When I first joined RBC as a civil litigation lawyer in 1985, I never dreamed I’d be here decades later, and working in HR!
From the moment I arrived at RBC, I loved the work – it was challenging and fun. I had a lot more responsibility and autonomy at RBC than most junior lawyers had elsewhere - I got to deal with clients and go to court on my own, and worked on some pretty exciting, precedent-setting cases. When I followed my manager to private practice a year later, I found I missed the work and the people – especially the level of challenge I’d had at RBC. A chance encounter with RBC’s then general counsel led to my return 3 years later – and the rest just followed. I spent the next 18 years in the General Counsel Group, working on litigation and dispute management.
At first, I worked mostly with RBC’s special loans team on loan recoveries and insolvencies, and with HR on the odd employment matter. While I continued to litigate cases for RBC for several years, growing volume and complexity began to require a different approach – managing external counsel rather than doing the work ourselves. At that point, I made what I consider my first major career change, and took off my litigator’s gown for good – although it still hangs in a closet at home, just in case!
Managing external counsel provided really exciting opportunities to work closely with some of the best lawyers in Canada, and then in the world as RBC expanded internationally. Every case presented unique learning opportunities for me and my colleagues, as we developed processes and began using technology to manage claims and report on them. In the mid-1990’s, I started working with a couple of new teams – the Office of the Ombudsman and the HR Advisory Services Group, then a tiny team in Burlington – and never imagined that one day I’d be even more closely involved with HR and the ASG, which is now part of Employee Relations.
In 2006, I made my second major career change, and joined RBC’s HR group as head of Employee Relations - the result of a chance career discussion with a senior leader in HR. These last 11 years have been incredibly challenging and fun for me, as I’ve had to switch my mindset from providing legal advice (i.e., telling people what they should do) to implementing policies and processes (i.e., figuring out how to do it)! Highlights of my time in HR include a significant update to our Code of Conduct, including our Doing What's Right awareness program, leading the development of our employee resolution help line and working on risk conduct and culture initiatives.
I can't claim to have planned my career in any sort of thoughtful or deliberate way - I have taken opportunities to change direction as they presented themselves, though as I look back I realize that advising others is the work I've enjoyed most and has been a major component of every role I've had through my career. I've learned as well that I need lots of variety and new things to work on and learn about to stay fully engaged.
Other constants for me throughout my career at RBC have been the tremendous people I’ve worked with, continuous opportunities to learn new things and our values-based approach to doing business and resolving issues. After almost 30 years here, I'm still impressed by the way we always look to do the right thing – not the easy thing, but the right thing. This, more than anything else, is what’s made RBC a great place to work for me.
About the Author:
Teri is the Senior Director of Employee Relations working in Human Resources. She enjoys running and travelling, especially hiking trips.