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Right royal ensemble

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ANZ staff reconstruct garden beds at NGO Grace House. Photo by: MICHAEL SLOAN

AN 80-year rivalry between the Norodom and Sisowath branches of the Cambodian Royal Family appeared well and truly buried last week, as fellow ANZ Royal Bank employees Prince Norodom Amarithivong and Prince Sisowath Vic worked frantically alongside each other during a team building exercise held in Siem Reap prior to the bank’s annual management conference.

The pair was among 50 senior ANZ staff that descended on the premises of local NGO Grace House to assemble wood and bamboo garden beds in the school’s community garden last Wednesday, part of a speed building challenge designed to kick off the conference the next day.

Constructed a week earlier by Grace House staff, the garden beds were pulled apart and each piece labelled for the four teams of bankers to reconstruct, a feat that Grace House vocational project manager Alan Cordory was sceptical could be accomplished in the allotted two hours.

“It took us eight or nine days to build these initially, including finishing the joints. It’s been challenging for them. I was told not to make it too easy as the CEO said they would finish them in an hour.”

Two hours later, over in the blue team corner and trying to make sense of which identical-looking bamboo piece slotted in where, ANZ CEO Stephen Higgins was philosophical about the delay. “Yeah, I thought it might take an hour. Wildly wrong as you can see. But don’t forget to say the blue team was the winner.”

“Isn’t everyone a winner?” I interjected as Higgins paused to consider whether the piece of wood he was holding was part of the garden or a chunk fallen from a tree.

“That’s not our spirit; it’s competitive for a reason,” he said.

Over in the white team’s corner, Prince Sisowath Vic and Prince Norodom Amarithivong made a formidable duo, drilling and nailing bamboo shoots along the log base of their garden bed with military precision, pausing only to joke about the difficulty of undoing their work if it turned out the pieces were in the wrong place.

Prince Sisowath Vic, a regional manager for ANZ, noted that along with the satisfaction of helping to feed the 220 students at the school, the teams involved in the building contest had the added incentive of a limo ride around town as a prize for the winner.

The Prince said: “Part of what I like about working for ANZ is their involvement with the community. Although today is just a team building exercise, it may lead to a longer relationship with Grace House in the future. We have a development budget

in Siem Reap that we’ve used to organise supplies for the wounded from Oddar Meanchey, a blood drive at Angkor Hospital for Children, and computer donations to local schools, so we’ll see what the future brings.”

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