There’s no one set career path guaranteed to bring fulfillment and growth. Instead, careers today are increasingly individualized creations, with multiple avenues for advancement and options for piecing together your path’s puzzle. One could make the argument that’s half the fun, as well as half the reward.
Of course, leaders who truly care about their workforce should be offering some clear opportunities for career growth, too, rather than leaving it all to guesswork. But the best company cultures balance those opportunities alongside a belief in workers’ agency to build the path that best suits them — and giving them the resources and freedom to do that.
That’s what Jennifer Harkins, Sarah Matos and Veronica Gotera have all been able to access while working at Santander, the legacy banking and financial services company. Recently, we had the chance to hear about what shapes their career paths have taken, and how they’ve brought all three women success.
Career Growth Rather than Change
In her 11 years at Santander, Jennifer Harkins hasn’t had a lot of job title changes, but she has had a lot of career growth. As the demands of her role changed, Jennifer evolved to meet the business need.
Harkins’ current position is Senior Associate, Customer Experience and Quality Control. Her first role, when the bank was still Sovereign, was Vice President, Consumer Deposit Product Management.
“As the organization transformed throughout the years, my role was constantly developing to fit rapidly changing business needs,” Harkins said. “The scope of my work evolved along with the bank as Sovereign reorganized and rebranded to become Santander. While from an HR point of view my job stayed the same, those years were anything but static. You don’t have to change your title for your job to change.”
She suggests that those looking to forge their own path develop a relationship with a mentor: “Even if it’s not through a formal mentor program, find someone who can offer a different perspective than your own and can act as a sounding board to help you improve and grow in your role.”
Retailer to Investigator
In 2013, Sarah Matos started her career at Santander as a branch manager.
While she was working in the retail network, she was instrumental in transitioning Sovereign Bank to Santander. She was also chosen to help train new branch managers and was promoted to a top 100 branch.
Matos has a degree in criminal justice — so when she saw an internal posting for a Fraud Analyst, she knew it dovetailed perfectly with her background and applied. She emailed the recruiter, met the hiring manager, asked for feedback from her interview and sent a thank you note. Her enthusiasm, experience, persistence and determination landed her the job.
In this new role, Matos identifies internal fraud trends and mitigates the risk associated with it. She continues to work hard, accept and offer feedback to colleagues, and network to grow her career at Santander.
Intern to International Employee
Learning has been key to Veronica Gotera’s professional growth ever since her first job as a banking intern in Venezuela. While working in her native country, she learned about the company’s retail network, then its credit risk and consumer banking functions.
As she moved toward her goal of working internationally, Gotera took advantage of Santander’s learning and development opportunities, participated in a future director’s program and learned English. As she expanded her knowledge and gained experience, her career journey took her from Venezuela to Puerto Rico, and finally to the United States.
All of her roles and training, she says, helped her evolve professionally and led her to her current position at Santander, where she is currently an Associate Director of Product Management.
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