An Innovative Leader with a Passion for Helping Communities Thrive through Financial Enablement

An Innovative Leader with a Passion for Helping Communities Thrive through Financial Enablement
Image Courtesy: RBC Origins

Chinyere Eni is an ‘accidental banker’ who is passionate about making the world a better place for all and came to banking through a recruitment call.  

Eni started working at the age of 14, at a grocery store as a paid job, and as an unpaid counsellor for children with physical challenges. After losing a leg to childhood cancer, she knew a thing or two about “adapting to a world that doesn’t adapt to you.”  

Being a student leader in high school helped her bring awareness to areas of need which ignited her can-do approach. So much so that she launched a club at her university to bring students of different backgrounds together to learn about one another even as she continued with her community volunteerism in the health, education and disability. She also co-launched a not for profit focused on supporting African children adopted by non-African families in Vancouver – a chance to connect with their heritage and build friendships. 

That ability to connect the dots led to a feature in a Vancouver newspaper that led her to joining RBC as a Customer Service Officer.  According to Eni, “not growing up with financial acumen, I wanted to learn it, to be able to buy a home one day, pursue post-secondary education and to build a good life.” 

Today she Chairs the Governance Committee for Wilfrid Laurier University Board of Governors and is Regional Representative for Ontario with the War Amputations of Canada Child Amputee program.  She has served as an ambassador and was recognized for co-founding the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation Ride to Conquer Cancer event and is now a member of the hospital’s hall for significant impacts in cancer care.  

Before her current role, Eni led a team of Vice Presidents in Commercial Financial Services delivering strategic advice to businesses, entrepreneurs and their employees across a wide range of industries.  

“SME’s are growth engines for local economies and I marvel at the vision, courage and commitment of entrepreneurs. I enjoy connecting dots and being an intrapreneur at RBC across a variety of work streams,” she said.  

An Innovative Leader with a Passion for Helping Communities Thrive through Financial Enablement
Image Courtesy: Canva

Eni is a member of Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan and a second-generation member of the Igbo tribe in Nigeria. As a woman leader with an intersectional background, Eni feels an acute responsibility when it comes to mentoring the next generation of women leaders. 

“Representation matters. It shows what’s possible and encourages more lived experiences around the tables that drive the decisions that shape the spaces we live and work in,” she said. 

Observing role models in and out of the bank helped her to re-imagine her future potential to bring financial insights and enablement to more Canadians. 

“There was a time when I struggled with so-called imposter syndrome. Then after many years came to acknowledge that systemic exclusion exists and it isn’t just about women’s confidence. It’s critical to honour that those barriers are real and that removing them is a shared responsibility,” said Eni.  

As the recently appointed head of RBC Origins, Eni has a new platform for expanding economic and social inclusion and is focused on cultivating sustainable relationships with rightsholders across Canada for generations to come through advancing reconciliation within RBC. 

An Innovative Leader with a Passion for Helping Communities Thrive through Financial Enablement
Image Courtesy: Canva

A new approach to RBCs relationship with Indigenous communities 

“We’re excited about the launch of RBC Origins, including our new Truth and Reconciliation Office – an industry first – as it marks a shift to collaborating with Indigenous communities in ways that are more holistic, while being accountable and transparent about the outcomes of our actions and commitments.  We are pursuing that through a review of our core operations, policies and practices,” said Eni.

As the executive Head of RBC Origins (formerly known as RBC Indigenous Banking), Chinyere is responsible for leading the team focused on driving the economic prosperity of Indigenous communities through the integrated delivery of financial services to governments, not-for-profits, businesses and retail clients. 

And the time is right. Across Canada, there are more than 50,000 businesses owned by First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, and that number has continued to grow over the last several years.  Indigenous people create businesses at nine times the rate of non-Indigenous Canadians, according to the Canadian Council for Indigenous Business.

Image Courtesy: Chinyere Eni

Advice for entrepreneurs

“I get excited about the potential that exists when businesses work closely in step with the community,” Eni says.  

You might be wondering how Eni managed to accomplish so much. She says, “You can not do it alone. Surround yourself with a knowledgeable, broad and varied network of people who can challenge your thinking on how to move towards your professional purpose. That means being open to hearing perspectives and advice that might be different from your own world view sometimes. When you’re able to do so, remember to reach back and pay it forward by sharing your time, knowledge and support with the next generation of entrepreneurs so that your success can have a multiplier effect for the broader community at large.”  

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