What is your name and title and how long have you been in this role?
My name is Susan Uchida and I have been the vice-president for learning and development at Royal Bank of Canada since March, 2012.
What exactly do you do?
I am responsible for the strategy and day-to-day operations of RBC’s learning division. Together, my team of learning professionals and I support the training needs of about 80,000 RBC employees around the globe.
Describe what you do on any given day.
My days can be quite varied. Some days, the focus might be on leading a large-scale project or solving operational issues that may come up as part of our normal daily business. It might also include meeting with RBC business leaders about supporting their business strategy and employees. And always being available for my own team and how I can support them.
What’s your background and education?
I was born and raised in Toronto and completed a part-time MBA at Dalhousie University in 2004. I started my career in financial services sales and was one of the early CFP (certified financial planner) recipients. I have been with RBC since September, 2002.
How did you get to your position?
Starting my career in sales gave me some fundamental life-long skills that I draw upon daily. Sales teaches you how to listen to others, how to communicate ideas clearly, and how to solve problems. Having this background helped me to transition to professional roles in a business.
Working for a large organization offers great benefits because it exposes you to the wide variety of roles offered in one company. My background spans from sales to business strategy to human resources. In every one of these experiences, you learn more not only by doing the role, but by observing others and building your own skills. And working hard and doing a good job is table stakes today.
What’s the best part of your job?
I love working for RBC, where the culture really is about doing the right thing, and fits my personal beliefs. For example, I was recently asked to develop a strategy for how RBC might give back to our communities and youth in Canada. My team and I tackled this like a business problem and attempted to solve the issues facing new graduates today, namely the lack of work experience, lack of a network, and difficulty in translating skills learned in school to the workplace.
With this in mind, we developed the RBC Career Launch Program, a new internship that provides work and community not-for-profit experience, along with learning and mentorship. Graduating from this program gives the intern skills and experience that can help launch their career. We’re accepting applications until Oct. 22.
What’s the worst part of your job?
Getting up at 4:45 a.m. every day and commuting downtown.
What are your strengths in this role?
I think my major strength is the ability to get things done. I like solving problems – complicated and messy are super fun for me. I love working with other colleagues, and if you can have a sense of humour, it makes the work that much easier.
What are your weaknesses?
I’m very impatient and can get easily bored.
What has been your best career move?
Can I offer two? First would be coming to a company like RBC where I have had wonderful opportunities and leaders to work with for the past 11 years. Second would be taking the chance to try a new role in HR, in another country. Working for RBC in the United States was a defining opportunity for me – it completely took me out of my comfort zone and I learned something new every day. I came back to Canada exhilarated and with a new perspective.
What has been your worst career move?
Staying in a role too long where I wasn’t learning anything new.
What’s your next big job goal?
Right now, I’m enjoying the team I’m working with and we’re doing some great work. I’m happy knowing that the leaders I work with trust me to tackle interesting issues so I might expect to see more of that in the future.
What’s your advice to others who might want to follow in your footsteps?
Work hard and know that every experience teaches you something – either knowledge you can use in a future position or about yourself. I’ve found that experiences build upon each other and, over time, you’ll learn what motivates you and what you’re good at. If you can match a role to this, you’ll have magic.
Do you know an executive or leader who has an interesting career story for My Career or My Career Abroad? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org