Jeanette Vitasp, Vice-President, Head of Lending at NIB as of 1 March 2023.

28 Feb 2023

NIB’s new Head of Lending: Building on dialogue and strong relationships

“It feels great to be here! I’ve been looking forward to this, and I’m very excited to get started,” says NIB’s new Head of Lending Jeanette Vitasp, who is joining the Bank this week. She has just arrived in wintry Helsinki and is now busy settling into her new home.

“It is still too early to reflect on the first impressions of my new surroundings,” she continues. “But regarding work, my first priorities will of course be to get to know my team and gradually our clients as well.”

Vitasp will be a member of the Executive Committee and responsible for the Bank’s overall lending operations and portfolio. She brings with her experience from a longstanding career in corporate banking, treasury and capital markets, with her most recent role as Chief Customer Officer at Danske Bank in Sweden.

As an international finance institution, NIB is a different kind of animal from your previous employers. What was it that attracted you to this position?

“In my previous professional roles, I have interacted with and observed NIB, and recognised its unique position, offering and importance for businesses in the region. So, the short answer would be the higher purpose of NIB as an international finance institution and especially the mandate and the Nordic-Baltic regional development perspective.”

“I’m also attracted by NIB’s international working environment and business reach. This is something that has been a key and rewarding component throughout my career.”

You mentioned our mandate, which is to finance projects that enhance the productivity and environment of our member countries. How have these aspects been visible in your previous jobs?

“The environmental aspect has been part of client discussions within financing for several years. And this has rapidly expanded from focusing on the benefits of sustainable finance products like bonds, loans and guarantees to a wider discussion with clients on strategy, ESG ratings and the implications on credit quality.”

“The productivity aspect has been there as well but more embedded in the overall analysis of the customers’ performance, as well as the business and credit profile. So, I’m definitely familiar with these angles but appreciate the opportunity NIB’s mission gives me to focus on them and to act for a sustainable transition in our region.” 

You are taking up your new position amid a global security, energy and economic crisis. How do you see the role of NIB in this situation?

“Unfortunately, it’s clear that the complexity of the current crisis brings a risk of non-sustainable short-term reprioritisations, not least as countries need to replace old energy sources quickly. But still, it has above all highlighted the importance of investing in new sustainable energy production and technologies that boost efficiency.”

“The security of the energy infrastructure has become an additional driver, next to climate and the economy. I expect investments in the green transition and demand for NIB’s services to continue to grow.”

With your long experience of customer relations, what would you say is key for building trust?

“I would say that having had a seat on both sides of the table, representing both customers and providers of financial services, I understand the value of a sincere dialogue and building strong relationships based on mutual understanding and transparency. This will also remain the top priority in my new role at NIB.”

“I look forward to the cooperation with our clients and to learning more about their businesses, operations and development opportunities.”

As our Head of Lending, you will lead a department of some 60 people. How would you describe your leadership style, and what do you expect from a good leader yourself?

“First, I would say my leadership style is solutions-oriented and non-hierarchical. I believe in shared goals, transparency, teamwork and accountability at all levels.”

“A good leader should in my view provide clarity about the vision and mission and at the same time be a strong performance focused decision maker with high integrity. I also believe in showing empathy and respect for each other, as well as a sense of humour, to foster a good team and working culture.”

Taking up this position means relocating from Sweden to Finland. Is Helsinki familiar to you from before, and is there anything special you are looking forward to while living here?

“Yes, I’ve visited Helsinki many times, both professionally and privately. But I’ve still only scratched the surface and have so much more to see and experience, like getting to know the different parts of the city, attending cultural events and visiting the Helsinki archipelago.”

“Most of all I enjoy outdoor life of all kinds, depending on the season – now in the winter, it’s mostly skiing or skating. I’m passionate about health and science in general, good food and staying physically active, which I hope to continue with in Helsinki as well. In the summer, I recharge my batteries at our estate in the inner archipelago of Stockholm, but my family also has several friends who live or have summer homes in Finland, so we’re looking forward to spending more time with them.”

Is your family also moving to Helsinki?

“My husband has clients in Sweden but plans to expand into Finland and will commute intermittently. We have two grown-up kids and a grandchild with whom we stay close via facetime and chats when we don’t meet in person.”

Finally, your new colleagues are of course curious to get to know you.  Do you have a special greeting to them on your first day?

“Yes, I look forward to working with and getting to know all of you. I am very open minded and hope you will reach out to share your thoughts, ideas or concerns.”

“The more interaction we have, the sooner we will get to know each other and move our cooperation and business forward. I’m excited about the opportunity to jointly grow our lending business for years to come.”

Jeanette Vitasp succeeds Søren Kjær Mortensen, who is retiring from the Bank in 2023.
Photos: Marjo Koivumäki, Studio Apris