Being empowered at a young age helps Julius Baer’s apprentices turn from teenagers to valued professionals. For their mentors, caring is key – as is accepting that they too have something to learn from students on a journey to be the future of Julius Baer.
When Janik looks back on his last four years as an IT apprentice at Julius Baer, he’s amazed by the journey he has travelled. At the age of 16, with a liking for computer science and electric guitars, he started out as a quiet teenager with a passion for IT but little practical knowledge.
Now he is a confident 20-year-old professional, about to start in his first professional role in the IT security department. “When I started I was shy about talking to people; I preferred to be in my room. Now I have to regularly make presentations,“ he explains as he describes how much he has changed. Janik’s personal coach enthusiastically confirms the transformation. “I’m really very proud of Janik; how he did in those four years and how he grew up in every way, personally, and also from his know-how,” remarks Roman, who is a personal coach for the IT apprentices and is also the Head of International IT Infrastructure Management. He adds: “He’s already now a real cool professional."
Making a difference
There are currently 40 youngsters in Julius Baer’s apprenticeship programme, almost all of whom will go on to work for Julius Baer. The types of apprenticeships fall into two broad categories – IT and commercial. Apprenticeships last between three and four years, with the apprentices splitting their time between practical training, technical or business training courses, and school.
Along the way, the programme creates great personal and business value as it transforms teenagers into young professionals with promising careers ahead of them who will make a difference for Julius Baer. Indeed, the apprenticeship programme is recognised as a successful way of recruiting. In IT, for instance, finding suitably qualified professionals is difficult; so much so that the IT apprenticeship programme is expanding next year.
Empowering young people
Luis 19, is a commercial apprentice about to join full time as an assistant relationship manager, and explains that he joined Julius Baer for its family feeling after being offered apprenticeships by several banks. His apprenticeship has taken three years, during which time he has worked in six different departments, learning about topics as diverse as client documentation, alternative investments, Swiss law, and relationship management.
Both Luis and Janik have gained responsibility and feel empowered as they have learned, preparing them to be the future of Julius Baer. In Janik’s case, he worked on IT security, even attending an IT security competition in Bucharest’s parliament buildings, and finally working on the web application firewall. Luis ended his apprenticeship working in the special clients department, where he had direct contact with clients. Additionally, he was the apprentices’ representative, speaking to Julius Baer mentors at quarterly meetings on their behalf. “I was the president of the apprentices for two years, and that’s like one proud moment for me because I got elected by the others at our integration camp," he explains, referring to the regular team-building camps.
What would he recommend to apprentice candidates? “Well, I think the most necessary thing is to be open to new things and, also, eager to learn and be communicative with all the employees and the new people you get to know. Julius Baer has a unique apprentice programme, and the community is stronger than anywhere else. It’s as if we are a family because we get to know each other so well. That’s also why candidates should choose Julius Baer for their apprenticeship."
Value beyond wealth
But it’s not been an easy time for the apprentices, as they have been working from home for most of 2020 and 2021, deprived of office interaction. Julius Baer has gone the extra mile to make sure the pandemic has held them back as little as possible. As Luis relates, they spoke with their coaches every day about their schedules and about any problems encountered, including personal problems. At all time, he adds, Julius Baer did what it could to help.
Roman says that part of being a coach is guiding young people through any personal difficulties. If they are not doing well at school, for instance, that’s a sign something is wrong. “I think this is one of the moments where I can connect with one of our core values, which is care,“ he notes. “You have to care for these young people who really want to get a successful apprenticeship, go through their final exams and get a good job. Care for me is the key to success. Without care, you’re completely lost and you can’t really help them. I’m proud that we get the apprentices through these difficult times.”
A two-way street
But it’s a two-way street: just as the apprentices learn a lot from their mentors, so too the mentors stand to gain. Monica recognises that Julius Baer’s young recruits are the future, observing: “I’ll let you in on a secret: we practical instructors also learn a lot from apprentices, as they are sources of technological skills and often bearers of creative and unconventional ideas and solutions. Furthermore, we must be up to date, because the questions and demands of the apprentices motivate continuous learning. A kind of elixir of long life to one’s mind. Never has a quotation been more apt: ’By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn’."