ING GROUP: Herman Rutgers indispensible in ongoing search for talent

ING’s Head of Global Brand Management Nanne Bos says Amsterdam-based executive and interim search agency Herman Rutgers is crucial to ING in its permanent quest for talent.

By Wout Maas | MarketingTribune

The alliance between the recruitment agency and the bank dates back to the former’s establishment back in 2008 by Petra Herman and Francine Rutgers – or possibly even earlier, but more about that later. We caught up with the senior ING executive to discuss human resources in recruitment, employees as the driving force behind your brand, ING’s Code Orange, and the bank’s goal of becoming a love brand.

Match candidates based on career, not role

Bos – who has been on both sides of the fence – knows from personal experience just how important a recruitment agency can be when it comes to finding the right employer. Back in 2006, he was starting to get cabin fever at the IT company where he was employed at the time and was looking for a new job that would offer both a challenge and opportunities for growth. Francine Rutgers – who was still a paid employee at a recruitment agency at the time – was responsible for finding the winning match. And this success turned out to lead to yet more successes, as Bos went on to enjoy a thriving career at the bank.

Having started out as a press officer, he was promoted to Director of Brand & Reputation Management three years later, followed by an appointment as Head of Global Brand Management in 2013. His portfolio of responsibilities in this role include ING’s digital proposition, in which it aims to be ahead of the pack and consistent in the customer journey it offers through a variety of channels. “I was interested in working for ING, as I like their brand purpose of empowering people and businesses to create their own future, which could involve anything from offering people the opportunity to buy the perfect home or car to investing in their new business.”

When the banking crisis erupted two years after Bos joined ING, the bank’s reputation – along with that of many of its domestic and international counterparts – ended up being seriously tarnished. Bos: “It took a long time to regain people’s trust, but fortunately our brand value has bounced back to pre-crisis levels.”

Hundreds of placements

Francine Rutgers has successfully placed hundreds of professionals throughout her long career, and she knows better than anyone that the executive search business involves significantly more than simply finding a potential candidate with skills that, on paper, tick all the client’s boxes. Her experience with Bos at the time was no different in that regard. “Of course, someone needs to meet the requirements set by the client, but I would say that’s extrinsic to the actual work. We also consider, for example, whether someone’s personality is a good fit for a specific company. In fact, it’s often when we find a good fit in terms of personality that the candidate ends up getting hired. It also helps that we tend to build long-term partnerships with clients, which means we’re familiar with their corporate culture. Other than that, a lot of the time it’s simply a hunch, an intuition you have about a person.” Petra Herman adds: “A candidate could have all the skills the client is looking for, and we might still decide not to forward their CV.”

The Orange Code

Bos approves of this approach, including in his own human resources policies, and back in 2014 he developed a set of principles known as ‘The Orange Code’, which serves as their bedrock. “ING’s values are at the heart of the Code, which applies to the entire company, including everyone from myself to members of the board. In a nutshell, those values are: Do your job and make it happen; help others to achieve success; and always be ahead of the pack. When we feel a particular candidate does not possess these qualities, we know they’ll likely not be a good fit for ING.” While it’s all well and good to design a code of values based on serving your customers and leading by example, Bos is keenly aware that ING employees actually need to integrate these values into their day-to-day work to achieve results. “That’s why we provide training and workshops on pretty much an ongoing basis, and last year we teamed up with marketing company Twofish and creative digital production company MediaMonks to launch an app which enables people to compliment each other on their work. The person who receives the most compliments in a given month receives a prize. We also use the Orange Code in our HR department, for example as a criterion when conducting appraisals and performance reviews,” Bos explains.

“We aim to become a love brand”

Like any service provider, the ING brand is valued by the public based on the services provided by its employees, combined with the quality of the product they offer. Bos would like to see his company achieve the Holy Grail in the brand value division within the next few years: “Our aim is evolve into a love brand by offering a combination of excellent customer service and high-quality financial products. Sure, I’m aware that’s a very high bar to set for any bank, but I have no doubt we’re going to succeed.”

This article appeared in MarketingTribune (in Dutch) and was published on Tuesday 20th June 2017.

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