Member's Success stories
Erik Versavel, Country Representative for ING Bank Mongolia
How did you get where you are today, and who or what helped you along the way?
I do not see a career as a permanent climbing of a ladder. I think a professional career is only part of your personality. I have always taken up challenges and responsibilities which few others wanted to take. That’s how I ended up living in many different and often challenging countries. My wife and children have helped me. We have always made our decisions together and do not regret anything.
What are the principles you adhere to in business?
Challenging countries often have a difficult relationship with integrity. For an international manager, especially in the financial services sector, integrity is critical. It means you have to be able to keep a straight back and say no to what seems like a good deal. The second principle is that you should always train, develop and help your employees. On a recent trip to our Head Office in Amsterdam I was stunned to find there were 15 Ukrainian employees working in Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Singapore – all of them encouraged and supported by me during my 5 years as CEO of our bank in Ukraine. Their lives had changed and all of them were grateful.
What shortcoming has been the most challenging for you in business?
I am not a musical person, and I have difficulty recognizing tones and intonations. That’s why I had great difficulties studying Mandarin Chinese, and why I experience so much trouble trying to understand or speak Mongolian. I had less difficulty with Indonesian and Russian. Have I addressed your question properly?
After all of this success, what do you struggle with now?
It is not a personal struggle. It is an honest and intellectual intrigue to observe that countries with extraordinary natural resources struggle terribly to build a properly functioning economy and society. Mongolia could be one of the richest countries in the world. I am not saying Mongolia has a duty to become rich. But I do think countries have a duty to at least try and create economies and societies which are inclusive and provide opportunities for all. I do not see that happening.
What is the most recent business achievement you would like to highlight right now?
ING Bank is the longest serving foreign bank in Mongolia and has an unparalleled track record in the market. I arrived in September 2016 when the self inflicted downturn, economic recession and financial challenges had just started. 18 months later the situation has stabilized but remains very challenging. ING is still here and remains committed to the country.