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Career Growth and Innovation in FinTech


Episode Summary

In this episode of Behind the Growth, host Imran Mian interviews Suhanniyah Carpenter, Director of Consumer Banking, Technology Lead at Royal Bank of Canada as she traces her transition from a computer science major to a director. She talks about the tussle between work and starting a family in the minds of young women in the corporate world, and suggests that the latter works out if you maintain your network and make yourself visible.

Suhanniyah clears up uncertainties around remote working, stressing upon the benefits of considering your manager your partner in career progression. She talks about focusing on why you are in the room instead of the challenges that come in your way as a woman of color. Sharing her personal experiences, she talks about how her managers helped her get over her imposter syndrome and pushed leadership opportunities her way.

The intentional focus on diversifying the talent mix encourages and delights her, for she believes that it opens doors long stuck. Suhanniyah also stresses upon having supportive conversations for career advancement as an important pillar of diversity and inclusion. She sheds light on the latest fintech advancements and changes in the landscape of consumer banking, while highlighting the ripple effects of having meaningful connections and conversations.

Featured Guest

  • Name: Suhanniyah Carpenter
  • What she does: Sr. Director of Consumer Banking, Technology Lead
  • Company: Royal Bank of Canada
  • Noteworthy: Suhanniyah Carpenter is a passionate IT professional and fintech leader at RBC. With expertise in software development, consulting, and business intelligence, she oversees technology and architecture in Consumer Banking. An advocate for innovation and collaboration, Suhanniyah champions agile methodologies and founded the OMNI architecture chapter. She holds a Bachelor of Computer Science from the University of Waterloo.

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Key Insights

Embracing Digital Transformations in Banking
Suhanniyah Carpenter discusses the significant shift that banking has undergone due to technological advancements, particularly at RBC. She describes how the bank embraced digital and agile transformations, which have dramatically improved their ability to serve clients more effectively and efficiently. The transformation involved moving from traditional methods to daily deployments and modern technology frameworks, allowing the bank to rapidly adjust to changing consumer needs during the pandemic. This insight highlights the importance of agility and responsiveness in the banking sector, driven by technological innovations.

Advancing Careers in a Remote Working Environment
Suhanniyah shares her personal experience and the broader trend at RBC of career growth occurring remotely, contradicting common assumptions that remote work might stall professional development. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and transitioning to full-time remote work, she and many of her colleagues at RBC found that it opened new pathways for advancement. This reflects a significant shift in corporate culture, where physical presence is no longer a barrier to career progression, emphasizing the value of performance over presence.

Navigating Gender Bias in the Tech Industry
Reflecting on her journey in the tech-driven fields of banking and finance, Suhanniyah discusses the challenges of being a woman and a woman of color in predominantly male-dominated environments. She highlights early career experiences where she had to prove her competence and rightful place in tech, often facing initial biases and underestimations. Her success story underscores the importance of focusing on skill and problem-solving capabilities in overcoming stereotypes and gaining respect in the workplace. This insight is crucial for understanding the dynamics of diversity and inclusion within tech industries.

Using your network and manager as partners in your career progression really helps open doors that you didn't even know were available.

Episode Highlights

Transition from Projects to Products in Tech

Suhanniyah Carpenter discusses the shift from project-based work to a focus on product ownership within technology roles. She emphasizes the different challenges and rewards that come from being closely involved with the development and iteration of a product, rather than moving between various projects. This part of the conversation sheds light on the strategic changes in her career direction and the broader implications for tech professionals aiming to impact product development more substantially.

“[Moving away from projects to products] is a completely different landscape, right? And it gives you a little bit more autonomy in terms of how you help your product counterparts as a technology partner evolve the solution and solve for clients.”

The Impact of Co-op Programs on Career Development

In the early part of the podcast, Suhanniyah credits co-operative education programs for significantly shaping her early career. She explains how these programs provided her with the necessary experience and exposure to different sectors within technology, which was crucial during the economic recession she graduated in. This insight into the benefits of structured, experiential learning highlights its value in building a resilient and adaptable career foundation.

“I cannot stress how important being part of a co-op program was in like early career progression for me.”

The Role of Networking in Career Opportunities

Towards the end of the episode, Suhanniyah highlights the importance of networking in uncovering and securing career opportunities. She discusses how connections made throughout her career have opened doors to new roles that she hadn’t previously considered. This discussion points to the power of maintaining and leveraging professional relationships, not just for immediate benefits but for potential future opportunities that may arise unexpectedly.

“Having people that — whether they’re within your immediate team or you’ve worked with them in the past — those connections are going to be able to carve out roles, pathways into career opportunities that you haven’t even been exposed to.”

Advantages of Technology in Enhancing Client Services

Suhanniyah speaks about how advancements in technology have transformed client services in banking, especially in terms of accessibility and customization. She details how these technologies enable banks to meet clients where they are, enhancing their experience and satisfaction. This part of the discussion underscores the ongoing evolution in the banking sector driven by tech innovations, aimed at improving the overall client journey.

“We need to meet clients where they are, how they want to choose to bank with us. What’s their channel of choice? Is it web? Is it mobile? Is it French? There’s a use case for each one of those.”

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