Image by Farico Marques from The Pattern Library
Alex Walters
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

An intern's perspective: iMBA - 10x and then some

I always knew when I started my iMBA that I wanted to complete at least two different internships and if possible to do one with an organisation doing something totally beyond my understanding of the world. Something really mind blowing. When I first mentioned the idea to my friend Britt, her response was that I should try to work at NASA.

10x Banking is not sending people into space but it is doing something that has challenged how I see the world in ways that I didn’t anticipate. 

More than anything, my experience there made me grow up. Building a digital bank from the ground up is complex work. It requires deep technical knowledge, profound industry experience and a commitment to doing difficult things in circumstances that aren’t always easy. Seeing how the 10x Banking team operates every day raised the bar for what I want to achieve. 

My time there made me want to improve. More specifically, here are five things my research experience taught me:

1.    Researching how finance is changing has taught me how the world is changing. If I have done one activity more than any other in the last 10 weeks, it is reading. From books, and research to articles and data sources, I had to absorb and make sense of a lot of information. The forces that are driving change in finance reflect a broader global shift and the reading I did has given me an insight into the world that I didn’t have before.

2.    A little bit of fear is like salt in your food. After a talk from a former SAS soldier who shared insights on the importance of planning and embracing the unknown, I decided to step up and away from my desk and do a presentation to the 10x team. Standing in front of a world-leading group of finance and technology minds to tell them something they don’t already know about finance and technology sharpened up my thinking and left me wanting to do more.

3.    Gathering information is important, but so is presenting it. One of the hardest parts of the whole experience was figuring out how to present such a complex picture of interrelated ideas. I think there is more I can do in this respect to get better at understanding and explaining complex ideas but I received two key pieces of advice that I will keep with me:

Research: Less is more. A good report can be five pages long - everything else is an appendix.

Presentations: Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.

4.    Move fast but make sure you don’t break anything. Technology has transformed a number of industries but it is increasingly important for organisations of any size to demonstrate that they can operate within regulatory boundaries. Working for an organisation in an industry as regulated as financial services gave me an insight into how important that idea is and what that looks like in reality.

5.    You don’t know what you don’t know. My time with 10x made it clear to me that I have much more to learn about the world and how it works. That may sound obvious but I have never been faced with such a huge amount of information that I had never come across before - everything from a new vocabulary all the way to fundamental ideas about building digital platforms and applications. I found that really inspiring and it made me want to dig deeper and to keep exploring. 

I am going to spend the next few weeks reflecting on an amazing year and I will share my thoughts on the whole experience as soon as possible. If I have learnt anything this year, it is that my iMBA is just the start.  

I am looking forward to everything still to come.

This article first appeared on Alex's LinkedIn channel.

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