"What makes Desjardins different?" is an interview series with employees who make Desjardins what it is: a cooperative that works for its members and clients. From programmers to field agents, find out what drives them at work every day.
In this interview, Thinhinane Alliche, a programmer-analyst from the Cross-Sector Solutions, Innovation and Core Service Centre Department, tells us why she joined Desjardins and how it feels to be part of the Desjardins family.
What is your educational background?
I'm Algerian and I went to school in Algeria, where I obtained a college diploma in math and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. After graduating, I left Algeria to come to Canada. When I got here, I decided to change fields and got a diploma in information management.
How did you start working at Desjardins?
I started as an intern, working part time. The internship became full time when I finished the diploma program. A few months later, I got a call and was finally offered a position. I jumped at the opportunity to come back!
What made you choose Desjardins in the first place for your internship?
Desjardins was my first choice because I saw that it was a cooperative that puts people first and contributes a lot to society. After working a few months as an intern, I was set on staying here to work.
What does a programmer-analyst do?
My job involves programming new and existing features for different platforms used across the entire organization. I need to be able to think, analyze and design. I also code and work on different projects. Then I run tests to make sure that what we put in place really meets members' needs.
What does a typical workday look like?
It's actually amazing! I start each day with a 15-20-minute team meeting, where my colleagues and I talk about what we're working on and what we did the day before. We also discuss things we're struggling with so that we can help each other.
When we're in the office, we have sticky notes with different tasks on a big board. We decide among ourselves which tasks to take. We discuss them and take the ones that match our skills. We have a lot of flexibility in choosing what we work on every day.
When we work from home, we're connected all day with our team so we can stay in touch and ask questions.
Do you feel free to suggest new ideas?
Definitely! We're encouraged to come up with new ideas or suggest new technologies.
For example, when I was an intern, we did manual testing and it took a lot of time. We suggested some new technologies to automate certain tasks. Our managers let us install them and gave us the resources and time we needed.
You just need to make suggestions. Your boss will definitely encourage you. My suggestions have always been welcomed.
What is your favourite thing about working here so far?
Graduating from college with little or no experience is always stressful. You ask yourself if you're capable and if you're going to get there. But the first time you step foot into our offices, you'll feel reassured. We'll tell you that we know you don't know everything, but we'll teach you everything.
After a few months, you'll feel like you belong here--like you're contributing and adding value to the team. We'll make you feel welcome, encourage you and give you the recognition you deserve. You'll feel like you're here for a reason and not just working for the paycheque.
Everyone gets along. Our managers are like our friends, and there's a good workplace culture. They'll help you solve your problems and grow professionally. They'll also be involved in all of our activities and support us personal level. Our managers will make you feel you're part of the team, because that's really important to them.
What do you think about women's place in technology?
Right now, it's obvious that there aren't a lot of women in my field. At my school, there were only 4 or 5 women. And when I graduated, there were only 2. I want to see more women working in IT. Women might feel scared about going into the field, but they need to tell themselves that they're capable, be assertive and take their place. We need to improve the gender balance in this field in order to succeed. Both women and men have strengths, and when you combine their strengths, you have a really strong team.
If a friend asked you what it's like to work at Desjardins, what would you say?
I could go on and on about all the wonderful things here!
For example, my employer's caring approach during the COVID-19 pandemic has made me appreciate Desjardins even more. We're surrounded by a lot of uncertainty, but I feel comforted and supported by the organization.