Having worked for ING for the past 15 years in two different countries, Adina Duma thinks she might have orange blood. Currently IT Area Lead for Mortgages, she shares how to adapt to working in a foreign country, her advice for new mothers and why only the sky or self-confidence is the limit to a career at ING.
Follow your instincts and capabilities
Growing up in Romania, culturally you’re encouraged to study hard and be the best, says Adina, which is how she found herself in an IT career. Maths was her best subject at school, so she chose to study mathematics at university, and the best ranked section of the university was the informatics one.
“Everything led me down this path, but it wasn’t really a conscious choice. Although I do remember my uncle, who used to work as a programmer, telling me as a child that a computer can do whatever you want it to do. That shocked me and sounded pretty amazing.”
In her final year of university, Adina started working for a small software company in Romania, where she gained experience across programming, testing and system analysis. After four years, she was ready for her next challenge. A former colleague recommended ING as a great place to work, so she took a job there as a System Analyst – that was 2005.
Adina admits she’s been lucky in her career, having fallen into IT and ING, both of which worked out extremely well. But she doesn’t believe you should rely on luck, instead recommending you follow your instincts and capabilities.
Finding your fit
There are a number of reasons why Adina has stayed with ING for 15 years. One of which is the company’s way of life – ‘The Orange Code’ – which is aligned to her own personal values.
“One of the components of The Orange Code is that you are always a step ahead by bringing change and that’s what I stand for. The organisation cares about excellence and rewards people who are bringing excellence. Only the sky or self confidence is the limit in ING,” she says.
“People might think that ING is a financial institution and doesn’t know much about technology, but we actually do. We innovate and follow the latest technology trends and do some really cool things that challenge the technical landscape. That means there are always new initiatives and projects to work on. You can’t get bored.”
ING also has a diverse and inclusive culture where everyone is encouraged to bring their whole self to work, with plenty of networking groups, mentoring programs and initiatives to help women succeed.
The challenge of a new country
After 13 years at ING in Romania, having worked her way up to Head of Application Development, Adina was again ready for her next challenge.
“When you work for a company for that long, everybody knows you, your reputation precedes you. I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could make it in a totally different environment where nobody knows me.”
But not wanting to leave ING, Adina decided to stay with the company and move to a different country. “I chose Australia because I knew ING’s technical landscape here was advanced, with a sophisticated digital presence. Plus I’ve always loved Australia because of the ocean and weather.”
Adina describes the experience of moving countries as extraordinary. “I’ve learnt a lot here, particularly working within different cultures and how to work with distributed teams [50% of Adina’s team of 70 is based offshore]. It ticked all the boxes.”
Her tips for anyone moving to a foreign country for work are to try to adapt and have patience.
“The most important thing is taking the time to understand the environment you’re in and adapting your style to suit cultural differences. For example, in Romania people are very direct, but it’s different here, so you need to be able to adapt.”
Women in technology and motherhood
Adina is adamant that more women should consider a career in technology. “If women can raise kids, working in technology is a piece of cake. The work is easy and logical, and so diverse. There are many different roles you can choose from. And it’ll future-proof your career because technology is the future.”
For anyone who does want to pursue an IT career, Adina offers this advice: “Trust yourself and your capabilities, and try to find people that can mentor you along the way. Let yourself be guided and seek different perspectives from more experienced people rather than trying to solve it on your own.”
The mother of an eight-year-old son, Adina believes women shouldn’t feel guilty if they want to have both a career and children. She has two tips for new mothers: Don’t feel the need to follow society and get help if you need it.
“I really struggled staying home. I wanted to go back to work, yet most of my friends really enjoyed not working and being at home with their child. At first, I was blaming myself, thinking I was a bad mother but eventually I realised everyone’s different and that’s ok.”
After eight months, Adina found a babysitter and went back to work part-time. “It was amazing. I was happy and my son was happy because I was happy. Emotions are contagious and how I felt affected how he felt.”
Finding your passion
As an IT Area Lead, Adina is responsible for the end-to-end technology delivery within ING’s mortgages tribe. This includes everything from managing the strategy, roadmap and budget to recruiting, team productivity and improvement initiatives.
Adina’s passion within IT has always been delivery, as it’s very tangible. “In delivery, you get to create problem-solving technology solutions and see the results of your work, from an idea for customers using your software and the business getting the value. It is not only theory and design but also execution. You get to see and manage your product in real-life, and handle the good and the bad that comes with that. You also need to take responsibility for errors, which gives you the opportunity to constantly learn.
“It’s very motivating to know you can make a difference every single day you come to work.”