Members of the EBRD team gather for a photo before the 2012 London J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge.
Social focus of Corporate Challenge
helps build large team at EBRD
LONDON, July 2, 2013 — Created with remarkable speed following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has grown into a truly international force that operates in 34 countries across central and eastern Europe, central Asia and the southern and eastern Mediterranean.
Today, EBRD's workforce of 1,500 is headquartered in London, but spread out in the countries it serves. So, it is not surprising that EBRD embraces an event such as the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, whose goals include fostering camaraderie in the workplace.
In fact, when the 27th running of the Corporate Challenge in London holds its second night of racing on July 11 in Battersea Park, EBRD will be there in a big way as part of a two-night capacity crowd.
"Our team has anywhere between 120 and160 runners every year, and considering that we have 900 colleagues working in (our London) headquarters, this is a large team," said company captain Kamola Makhmudova. "It's a great opportunity for people from all departments across the bank to complete the Challenge together as one team. It promotes out-of-the-office camaraderie, which people at our company really enjoy."
Three EBRD team members pose for a photo at last year's J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in London. The event, says team captain Kamola Makhmudova, "promotes out-of-the-office camaraderie."
Makhmudova, a Principal Banker at the EBRD Financial Institutions, says recent teams from the bank have reflected a true cross section of the institution and brought people together in a unique way. And this year's team of 131 entrants is no exception.
"I think the event is very popular at the EBRD because it's a great opportunity to meet and bond with colleagues that represent all departments of the bank," she said. "We have everyone from senior bankers to interns taking part. Last year we had many EBRD Board members participating and this year we even have colleagues from the catering team joining us. Even our colleagues from the bank's resident offices in countries of operations (from Armenia to Uzbekistan!) join the team if they happen to be in London on the day of the race."
Makhmodova is one of those drawn to the event because of its social aspects.
"I have been part of the Corporate Challenge team at the EBRD for the past six years," she said. "I really enjoy the race and also used to help out the team organizers. When our EBRD team captain stepped down three years ago I volunteered to take over. I am attracted to this competition because it is not too long at only 5.6k and it's a great social event."
In addition, the nature of the EBRD helps it relate well to this year's race beneficiary, WaterAid, which works to provide safe water to some of the world's poorest people in 27 countries.
EBRD began operating in 1991 with a charter to invest primarily in private sector clients, whose needs cannot be fully met by the market, thereby promoting entrepreneurship and fostering a transition towards open and democratic market economies. Its sizable list of projects includes transformation of the destroyed reactor in Chernobyl into an environmentally safe state. It also continues to work with countries in building clean water projects.
One of those countries is Tajikistan. After the successful refurbishment of the water supply system in the north and south of the country, EBRD says that it is now helping with the Central Tajik Water Project, lending up to US $7 million for new clean water projects in four more cities at the request of the central government.
"Every year a charity is well chosen (for the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge) and we are happy to support a good cause," said Makhmudova, who added that this year's beneficiary selection is particularly relevant for a development bank such as EBRD.
And, speaking of water, Makhmudova is hoping for better weather at this year's J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge than last year, when rains soaked Battersea Park on the second night of racing.
"Regardless ofwhat the weather does — last year it was raining cats and dogs! — the Corporate Challenge is always a very happy and cheerful event and it's a great opportunity for bank employees to make new friends in different departments of the bank that sometimes don't interact directly," she said.