The idealist who brings about change
Ezra de Korte, Lead Expert Social Enterprise
Anyone who believes that Rabobank only has room for people with a financial or economic background is wrong. Take Ezra de Korte, Lead Expert Social Enterprise. He has the ambition to make the work of employees within Rabobank more meaningful.
Ezra’s not a banker by birth. Yet he still feels very much at home within the Rabobank. The company where he gets a lot of freedom to fulfill his ideal role. Before Ezra joined Rabobank, he worked for a social enterprise, Better Future. “This organization travels with employees of companies to other cultures, where they develop themselves and at the same time help the people there. I saw how interesting it is to take someone off his office chair and expose them to a different reality”.
An eco-systemic view
After a number of years, Ezra itself was looking for new opportunities to further develop itself. The Rabobank offered him the opportunity to discover within the bank what he could contribute with his social background. “This was a great project, in which I talked to many employees about how their work could be more efficient, more effective and, above all, more meaningful. I call it an ecosystem approach, in which I, as a sort of business anthropologist, examine the forces in and around the organization.”
Based on the results, Ezra then set up the Rabo Impact Agency project with a few colleagues. In the same vein as his experience at Better Future, he travelled with employees to a bank supported coffee cooperative in Uganda. “I really wanted them to experience what Rabobank is doing in the area of its mission: Growing a Better World Together. Not only were the employees themselves inspired by this, they were also able to share their knowledge with local entrepreneurs in order to help them get on with their work”.
The people involved look back enthusiastically on the experience, but Ezra is also critical. “It is important to really take meaningful work within Rabobank to a higher level and to make it last for as many people as possible. And we do not do this by reaching a limited number of people with one-off interventions. So we have to take all our employees with us and get to grips with our ideas. Because that’s what I learned in my relatively short time at this bank: you can achieve more if you really work together with others”.
Ezra has now entered the next phase. His aim is to make the cooperative structure of the bank more attractive to all Rabobank employees. “We do this, for example, by implementing different suggestions from employees. For example, colleagues felt that, as a bank, we give too little meaning to the banker’s oath that all bank employees in the Netherlands have to take. That’s why we did a try-out in which we take new managers to a reflection monastery, where they are introduced to the bank’s mission and reflect on how they can give it value and meaning.”
Ezra is particularly pleased that he has many opportunities within Rabobank to fulfill his ideal role and to help the company move forward. “I am grateful to the bank for this opportunity. We live in a rapidly changing and uncertain world. The financial system, and Rabobank in particular, can really bring about positive change. As a corporate disrupter, I want to make my contribution to this.”