Christina Ho: Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zones
Nicole Bacchus    |  Acting Director, Digital Workspace Solutions 

The World is My Oyster

In 2019, when Nicole Bacchus applied for the RBC Expand program, a 9-week immersive innovation program, she was looking for a new challenge. She had no idea the experience would have such an impact on her — and on the lives of Canadians. 

“I decided to challenge myself and step outside of my comfort zone,” says Nicole, who was working in communications at the time. In the program, participants are asked to solve an executive-sponsored business challenge for a business and platform that they have no familiarity with. 

Nicole and her team of three other individuals were presented with a challenge from RBC Royal Trust in Wealth Management Canada: How to expand the breadth and scope of estate and trust services. Using Design Thinking, a methodology for problem solving, they started talking to people, asking questions, doing research and then doing more research to figure out what specific problem they could solve. 

After nine weeks of research, testing and design, Nicole and team delivered a prototype to the business which helped to inspire Royal Trust’s digital solution, Artie, the executor helper™, the first online executor help tool of its kind in Canada.

“Artie is a Royal Trust solution that was inspired by the need to evolve and transform the business and become a more digitally-enabled trust company that is equipped to support the shifting demographic landscape, and the needs of our clients - now and in the future,” says Nicole.

For context, an executor is appointed to administer the estate of a loved one or someone they know when they are deceased. The executor's main duty is to carry out the affairs and wishes of the deceased person's estate, which is usually outlined in their Will. This can sometimes get complicated depending on assets and beneficiaries involved and the level of education of the roles and responsibilities of the executor. 

With the client experience at the heart of RBC, Artie provides valuable information to Canadian executors in their time of need, when they need it, through education and resources. Royal Trust saw an opportunity to disrupt the estate settlement experience by offering a new, digital solution to the broader Canadian public.

“It really is thinking about the humans behind the solution,” explains Nicole. “Whenever people take that perspective, it’s so much more meaningful, because you’re targeting someone’s needs. You’re helping them.”

“The reality is, every single one of us will either have to help with the settlement of our parents’ estate or grandparents’ estate,” explains Nicole. “Once you’ve been named to manage that responsibility, you are legally responsible for making sure that everything gets organized when a loved one passes.”

Nicole says that developing Artie for RBC has been the highlight of her career. Even better, she was able to help build and deliver it to market in January 2021, with a patent and trademark. For Nicole, the biggest reward has been the anecdotal feedback, hearing that someone plans to share the tool with a client or a family member. “That to me is where I feel the impact,” she says.

Seeing the direct benefits of Design Thinking, Nicole has continued to use the methodology. “This new way of working has transformed the way I work by helping me to focus on the human need behind every idea and solution delivered,” she says. “I am a true ambassador of this by training colleagues and teaching workshops.”

Nicole will definitely employ Design Thinking in the next stage: taking the tool through the stage of app development so it can offer clients even more services. “When you allow everyone to contribute in a free and safe space, and you can put some of those ideas into themes and value creation moments, this is when true imagination and creativity can come to life.”

Creating this app is a big leap from her role with internal communications and marketing where she worked for more than a decade in various business lines at RBC. “RBC has supported my career by offering mentorship from great leaders, a diversity of challenging roles to apply for and training courses and programs to grow my skills,” says Nicole. “The world is really your oyster at this organization.”

Nicole has just recently been promoted to Acting Director for Digital Workspace Solutions in Technology and Operations. She is yet again ready for the next chapter in her career journey at RBC. 
Christina Ho

Nicole Bacchus  

Acting Director, Digital Workspace Solutions