After his apprenticeship with Julius Baer, Michael Güntensperger successfully transitioned into his role as private banking assistant in Zurich. Together with his supervisor Josephin Varnholt, he takes us on his fascinating journey from his early days until now.
From a young age, Michael Güntensperger has had a knack for numbers, coupled with a fascination for the stock market and investing. So it was only natural that he would choose a career in banking. “I started my apprenticeship at Julius Baer in 2014. Every six months, I would change units – going through a kaleidoscope of more back office-focused to front-centred roles.” With an in-depth understanding of various business areas and their interconnections, the question then arose as to how to take the next step in his career after his apprenticeship. “Through Julius Baer Apprenticeship Programme Manager Benjamin Süess, I was informed that Relationship Manager Josephin Varnholt was looking for an assistant. That’s where it all began.”
After evaluating his options with Benjamin Süess, Michael Güntensperger met with Josephin Varnholt to discuss a potential transfer to her team. “It was all very straightforward. We discussed the foundations of a possible collaboration and quickly came to an agreement,” says Michael Güntensperger about his interview for the role in Josephin Varnholt’s team. What is Josephin Varnholt’s motivation to hire successful Julius Baer apprentices? “Apprentices at Julius Baer go through a rigorous selection process and a strict, three-year training programme, which incurs high personnel and other costs,” says Josephin Varnholt. “In my view, it’d be inconsistent not to use their high potential for the firm. Julius Baer apprentices generally perform outstandingly, which is reflected in their final grades. It must be the Bank’s goal to retain these talents in the company.”
360-degree support – on a personal and professional level
Throughout the Apprenticeship Programme, Julius Baer apprentices are supported and accompanied very closely on various fronts. Their practical instructors (‘Praxisausbildner’), in parallel to their full-time job, introduce the apprentices to their department and team, brief them on new duties, transfer their knowledge to them, and oversee and assess their performance at work. What’s more, our apprentices also have a coach whom they can approach with problems or questions. The Apprenticeship Programme Manager is someone else they can contact at any time. “Our support model allows us to give every individual apprentice our personal attention,” says Benjamin Süess. “The fact that we look after our apprentices individually and provide them with a supportive working environment means that they often finish their apprenticeship with above-average marks.” Michael Güntensperger confirms: “We were very well supported throughout the programme, individually. There was even a one-week study camp before the final exams, at which we could revise what we had learned with subject matter experts.”
We discussed the foundations of a possible collaboration and quickly came to an agreement.
It is not all about the marks, though. “We want our apprentices to thrive both on a professional and a personal level, and therefore offer them 360-degree support,” says Alessia Gavela, who acts as a coach for the apprentices. Josephin Varnholt equally emphasises the importance of targeted support: “Young people today are challenged on various fronts, having to make far-reaching decisions at an early stage. In my opinion, any assistance that supports the young generation in setting the course for their first steps in professional life is crucial. This, in turn, makes them identify with their employer and encourages them to give their best.”
Michael Güntensperger mentions yet another defining aspect, which makes the Julius Baer Apprenticeship Programme stand out. “There are various teambuilding and networking events for apprentices, e.g. a summer camp, the so-called city and culture day and the Christmas event. These initiatives all help to strengthen ties with your fellow apprentices and network beyond your current unit’s boundaries.”
A win-win situation for both the apprentice and the Bank
When it comes to retaining the successful apprentices, various factors come into play: the apprentice’s preferences, the Programme Manager and the practical instructors’ assessments and, last but not least, the hiring unit’s needs. Josephin Varnholt, who has already accompanied six former Julius Baer apprentices during their journey towards a permanent employee, says: “The departments apprentices go through in their training issue assessments and, just like the Apprenticeship Programme Manager, also provide personal advice and support during the selection process. The aim must be to place the apprentices in the best possible position, ensuring a win-win situation for everyone.”
Summarising her experience with Julius Baer apprentices, Josephin Varnholt adds: “I’ve only ever made positive experiences with former Julius Baer apprentices. They’re very motivated, dynamic people and thus a real added value for any team. The apprentices know large parts of the Bank, have a vast network and detailed knowledge in various areas. They take off from day one, as learning on the job is a seamless continuation of their training.” On a more personal note, she adds: “What’s more, young people keep me up to date, I benefit from their energy and, of course, their technical know-how. I find it refreshing to be surrounded by young adults and I try to convey the future to them as an opportunity and not as a threat.” Michael Güntensperger confirms: “It’s been a fantastic learning journey so far. I’ve been a part of the team from day one and I really feel I make a significant contribution in my daily work.”
About the Julius Baer Apprenticeship Programme in Switzerland
Julius Baer’s ambitious training programme offers young talents the opportunity to obtain a Federal VET Diploma as a bank clerk, IT professional focusing on system technology or ICT specialist. Apprentices receive comprehensive training, build a network across the company and develop their overall skills to be prepared for a career at Julius Baer. When training as a bank clerk, apprentices gain practical experience and training to conduct daily business in banking. During the three-year training course, they take classes two days a week at KV Zurich and spend 30 days at the Centre for Young Professionals in Banking (CYP) to learn the theory of banking. They also undertake practical placements in six different departments of our Bank, which enable them to further develop their newly acquired theoretical knowledge and apply it in real-life situations. These training units and courses enable them to attain the knowledge and practical skills they need to advance in banking. When doing an IT apprenticeship with a focus on system technology or as an ICT specialist, apprentices gain practical experience and training to conduct daily business in IT. The IT apprenticeship with a focus on system technology, and the apprenticeship qualifying them as an ICT specialist provide apprentices with a sound knowledge of their chosen field. They complete their training with a Federal VET Diploma. These two IT apprenticeships give young IT talents the knowledge and practical skills needed for a successful career in IT at Julius Baer.