and Retail Track.

It is important to remember as a member of the class there are going to be classmates in both tracks, retail and corporate (analyst), both tracks are mixed together for Core Trainings which are held approximately once a month.  M&T takes pride in the idea that their program brings people together from all areas of the bank with the goal of each member of the program achieving a well-rounded understanding of the different functional areas.  What I really like is that I am gaining an appreciation for the areas of the banks outside of my On-the-Job training in Online and Mobile Technology.

I shared a story to someone the other day regarding my experience at RIT.  I told him that I understand how to interact with different people because of my education and social experience gained from attending RIT.  RIT is a huge campus which can seem daunting; however, the cultural experience you get on top of the high quality education is very hard to come by in today’s world.  Because RIT has so many different schools on campus with a wide-array of majors you gain different perspectives from people who think differently than you.  I attribute my ability to adapt to different styles in the Management Development Program greatly to RIT.

But if you are reading this because you are interested in the M&T Management Development Program it would be important for you to understand the two different tracks before going into the interview process because once you are in a track for the program during that year, it will be harder to switch. The Retail Track is working towards becoming Relationship Bankers or Assistant Branch Managers at the end of the program while the Analyst Track is working in departments which they will still be a part of after June Graduation.  Here are some quick facts:

Retail Track:

  • Learn all areas of the branch.
    • Under-Go Teller Training
    • Receive Platform Training
  • Become certified and licensed in various policies including:
    • FINRA Series 6 and 63
    • Life/Accident Insurance
    • Health Insurance

Analyst Track:

  • Receive On-the-Job Training within a particular area of the bank.
    • The trainings will vary based on position team member is hired into.

Both Tracks:

  • Receive Leadership Experience through MDP Core Trainings
  • Public Speaking and Presentation Practice and Experience
  • Ability to network with members of the class and other members of the bank.
  • Have access to the alumni network of MDPs for career advice.
  • Work on a team project for six months with members of the MDP class on a bank-wide issue.
  • Participate in volunteer opportunities throughout the cities of Buffalo and Baltimore.

The MDP program offers opportunities to more than just finance majors.  It is the typical reaction when you tell someone you work for M&T or any bank in general that they assume you work at a branch or in their head the picture that is forming is of a branch and you behind the teller line.  Not that there is anything wrong with working behind a teller line but there is so much more that goes into running a bank whether you are a part of the Retail or Analyst track.  M&T is always looking for all different kinds of majors including:

  • Engineering
  • Marketing
  • Computer Science
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Psychology
  • Business
  • Economics
  • Public Policy

The list really could go on and on.  M&T understands you can teach math but you can not force someone’s personality to fit into a culture so they look for quality people who the hiring managers feel are a good fit within the culture of M&T Bank.

***The opinions expressed in this blog are in no way the opinions of M&T Bank.  The opinions are strictly the opinions of myself.***

Where is My Career Headed?

Today at work I was challenged to think about where I want to go, do and who I want to be in my career.  It was an interesting question to be asked but rightly so my manager has a right to understand where my head is now, where I hope it is in five years, 10 years and even the end of my career.  I really appreciate my manager asking me this tough but fair question because it made me think and create a vision for myself.  Even though the path to get there may change over time, my manager can only help me get there if he knows where the end destination is.  There is a quote I love and have used in this blog before, “the road is long, but in the end the journey is the destination”.  I love that quote from One Tree Hill because it is so true and can apply to life, love or your career.  If you are constantly racing towards a destination you will miss the journey that helps you get there.  The ups and downs, twists and turns are what guides us to where we are meant to be.

There was another reason that question was so valuable to me and that was how can you define career objectives if you do not have a goal in mind or at least some perspective of where you are going?  This is true if you are not working towards something even if the specifics are not defined, how can you help yourself progress.  In my life I always want to be moving forward, challenging myself and making sure I am constantly challenging myself.  I never want to be a sitting duck in a company that can be replaced by a computer or replaced by someone less expensive.  I think it is important as you plot out your goals, that you are always looking where you can add value to who you are now and what you are doing in the present.  I have an upcoming post regarding something that my manager mentioned to me, “deserve before you desire”.  Working towards your end goal does not go against this statement but helps you maintain your focus.

