RabobankAcademy: EMBRACING A HUMAN CHALLENGE 14 human resources WHAT'S News Issue 9 October 1997 In the knowledge-based, relationship-driven world of 21st century banking, inspired management of human resources will be the central element in competitive success. An organization will only prosper if 3 its people can establish and cultivate superlative customer a T3 relationships. Against this background, What's NewS reports on an I O important new initiative in our ongoing human development effort. Our decision to become a global player in the world of Food and Agri (F&A), outlined in the Strategy Plan 1996-2000, has presented the organization with a new and fundamentally human challenge. We need to rapidly reorient our global F&A professionals to deal with the greater responsibilities they will shortly face. According to the managing board, this will involve nothing less than embracing the 'dramatic mentality change and behavioral change needed to transform Rabobank International into a customer- driven organization.' Responsibility for designing this course has been assigned to the RabobankAcademy. The program will involve several outside institutions - including Harvard Business School and Kellogg University in the US - in a remarkably innovative and dynamic approach to staff development. SHARPENING COMPETITIVENESS By now, the Academy is a familiar element in our organization. At the outset, it focused on addressing the pressing needs of our local bank network. Once we embarked upon an ambitious phase of global transformation and growth, it was clear that Rabobank International's Pieter van Gent helping transform professionals into experts. expansion would also involve associated human challenges that would require a dedicated center of competence as well. The Academy has since evolved an extensive curriculum - with programs ranging from the general to the highly specific - intended to sharpen our individual and collective competitiveness throughout the whole Rabobank organization. These have been developed both in-house and in conjunction with outside experts. The Academy was therefore the natural choice to coordinate the latest and perhaps most highly demanding and critical task of retraining F&A relationship managers. TRAINING EXPERTS It is interesting to note that the F&A training program is being developed under the pressure of especially tight deadlines: the launch date for the first class is set for the start of next year. 'We have been asked to design a prototype program that will rapidly enable both our account managers and our product specialists to operate in a completely new way,' says Henny van de Schraaf, project coördinator, who is working closely with both Gerrit Broekstra, a professor of organizational behaviour and a director of the Nijenrode Centre for Corporate Renewal, as well as with Pieter van Gent, of management development. 'Essentially, the challenge is to transform sales-oriented professionals into expert market consultants. We have to learn to place the sale of products and services in the context of an even more overriding priority. To cultivate enduring and profitable cliënt alliances, our relationship managers will need to take a more global perspective on the F&A market as a whole, and to cultivate a talent for dynamically matching our capabilities to specific and long-term cliënt needs.' Henny van de Schraaf (right) and Gerrit Broekstra working closely together on the new training challenge. HIGH STAKES If this sounds like a tall order, the stakes are equally high. The significance of the F&A training programme - initiated by Henk Gentis and Hans Megens of the policy committee Food Agri - is reflected in the total USD five million budget that has been allocated to it. This translates into an investment of some USD 10,000 per participant - excluding the costs of travel. Classes are being designed to promote functional and geographic networking throughout the organization. Each class of 25-30 participants will include both account managers and product specialists selected to form a representative cross-section of offices throughout the world. ACTION LEARNING The course will consist of three intensive three-day 'action learning' sessions - each at a different location - spread over a period of six months. The 'action learning' element will include dividing each class into six or seven smaller sub-groups. At the outset of the course, each subgroup will be invited to identify a real-life company, approach it, and attempt to establish an ongoing research relationship with that firm. At the same time, the intensive first module of the course, which is being designed together with Ray Goldberg, a noted industry consultant and Harvard Business School Professor, will consider a series of case studies intended to enhance understanding of the F&A market worldwide. The second phase, will look to the other side of the 'hourglass' namely, general and specific developments in the world of banking and corporate finance. The last module, which will take

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blad 'What's news' (EN) | 1997 | | pagina 14