Man at the top TIME FOR REEVALUATION 8 Talking heads What's NewS Issue 5 September 1995 first, we decided we wouldn't invest in it. But after a year we started to do it up. After f a year of working on it, a friend asked if I would like to be part of the National Gar den Scheme, which means allowing people in to look at it. That's when we got the bug.' The Gentises and their two children were ex- tremely lucky when they returned to Hol land after eight years in the UK. 'We weren't looking for a huge garden, we just happened to find one. It was a mature garden, but neglected. It took us three years to repair it. Every year I think: next year I'm just going to sit in it. But there's always something else to do. A garden is a long-term commitment. You plant things and you have to wait for quite a while before you see any results. Not long ago, my wife came running into the house shouting: 'We've got a handkerchief tree'. The tree had always been there. This was the first time it had flowered. It really^ was an amazing sight. I don't want to get too philosophical here, but what you plant today may start growing tomorrow. But it will only show next year, or even later. In that sense, it's a mirror of life, and a mirror of what we're trying to do here in the bank. You nuture and look after the things you sow on the ground. You have to plan ahead - you can't hurry a gar den. And you can't hurry a relationship in banking. You have to work on it all the time. I may have been raised and educated in towns and 5 cities, but the things I do in my spare time are not really out of character. They're ac- tually more a different aspectJ a- of what I do at work.' Corporate banking's field of activities is expanding all the time, genera- ting more and more fertile ground for divisional chief Henk Oentis and his team to work on. But besides new markets and sectors, Gentis also has another growth area to deal with every day, as What's NewS found out when we asked him about the man behind the job title. The head of corporate banking's office is or- dered, but permeated with an atmosphere of activity. Seated at his rather modest-sized conference table in his well-cut grey suit, Henk Gentis is every inch the urbane, effi ciënt but also accessible top-level banker. So at first it's rather hard to image him spend- ing hours up to his knees in an icy river patiently casting for fish. Nor can you im- mediately see him with a shotgun in hand tramping rural areas of Holland. 'These are actually my neglected hobbies,' he laughs, and suddenly you can picture him in a Bar- bour coat and rubber boots. 'The type of hunting I do is basically culling - the necessary thinning of herds and flocks. In Holland, it's very difficult to get a licence - you have to be al- most a biologist to obtain one. That's because the emphasis here is on conservation. And I don't just shoot animals for the pleasure of shooting them. I ac tually clean and then eat every- thing I bag during the season.' Fishing, shooting - for a man who was born and raised in an urban environment, these hob bies seem a little out of charac ter. 'And we haven't even got to my main in terest outside of work,' he smiles. Gentis readily admits he is an avid gardener. 'It's something I look forward to during the week,' he says. 'I really enjoy the sense of anticipation when I think: this weekend I'll do this or that in the garden.' By 'garden' he does not mean a neat plot comprising the obligatory lawn and odd flower bed. Gentis and his wife Brigitte work 15,000 square meters of land around their home. 'It all started when we went to London for the bank. Our house there had a garden. At The agreement between social partners in the Dutch banking industry to cut work ing hours to 36 per week will have far- reaching effects not only for staff but also for clients. According to José Bours who is part of the team working on implemention within Rabobank, it could be good news for all concerned. 'Clearly,' she says, 'the primary aim of this agreement is to preserve and generate em- ployment in the industry. But what it has also done is force us, as an organization, to reexamine how we work.' Bours, con troller in the operations division, has been working closely with P8cO to discover the most efficiënt and most feasible way to implement the new agreement. 'We began by charting the consequences of imple- mentation throughout the whole of CBS,' she explains. 'We needed to discover how it would affect efficiency and, importantly, whether it was actually feasible in div- isions, such as corporate banking, where staff has to be available for clients.' All divisions were asked to complete a comprehensive questionnaire on potential effects of the reduced working hours. 'The results showed that some divisions would be affected more radically than others, but all agreed it should be feasible in principle. One positive effect is that opening hours for member banks have become more flexible. That can have far-reaching consequences here at CBS, especially for financial markets and private banking and trust. Here in oper ations, we will also have to adjust our work ing hours to provide coverage from 7.00 to 20.00 on weekdays and for a period on Saturdays. In fact, this is a really useful de- velopment in that we will also be more accessible for the international network.' Although the agreement comes into force officially on October 1 this year, Rabobank has slated 1 March 1996 for implemen- tation. 'We currently have pilot schemes running in some sections of operations, in the treasury products department of finan cial markets, in one of the account manage ment teams in corporate banking and in international,' says Bours. 'These will help us discover just how the new agreement can work. The bottom line is that there will always be people who will put in more hours than they actually get paid for. But what we want to find out here is whether those staff members who do work very long hours aren't in fact overloaded. If that proves to be the case, then we'11 have to recruit. And that, of course, is one of the primary aims of the agreement. We'11 keep you up-to-date on the pilots.'

Rabobank Bronnenarchief

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