College BasketballSo, now after reading my determination to always have an end goal you must be wondering why I paused when my manager asked me the question about where I wanted my career to end up.  And the answer is complicated yet simple, up until a graduation in May, I had a very clear a path and plan that lead me straight up until graduation day with my MBA.  I was focused and determined and had the goal in the front of my mind.  I had basically set my goals in ninth grade when I knew I could earn college credit for free from my high school.  Knowing this I took as many college credit bearing classes as my schedule would allow.   This was also around the same time that I was pulled up to Varsity Basketball as a freshman and was determined to play in college.  I knew my college classes would potentially allow me to shave off an entire year of my undergraduate career which would mean that I would have one year left of eligibility left for college basketball.  Being the planner that I am, I accounted for this extra year in ninth grade and was determined to finish my MBA as well.  Finding a school that offered the possibility of basketball and a prime education was on my mind even in the early years of high school!  When I began looking at school’s RIT may not have been top of my list for basketball but it won me over for academics and that was after all what was going to take me further.  Though the sport tested my path and commitment to the plan I stuck with it thanks to some amazing teammates and completed my four years of eligibility with my Bachelors and Masters.  I had combined two of my passions, marketing and technology, and was determined to find an opportunity that allowed me to use both passions and degrees in my career, at least initially.  M&T’s offer allowed that better than any other offer I received so I took it.

In the time since committing to M&T, I had not put much thought into my future career or the bank; I guess it was my reprieve from being so focused for the last eight years on one goal.  That is not to say I hadn’t thought about my career or what was to come through MDP but I hadn’t really thought about where my career would take me until my boss laid it on the table, plain and simple: “Where do you want to be?”.  His example was that everything he had done in his career had been done with a purpose of gaining a skill, learning a process or understanding a system.  Everything he did early in his career allowed him to grow his base and now he was in the point of his career where he was growing vertically rather than horizontally.  He and his boss within M&T have had discussions of where he is headed and what his ultimate aspirations are – yes people will continue to ask you the question of “where do you want to go” even after you are out of college and have been in your field for a number of years.  After telling me his path and his story, I had to think, that was me in the sense being so planned out, methodically making decisions and moves for my entire high school and college career.  So why wasn’t it in my present situation because it was part of my personality to have a plan?  Why had I shied away from being so focused and driven and after thinking about it the reason came to me – I had been so focused on one specific path for so long that coming out of school I needed a break from the long-term pinpointed goal.  But being the person I am of course the thought has crossed my mind of ultimately where I want to be.

The C-Suite In terms of where would I like to be when I retire, I see myself as higher up management on the level of the C-Suite, at M&T the group that I would aspire to be a part of is called Management Group.  What was once a smaller select group of people has expanded to include many different positions depending on what company you are at.  You could be a CEO, CFO, CMO, COO, CIO, CTO and many other executive or senior positions (Note: Not all are a part of Management Group at M&T).  All of these roles and titles carry tremendous amounts of responsibility and as my manager said in our meeting you need to deserve something before you can desire it.

You may ask why I am in technology then and that is because I believe everyone has a specific focus but in my opinion you cannot be a well-respected manager or leader of an organization if you do not have experience in other areas.  I love technology; I love the constantly moving parts and the point when you cross into the unknown of a project.  I love knowing that we are crossing-boundaries and making a difference.  Technology is the avenue that changes how people do their daily business or go about their lives.  I have a professional personality that is always thinking and moving and technology allows me to fit right in and be a part of the action.  Unlike a position such as a CFO which has a fairly “standard” path, rising to the top of the marketing or technology world or even the executive world in general requires a diverse set of skills and a broader spectrum.

