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Embrace the unknown

As part of an international career that has taken her from Latvia to Shanghai and ultimately to Luxembourg, Anna Maldzi, Head of Business Services International, shares her thoughts on developing a multi-faceted perspective and rewarding career at SEB.

SEB is mostly known as a Nordic bank, but your journey has been all over the world. How international is SEB?

SEB is definitely a Nordic bank, but it has many local flavours, reflecting both our people and our customers. It is incredibly important for us to foster an environment that is inclusive of varied perspectives because it enhances our innovation and problem-solving but also ensures we deliver appropriately for our customers.

I like to think that I’ve gained a wide variety of perspectives in my career so far. As I was graduating from university in Latvia, an entry level position as a payment processing specialist at SEB caught my attention due to its international scope and the potential to apply my studies in Economics and Business Administration. I had a learning period in Stockholm as we transitioned processes to Riga, and after a couple of years I received a promotion into a leadership role. 

However, I’m someone who prefers driving change over maintaining more stable operations, so I jumped at the chance to drive a project in Ukraine, where I gained a more comprehensive view of banking operations. After that, I spent some years in Riga managing several departments in our Business Services group, before another international assignment, this time in Shanghai. I was there for two years before I moved to Luxembourg to lead that Business Services team. Later, I became Senior Business Advisor to the country manager, and now I have a global role as Head of Business Services International, still sitting in Luxembourg.

As someone who has moved around a lot, what has kept you in Luxembourg?

Over the past six years, Luxembourg has become home for me, as I have developed my career and built a family here. The market offers a special blend of a smaller city with a big international financial market and a truly diverse culture. Also, remote work became more streamlined during the COVID-19 pandemic, which allows me to work from Luxembourg with a team spread out across the world. While it can be challenging, we prioritise some physical meetings to develop strong personal connections, and then the rest happens pretty naturally.

What lessons have you learned about driving your career development at SEB?

Relationships are pivotal, but relationships start with you. They are built on appreciation for your deliveries and for your willingness to listen and understand other perspectives. That is how you build your network, and that is how opportunities will open up for you. 

Additionally, the culture at SEB is characterised by a forgiving attitude towards honest mistakes, complemented by a strong focus on learning and improving continuously. There is a willingness to take chances on employees who are curious and driven, allowing them to learn on-the-job and prove themselves. From the employee, this requires a willingness to embrace the unknown, something that has been crucial in my career. Bet on yourself to grow and deliver.