Getting Ahead

How This VP Keeps Growing and Evolving at Work

person standing inside of the New York Stock Exchange
Shane Mitchell, the Vice President of Transformation, Data, and Innovation at Deutsche Bank.
| Courtesy of Deutsche Bank

When it comes to his career, Shane Mitchell does not believe in obstacles. Rather, he prefers the word “challenge”—and he has never shied away from one, instead looking at each situation as a chance to move upward.

“I’ve discovered that being in a role that doesn’t align well with your core skill sets or career interests can still benefit your overall career trajectory,” he says. “It’s usually helpful to take a broader perspective in these situations. You can focus on building skills and experiences in anticipation of your next career move and gain a deeper understanding of exactly what does or doesn’t excite you. Thankfully, I’ve always managed to stay positive and find the good in each step of my career.”

His can-do attitude has served him well in his career to date at Deutsche Bank. As a VP in Transformation, Data and Innovation, he’s part of a team that analyzes large data sets, extracts important insights, and distills complex information for diverse audiences. “We also collaborate with business partners and IT to develop automated tools to improve reporting and data analytics processes,” he says.

Here, he talks about what excites him about data, how to gain more exposure in a massive company, and what it means when employees can bring their authentic selves to work.

Tell us about your career journey, and what led you to your job at Deutsche Bank.

After completing my undergraduate study in mechanical engineering, I began my professional career as a mechanical design engineer. I’ve always had a strong interest in financial services and leveraged the quantitative, analytical, and problem-solving skills I developed in my early career to switch focus. Since transitioning to financial services, I’ve held roles of increasing levels of responsibility in data management, reporting, and analytics at several firms and in different areas of banking. Deutsche Bank offered a unique opportunity to not only continue that journey, but also to expand my areas of expertise and take on more responsibilities.

What attracted you to work in finance, and specifically at Deutsche Bank?

The financial services industry is very dynamic and constantly evolving, and I wanted to be in an environment where I was constantly being challenged and afforded opportunities for continuous learning and growth. Deutsche Bank’s global scale, breadth of products, and services and commitment to creating an engineering culture driven by collaboration and innovation has provided the ideal situation for me personally.

What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?

I’m currently involved in several projects focused on how our business partners source data; analyze and extract information from this data; and communicate actionable insights in an efficient and concise manner to the relevant stakeholders. It requires developing innovative solutions to data management and analytics processes, leveraging new technologies, and influencing our business partners to consider and adopt new ways of working. When executed correctly, these projects enable business partners to focus more on extracting insights as opposed to managing and manipulating data. These projects give me the chance to collaborate across different functions and departments, gaining unique exposure.

How has Deutsche Bank supported your growth and development during your tenure at the company?

I’ve been able to make the most of both formal and informal learning since joining the bank. A vast range of self-paced e-learning courses are available to all. These span a wide range of topics, from developing technical subject skills to soft skills, and employees also have the chance to do job-shadowing in other departments. I’ve attended informal events such as lunch-and-learn sessions and fireside chats with senior managers. The bank also has formal development programs for employees at different stages of their career. I was recently nominated to participate in a development program for minority VPs, which is a unique chance to connect with senior executives and develop leadership capabilities.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your work at Deutsche Bank, and how did you overcome it?

An organization on the scale of Deutsche Bank is undoubtedly a plus from a career growth perspective, but navigating such a complex organization can be challenging, especially when you first join. Since joining the bank, I have developed relationships with stakeholders and managers that I leveraged to navigate the organization. I’m also developing a wide network of colleagues across the organization that I can tap into as needed.

What do you like best about the company culture at Deutsche Bank?

The people. I have been truly impressed with the talented and hardworking colleagues I’ve worked with since joining the firm. Everyone is always willing to collaborate and help. There is a shared sense of commitment to getting things done at a project level and to the organization’s success in general.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace has been a topic on all of our minds lately. How has Deutsche Bank rethought its approach to D&I in light of the Black Lives Matter movement?

The business has taken an honest look at the organization from a D&I perspective in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, initially focusing on listening to feedback from minority colleagues across the bank about their experiences. With the charge being led by Christiana Riley, CEO of Deutsche Bank in the Americas, concrete actions have already been taken and measurable goals set to improve diversity throughout the business via recruitment, retention, internal mobility, and career development for Black and other ethnic minority employees.

Why do you think diversity and inclusion is important in the workplace? What has been your personal experience with D&I during your tenure at Deutsche Bank?

There is no shortage of studies showing that teams and organizations that are diverse in terms of race, gender, age, and other dimensions—and reflect the make of the society in which they operate—perform better than less diverse counterparts. However, beyond economic performance, fostering an environment where every employee can be their authentic self without fear of conscious or unconscious bias leads to a vibrant and energized workforce and enables everyone to perform at their highest potential.

Early in my time with the bank, I joined the Black Leadership Forum, our internal Employee Resource Group for Black employees. This forum allowed me to interact with colleagues with similar backgrounds and life experiences in a less formal setting and also to see people who looked like me at various stages of their careers and in different areas across the bank. I’m also a co-chair of the professional development sub-committee, working to deliver programming that enhances the career outcomes for minority colleagues.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received, and how has it served you well in your career at Deutsche Bank?

Be proactive in managing your career. This involves having frequent and open dialogue with your manager about your goals and development needs. Recently, I got involved in a high-profile project outside my immediate area of responsibilities; this led to an opportunity to switch roles, which I was able to do with the support of my manager.

Additionally, and critically important, is to identify mentors, ideally outside your immediate team, who you trust to speak to honestly and who can help you think through important decisions about your career. The bank has formal mentorship programs and provides opportunities to meet and network with senior managers and possibly establish these relationships independently.