I feel that I will always flip back and forth between marketing and technology and right now that is the beauty of what I am doing at M&T, I am connected to individuals all over the bank.  I have a network of peers in my MDP class all over the bank; as well as, mentors from every level of the bank.  What is great is that because I received nearly two years of marketing agency experience while at RIT, I can strictly focus on learning more about the technology side of things.  I know I never want to be a developer but I want to understand it because I have an appreciation for what they do.  I can modify my own website’s HTML and CSS but I will never say I am a developer, which is why I shy away from saying I want to be a CTO.  Although I attended a technology school, I do not have the educational background from a technology perspective in computer science; however, I will never rule it out because just like you learn things in school, skills can be acquired on the job simply by practicing and doing them and there is always the option to go back for more education.

csuite2Another important thing to remember, your education is never complete, if you think it is it is time to wake up and smell the coffee.  We no longer live in a world where people can afford to be content with what they know.  There will be someone right behind you striving for your job or to bump you out of place.  Education is not always learned in a classroom, it is learned by experience.  That is why when you come out of school with your degree you are not immediately named a CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, that experience is crucial!

So how do I get where I want to go?  I think it all starts with relationships and building up one’s network.  You have to always be willing to jump into something that scares you.  For those that are willing to just do a job and go home at 5pm every day or punch a clock to pay the bills, that is perfectly fine, but that is not me.  I want to be the one that is making a difference, changing the way things work in the sense that I can help make someone’s life easier.  I strive to always be challenged and always continue to learn.  I know that when I am content with my job or just doing it because it seems like the thing to do, I will know that it is time to move on to something new or to retire; although I don’t really see the retiring happening simply because of my personality.

**The opinions in this blog are solely my own and are in no way the opinions of M&T Bank or endorsed by the company**

WHEWWWW – What a First Week of MDP Training!

The Sunday night before our first day of training, the program held a MeetandGreet Happy Hour at Pearl St. which is this local brewery in Buffalo that is in a really unique building.  We were in the basement part of the restaurant and had it all to ourselves, which was nice.  meeting new peopleThere was an assortment of appetizer type food and the brewery’s light and dark beer on draft.  Here we were able to practice Bravo’s Millionaire Match-Maker two drink maximum rule (which is not really a real rule) but if you are drinking like you are in college on Thursday Night at a corporate event you probably have a problem.  This event was nice because it was just the MDPs and the two program managers, Jillian and Sarah and their boss Kate.  It was really just to get to know each other, out of the office and without the pressure of being in training.  Of course it is expected that you understand you are being watched and it is very important to remember that as you socialize.  We are not in college anymore and how you eat, drink and socialize in and often times outside of work is being watched.

Our first day of MDP training was a lot of getting to know one another but not in the typical ice breaker kind of way, although we did participate in one or two ice breakers throughout the day.  We introduced ourselves, where we were working, who our manager was, where we went to school and told an interesting fact about ourselves.  The facts ranged throughout the week from tame to probably didn’t need to know that (example: someone said they could burp the alphabet and were then encouraged to demonstrate).  We were given a lot of opportunities to network during the day with the speakers and connect with our peers after all the MDP class you graduate with can be one of your biggest resources throughout your career.

During the rest of the week we were prepped for our branch rotations that we would fulfill the following month. We had speakers come in from the 1 M&T Plaza branch and we also had Corporate Security talk about fraud detection, bank robbery, online thieves and a few other topics within that spectrum.  Security was certainly intimidating, hearing that bank robberies do still happen; however, not usually in the old western movie type of way.  It is also better to be prepared and understand that bank robberies still happen than to be in the branch and caught off guard and panic.

We also had the traditional lectures about the company’s culture, mission, vision, how to eat in a corporate setting and how to dress in the business world which covered everything from the dos and don’ts to what is appropriate for business casual and what is necessary to be considered business formal.

If you are a potential MDP, you may wonder if the dress code is the same across the bank.  I can say that the dress code is not the same across the bank; however, as an MDP you should always lean towards the more formal end of the spectrum for your department because you will constantly be meeting someone.  Jillian and Sarah presented it as, dress as if you were going to ride the elevator with Bob Wilmers, the company’s CEO.  I liked that comparison and I think it put a lot of people in the mindset of how to dress for a bank.

