Applying principles at work
A young bank executive promotes activities with colleagues to create a sense of family
By Daniel Carrapa
I work as a Market Risk Associate Vice President for Deutsche Bank, a German bank that has most of its operations in the U.S. around the New York area.
My daily job includes pricing the bank’s portfolio through different kinds of scenarios to show how much profit and loss the bank would have in historical or hypothetical market events. We normally report to the Federal Reserve Board once a quarter, and since these reports are something very new to foreign banks, it requires extensive work from all members involved.
This kind of work is very stressful and requires me to communicate with several divisions of the bank. My team started with 13 people and once peaked at 15 members; nowadays we are only nine due to cost cutting in the U.S.
As I don’t work for a company that adheres to the Economy of Communion’s (EoC) tenets (such as running a person-centered business that dedicates a part of its profits to the community), I always wondered how I could live the principles I’ve learned at a presentation of the EoC in my day-to-day work within the bank and with my colleagues. I especially felt that with the stress involved and the different personalities, it would be difficult to convince everyone to come for a specific event where they could learn more about the EoC.
Being in a junior position, I thought that first I had to find a way to get people together for an event that would start a small tradition in our team, where people could feel more comfortable with each other.
One particular colleague was especially difficult to communicate with, since he was very reserved. With this in mind, I tried to find out his birthday and discovered that it was going to be in a few days. I actually found this out by checking his online Facebook profile, searching for his brother, and emailing him. I even asked what kind of music he liked.
After getting this information, I bought a card that I secretly passed around to everyone in my team, where each person could write a personal message and leave a contribution. We then gathered the money to buy a cake and a CD of his favorite music. We were also able to find a fun picture of him from Halloween to put on top of the cake. We invited him for a meeting, and surprised him with the cake and gifts.
He was really touched and thanked us, and this was the first of many birthday celebrations we have shared in our team for the past three years. It’s not so much about birthdays in itself, rather offering an opportunity for everyone to participate and feel loved in their workplace. If people are able to build an environment where employees feel like they are family, they can achieve much better results — they can be more creative, less aggressive and learn how to share.
In our division, in order to make people feel that we have an opportunity to grow and give to the community, we have a project called the People Project. We plan events on many different themes, from social events for networking, lunch and learn sessions where we share our knowledge, culture and diversity events so people feel their culture is valued, to volunteering to help in the city.
For some of these events, we might ask for some contribution from management, but we mostly just get together by ourselves. Some of our volunteering events include mentoring younger teens on how to prepare for college, coaching youth on how to find jobs, cleaning public parks and gardens, and even participating in food drives or serving homeless people meals.
Many times the only thing that is preventing us from living the Economy of Communion principles is just taking the first step. I realized that a small birthday tradition brought emotional ties among the team members, and we have grown to be able to share this love with people in the rest of the division and the community.
I’m sure there are opportunities for all of us to find ways to build a space where communion starts, and little by little these will grow.
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