Employee Development Through Secondment: The ECB Experience
MAY 11, 2021

MFSA employees have the opportunity to be seconded to other institutions or entities.

Speaking to NewsHub, Calvin Cassar, Head, People & Culture at the MFSA stated that: “We see secondments as a valuable opportunity for employee development. It offers career development opportunities for employees, opening them up to new perspectives, different ways of working and the chance to develop new skills. From the point of view of the organisation, secondments also pay dividends by increasing employee engagement whilst strengthening their skills base.”

Elena Jetcheva, an Analyst within Banking Supervision at the MFSA , recently returned from a secondment experience at the European Central Bank (ECB). NewsHub had a chat with her to find out more about this great opportunity.

1. What made you want to pursue a secondment opportunity?

I wanted to experience a different working environment and to obtain a fresh perspective on how banking supervision is performed at ECB level. In addition, I wanted to acquire international experience, so I was also keen on living and working in Germany.

2. Why did you choose the ECB as the place to carry out your secondment?

Working in a joint supervisory team entails extensive cooperation with the ECB on supervising a significant credit institution. Therefore, I was already familiar with the ECB and wanted to enhance my banking supervision skills by working from the ECB side.

3. How long was your secondment? What were your responsibilities?

My secondment was for a period of 10 months. I was responsible for the ongoing micro-prudential supervision of a credit institution as part of a joint supervisory team (JST), which comprises local and ECB experts. More specifically, my tasks included, amongst others, the risk analysis and the monitoring of the COVID-19 impact in the areas of operational and liquidity risk, where I also contributed to the drafting of formal ECB decisions and recommendation letters. In addition, I was closely involved in crisis management tasks and coordinated the cooperation between the JST and the Single Resolution Board.

4. Your secondment coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. What was that like?

The pandemic environment and the ensuing lockdown put some strain on day-to-day work, which needed some adapting to. Nevertheless, work continued and the virtual working environment has now become the norm.

5. What are the advantages of going on a secondment?

It is nice to have a change of atmosphere, learn new things from a fresh perspective, and most importantly, grow as a professional. From a work perspective, I enjoy looking back at the tasks and projects I have successfully completed and contributed to, and this gives me a sense of fulfilment. From a personal aspect, I not only formed a strong working relationship with my colleagues but also made some friends along the way.

6. How did this secondment help you grow as a professional?

The secondment helped me to further develop my supervisory skills and to learn new ones, since I was involved in a number of projects where I received valuable guidance from experienced experts from various divisions within the ECB. The manner in which work is being done there has also given me a new perspective on how to approach tasks and evaluate which processes or procedures would be effective or not. I think the secondment has not only benefitted me personally but I also believe that I can add value to banking supervision locally by applying the experience I have acquired to a number of projects. Moreover, due to the circumstances, the virtual working environment presented everybody with many challenges that necessitated work under pressure and under tight deadlines – I saw this as an opportunity to learn fast, to support my team in times of stress and to get the job done, which I found very rewarding.

7. Working in a different organisation and country requires some adaptation of the way you work as well as your lifestyle. What were the biggest changes that you had to adapt to?

I welcome change, so adaptation in the context of lifestyle changes was not really an issue for me. Living in Germany for a short period of time was a great experience – I explored Frankfurt, although this was limited in view of the raging Covid-19 pandemic at the time. I got to live in a financial centre, and even managed to learn some German. In terms of work, I am very grateful to my ECB colleagues and the experts who I learned so much from.

8. What would you tell someone who asked if they should pursue a secondment opportunity?

I would definitely encourage it. I think it is a great learning experience where you are continuously challenged, which helps you improve and build new skills. It is enjoyable too.