Throughout the week we had two additional happy hours, one was another just for the MDPs which was at Bambino a local restaurant just down the street from M&T Center.  It was a nice classy event except sadly it was extremely hot that day and we were all in our business clothes and the event was outside on the 2nd level porch.  Had it been 10-15 degrees cooler it would have been perfect.  A few of us grabbed a table inside to be able to connect in the AC rather than sweat outside. networking happy hour

The other Happy Hour/Networking Event took place at Shea’s Theatre.  This was great because it brought all of the MDPs and their managers together.  The program is not only a resource for the MDPs but also for the managers to all connect with each other. At Shea’s we were able to take a back stage tour of the theatre which was really cool because it is currently undergoing the 4th and Final stage of the restoration so the ceiling was completely tarped up as it was being clean, painted and restored.  The point of these networking events is not about the food, which is hard for fresh out of college students to understand because they come from a point in their lives where free food was desired, regardless of what it was and you took it without question! My point with this is, remember you are not in college anymore and as much as you would like to treat it like your whole dinner, you should probably avoid that at all cost.  The goal of the event is to network with people and make connections that can help you or someone else in their careers in and outside the bank.  But I will say the food at Shea’s was probably the best of the three MDP events but the food from the Lodge (where we went for our happy hour following the first day with T&BO) was probably tied for first in the category of best place to host a happy hour, simply based on food.  Atmosphere – Shea’s probably won hands down.networking events

 A major change to the program this year overall was that there would be two separate groups for MDP.  I am a member of the Green Group which is led by Jillian and the other group is led by Sarah and that is the Gold Group.  Both groups are going to be working on exactly the same things it will just be at different times to accommodate classroom size and allow for discussions to flow more easily through the groups.  Think about it like this, in college, discussion is easier and student’s tend to learn more with a smaller class size than they do in a huge lecture hall with 100 people. The same concept is being tested with the MDP program.  This first week of orientation we were all together but starting next month we will be divided based on the group we have been assigned too.

After this week, I know it is going to be a great year with this group of MDPs.  I am looking forward to it and being a part of M&T.  Coming up in a few weeks we have our branch rotations and I am excited to share my experience of working in the branch and learning the customer experience side of everything we work on within the corporate track of M&T!

**The opinions in this blog are strictly my own and are not endorsed by M&T.**

Welcome to the 8-5 Life

M&T MDPSo, by now I bet you are wondering how my first week on the job went and I do apologize for the delay, I have been trying to adapt to my new schedule and my new life in the real world better known as the work life! This basically involves waking up earlier than I have since high school, trying to fit in a workout before work to get the juices flowing, spending the 8-5 at least at the office and then coming home or heading to the gym or to a gathering with friends, making dinner and basically enjoying life without studying; however, in this adjustment period to my new work life balance I haven’t had much time to work on my blog; however, I have begun to adjust to less sleep and longer days (without a nap). So without further delay, after an amazing first day of orientation I was definitely ready to start work and meet the team I would be working with for at least the next year.

I think if you are going to be following my blog about the MDP program for the next year, I think it is important to give you some background knowledge about the program.  Unlike many company’s college-to-work programs that are rotational based meaning the company puts you in a rotation throughout different departments to find out where you like to work, M&T’s Management Training Program is different.  M&T hires their college graduates into specific roles that the bank needs to fill.  But really what is the difference from the other programs, what makes M&T stand-out in the crowd?  The biggest difference at the end of the day is that you are working in the department that hired you for the entire year and beyond.  Maybe this does not sound so different from the other programs but it is, trust me.  The major advantage of MDP is that you are hired into a role you would be doing regardless of the MDP title.  And you are also not trying to win a spot or compete with the others in the program.

collaborationM&T is an extremely collaborative environment and one of their focuses is on working together.  The goal is to be the best bank and while friendly competition can be good, if you have a group of fresh hires competing to still be with the bank in a year you will not get as high quality and collaborative work because these new hires will be trying to outshine each other on a daily basis.  Think about it like the movie The Internship (if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it), MDP is not an internship; however, that large group of interns from the movie internally fought to outshine the others to win a spot at the company the following year.  At M&T you are being watched, judged based on your quality of work and making the bank better, not about outshining other employees.  The other rotational programs to me, though great in their own ways, make it seem more like an internship than a full-time job that you will continue after the program.  Some people may question how MDP is different than just being hired full-time and the main difference is that approximately one week out of the month, we are in training learning about different departments in the bank. M&T brings in speakers from across the different departments, often Vice-Presidents and upper management to talk to the MDP class about their part in making M&T as successful as it is.

