Software engineers are today sought-after specialists, not just in Switzerland. In our interview, Selina Gahlinger tells us what makes the job attractive for her and why AXA Switzerland is her employer of choice.
Selina, what does AXA mean for you?
Well, where do I start! My employer, my former apprenticeship company. And my insurance company of course. But above all, it's a company that really takes care of its employees. Open and friendly people who I enjoy being with. My daily working life is very varied.
What do you like in particular about your job?
The fact that I have many other tasks to perform as well as developing software. I find the work as a DevOps engineer very wide-ranging and interesting. There are always new challenges to tackle and I learn something through every experience. I also find innodays and hackathons very useful, as they allow us to work on ideas we've developed ourselves with colleagues outside of our own team. And if I have the chance, I occasionally do something completely different from software development, such as helping to organize the sponsorship of a conference or structure an internal IT conference.
Networking and exchanging expertise are key issues, particularly for software engineers. Both work well at AXA through our own unit and through Switzerland and beyond. Apart from daily tools such as online team meetings and channels, there are regular IT Dev Summits with various country units from which we benefit enormously through reciprocal inputs.
"When it comes to my personal development, I can count on AXA."
You came to AXA as an apprentice. How would you describe your apprenticeship?
Exciting, full-on and challenging. My training to become a software engineer began in August 2016 and was excellent preparation for this job. Particular highlights were the apprentice camp, a language stay in England and my four-week work placement in Shanghai. AXA constantly supported me with all of this and still does so today.
What form does this support take?
When it comes to my personal development, I can count on AXA. I was already offered a full-time job in the established team directly following my apprenticeship. My business IT studies started at almost the same time, and then I began teaching IT modules at the vocational college. This wouldn't have been possible, had I not been able to reduce my workload at AXA to 80 percent.
At the beginning of every year, I take on the dissertations of apprentices in their apprenticeship companies. I can only juggle all my activities because AXA is such a flexible employer. I can choose when and where I work. There's even an option to work up to 30 days per year outside of Switzerland. Some employees want to find some winter sunshine and do their job from abroad, i.e. half vacation, half working from home. Anyone who doesn't have enough vacation can also take unpaid vacation days in just one mouse-click. Approval is only needed for unpaid leave of more than two weeks per year. For me, these are the things that set AXA apart from other employers.
"I can only juggle everything because AXA is so flexible. I can choose when and where I work."
You previously spoke about the corporate culture.....
Indeed. Broadly speaking, this has exactly to do with how much you do or don't like going to work. I like the open and pleasant interactions and the fact that everyone from apprentice to CEO at AXA Switzerland is treated equally.
We also share the mindset of wanting to make a difference, making life easier both for our customers and our colleagues. That's our mission and to achieve that, you need to be prepared to learn, take individual responsibility and use your initiative. These values are promoted by the company and are also very important to me personally. Be determined but not harsh - be willing to perform, but also be relaxed and add a touch of humor: I find that this combination works well. But a good culture is not just an end in itself, but the prerequisite for continual quality. Our customers ultimately benefit from this.
"Be willing to perform, but also be relaxed and add a touch of humor: this combination works well."
You seem to be someone who enjoys the unknown. What's your next adventure?
I actually do have plans, in that I'll be moving over internally to Human Resources in December. I'm really looking forward to my new job as a vocational trainer in IT. I'm sure there'll be plenty of adventures in store for me there!