‘I started working at Rabobank in 2003, but I interrupted my career to live abroad for about seven years. When I got back, I noticed the bank had undergone huge changes. The work culture is very open now, we work together more, talk to each other more, and any rigid structures have dissolved. Employees are given the freedom to work on what they want, where they feel they can make the biggest contribution. Creativity is our watchword these days. That transformation and the mindset that goes with it don’t develop overnight. But they’ve certainly developed at Rabobank.’
‘I came back to the bank as Wholesale Business Development Manager after my time abroad. I focused on skills in that role – our employees in other words – and what our bankers need professionally and personally to flourish. I realized right away that innovation and data can play key roles here. I also saw ever more clearly that employees are at the heart of any business, and that sparked my passion for HR.
“I started at HR as a Skill Pool Manager. As such, I provided employees with one-on-one guidance to boost their development. What most intrigued me though, was finding out how data and technology could support them. That’s what I specialize in now. As part of the Innovation Hub I look at how new advances like Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, VR and robotics can help HR – and our employees. The bank has given me all the space I need to develop this concept. We want to lead in these developments, rather than just keeping up with them.’
Employees in the driving seat
‘How do we make sure the employee is firmly in the driving seat? That’s the question at the core of my work. To answer it, we run all sorts of projects at the Innovation Hub. For example, we’re in the middle of developing Furhat, a robot that enables employees to practice what they learn during training sessions. We keep trying out things with it and getting surprising results. Employees have shared that they prefer talking to Furhat, that they like the fact he doesn’t judge them, and that they can practice whenever they want.
Another project utilizes blockchain to give employees ownership of their data. We want them to be able to collect information such as their qualifications, certificates and projects in a credentials wallet facilitated by blockchain. Up to now, they had to collect the data from different internal and external systems to add to their resume. That wouldn’t be required anymore. The credentials wallet would also let people make arrangements within a day if they want to work on a temporary project elsewhere. Imagine how much faster HR and onboarding procedures would be if we could share validated information in less than a second.’
Collaboration accelerates innovation
‘Working together is essential for innovation and renewal. The technology is available, but the challenge lies in making the most of it. As a public-spirited, cooperative institution, Rabobank has always looked beyond its own walls. In HR we are focused on the human element of the bank’s ‘Growing a better world together’ mission. It’s up to people to create that better world and technology can help us get there, but we won’t get anywhere it we don’t collaborate. If we are to profit as a society from tech advances, we need to share the knowledge that’s out there, boost transparency, and genuinely work together. Within the bank and outside it. That’s why we engage with other employers, start-ups, the government, colleges and universities. I spend about 10 percent of my time sharing insights with external parties. Thinking of each other as competitors is an outdated concept. It blocks innovation and progress, and hampers employees. I’m convinced we need an open job market. Let’s start building it together.’