So, now that you know a little more about MDP I can tell you about my first week OTJ (on the job).

My first day in the office was extremely interesting because unknown to me, I was coming into the bank on the day of a major reorg (re-organization) of my entire department.  M&T recently brought in for the first time ever a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) which was a major milestone for the bank and very likely will change the bank forever.  Julieta Ross is coming into the bank with fresh ideas and opinions and she is only getting started as she has been at the bank for about two and a half months now.  I am excited to be a part of the changes that are happening at M&T especially within the technology department.

But going back to that first day on the job, there was a team meeting at the end of the day where it was announced my boss of one day was moving to a different department within the bank.  I was stunned because I had been communicating for the last six months with this one person who at the time was really my one connection (who I had communicated frequently with) within the bank.  After going home and have a mild freak out about making the right decision to join the bank, I realized that this could be a good thing because while everyone else was unsure in my department, I was new and did not know the old structure – this new M&T Technology department was simply the technology department to me.  This was my chance to see the upper management at the bank handle change management a word that was used many times during my MBA studies.

Change management is something that not every organization is good at.  Within M&T change can be hard because of as previously mentioned in my last post, our tenure. We have employees who have been with the company since they started their careers thirty plus years ago.  Some employees have been following the same processes for their entire careers so change is hard.  Think of the movie Office Space, there are going to be employees in every organization that do not like change and really struggle.  It is up to the organization to wait to implement change until the employees retire, proactively reach out to the struggling employees and guide them through the change or watch the employees struggle through on their own (I would not necessarily recommend this method but it is practiced at some companies).  All three methods have costs associated with them and I am excited to see how M&T handles change management and I am fortunate to have a front-row seat within technology.

business wearSo after such an eventful first day, the rest of the week was pretty much an ordinary start for an employee.  I attended several meetings, listened in on conference calls, learned the different systems and environments I would be using and worked on the compliance on-boarding training that is required of all new employees at the bank.  It was a fairly ordinary first week I think and I was able to make a lot of contacts in the bank, sit down and talk face-to-face with people who I had spoken with either on the phone or through email since accepting my offer and had some amazingly supportive members of the team help to train me on our different systems, so I was very fortunate with that.

After a busy first week at the office it was time for an even crazier weekend of making the three hour trip home to move the furniture from my mom’s house which you can read about that journey in my Relocation post.  Though Brian and I may have been tired we were excited to be able to see my family and eventually have furniture in our house!  One Lazy Boy chair and all my clothes in boxes was getting old pretty quick!  It was setting up to be a gorgeous day for a drive home and calm night and my mom was grilling ribs, had some of my summer favorites ready and had the outdoor movie set-up and ready for Anchorman 2; as well as, an assortment of toppings for s’mores including Reece’s cups, Hershey Bars, Oreos (three different kinds) and my childhood favorite movie candy, gummies from the bulk section of the grocery store as an addition to the gummies!  What, I am a child at heart when it comes to my sweets!

Stay tuned because week two of my career at M&T is the first week of MDP training and it is shaping up to be an exciting week filled with new faces and new experiences including the networking happy hour.

***This blog is in no way endorsed by M&T, this is simply created by a girl with a blog who loves to share what is going on in her life. The opinions expressed are 100% my own.***

Hello Real World…Here I Am

M&T MDPSo after all the waiting and anticipation of starting on the job, the first day is in the books! I can not believe that I can now consider myself a working girl.  All that hard work, time and effort put in all the books, test and presentations became all worth it on Monday, July 14th.

