Making numbers come alive with storytelling

Woman in blue suit (Business Controller) standing at glass wall.
Kiki Ruedisueli
Kiki Ruedisueli
Business Controller
Reading time4 minutes

How do you tell the story behind the numbers? Kiki Ruedisueli spoke enthusiastically about her work and the role that robots and storytelling play in it.

“What does a Business Controller Operations do? We act as sparring partners and trusted advisers for the departments we are responsible for—in my case, that is Operations. As Business Controller, I report to the management team on figures and budgets. I like to say that we are “the financial conscience.” This means that in the work we do and the advice we give, we are always mindful of the fact that it must contribute to the ambition of being a healthy bank. In addition, I find it important that the insights I share fit within the scope, strategy, and ambitions of Rabobank without losing sight of the people behind it.”

From junior to management team

“I started at Rabobank in a temp role and was then hired as a Business Controller. I've been doing that for about three and a half years now, but I've had so many opportunities and developed so much that it feels like I've had several jobs. In this role, it's important to understand how the organization works, what we do for our customers, and how we can strengthen each other within Rabobank. I see Operations as the “purring engine” of Rabobank. The department employs around 4,000 people who work directly for the benefit of our customers every day. What we do here matters to the outside world. The figures we calculate have an impact on society.”

Kiki Ruedisueli (Business Controller) works at home behind laptop.

“From a junior position focused on general processes and reporting, I progressed to coordinating work such as the multi-year budget (midterm planning) and then became a trusted advisor to the management team. Every month, I present figures and insights to the management team, which bases its decisions on them. We discuss Rabobank’s budgets, future budgets, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Based on the figures, I explain the actions we can take. What I like is how Operations sees their Business Controllers as full MT members. You slot into the management team’s routine, joining them for everything from regular meetings to annual plans.”

"Storytelling is an incredibly important skill." 
Kiki Ruedisueli, Business Controller Operations

Robots enable storytelling

Within Operations, Kiki works for the Payments Department and, since recently, the Robotics Wealth Building and Insurance Department (RVV). Kiki: “They are not robots like in the movies, but solutions for automating processes, ranging from automatically sorting activities by priority to the automatic preparation of files. It is so wonderful to see how much value this creates across the bank. The other day, my fellow Business Controllers and I were brainstorming about the potential of robots in our profession. Which processes can we outsource? How can we get insights quickly? A lot of time goes into producing reports even though it would be more valuable to spend that time analyzing and advising.”

Business Controller Kiki Ruedisueli in consultation with colleague in banking hall.

“The way you explain figures is so important. I focus on the story behind the figures, that's where my role adds value: storytelling. It’s a skill that is becoming increasingly important, alongside skills such as complex problem-solving and analytical skills. Storytelling brings to life the story behind a hard number. As Business Controllers, we move from numbers to consultancy. We also call this a move from Chief Finance Officer to Chief Value Officer. This is why I think storytelling is an incredibly important skill to keep developing.”

Personal development

Rabobank offers all kinds of opportunities for personal and professional development. As an employee, you can arrange your own development path and your career, for example with the personal development budget. Kiki: “My manager and I look at which areas I want to develop further in. What appeals to me, what do I still want to learn, where can I contribute? I am very eager to learn and enjoy acquiring new knowledge. For instance, I attend seminars on leadership or knowledge sessions. But I also like talking to people on the floor about how they do their work. Another option is to temporarily join another department. I got to work at Investor Relations for six months on the publication of the annual figures. That was incredibly valuable for my development. The culture is open, everyone is always willing to brainstorm with you or explain something.”

Woman in orange coat walks down street with two small, white dogs.

Recovery time does not appear to be a word in Kiki's dictionary. “That’s true! But, because we work hybrid at Rabobank, I have the freedom to have a flexible schedule. After an intensive session, I love to go for a long walk in the woods with my dogs just to clear my head and let everything sink in. When I get back, I return to work fresh. I am 110% committed to our customers and my colleagues. I believe that by doing your job well, by really going that extra mile, you make the world a better place.”

When asked where she will be in five years, Kiki replied, “I find that an incredibly difficult question. I have broad interests and the opportunities within the bank are endless, so I'm sure the next one will present itself. And in the words of Pippi Longstocking, “I've never tried that before, so I think I definitely should be able to do that.” Perhaps I’ll go see what’s happening around IT or make a parallel step to another position. As far as I'm concerned, growth can be both horizontal and vertical. My path is not yet finished at Rabobank, I am 100% sure of that.”