Management Trainee on elephant hunt

“David, today you shall officially go live with the pilot of [a new support system], infuse support agents with best practice processes and suggest how artificial intelligence can aid the support. Oh and by the way David, you make sure not to miss the meeting with board of directors that expect a path forward to fulfill strategic goals.”

Wait, what just happened? How did an information system student suddenly end up shouldering responsibilities with the size of an elephant? Being a Management Trainee is just like that. You are handpicked into a domain you wish to explore, assigned real life cases and shoulder responsibilities that comes with it. Is it scary? It sure can be! However, I never felt I was tackling this elephant alone. I worked closely with key personnel, gatekeepers and I was entitled with mandate to dissect this grey colossal piece by piece.

This is my third project and its rapidly nearing its end, but I feel confident in sharing three lessons learned in an attempt to provide a better understanding of what life’s like as Management Trainee.


1. Get s**t done

The obvious answer, as you’ve heard hundreds of times, is to set clear achievable targets and a plan filled with milestones to ensure incremental steps towards the finish line. What’s perhaps not so obvious is that I learned to appreciate the value and the effect of not unveiling challenges without a suggestion on how to solve it. Everyone can identify problems, however, if you expose a challenge accompanied with a solution, you demonstrate initiative, act proactively and show respect towards colleagues you seek advice from. Surely, plenty of ingredients are require to cook the secret sauce of success, but I can’t help but feel that this approach really empowered me throughout the project and unlocked resources needed get s**t done.  


2. Noise canceling headphones ON!

When I arrived at this project I quickly realized that I cannot compare with colleagues’ in terms of experience, skills and particular domain knowledge. What I could contribute with however, was a holistic perspective and the role as the devil’s advocate by challenging old ways of doing things. This contribution inspired project stakeholders, and requests started pouring in from angles I didn’t know existed. Undoubtedly, this is flattering but incorporating too many additional requests into my project may hinder me from reaching predetermined goals. I rarely back down from a challenge but I argue the importance of picking your battles. I, together with my project owner, decided on what requests to consider as noise and what requests I should consider. This guided me forward in a whirlwind of voices – noise canceling headphones ON


3. Change is difficult – communicate  

Implementing a new system and developing new ways of working demands change. Now, Visma frequently stirs the pot in order to stay competitive and I would argue Visma colleagues are very adaptive compared with my previous work experiences. That being said, change never comes easy. How do I ensure that internal as well as external stakeholders sing the same melody? I’ve not fully seen the result of my change but I’ve learned that continuous project reporting to stakeholders and customers to some extent go a long way. Additionally, I request two 15 minute meetings each week with my project owner to calibrate the scope and to open the doors needed to spread information.  



In conclusion, how did I enjoy this elephant? It was delicious beyond belief!  Through the course of two months in this project, two things are for certain.  One: personally, this project gave me unprecedented professional growth. Two: I’ve developed a delicate appetite for elephants which I intend to satisfy as I continue as Management Trainee in Visma.