INSEAD Participant Interview

A Global Head who's Leading and Managing Change

Mark Pereira

Global Head CRM Wholesale at Rabobank

Mark Pereira is the Global Head CRM Wholesale at Rabobank, a leading international financial services provider headquartered in the Netherlands. He recently completed the Leading Successful Change programme. In the following interview, he tells us about his experience.

What sparked your interest in the programme?

I work for Rabobank’s Wholesale Bank, which provides solutions tailored to meet the needs of clients in the food, agribusiness and other industries. It’s currently undergoing a major transformation – we’re bringing in new ways of operating so we can respond better to changing customer needs and meet our future global challenges more effectively.

It’s my responsibility to manage this process of change, across multiple product lines and business divisions in 30 countries – no small challenge.

Why did you choose INSEAD and the Leading Successful Change programme?

I’m based in Utrecht but had attended a couple of INSEAD programmes at the Fontainebleau campus in the past and had a good experience. This time, as I’m right in the middle of a change process, I took advantage of a business trip to Singapore to sign up for this programme at the Asia campus.

From my past experience, I knew that what INSEAD does very well is providing you with insights – as opposed to just lists or tips – as well as excellent networking opportunities, so there’s this dual value.

Were there any particular challenges that you wanted to address?

As a global organisation, we’ve grown enormously over the past two decades. During that time, every country had the autonomy to put their own systems in place – but now, as we build momentum for customer-centricity across the organisation, we need to harmonise these and reduce the complexity.

This means I have at least two critical challenges to address. The first involves creating and installing a single technical infrastructure for the organisation that will help us improve customer service and operate as one bank. The second involves working with my colleagues to effectively execute a cultural transformation, which is about getting all the diverse elements of the bank – people from different sales cultures as well as different countries – to work together in new ways.

Do you think the programme will help you rise to these challenges? If so, how?

I’ve been involved with this change process organisationally for about two years now and I must confess I did wonder if I’d be learning anything new. The brilliant thing was how much I did learn from it. First, the content was really good, with a useful theoretical component which we used as a basis for further discussion. We looked at examples of large companies going through the dynamics of change processes – much of that really resonated. One focus was the mismatch between the expectations that people tend to have and what really happens in practice – and how to manage that gap, which was very interesting.

We also played a simulation game on the last day which involved a kind of recap of all the dynamics that you usually find in change processes, such as making sure that you identify the informal leaders within your organisation who can help steer the change process. That was an eye-opener – understanding the importance of networks and having the right connections within your organisation to get stuff done. I’m going to be paying a lot more attention to that in future, and also plan to repeat a version of that game here with my own team.

What was your impression of the INSEAD faculty?

Very good. Both teachers made sure there was a lot of variation on the course, which prevented people from disconnecting. The teaching was also very interactive right from the start, which meant we were involved in a lot of discussion and sharing of experiences. It all worked extremely well.

Was there time for fun outside the classroom?

There certainly was. What stands out for me was the evening we were taken to a local restaurant for a cooking class! We tackled a bunch of Asian recipes, which was tremendous fun and a real bonding experience for all of us.

Finally, would you recommend the programme to others?

Absolutely. If you’re about to go into a change process, or in one already, this would be perfect.

To learn more about Leading Successful Change, please visit the programme website.

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