In this ITAM Review interview, we speak to Laura Pedersen, IT Asset Manager in the global ITAM team at Danske Bank, about her role in stakeholder management and flying the flag for ITAM within the Danish bank. If the name Danske Bank sounds familiar to you, it is because they are the current winners of the “ITAM Project of the Year” award, which they won for “elevating and broadening the role of ITAM within the organization and placing ITAM into a key role in the bank’s transformation agenda.”
Laura will also be speaking alongside her colleague Scott Beasley, Chief IT Asset Manager at Danske Bank at the upcoming Wisdom EMEA 2022 conference. Their talk “ITAM – Show me the money!” will discuss the role that ITAM can play in delivering cost efficiency for your organisation, and how to identify & engage key stakeholders to guarantee success. It will include cost saving categorisation and how to track and report the value delivered by the ITAM function. Read more here.
The Danske Bank ITAM team is truly global, with its circa 20 team members based all over the globe. Laura, who is Lithuanian but grew up in Denmark, currently works out of Vilnius, Lithuania.
Laura’s ITAM career can be attributed to that all-too-rare combination of extreme self-awareness, personal confidence, and ambition. Throw in a good manager who can recognise these traits and put them to good use in the form of Rachel Ryan, and you have the recipe for Laura’s career so far.
Like most ITAM professionals, Laura’s path into ITAM is not a direct one. In fact, Laura initially planned to be an artist, so she moved from Denmark back to her home country of Lithuania to apply to the local art academy. During the entrance exams she looked around the room and realised very quickly that the artist’s life was not for her. “I was in a room full of hippies. The other candidates didn’t even believe that I was there to study art. They thought I was an accountant. They didn’t think I was going to be a student at all.”
While art would always remain a passion of hers, Laura realised it would not be her career. “I thought, I can still paint in my spare time, so it’s not a big deal.” Laura didn’t even bother completing her application for the academy. Instead, she joined Danske Bank in the customer services team. “I really enjoyed it. I liked the creativity you could apply to customer services. But I wanted a bigger challenge.”
Danske Bank is very good at using its customer services team as a recruiting ground for talent to move into other roles within the bank. But this posed something of a dilemma for Laura. She wanted a bigger challenge but noticed that most people would move onto more technical roles and become coders. “I didn’t think I was very technical. I learned during my time at Danske Bank that I really liked IT, but I didn’t think coding was for me. So I asked myself, what could I do in IT that wasn’t so technical?”
This is where fate played its part. It just so happened that Laura’s desk was positioned directly opposite the ITAM team. She became curious. “I started asking them what they do. I thought it was quite interesting. There were so many aspects to it that appealed to me – they were working with stakeholders and providing value to them, there was reporting, governance, project management etc. all of the things that I liked. I could also see you didn’t have to be a technical person to work there.”
Clearly the team appreciated Laura’s curiosity too, because they allowed her to shadow them for an hour to see what they did. When they showed her the SAM tool, her eyes lit up!
“There were so many things I could learn. You could go really technical, or lean more into more governance, communication and stakeholder engagement. I had good analytical skills that I wanted to explore. This was all very interesting for me. I also thought it would be challenging – especially knowing that not all stakeholders would want to listen to me.”
I asked her if she found the idea of stakeholder management intimidating, especially if the stakeholder in question didn’t want someone from ITAM ‘poking their nose in’. She just laughed. “I came from customer service. Speaking with internal stakeholders is easy.”
Before too long, Laura became the person responsible for governance and processes. She started using Tableau (the data visualization software), because “it makes data look really cool.” It didn’t take long before Laura – this self-confessed “non-coder” – was coding in Tableau.
Recently Laura decided to become a specialist in governance and processes, so she is currently training in this. The Danske Bank team is working to align its processes with the ITAM ISO standard 19770-1, and is supporting the ITAM Forum’s efforts to develop the ITAM ISO certification.
“Right now I’m learning everything I can about processes and governance – collecting data, running reports, understanding what data I need to collect. I needed to think about what data to collect, what story I need to tell, and who the audience is.”
I asked Laura whether she had any mentors in her career, either in ITAM or elsewhere. “My whole team are mentoring me. As long as you express that you want to learn they’re willing to teach you. It is important to have a good relationship with the team you’re working with. Rachel (my manager) is willing to give as much as she can to help me. She is always available for advice, training etc.”
Lastly, I asked Laura for any tips she would give to someone else who is looking to enhance their ITAM career. This can be summarised with the simple phrase; ‘stay curious’. “It’s important to keep asking questions. If you just turn up and sit, you won’t go anywhere. People won’t throw things at you. Stay curious. Don’t give up hope. There is always something more to learn.”
We are regularly told that happiness and fulfilment are achieved when we follow our passions. “If you do something you love you’ll never work a day in your life” etc. But sometimes, it isn’t entirely obvious how to turn a passion into a career. Laura clearly realised that there are multiple paths to fulfilment, and they are not mutually exclusive either. Laura didn’t have to go to the art academy to feed her creative aspirations. Even though she didn’t join the art academy, she is still an artist. She is an artist in ITAM.
Is there someone you would like to put forward for an ITAM Review interview? We want to show the people behind ITAM. We are a varied, inclusive and eclectic bunch, and no two paths into ITAM are the same, so we want to hear from you and tell your story. Contact me on email@example.com if you would like to get involved.