Originally posted by Jordan Fujiwara.
Let’s meet McKenzie Willson of Barrie, Ontario. A Western alum, he took an Honours BA in Economics and is better known to his classmates as Mac. His corporate residency was with the Royal Bank of Canada’s Global Head Office of Recruitment and Learning as a Business Analyst. This was a very rewarding experience for Mac, so let’s jump right into it!
“My job involved analyzing how our department serviced the other business units and how we could be better, as in ‘more efficient or more effective’. The department itself provides recruitment and learning services to the entire organization of over 70,000 employees, be it training for new hires, specific programs for current employees, recruiting for an existing opening, or planning for a future need,” explains Mac. “I reported to the VP of Recruitment and Learning (Mark Galbraith). The day to day varied depending on the project, but in general, first you had to understand the current state of the area of interest, then research the leading best practises.” Basically, Mac would help find out where the company stood on a particular issue compared to industry leaders and/or internal goals. “The next steps are making recommendations and then moving into communication and implementation. There was lots of research, but I also got opportunities to help define projects and brainstorm with Mark and other senior managers. You know, sitting and talking about ‘how are we going to do this, should RBC do that, et cetera.”
Mac spoke of how he gained a ton of exposure working closely with recruiters, an executive VP and all levels in between. He was also able to work on a particular project from start to finish and have a major hand in developing a specific tool that has significantly improved certain work processes. “It was really cool that I got to see how it was used once it was implemented,” he says.
Besides the general exposure to this part of the banking world (which is, in this author’s opinion, a side of the industry that we probably don’t think about all that often, if at all), Mac felt his soft skills were immeasurably boosted. This was partly because of the support and mentoring network RBC provided and partly due to conquering some tough personal challenges.
“It was great to work with all these people who were so accomplished but also had the patience to teach the new guy. They made sure to place me in a position where I was useful but also learning,” beams Mac. “Mark was unbelievably inspirational; he’s a great leader and had intangible qualities that I can’t fully explain, but he commanded my respect. Rolando Lopez was a formal mentor to me; he selflessly put more effort into developing my skills than anyone could have expected of him. Jessica Grey (Senior Business Analyst) was another role model. She knows her job inside out – she really knows how to drive results and how to make things happen. I learned a lot from her. The same goes for pretty much everyone else I worked with.”
Despite being surrounded by such awesome people, sometimes you have to fight battles alone. This was the case near the end of Mac’s residency: “I was assigned a project by someone who was immediately leaving for vacation. The project was reasonable, but I was in a state of mind where I couldn’t quite grasp it properly and the person to talk to about it was gone, as was my first ‘backup’. I let it overwhelm me for a few days and it really strung me out,” recalls Mac. “I realized I couldn’t just sit and do nothing. I talked to one of my mentors (Rolando) and he gave me the harsh wake-up call I needed. He said: ‘Regardless of everything in your personal life, you’re an MBA. This means you can be counted on to perform, period. Don’t come to me asking what do I do? Come to me saying these are my options, what do you think?‘”
At first I was shocked at the mistakes I had made,” says Mac. “I was the deer caught in the headlights. But I am very glad for the experience. I learned as much from that challenge as I did from any other experience in the residency. You have to be able to separate work and personal life. After I regained focus the project ended up well, and after the residency Rolando complimented me on my recovery from that challenge and on my overall professional development over the eight months.”
That sounds like a tough but rich learning experience for sure! In parting, Mac says: “Have faith that if you keep your focus and work hard, things will all fall into place. I believe in self-fulfilling prophecies (if you think things will turn out badly, they probably will).”
Thanks, Mac! We’ll see everyone else next Thursday!