The first day started off in what seemed like a normal on-boarding for a new employee at a company.  M&T brought all the new T&BO (Technology and Banking Operations) MDPs (Management Development Program) together for an all-day orientation.  It was great because it was an opportunity to meet the other MDPs in our “bucket”.  When I say bucket I mean all of the MDPs who fall under a specific Executive Vice-President.  In my case it is Michele Trolli.  The 13 T&BO MDPs had the opportunity to sit down with Michele and be introduced to the bank from her perspective.  It was a rare opportunity that not many get and I was very excited to get to hear the only woman on the Management Group at the bank speak and be in charge of my department.

I want to note that I think woman in business and leadership roles are becoming more and more acceptable and common in today’s society.  When I walk into the office and even when I walked into a classroom at RIT (a school dominated by males), I never felt that I had to be quiet simply because I was a female.  I believe that your actions and your work speak louder than what gender you are.  I loved reading the book “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg and was excited to hear that M&T has Lean In circles within the organization and I am looking forward to joining after getting settled.  But the female topic seems to be a topic that often gets discussed and I wanted to make sure I got Michele’s take on it but I wasn’t sure how to phrase it.  I think she knew what I was preparing to ask when I raised my hand because she said something along the lines of don’t be afraid to just say it, if we fear what we are saying or make it seem like a hard subject people won’t get over it and move past it.   I thought that was great and instantly I knew, Michele would be someone who I would strive to learn from and look up to at the bank.

women in business

What was interesting was being able to hear her talk about her direct reports and her experience coming into the bank.  She was not afraid to tell an embarrassing story or be real because as I was beginning to understand, that was M&T’s culture, real people doing real work.  Michelle is one of the “young ones” on the M&T Management Group and she has been with the bank for ten years – that is another part of the culture at M&T the average tenure is 10.4 years currently and you are still considered “new” if you have not been with the company for more than twenty years.

The next group of speakers brought in were the Senior Vice Presidents of T&BO, my SVP is Julieta Ross who recently joined the M&T team after a long career at Citi.  It was great to see that in a business with such long tenure the company understands outside perspectives are often necessary to keep moving forward and growing.  It was so nice to be able to begin to understand the structure at the bank as it pertained to our “bucket” and then begin to put the bigger picture together.  I thought it was great of T&BO to focus on its own sector rather than overwhelm us with the entire bank and its operations on the first day.

The rest of the day was focused on learning about the bank’s values, mission and culture.  It is impossible to understand a culture without actually experiencing it.  But for all the MDPs and most of M&T’s employees you are taken through countless interviews (I went through 12) so you meet a lot of people along the way and begin to see similarities (at least with M&T) among those employees and can pick up on the qualities that make up the majority of the company’s employees.  One common characteristic at M&T is that everyone seems genuinely invested in helping you and maybe that is just for the MDPs (I cannot speak for the traditional recruitment, hiring, on-boarding or career) but so far, everyone I have come in contact with has extended warm welcomes, well wishes and offered to assist in any way that they can.  M&T is invested in their future.working world

Learning about the culture it was great to see that M&T’s vision statement is a Be the Best statement.   “Be the best place our employees ever work for, the best bank our customers ever bank with and the best investment our shareholders ever make.”  That says something because if you are a happy employee your productivity is better meaning that customers are better cared for and have higher quality experiences within the branches or online.  As for the shareholders, a large portion of employees of the bank are shareholders and have a financial investment in the company; as well as it being their place of employment.

The day wrapped up with a Happy Hour at the Lodge with our SVPs.  This was very nice because we got to have 1-on-1 time with the leaders of our department.  It is important to remember when going to a company Happy Hour you are there to network and talk with people, not to eat or drink.  It was nice to talk over a glass of wine with Julieta and hear her vision for the department and the future of M&T’s technology.  She was another person who I was instantly excited to be given the chance to work under and learn from.  She seemed genuinely excited about having me join the team and was ready to help me with my future in the department and the company.  I was beginning to see that most people were excited about the new prospects and talent pool in the bank.

 I think that this is going to be a great opportunity to grow a career with the bank and I am excited to see what the future holds!

***This blog post is in no way endorsed by M&T Bank, the opinions expressed in this post are strictly my own.***