A major part of
myjob is to help
create a culture in
can excel, so we
can offer our
B Who is John Ryan?
El Teil us something about your
B Are you happy you joined
Ei Has it been a culture shock,
moving from Canada to the US?
B And moving from Farm Credit
To Rabo AgriFinance?
How do you see your new role
as a member of the Rural and Retail
B How fast will Rabo AgriFinance
B What are your immediate
THE WORD 15
A "I was bom and raised in a very small rural
community in Mulgrave, Nova Scotia, as the
second of 12 children. So I understand the
rural environment where most of our clients
live and l'm used to being in a pretty hectic
environment. I studied at St. Francis Xavier
University in Antigonish, Canada, and gained
a degree in Business Administration. I've
carried on my education during my career,
most significantly with a diploma in Advanced
Management from Harvard. i married my high
school sweetheart, Bev, 36 years ago, and
we have two sons and one granddaughter.
My favourite pastimes are golfing, boating,
snowmobiling and fishing. I never get enough
time for them, but I live in hope that things
will settle down enough so I can make time."
A"lmmediately after St. Francis, I joined the
Business Development Bank of Canada as
a Financial analyst, held 12 different jobs of
increasing responsibility, and left 25 years
later when I was Chief Operating Offreer.
That was when I was offered the job of
President and CEO at Farm Credit Canada,
where I stayed until I moved to Rabo
AgriFinance. In my 10 years with Farm
Credit, we increased the loan portfolio to
USD 14.5 billion from USD 4.5 billion and
annual profit to more than USD 200 million
per annum from USD 25 million per annum.
Just as importantly, in those ten years we
saw a huge improvement in employee
engagement. This helped the bank become
a top-10 employer of choice in Canada and
was key to improving Farm Credit's results."
A "Oh, very much so. I see enormous growth
potential in our business. I knew Rabobank
before I joined, as we were involved in joint
deals, but ultimately it was the bank's values
that really caught my attention, as they're very
much aligned with my own values. Rabobank
is also at a very exciting stage. We want to be
the premier F&A bank in the United States,
offering real solutions to our clients - solutions
that help them to capitalise on opportunities
and overcome challenges.The goal, really, is
to create a triple-win situation: a win for our
customers, a win for Rabobank, and a win
for our employees. I share those ambitions
A "It's been more different than we imagined.
But this is the twelfth move for my wife and
me, so we're used to it. We always look for the
good things. And people here in the Midwest
are great to work with. What you see is what
you get, and that's people who want to do
their best. Obviously, the US F&A market is
much biggerthan the Canadian market, and
farmers tend to be a lot bigger, too. But that
makes working here pretty exciting."
A 'The two institutions are similar in a lot
of ways. Both are looking to develop a
leadership role. To do that, you need to
set the strategie direction, develop your
people and then carry out the strategy
successfully. My challenge now is to get to
know the country and the people as well as
I did in Canada. Agricultural financing is a
commoditised business, so we haveto define
our value proposition. What can we offer our
customers that other financial institutions
cannot? The key to that is our people, so a
big part of myjob is to help create a culture
in which employees can excel, so we can
offer our customers superior service."
A "Retail, or farm financing, will play a much
greater role for us in the future. Sitting on
the Rural and Retail Banking MT gives me an
opportunity to participate in the strategy
and help set that future direction. I can also
learn a lot from retail structures around the
world. For instance, Australia has a big head
start in retail banking, so they've covered a
lot of ground that we still have ahead of us.
It also means I can exchange views with,
and receive guidance from, the head of retail,
Berry Marttin. So I think the new structure and
being part of the rural and retail team is a real
A "Flow fast we grow is not as important
as how we grow. There's a tremendous
opportunity for growth in the US and we can
increase our market share considerably. But
we have to grow sustainably and profitably.
Our portfolio will increase by around 50
percent this year, which is phenomenal,
but you cannot expect that level of growth
every year. We have some major advantages.
Rabobank is recognised as a world leader in
F&A finance, and we've proven that we are
prepared to stick with our customers in bad
A "Farm debt in the United States is around
USD 220 billion, and we have a loan portfolio
of USD 5 billion, so I see tremendous upside,
and a huge opportunity to increase market
share. We've developed a new strategy to do
this, and now it's time to execute that strategy.
More specifïcally, we will finalise the merger of
legacy companies Lend Lease and Ag Services
of America. And we need to improve our
service delivery. Another priority is building
a new culture at Rabo AgriFinance; based on
accountability, commitment and teamwork.
This is all about how we get the job done right
across the organisation. When we do this,
Rabo AgriFinance is clearly going to win."«