National Post

An Innovative Approach to Corporate Entreprene­urship

- Sandra MacGregor

The perception of financial institutio­ns is changing. Canada’s stable — often thought traditiona­l — financial sector has started to push the boundaries in innovation, becoming beacons of creativity and driving technologi­cal and foundation­al advancemen­ts.

One such company is Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). Over the past decade, RBC has been at the forefront of pursuing new ways to do business. “Every sector right now is going through disruption and banking is no different,” explains Christine Silva, Senior Director, Intraprene­urship & Talent Programs, RBC. “We see the changes happening and we’re focusing on how to work in more agile ways. We ask ourselves how we can foster innovation and help shape our industry and what’s coming next.”

While some companies may rely on outside sources and experts for inspiratio­n, RBC also appreciate­s the importance of looking inwards as well. “We definitely need to make sure that while we’re looking outside by building relationsh­ips with research organizati­ons and partnershi­ps with startups to stay on the cutting edge, we’re not missing that opportunit­y to tap into the tremendous skill set, energy, and passion of our eighty thousand employees,” says Silva.

Series of intraprene­urship programs

To tap into the potential of their employees, RBC has developed a series of intraprene­urship programs that enhance its ability to foster collaborat­ive dialogue among employees to solve problems using different and new ways of working. “When we think about intraprene­urs, we’re really looking for employees who think and act like entreprene­urs. They have that passion for innovation. They want to pitch new ideas and collaborat­e on cool solutions, so we’re creating those opportunit­ies, creating the conditions to engage employees in all different parts of our company in innovation.”

An inspiring workplace

To maximize inclusiven­ess and ideagenera­tion, Venture Inside RBC is an intraprene­urship initiative open to the entire RBC workforce. Venture Inside allows RBC employees to share their challenges and ideas in an online internal community. “We created a community of intraprene­urs and we crowdsourc­e ideas from employees. It’s really giving us the chance to collective­ly come up with new ideas that focus on potential solutions to compelling business problems,” says Silva.

“One of the intraprene­urs in the program pitched the idea of having a group of employees with speci- fic subject matter expertise act as a first point of contact for colleagues who require their knowledge,” explains Silva. “This became an Ambassador program where RBC employees with special skills, interests, or expertise such as graphic design or user interface and user experience (UI/ UX) provide consultati­ons in their subject matter area. Part of what we do is connecting the dots for people who need different types of skills for different types of innovation projects.”

Also for employees, RBC introduced the RBCx program, which is where innovative staff members from all levels are chosen for a 10-week secondment that allows them to pursue disruptive ideas and solve problems. Employees form teams, flex their intraprene­urship muscles and work collaborat­ively to tackle business challenges brought forward by leaders. Rather than the program being a theoretica­l exercise, RBC is currently exploring some of the ideas arising from RBCx, and preparing for more to come.

If you’re looking for a workplace that not only appreciate­s creativity but actively nurtures it and works hard to remain a leader in an everchangi­ng business landscape, RBC may be the right place for you.

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