‘I’m extrovert by nature’ – Isabel Fernandez

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Following the announcement by press release earlier today that Isabel Fernandez would succeed Bill Connelly to become ING’s new head of Wholesale Banking and Board member, we caught up with her briefly to find out why she’s joining ING.

You are joining ING from General Electric. What attracted you to ING?

Few financial institutions embrace 21st century banking like ING does. The company has a strong sense of urgency around improving the customer experience by using digital, mobile and data driven strategies. Most importantly: in the current era, where financial institutions will need to commit to an ongoing effort to strengthen and improve trust, ING’s client-centric and humble approach is refreshing and highly appealing.

Isabel Fernandez

Isabel Fernandez

What experience gained in your previous roles do you bring to ING?

Twenty three years in financial services, with postings in Amsterdam, London and New York have given me a clear perspective of client needs and buying behaviours in Wholesale Banking. On top of that, the past 16 years at GE have given me a strong basis in leadership and change management, which I hope will serve us well in the years ahead.

Before jumping to conclusions however, I believe listening will be of the essence. As I will get to know ING’s talent, clients and processes, I am sure I will have a much better understanding of where I can add value.

What’s your view on the recent past and the future of the financial sector?

The financial sector is built on trust. We are expected to simultaneously support clients in times of need and remain prudent in taking risks. We currently experience a challenging low interest rate environment. At the same time, our client base is getting access to alternative sources of funding via various digital paths. In that context it is important to continue to add value to better support the growth strategies of our clients. One of the core strengths we can focus on is our deep understanding of clients’ industries and individual businesses. By improving our clients’ experience when dealing with us, we should continue to both earn their trust as well as the right to do business with them.

How would you describe your management style?

I’m extrovert by nature and believe in a leader’s role to energise and inspire a team. I’m low on hierarchy and value result-based teamwork beyond the individual contribution. In this day and age, I believe data analytics and digital capabilities are essential in any professional environment. Finally, I believe in diversity of thought in creating the most effective teams: combining structured and creative thinkers and allowing for a culture of constructive conflict as an essential part of creating better outcomes.

Who is Isabel Fernandez?

Born to a Dutch mother and a Spanish father, Isabel spent her childhood living in the US, South America and Europe. Having been through eight schools by the time she was 14, Isabel quickly learnt to deal with change and to adapt to different cultures.

Isabel wasn’t sure what to read at university and ended up studying Corporate Law, which to this day still serves her well. Keenly interested in the human mind and what makes people tick, both leadership and diversity have become true passions.

Isabel is very fond of skiing and traveling, eager to re-start her flying lessons and spending as much time as she can with husband Jurjen and three children Femke (16), Claire (13) and Sietse (10).

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