RBC National Aboriginal Day 2013 – Career Snapshot

Carrie Lagassé

Carrie Lagassé

Vice President, Commercial Financial Services
Canadian Banking, Sales, P&CB


 

Tell us about your current role and where you’re from (heritage).

I lead a team dedicated to meeting the financial needs of owner managed Canadian businesses. This includes engaging our partners to help the owners meet their personal financial goals. I’m able to meet some of the most interesting entrepreneurs and get behind the scenes of their businesses.

I see myself as a one person representation of cultures that make Canada such a fabulous country. My Aboriginal heritage comes from my father’s side of the family. My grandfather was a francophone from Quebec. He also had aboriginal ancestry on his mother’s side and was somehow related to Louis Riel. My Grandmother grew up at Buffalo Point First Nations (where Ontario, Manitoba and Minnesota meet). My mother is from a family of Ukrainian immigrants.

Can you tell us a little about some of the jobs you’ve had with RBC, the journey you’ve taken in your career and if there was any critical moves or defining moments that need to be highlighted.

My career has always been in Commercial Financial Services. I started in the Bank after graduating with my MBA as an Account Manager trainee. In the mid 1990s, I had the opportunity to work with a diversified network of professionals to bring a broad range of advice and value to potential clients. This opportunity was a key turning point in my career. It gave me direct and early insight into the behaviors that are now commonplace in our New Client Acquisition and Advice strategies. It also gave me the confidence to see that we could work with business clients in a new and better way.

My career then took me into a Regional Office role in Manitoba, Saskatchewan where I learned a lot about RBC from a very different perspective. My career also took me to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan where I had the privilege of leading my own Business Centre. It turned out to be a fantastic move. Again, I learned a lot from our clients who can be very generous with their knowledge if you are honest about your knowledge level and have a genuine sense of intellectual curiosity.

From Moose Jaw, I transferred to Kingston, Ontario. I work with an amazing group of dedicated professionals and partners. I am heavily involved in our local United Way and I get to live in one of the most beautiful areas of Canada.

Royal Eagles was one of the first employee resource groups established at RBC to connect employees who are interested in building awareness and learning more about Canada’s Aboriginal cultures and communities. How has being part of an employee resource group impacted your experience at RBC?

For me, Royal Eagles is just one more way that RBC demonstrates its commitment to its employees. I became aware of Royal Eagles when it first started in 1992. The mere existence of this type of Employee Resource Group is the mark of a company that cares.

What has contributed to your success and what key principles have you used to build your career?

The number one contributor to my success has been following my passion. I have only taken roles where I believed I could make an impact. As an Account Manager, the mere fact that I believed I made a difference to the success of my clients encouraged me to work harder. As a sales leader, I go home happy at the end of the day if I think I have added value to one of my team members or helped them add value for a client.

I do not think I would have been more successful if I had applied for roles simply because they were the next stepping stone. Of course, that depends on your definition of success.

What advice do you have for employees looking to grow their careers at RBC?

Know yourself and understand your strengths, challenges and passions first. There are a number of tools on Me & RBC that can assist. Once you have explored this, you will have a better idea of the type of roles that would be a strong fit then seek out a mentor who can provide a sounding board. Consistently work on your personal development plan to build on your skill sets to ensure you will be a strong candidate when the right opportunity arises.

Aside from spending time with family and friends, what’s your favourite thing to do when you have time to yourself?

My husband and I love to travel and spend our vacation time trying to see as much of the world as we can while we are still young and healthy enough to do so.