In Depth: interview with new VUB Slovakia CEO on the bank’s ESG commitments

The image accompanying the News on the interview with Jozef Kausich, new CEO of VUB Slovakia, portrays the crown of a large green tree from which the sun's rays filter

Read the Interview with Jozef Kausich, new CEO of VUB Slovakia - the subsidiary bank of the Intesa Sanpaolo Group in Slovakia – preparing to keep VUB an award-winning bank that provides value for all its customers and growth for its investors

Seventeen years ago, Jozef Kausich became the youngest management board member of a bank in Slovakia. At VUB, he was responsible for corporate and SME clients. Together with his other board members, he built VUB to become the strongest bank on the Slovakian market.

Then he moved to something new: Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Slovenia, where he became a CEO for the first time.

Kausich recalls that this experience shaped his trajectory. “Slovenia was my first international experience,” he says. “Together with my team, I was able to transform what the bank could achieve, digitally and business-wise. Then later, after five years, the bank achieved sustainable, very good results and commercial growth.”

Now he is entering a new role as CEO of VUB Slovakia, a bank that has for three years in a row won the country’s highest banking accolade as well as a suite of other awards for its banking services.

New challenges

When he left Slovakia in 2017, the world was very different. Today, household savings levels have dropped and the economy has slowed. Then there is the changing interest rate environment and its implication on the economic outlook.

To Kausich, the banking landscape is scattered with challenges and opportunities. And he is confident that VUB – and its wider Intesa Sanpaolo family – has the right strategies to weather uncertainties.

He says it will remain an award-winning bank that provides value for all its customers and growth for its investors. “A very important pillar of our success is fully engaged employees. These employees are able to create long-lasting relationships with customers.

“Then we implement attractive products and services for multiple segments,” he adds. “Last but not least, it's key that we are a part of a huge and very important group, one of the largest in Europe. This provides us with a lot of knowledge and expertise – but also competence and, at the end of the day, confidence.”

Green banking

Being a successful bank is a long-term project. Staying true to the wider group's ambitious green targets – to become a climate-neutral bank by 2030 – is something Kausich is serious about.

Following the success of VUB’s green mortgage in 2021, it started offering a green loan for climate-friendly home improvements and electric car purchases in 2022. Today it continues to support businesses in reaching ESG goals through financial backing.

“Today we do not just speak about environmental topics,” says Kausich. “We reflect them in our products, and internal and external activities.

“Of course, to be a part of a group such as Intesa Sanpaolo is a great advantage in planning the transition to a more sustainable future.

“And of course, my team and I would like to continue in this initiative. But also we would like to explore new opportunities and further developments – to be more sustainable, more green.

“We have ambitions to be the market leader while also properly incorporating sustainability into our strategy.”

Strength through diversity

Kausich is keen that the bank acts on its words – in digitisation, in customer service, and in using banking to build a greener future. And all of this begins with the team behind him.

VUB Bank is committed to promoting inclusion and diversity, and is an ambassador of the nationwide Diversity Charter Slovakia initiative. Being a signatory confirms a commitment to develop a working environment for the bank’s employees based on openness, fairness, pluralism and trust.

“It's really about creating an environment where everybody feels respected and which provides opportunities for future growth,” says Kausich. “We really need to nurture this culture of inclusivity every day.

“Women have a very strong presence in our supervisory and management board. But at the end of the day, it's not because we have to meet some regulatory guidelines. It’s because they are simply true professionals with huge expertise. They are really, truly leaders.”