Many people still think of banks as stuffy institutions filled with grey-haired men in pinstripe suits. So after I returned from Peru where I’d been working for a small civil society organisation specialising in microfinance for a year and a half, some of my friends and family members wondered if a job at ABN AMRO was the right fit for me. The ABN AMRO I see couldn’t be more different, though, especially where our IT organisation is concerned. It’s an environment where engaged, committed and creative people work, one which is becoming more flexible and easy-going each year. I really enjoy it – especially since I’m personally contributing to this shift.
You decide for yourself how to achieve your goal. It’s great!
Steije de Lat Project Lead with IT
Success with Scrum!
I work as a Scrum Master for several IT teams providing Internet banking services to large companies. Now that we’re employing the Scrum methodology, we work as part of multidisciplinary teams, which means team members are expected to take more initiative and hone their communication and collaboration skills. We’re not given an instruction book hundreds of pages long mapping out exactly what we have to do. Basically, there’s a goal, and you have to meet it. But it’s pretty much up to you to decide how to go about it. I love this approach because it feels more like I’m coaching a sports team than lording it over my staff like an old-fashioned “boss”.
Visiting team members in India
I also oversee a change programme currently under way in the IT Transactions department focusing on the continued implementation of Agile. What’s great about Agile is that it’s all about what individuals themselves want – not about top-down organisational change being forced on them. And that motivates people in their work, which obviously leads to better results. The members of the various Scrum teams are very excited about this. I happen to work with lots of people from other cultures, too, particularly India, so I often draw on my experiences in Latin America. For instance, I notice that interpersonal contact is ever so slightly more important to them than it is to many of us here in the Netherlands. So it was really cool getting the chance to go and visit my team members in India in September to strengthen those ties.
After starting in project control, my career at the bank gradually shifted more and more in the direction of payments. Despite my background in business administration, I found myself working in a team of predominantly IT people. I feel comfortable in this role, though. I am good at connecting IT and business goals, and I also enjoy working in those separate worlds. As Team Leader Global Electronic Banking, I was put in charge of a team of twelve business analysts and solution designers. Our work, with help from our Indian partners, included updating and continually innovating Access Online (AOL) – basically ABN AMRO’s Internet banking product for the corporate market.
Working hard – but having fun
Will we win? We’ll certainly give it everything we’ve got. It’s not a real race, though, since all the classic sailing boats in the running are different. We aim to do our absolute best to get the ship to sail as fast as we can. That’s just how we are. We recently attended a team-building event together which involved playing trampoline dodgeball. I realised that if you give thirty ambitious young people a ball and tell them to compete, there’s just no stopping them! That attitude is what typifies these young people and the working atmosphere at ABN AMRO. We work hard, but have a good time doing it, too.