Spotlight On: Arjan de Liefde


News - 15 November 2019

'Spotlight On' is the platform where you can get to know some of the members of our team. Each edition looks at the biggest value-add each role brings to clients, what's the best thing about working for ABN AMRO and answers to a number of personal questions. This week the focus is on Arjan de Liefde, Managing Director of Corporate and Institutional Banking and General Director of Commercial Finance France.

When did you join ABN AMRO Asset Based Finance?
I joined ABN AMRO in 2015 as Client Strategy Director with a strong focus on client experience, aligning products, processes and selecting the IT core system. Harmonisation and standardisation are considered key necessities for further development of the business. I later joined the International Clients team to strengthen and further develop this part of the business. The set-up of Asset Based Finance also resulted in an international Leasing proposition.

Describe your role at ABN AMRO Asset Based Finance…
I have two roles; Managing Director of Corporate and Institutional Banking (C&IB) and General Director Commercial Finance France. Responsibilities for both are continuity and development of the business. It’s wonderful to work with engaged people. With the team of C&IB, I strive to continuously optimise the collaboration internally, across countries and with other stakeholders (banks, parent bank, investment funds, etc.). I have a special place in my heart for France and our colleagues over there. I try to make sure they are well represented in all major strategic discussions and highlight the importance of the biggest market in the world.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I like the international dimension - different cultures, languages, open mind for (strategic) developments. All those aspects enrich your view on life and daily work related issues. I love teamwork and to see clear results. I like to challenge and appreciate good and transparent content driven discussions. And I also like the small talk around the coffee corner. As for the Asset Based Lending itself… I love the opportunities and the dynamics; you are in the center of working capital, the heart of each company!

What’s the biggest value-add your role brings to clients?
The international experience, dynamics of having worked in multiple countries and language skills are highly appreciated by clients. Also the fact that you can understand their view and issues and analyse this with a team to find a dedicated solution maximises client value... A good balance between content driven and personal relationship is a basis for further development. You cannot win all deals, but you can always maintain the relation.

What's the best way to start the work week?
First, and above all, for me the best way to start the week and in fact every day is with a smile. A positive attitude, glass which is half full in stead of half empty, transforming challenges into opportunities gives a positive energy. Not only to me, but also to the people that surround me. Secondly I like structure, so a clear overview on what I am going to do gives me comfort. Although I have a balance in IQ and EQ, I am a bit lost if I cannot see the logic. Thirdly, I always start with a clear ambition about what I want to achieve week. I guess that comes with structure and logic...

What do you like to do in your spare time?
My spare time is scarce, especially with all those interim jobs besides my regular job (UK over a year, France over two years now). But if you enjoy what you do it does not feel like extra work. If there is spare time I like sportive activities. I play and have played many sports (swimming, water polo, tennis, golf, skiing, cycling, sailing, hiking, skating). Currently cycling in the Netherlands and hiking in the mountains gives me rest and energy. And I love winter sports. Also for the ambiance, the landscape (and I like the cold weather!) - après ski.

What is on your bucket list?
The bucket list is long, which is a good sign. I would like to do at least one of two trips by train. My first preference would be the Trans Siberian railway (Транссиб/Rossiya train, a track of 9289 km) and second would be by train through the Rocky Mountains. On a more social level I would like to contribute to society and spend my time and experience to work on a more stable economic system (current economic systems are completely outdated in relation to the environmental issues and prosperity is not shared as it should be). In my mind I already have multiple ideas and this goes far beyond a sustainability questionnaire.

What was your dream job as a child?
As all young boys you come up with something as bus driver or train operator. The first serious dream job was becoming a teacher. This still pops us regularly. I just love to work with people. I could not make up my mind when I left school at just 18. University? What to study? (law or history). My parents advised me at this stage to take a break and make up my mind. I travelled and worked in different countries, experienced a lot and after only 8 or 9 months I was extremely convinced law was the right choice as a basis for a career.

What makes your heart beat faster?
I have a few topics which I keep in high regard: Teamwork, the ambition to win, integrity and transparency, a global view on issues, and social responsibility. If I recognise this working with people it boosts my energy level. On a more day to day basis; every time the Thalys arrives at Gare du Nord I enjoy the dynamics of the city, I fell in love with the city and its people. When I return I appreciate the silence of a small country village. Both give energy in a different way. Furthermore… I adore the FIAT 500 (classical one) and 2CV.