GIVING up a professional role for the draining, sometimes under-appreciated, role of head of corporate social responsibility (CSR) may seem preposterous to some.

But to Annie Yeo, head of CSR Asia at Deutsche Bank, it was the natural choice. Her mantra - giving is the core of being human.

"Once you give, you feel good in making a small difference to somebody's life," she said. "It's only when someone doesn't have the opportunity to give that they won't understand this."

Before she assumed her role at the helm, Ms Yeo was regional head of conferences in the bank's communications team and, at the same time, co-head of CSR.

There were no staff dedicated to CSR projects; the Asia Foundation was supported by the communications team.

"I simply did not have time for CSR," she said. "So in 2009, I asked for a transfer to a full-time job to focus more on CSR. I had been neglecting it and it was the time to make use of my connections in the bank to expand on this area."

Now she leads a regional team of three to coordinate activities for the 16,000 staff in 17 markets in Asia Pacific.

"We try to make it as easy as possible for them to volunteer in any way that they can, especially as a lot of the bankers are time-poor and spend a lot of time at work," she said.

The efforts seem to have borne fruit - Deutsche Bank's Asia Pacific region boasted a 37 per cent staff volunteerism rate last year, the top across the bank globally. The participation rate in Singapore is even higher: 47 per cent.

Deutsche Bank has distinguished itself through its innovative schemes to spur CSR amid funding cutbacks and the hectic lives of bankers. As part of its 40th anniversary celebrations, Deutsche Bank Singapore launched the Charities of the Year programme.

A resounding success in UK since 1999, the fund-raising initiative supports non-profit organisations - selected by employees - for a year.

The initial goal was to raise $150,000 each for one regional and three local charities. After interviewing the staff that submitted the nominations, as well as the partners from the organisations, eight charities were shortlisted from 22.

Staff votes sealed the verdict: Four organisations were selected, including one based in India.

Throughout the rest of the year, staff volunteered and carried out extensive fund-raising efforts. By the end of the year, they had raised $800,000 - far exceeding the original target of $600,000. The charities were delighted.

Such activities are an avenue for Ms Yeo to introduce employees to her passion. "Once they give, they'll find it's a very meaningful thing to do, and it comes naturally to them."