Bringing innovation to life • ING

Arvind Naipal, former board member of Aureus, is currently doing a Finance traineeship at our main partner ING. In this blog, he’ll be talking about driving change and bringing innovation to life while working within the Financial Accounting and Reporting in Amsterdam.

“We’ll need to prove that change works”

Following a few very hectic months, things calmed down a little in the summer and I had time to tackle some tasks that had slipped down the list of priorities – and also to take on a couple of new projects. For example, along with three other colleagues I’ve put myself forward to help organize our Innovation Days, which Finance holds once a quarter. The days were always organized by the management team up until now. We’re keen to develop a continuous focus on innovation rather than just for one day a quarter, and to bring it much more to life within our department.

Finance isn’t the most innovative discipline within the bank, of course, so that’s a nice challenge for us. Our colleagues can expect a less traditional approach on the next Innovation Day later this month, and I’m eager to see how they will react. We’re preparing ourselves for some resistance – that’s normal whenever anything changes – but we’ve agreed amongst ourselves to focus primarily on the people who are open to change. And as for those who are less enthusiastic about the new approach, our task is to prove that it works and actually benefits them. That will put everyone in a more positive frame of mind and then the enthusiasm will follow automatically.

 So what are we working on?

One aim is to simplify processes, for example. We’ve got countless systems and processes, and new ones are being added all the time. That can be done much more efficiently. A lot of the ideas for solutions stem from irritation because things are unnecessarily complex. I regularly come across such situations myself, but instead of getting annoyed I prefer to take constructive action to remove the obstacles. But we can make improvements in all kinds of other areas too, such as by becoming more open and transparent as a department.

This project is a great match with what I want to do. Driving change and getting an up-close view of different parts of the Finance organization is really interesting for someone like me, since I’m naturally curious and have an urge to keep moving forward. My other three colleagues are just as enthusiastic as I am. We really want to achieve a cultural shift and we’ve all got ideas about how to do so. Our motto is: ‘If you’ve always done it this way, it’s probably wrong’ – and we’re going to make sure that everyone knows it within the four areas of Finance!

This isn’t the only project I’m working on, of course. Now that I’ve been in this role for a year, it’s clear that I add real value to the team and I’m being given more responsibilities all the time, which is making my work even more interesting and enjoyable. It’s also becoming easier to choose which projects I should and shouldn’t do. I was really keen to handle the consolidated financial statements and final check for ING Groenbank, and I’ve now been given overall responsibility for it. It’s an interesting and pretty complex project which definitely puts my project management skills to the test!

So I’m nice and busy again, which is how I like it. That’s partly why I’ve decided not to do a post-graduate degree for now. I think that I’ll get more out of doing it when I’ve got a bit more experience under my belt, because I’ll then have a clearer idea of how I want to specialize and where I can put my new knowledge to good use. And as for which degree to do, I’ll think about that more carefully nearer the time.

Want to know more about our main sponsor ING and the traineeships they offer? Read the latest blog about ING here.