Stocks rock, if you ask graduate Sanna – Click for tips

Perhaps you've already 'met' Matteo and Camilla, now its time to meet their fellow graduate, Sanna, who shares her experience, advice and tips

So what’s it like to work as a graduate at Nordea in the Markets and Investment Banking organisations? If you tag along in this Graduate series you’ll be sure to find out when some of the graduates who joined us in the summer 2019 open heartedly share their experiences, thoughts and aspirations, challenges and opportunities.

In this interview, Sanna Ohde sheds some light on what to consider when applying for the Graduate programme, and we get to hear about her fascination of the stock market and learn what it takes to succeed in a graduate position.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and interests!

I’m 25 years old and work in a graduate position in Investments at Nordea in Stockholm. I studied a master’s in accounting and financial management in Gothenburg, at the school of Business Economics and Law. I was by then already interested in the stock market. I was pretty involved in the school, attending fairs and was part of a student company called Handels Finance, where I was Vice President for one year. During this time, I learned a lot about finance and accounting in the real world. I did two internships during my studies, one in Zurich, at a family office and the year after I was in London, at a private equity fund.

One of my biggest interests is the stock market. I’ve always found it super exciting and fascinating, and working here means I get to work with my biggest interest every day.

Besides my huge interest in the stock market, I love to travel and workout. I enjoy trying out new restaurants, especially in Stockholm. Mexican food is a favorite!

What led you to the financial industry – and the graduate programme?

During my university studies, I did not really get practical knowledge about what you do when you work with finance, although finance was my favorite subject. For that reason, I wanted to do an internship to better understand what kind of jobs you can have in the finance business.

So, I got in touch with Nordea during a job fair at my university in Gothenburg, Gadden. I did not have that much knowledge about Nordea prior to meeting the representatives. We had a short meeting that day and they told me about Markets’ graduate program; about the different areas and how you can do rotations between the units. This sounded intriguing to me, since I was not entirely sure which part I would like to work in. The Nordea people I met, really succeeded in presenting all the great opportunities and possibilities with the program. That’s why I applied – and they didn’t exaggerate; the programme surely does offer great opportunities for you to learn new things and grow.

Another good thing about Nordea’s graduate programme was that I could apply for it very early on compared to other similar programmes – so, I applied for this graduate programme already in November.

What has been the most challenging?

I started in a sales role towards equities, and now I have switched to bonds. It was beneficial for me that I had some previous knowledge about equities before I started. On the bond side, it was a challenge for me to simply understand how it works. My colleagues have a lot of experience and are seniors in the financial business and they supported me a great deal. I learned a lot during the first week, where I had to take a lot of online courses to understand how the market works. I thought that working with bonds would be pretty similar to working with equities, but it isn’t. It is completely different – totally different market and business.

But, I got a lot of support from my co-workers – and get full support on an everyday basis when needed. I am encouraged to ask questions. People are helpful and take their time to explain and answer my questions or concerns. If anything, I could even be better at asking questions.

How would you describe the working environment and the culture? 

For me, the working environment is great. I remember thinking, on my first week, how there were so many people smiling at me, being so nice and saying hi. Everyone was very curious about me, to get to know who I am and where I was working and so on. I especially appreciated this after having been working abroad and not encountering this type of friendly and welcoming corporate culture. Everyone was helpful, getting me introduced to all the systems and so on. I would say the culture here is open, everyone is kind and helpful. One thing, that would be nice and could be improved, is the gender balance – it would be good to have a few more female colleagues, I think.

Another busy day on the trading floor – Sanna with one of her colleagues, Joakim Österlund.

What does it take to be a graduate at Markets?

As a graduate, you need to take responsibility for your own career. You need to be interested, curious and eager. When I started, I made sure to talk to everyone I met, and ask about what they work with. If I found something interesting, I would book a meeting with that person. I asked a lot of questions in the beginning to get to learn about Nordea, about the different areas and how they are connected. So again, taking own responsibility is key – and asking questions.

What should one consider when applying for the graduate programme?

Most importantly, be honest and humble, don’t claim or pretend that you know everything if you don’t. For example, during my application process I got to do some cases and when I received a complicated question which I did not know the answer to, I simply said “I don’t know, but I want to learn”. My manager later talked to me about this event and explained how he had thought it was a great and honest approach.

Before you apply, I advise to read about Markets and what departments there is to have an idea of what you might be interested in. If it is equities, trading, sales or fixed income. This is good to have in mind for the interview process.

Do you attend graduate activities and what’s the social life like?

When the program started, back in September, all graduates (around 150 people) went to Helsinki in Finland for a three-day conference. We got to learn about Nordea as a company, the company values and got to meet our Finnish, Norwegian and Danish co-workers. It was great to get to know some people from the different offices. We also got the chance to meet the senior managers, which I thought was helpful to get a better understanding of the huge company Nordea is.

A couple of weeks later all the Markets’ graduates went to Copenhagen for a seminar concerning more specific topics. We learned about presentation skills and more about the products in Markets. This was really good! We are now planning another trip to Copenhagen with all Nordea graduates and rumor has it you will be able to read about this on the Career blog :).

In general, us graduates hang out together quite a lot. In my team, we have occasional dinners and Swedish “fika” every now and then, and we also have a tradition of working out together once a week.

What are you looking forward to in 2020?

I’m really looking forward to getting my own clients, which is also part of the plan. I would like to engage more in educating people about the stock market. I have done that once since I started, mostly for our special customer’s children and I really look forward to doing that again. It’s a project we started together with another organisation and we will be expanding and approving it this year.

Also, there are a lot of different boards you can join, concerning gender equality for example. I might do something like that as I would like to be more engaged in Nordea as an organization and not just in my area.

So, learn more and to get customers. An exciting year – I can’t wait!


If you missed the first articles in this Graduate series, click to read the blogs by Matteo and Camilla. Stay tuned for more stories from our graduates – meanwhile you could also have a look at the videos with two female graduates.

Psst! If you are interested in joining us, you can apply for the Spring Week Internship in Stockholm now (deadline is 29 Feb 2020.).

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