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"You get out of life what you put into it." Erin Faulkner on Transitioning into a Career in Technology

Erin Faulkner is Senior Manager, Monitoring & Triage at RBC. She sat down and chatted with WCT and shared challenges and successes from her career journey. 


When did you start your career path and why did you choose it?

I started my career path in IT a little over 10 years ago.My father worked for RBC for 39 years when he retired.My brother worked at RBC for 18 when he left to work abroad.In my younger days I suppose I thought working for a major corporation, and one in finance, might be boring and everyone would be stuffy.I had a diploma in photography and after working a couple jobs in that field I found myself in a dead-end job with no creative outlet.I was in my mid-late twenties and was quickly becoming miserable.I had to re-evaluate my life and some of the choices I had made.It opened my eyes to the lives my father and brother were able to create for themselves while working here, and the freedom that working here offered them which was a stark contrast to the starving artist life I was creating.In my photography career there was always a need for IT as things started to move towards the digital space.I decided to give it a shot and I’m really happy I did as I had the completely wrong impression about the bank.I quickly found myself motivated again, intellectually stimulated and challenged.It was excited.I started off in an entry level network position and was promoted to 2nd level network support a couple years after that.I worked there for about 4-5 years and gained a ton of experience with different technologies and potential avenues I could specialize in going forward.About 4 years ago I made the move into Cyber.I was looking for a new challenge and knew a few colleagues I previously worked with that had made the same move and they were really happy.This was about the time when Cyber was starting to get a lot of attention.I’ve been really happy with the move over to this space as I’m still able to leverage the skills I developed in my previous roles but I was also able to learn a new area, and actually found a better work/life balance here, which was becoming more important to me as I became older.


What or who helped you get you to where you are today?

I have had a pretty steady stream of people in my corner from the beginning.I probably wouldn’t be here without the support system I’ve had but I do have to stress that that is absolutely a bi-directional relationship, you have to be willing to put in the work and do your fair share in order to get something out of it.I’ve had great managers along the way in all of my previous roles.Each of these managers had different qualities that both supported and stretched my capabilities.I feel like this is one of the great things about working for RBC; the support system here is outstanding.In my last few years I have also engaged in mentorship programs, both as a mentee and more recently as a mentor.In my last two years I have acquired what I would consider a significant sponsor.Again, all of this is directly related to the level of dedication they’ve observed from me, consistency, reliability, willingness to take on challenges as well as receive and adapt to constructive criticism.


What are some challenges that you faced in your career? How did you overcome these challenges?

Probably the most obvious challenge was that I didn’t come from an IT background.I studied in the Arts & Media field.I started in an area where my peers were a few years younger than me, having just come out of college/university and studied IT for years before working here.I very quickly felt like I was playing catch up.But again I was highly motivated and the opportunity was something I was grateful for.Having been on the other side and knowing that the grass is not greener, I put my all into learning my new field.I asked for direction on courses I could take to get up to speed, I studied during slower periods on my night shifts, I put in a ton of overtime hours to get me more experience on the desk.I essentially sacrificed ~2 years of my personal life to get, not only up to speed with my new job, but to excel at my job.

Other than that, I would say I haven’t faced significant challenges in the trajectory of my career besides managing busy periods and extreme long hours at times.Again, the bank is very good at accommodating these type of circumstances so while things may be touch temporarily, you are taken of in the long run. If you work in a busy area, or a support type role that has unpredictable hours, it is important that you keep your health in mind and make necessary adjustments to take care of yourself.I know this is something that RBC is strongly supportive of.


When you look around the room in meetings, do you see enough diversity?

From a cultural representation, absolutely.I think we still have a ways to go in terms of gender diversity but RBC has made this a goal and has made great progress in this space, especially with women in leadership.Overall I think we need more women in technology, and specifically in Cyber, but that is something that we’re mindful and always looking out for.


What advice would you give your younger self? What advice would you give a young woman considering a career in your field?

Giving my younger self advice would have been tough.;)I would like to stay that I would have pushed myself to get involved earlier than I did, but at the same time, the path I took made me who I am so I also don’t regret anything.What I would say to a younger women is to go for what you want.Don’t be intimidated that today this is still a largely male dominated field.Diversity of thought is important and always welcome.Women often aren’t as blunt in asking for what they want, or what they think they deserve.This is something we could all work on.Don’t sell yourself short!


What is a quote that you live by?

You get out of life what you put into it.


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