This week, we chat to Stephanie Kraus-Nijboer, Head of Social Impact Banking at UniCredit Bank in Germany. Stephanie is passionate about contributing to a fair and inclusive society through Social Impact Financing and Financial Education & Volunteering. She’s proud of her team and of the many colleagues who volunteer across the Bank. In her spare time, she enjoys running in the park and spending quality time with her family and friends in the mountains, hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

2:30 min

Who are you, what did you want to be as a child and what do you do now at UniCredit?

My name is Stephanie Kraus-Nijboer, and I head the Social Impact Banking Team at UniCredit Bank AG in Germany. People often ask me where my name comes from… well, I married a Dutchman.

As a child I wanted to become a teacher, sharing my passion for foreign languages and mathematics with children. However, after studying business and international management in Cologne and Paris, I kick started my professional career in the Corporate Finance team of a US investment bank in Frankfurt and soon moved to the London office – a truly intense period with very little sleep.

In 2010, I joined UniCredit’s Corporate and Investment Banking in Munich, where I was able to broaden my banking expertise enormously.

Finally, in 2019, I was offered the opportunity to set up the Social Impact Banking division at UniCredit in Germany. Realising that there must be more to banking than maximising profit and shareholder value, it was a challenge which I happily accepted.


What do you enjoy most about your job and what is the proudest moment or greatest achievement of your career?

I enjoy using my banking expertise to maximise social impact for our communities and to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable groups in Germany. As a pioneer amongst European Commercial Banks, we contribute to a fair and inclusive society by providing Social Impact Financing to corporate clients, who invest in social projects in areas like education, health, and inclusion, and we provide financial education training to disadvantaged young people.

It makes me extremely proud to regularly receive positive feedback from clients and partners on our commitment to sustainability and long-term partnerships. And above all, I am immensely proud of my fantastic team which goes the extra mile every day and our committed colleagues all over Germany who support our activities.


And what is the hardest part of your job or most difficult moment at work?

I strongly believe that Sustainable Finance – banking with a focus on ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) – will be the “new normal”.  So far, most attention has been on the E - our clients’ transformation towards an ecologically sustainable business model.

The hardest part of my job is therefore to convince everybody about the importance of the S in ESG – not only for developing countries, but also for Germany. A just and fair transition to sustainable development for all groups in our society cannot be reached with State welfare and philanthropy alone. It needs initiatives from private companies and entrepreneurs who also focus on social in addition to financial return.


What advice would you give your younger self or somebody considering this role as a career?

From my own experience, I recommend gaining client advisory experience and solid technical skills in many different areas of a bank. Stay curious, open to change and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. However, the most important success factor is true passion and enthusiasm for making an active contribution to a fair and inclusive society and for supporting clients on their way towards a sustainable future.

How do you balance your professional and personal life?

With the continuous changes we experience in our professional life, it is very important for me to spend as much time as possible with my family and friends – they provide stability and draw my attention to what really matters in life.


What do you like to do to relax after a hard day work/ at the office?

Before and after a hard day at work, I love to go running. During my usual round in the English Garden in Munich, I free my mind and often find solutions to challenging situations at work. My regular goal is to finish the half marathon at lake Tegernsee at the end of each summer, which keeps me motivated to keep myself fit and to go outside, no matter what the weather is like.


What would your perfect day look like when you are not working?

That is a day spent with my two little nephews. When I’m with them, I don’t think about work at all. During the summer, we enjoy hiking in the mountains and swimming in the lake. And in the winter, we go skiing together. Days like these give me new energy to tackle the challenges in the office.


What was the last book or the last movie you loved? And why?

I love reading classic German and British literature. However, most recently, I enjoyed enormously reading the adventures of “Harry Potter”, which also allow me to stay in touch with my little nephews.