Intrapreneurship Q&A: getting comfortable with discomfort

RBCx

As Canada’s largest bank, RBC is focused on building leaders who thrive in a culture of innovation. One way is through RBCx, a newly created nine-week accelerator program that puts RBC employees in the innovation spotlight. This program allows employees to explore big, disruptive ideas, across various areas of the bank while leveraging new methodologies and approaches, while naturally using their own expertise and knowledge. The successful pilot program ran February to April of 2017, and the second season is already underway (ending in mid-November) with almost double the participants.

Amir Feizpour, a data scientist who joined RBC less than a year ago, was chosen to participate in the second season. He offered us his initial thoughts on getting started in the program, and on this new way of working.

What is your day job at the bank?

I am a data scientist with the Data and Analytics team at RBC. We function as an internal data science consulting team, so we work with various lines of business across the enterprise and help them with data-driven decision making by providing actionable insights on data problems.

What made you want to be part of the intrapreneurship program?

I think that was the entrepreneur in me that wanted to come out. When my manager suggested he would nominate me, I researched what RBCx was and felt quite excited about the opportunity so I volunteered for it. I am constantly doing things outside of my usual mandate because I think that’s the best way to learn new things and become the best version of myself. RBCx sounded like a chance to explore something outside of what I am used to, to do things in new ways, work with people I didn’t know, and bring everything we have to the table to succeed. In short, I love a good challenge, and this sounded like one.

 

What do you hope you’ll get out of it?

It has been only a few weeks so far and I have already learned a lot, including a new mentality that allows me to question the assumptions I make. And maybe more importantly, that it is okay to experiment and fail, to learn from the failures and move on. I am trained as a scientist so this way of doing things suits me very well. So, it’s fantastic! I get to explore these methods more intensively and when I go back to my day job, I will feel more educated and confident to promote this mentality and spread these methodologies to my colleagues on the team.

We hear a lot about design thinking, but ultimately how does this methodology impact the way RBC serves its clients?

Design thinking puts the needs of your user/client at the center of everything you do. You add another feature or product based directly on the user’s feedback, not just because you or someone else thinks it’s a good idea. It’s the process of designing through understanding and knowing your clients or users, based on empathy rather than prescription. It sounds like a no-brainer to me that this is the most efficient way to create win-win situations, where you empower your clients and in turn your business flourishes. This is a value that RBC strives for, and I believe we should all try to add that to our daily routine as much as we can.

How are you hoping this will impact your career with RBC?

I am a firm believer that the more you learn the more successful you are in your career and in life. When you have a never-ending passion for learning you always look for opportunities to improve and enhance your skillset. I think RBCx allows me to learn new soft and technical skills, explore areas that I didn’t know I could be passionate about, and maybe most importantly, gives a new way of thinking about business problems. I honestly believe that if I improve every day and demonstrate my abilities then the right opportunities will find me.

For more information about intrapreneurship at RBC, visit: http://www.rbc.com/techjobs

Alysse Glick

Alysse Glick

Alysse is the Manager, Intrapreneurship Projects, at RBC.