Stuart Oliver, Tech Visionary
Director, Channel Technology Development, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
Starting with an electronics and engineering degree, Stuart Oliver has become an innovator and tech visionary with over 10 years of global experience with start-ups, Fortune 500 companies and now the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).
As Director of Channel Technology Development, Stuart loves finding new ways to use the hottest tech throughout RBC services from mobile and online banking to call centres and bank branches.
Education and early career
Growing up, Stuart was always fascinated by electronics. As a kid, he enjoyed fiddling around with all the tech in his house from radios to TVs. He loved taking things apart and fixing them. That childhood passion drove Stuart to complete an electronics and engineering degree at the University of Liverpool in England where he learned how to build antennas and radars for the military.
Stuart has been versatile with his career choices since university. After getting his degree, he worked as an engineer designing military radars for Raytheon, a major American defense contractor. Later, he moved on to give another area of his tech skills a spin, working as a software developer for Sun Life Financial Canada, a major insurance company.
Now at RBC, Stuart says, “I love working with the leaders of tomorrow and the potential for technology to change the world.”
Stuart's business and tech mashup
Stuart directs a team of over 100 developers in RBC’s Channel Technology Development department. The team develops and tests new technologies for mobile, online, contact centre, and branch sales and service applications. Stuart’s day at the office involves shuffling between meetings with RBC banking partners and his own staff of developers, which are all at different levels of their career.
RBC is always hiring new tech talent. Last year alone 20 people were added to the Channel Technology Development department. “We embrace hiring new grads because they bring fresh ideas and outside-the-box thinking to the table,” Stuart says. Currently, there are five co-op students on Stuart’s team who are just in their first or second year of undergraduate studies. They get to bounce ideas off the tech pros that have been in the field for many years while working with all the hottest web and mobile tech.
Stuart's key to success at RBC
Keeping up to speed with the world of tech is key to developing innovation and tech strategies. That involves following tech trends on Twitter to spot pilot projects before they become the next big thing, reading tech industry papers and networking with like-minded people in the industry.
“We are planning to develop more mobile apps in the future, as well as embark on electronic signature technologies for banking documents - all to remove the need for paper and make the clients experience much quicker service!”
Work and play
Stuart’s calendar in the morning doesn’t look the same by the end of day. His department resembles the pace of tech innovation – fast, flexible, vast and ever-changing. Every day is different and the ongoing changes keep him motivated to stay ahead of the game.
But even though Stuart runs about 50 multi-million dollar tech projects for RBC, he still finds time for other interests like coaching boys’ soccer to keep a work-life balance.
Tips for success
- “Remain open minded about your career plan and assume that it will change.”
- “Keep a broad focus on what your end goal is, and a narrow focus on what your next goal might be.”
- “Always work as part of a team - nobody achieves anything on their own.”
Explore your future at RBC
Stuart initiated a rotational recruitment program at RBC for graduates who have finished a Bachelor or Masters degree. The nine-month program allows them to gain exposure in different roles in business, technology and banking, while bringing fresh ideas and thinking into the bank.
“While experience is a great asset, it could also limit your creative thinking. That’s why I came up with this program for graduates to explore where their skills can show the most value,” Stuart says. Best of all – young people who participated in this program secured a full-time job at the bank. Check out how to apply: