How to build an IT career in the banking sector

How to build an IT career in the banking sector

Banca Intesa
5 min read
How to build an IT career in the banking sector De

Despite the peak demand for IT professionals, which occurred a few years ago, an IT career continues to be highly sought after by the younger generation. In today’s digital era, young people are drawn to technology jobs for several compelling reasons.

Firstly, the allure of innovation and creativity motivates them—the opportunity to shape the future through coding, app development, and cutting-edge solutions.

Secondly, tech careers provide stability and growth; the demand for skilled professionals remains robust. Thirdly, the flexibility of remote work and the chance to contribute globally attract them.

Lastly, the intrinsic satisfaction of solving complex problems and making a tangible impact fuels their passion for technology. Consequently, there’s now a global shortage of IT personnel, prompting companies to invest significant efforts in attracting and retaining talent. On the other hand, this makes choosing where to build a career increasingly challenging.

As someone with 21 years of experience working in IT within the banking industry, I would like to offer advice to future generations on building a career in IT within a bank using my personal experience. Additionally, I will delve into choosing a future profession and selecting the ideal place to begin a career, discussing available options, crucial decisions that need to be made, and why I believe banks are the optimal choice.

Why choose IT?

Both locally and globally, there is a significant demand for IT professionals. If you advertise for a software developer, system engineer, or database administrator in the traditional manner, there is a high probability that no suitable candidate will apply.

Due to this high demand, future talents are often recruited during their studies, leaving few graduate engineers on the market. This information is well-known and significantly influences the choice of a future occupation as young people tend to choose an area with high demand and wages.

However, this approach is, in my opinion, flawed because it is difficult to predict trends even in the next five years, let alone the 35 to 40 years that a career typically lasts. I have encountered many individuals who built their IT careers indirectly and became top experts, but even more who "chose IT" and later regretted it because this decision was based on calculation rather than passion.

If you truly wish for IT to be your lifelong calling, if you become so immersed in solving an IT problem that you lose track of time, if computers are your passion, then the first requirement is fulfilled. The next step I recommend is obtaining formal education by selecting the appropriate university program, which will provide a foundation that can be built upon (almost) endlessly.

Why choose a bank and what are the important elements?

The next step is deciding where to start your career. This is an appropriate time to explain why I believe banks are the ideal choice. Although banking originated in the Middle Ages and banks are generally viewed as traditional organizations, IT technologies have revolutionized the way banks provide services to customers by utilizing cutting-edge technologies to enable customers to use bank services whenever and wherever they prefer.

As a result, the IT department has become a vital partner of bankers without whom modern banking cannot function. Given the important role of the IT department within a bank, there are several other critical elements necessary for career development that banks can strongly support: mentoring, business domain knowledge, motivation, and potential for both horizontal and vertical career growth.

Mentoring is one of the key factors in a successful career. A skilled mentor can guide development, minimize mistakes to the bare minimum, and shorten the learning curve. Since banks are complex and heavily regulated systems, effectively onboarding a new employee without quality mentoring is impossible. Of course, even with the best possible mentorship, continuous personal development, persistence, and perseverance are essential for success. The good news is that combining these elements will ultimately lead to achievement.

One of the primary objectives of IT is applying IT technologies to improve businesses and open up new opportunities. Therefore, having knowledge of the business domain is an important element of career development because working in a bank naturally offers IT personnel the chance to gain expertise in the banking field, which provides additional value due to the fact that combining business and technology knowledge is a prerequisite for creating innovative products and services.

One of the key factors in motivation is purpose. Why do we do something? When we are close to the results of our work and can see how it contributes to a company's broader outcome, additional motivation is unnecessary. If we compare working in a bank's IT department to working for an IT company that provides outsourcing services, it becomes clear that the results of working in a bank are more tangible. Therefore, the connection between positive and negative results is direct and everyone can feel that they genuinely have an impact.

The IT department within a bank covers a wide range of jobs, from developing and maintaining applications and infrastructure to project management, business analysis, and many others. 

At the start of an IT career, many people are unsure which direction they would like to take or whether their chosen path is correct. The possibility of horizontal change makes the initial choice less difficult although it takes years to achieve expertise in a particular field. However, if a change is needed, banks offer opportunities that are a significant advantage over specialized IT companies. Additionally, many traditional banking jobs today require advanced IT knowledge, providing another option that can be interesting for career development.

In addition to horizontal career development, there comes a point where one faces an equally significant dilemma: vertical growth. Leading people requires skills and talents beyond technical expertise. One common mistake occurs when experts, driven by the desire for recognition, are promoted to managerial positions without the necessary talent or inclination to work with people. This results in a double loss—the departure of an expert and potential management challenges. Vertical growth is still possible, but it tends to be limited to the technical domain.

On the other hand, if you aspire to work with people and lead teams, the banking sector offers excellent opportunities. Alongside a robust HR function, specially designed learning and development programs can facilitate a successful transition from an IT expert to a capable manager. Moreover, working in a bank doesn’t confine managerial development to IT positions alone.

Closing thoughts

There’s no secret formula for a successful career. Regardless of your chosen field, persistence, perseverance, and continuous self-improvement are essential. When building your career, choose an environment that supports and motivates you, where you find purpose in your work. Ultimately, success depends on your efforts.

Modern banks, like Banca Intesa, provide a compelling setting where technology and finance intersect, offering numerous opportunities for growth and innovation. In this sector, you have the unique opportunity to observe technology’s impact first-hand, not only shaping work processes but also transforming the services provided and the way people live their lives.

Banca Intesa exemplifies how a supportive and innovative environment can promote professional growth. As the leading bank in Serbia, it is committed to maximizing technologies to enhance its operations and services. IT professionals here work on projects that influence the banking sector and improve customer experiences. To learn more about the real experiences and opportunities in the banking sector, check out our employer branding profile on Joberty.

Whether you’re developing innovative solutions, enhancing user experiences, or streamlining operations, the banking sector provides a dynamic platform for personal and career advancement.

Author: Marko Tepavac, Head of the ICT Department at Banca Intesa Belgrade

[10:27 AM]