RBC International Women’s Day 2013 – Career Snapshots

Chandra Stempien

Chandra Stempien

Director, Counterparty Credit Risk Analysis and Measurement
Market and Trading Credit Risk, Group Risk Management


How did you get to be where you are today? Was there a particular person or moment that influenced you?

During my undergraduate degree I was very fortunate that a professor directed my attention to the “up and coming” field of Financial Mathematics in 1996 and I was one of the first graduates of a Masters program in this area. The 1998 Russian Long Term Debt crisis occurred at the beginning of my career and ignited my passion for risk management. Throughout my career, I’ve had a great set of managers and co-workers who encouraged me to explore and develop the Market and Credit Risk framework at RBC.

As a successful business woman what are some of the challenges and/or opportunities you face in your career or line of business?

The volatility of the markets and the growth of derivatives within the trading business has been the driver of all great opportunities and challenges within Market Risk Management. Each crisis has driven further regulatory developments, which makes a career in this field very dynamic.

If you were talking to someone who’s never worked in your RBC business group, how would you describe what you do and what you like best about your job?

Within Enterprise Market Risk, we are reponsible for reporting, analyzing and understanding the risk of RBC with regards to the exposures to market movements and counterparty defaults. We are also responsible for ensuring that the bank is properly capitalized for any unmitigated market exposures. We work closely with the business to ensure that the risk appetite aligns with RBC’s stated goals.

What advice would you give a younger woman who is at the start of her career?

I would give the same advice to any younger man or woman at the start of their career: Work hard, focus on adding value to your groups stated goals while exploring areas that you are interested in. If you do that, you don’t need to spend a lot of time worrying about the next step in your career – it will find you.

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing instead?

That is a question that we all ask ourselves, and I often struggle with the answer and this is one of the few areas that I know of that I think challenges me on a daily basis due to the dynamic nature of the business and the regulatory environment that surrounds it. However, if I had to choose something else it would be something related to either interior design or landscaping. I love the challenge of finding the ultimate solution to something that isn’t working well.

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

I really enjoy getting some time to get to the gym or get out on a hike. There’s a point in a workout when you forget about how long you’ve been there and what else you have to do in the day.

Who has been the most inspiring woman in your own life and why?

My mother is a true source of inspiration to me. After my parents divorced, she raised four kids in the country, sometimes without a car, supporting us on welfare while going back to University to finish her Bachelors of Education! She is a cancer survivor. Now that she’s retired, she hasn’t slowed down – we did a hiking trip through China last year and are planning to hike Mount Kilimanjaro in the next couple of years.

Finally, any comment, words of advice or quote you live your life b and would like to share?

Shortly after I was promoted to my first people management role, a mentor had pulled me aside and told me the following: “This job is tough. People will often question your decisions. Regardless of what you are doing, remember that you made the best decision you could make at the time. Rely on that. Have confidence in that.” These are words I use in both my professional and personal life.