Interview: RBC’s Anouschka Elliott on work and running

Some descriptionIf you take a stroll by the Thames at the weekend, you may inadvertently cross the path of CIM fellow and Londoner, Anouschka Elliott on her run. It’s a surprising pastime for a marketer who had dedicated decades of leisure time to avoiding running. Anouschka’s career journey has taken some unconventional turns too. There aren’t very many financial analysts who become leading marketers, in Anouschka’s case for RBC (Royal Bank of Canada). We asked Anouschka, how she arrived at her current role. And for her advice on getting started in running.  

Firstly, tell us a little about your current role

“I’m Managing Director, Global Head of Marketing & Brand at RBC Investor & Treasury Services, one of RBC’s five business divisions. I’m responsible for developing and executing the marketing strategy for our front-end client experience which includes everything from generating editorial ideas for our thought leadership content; creating materials, demos, speaking notes and FAQs for client and prospect meetings; delivering over 150 events globally each year; to delivering client proposals running into 100s of pages. If that didn’t make us busy enough, my team also gathers and analyses external feedback which informs our business strategy.”

About RBC

Royal Bank of Canada is Canada’s largest bank, and one of the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalisation. RBC is one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies, and provides personal and commercial banking, wealth management, insurance, investor services and capital markets products and services on a global basis. The bank has over 80,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 16 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S., UK and 36 other countries. RBC Investor & Treasury Services is one of RBC’s five business divisions with 2017 assets under administration of C$4.3 trillion and record net income of over C$740 million.

What’s the nature of your specialist customer base?

“We are a specialist provider of asset services, custody, payments and treasury services for financial and other institutional investors worldwide. Within our home Canadian market, we have leading market share across all client segments; here we support asset managers, insurance companies, pension funds and investment councillors. Outside Canada, our offshore expertise is focused on asset managers.”

Describe a typical day

“One of the reasons I love being in marketing is that there is never a typical day! I also travel extensively so finding myself at home is a luxury. On my London mornings I typically read my emails on the way to work to catch up with the overnight happenings in the Toronto, Australian and Asian offices, then from around 8am catch up with my Asia and/or Australian teams. We publish content daily, so part of my morning involves reviewing final drafts of our latest articles before they are distributed through our digital channels. At some point in the morning, I’ll also find time to double-check the priorities I’ve set myself for the day in my old-fashioned desk diary, review the next two day’s meetings with my Executive Assistant and go through the week’s priorities with her so that we are aligned.

Some descriptionThe middle of the day is the best time for global meetings, so this is typically when our Operating Committees take place. Being the standard bearer for my team, I use these forums to highlight their work and ensure they receive the recognition they deserve. These meetings are also an opportunity for me to keep my finger on the pulse of the broader business, provide strategic advice and counsel from a marketing perspective and identify opportunities for us to help support our business’ growth.

During the afternoon, I catch up with colleagues in London or Toronto. This might involve digging into an upcoming deal or client presentation, checking in on one of our many marketing campaigns, being tracked down for approvals or input, connecting with the product team on potential launches, brainstorming with our sales teams or figuring out how to improve my team’s work days by refining our processes and infrastructure. Invariably whichever office I am in, my team and I find time for a quick chat and before I leave for the night, I do a round-up of anyone still in the office to see if they need anything before I go.”

Tell us about your marketing team

“There are 50 of us in the team spread across six international locations – Toronto, London, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney – with a number of bilingual speakers. Languages aside, we all bring different skills and business expertise which are organised into sub-teams reflecting our respective areas of specialisation: marketing, event marketing, research & client content, client communications, proposal management and digital & design.

We are a mix of new graduates through to industry veterans with over 30 years’ experience so there is a terrific combination of solid technical knowledge alongside fresh, tech-savvy new perspectives.”

What are the challenges you face in your role?

“Keeping on top of everything! Being well-organised is critical and my EA and Global Business Manager are key partners in helping me ensure that the team is on track. In the face of potential industry disruption, being up to date with new technology is also fundamental. Last year I learned how to code and followed up with courses on ABCD: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Cybersecurity and Data analytics. A few of my colleagues joined me at the Blockchain course and at the request of our CEO, I rolled out all four courses to 120 of our most senior leaders globally.”

What do you relish most about marketing?

“By nature, I am constantly curious, and marketing allows me to involve myself in all areas of the organisation. There is always something new to learn and every year we work to break new ground, either using innovative technologies or taking a fresh marketing concept from another industry and applying it to our own – the crowdsourcing we use to deliver our thought leadership strategy has been a case in point. AI has the potential to automate many jobs however the creativity required to be a successful marketer will heighten our value.”

You haven’t always been a marketer, what did you do before?

“I started my career on Citi’s graduate training scheme on a track to become a corporate banker. Back in those days, that involved being sent to New York for four months of training in accountancy, financial analytics and financial modelling. It was a fantastic opportunity to gain solid technical skills and although I shifted into marketing after a decade as a credit analyst and relationship manager, my ability to interpret figures, derive insights, and understand our clients’ requirements from a front-line sales perspective, has been invaluable.”

How did you make the transition?

“I was sitting in a client meeting one day when I realised that rather than truly caring about what I was delivering, I was going through the motions. It was quite a scary moment but one I needed to take notice of, so I sought out my mentors for counsel and advice. I had always been interested in marketing and luckily one of my mentors introduced me to Citi’s Head of Corporate Affairs who had an opening for someone to lead Community Affairs for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. I leapt at the chance and have never looked back. That’s the great thing about working in a large organisation – there are always lots of opportunities for lateral moves if you have a great track record and the right people supporting you.”

Along the way you took the CIM Postgraduate Diploma, why is that?

“I left Citi to take a role as Marketing Director at a boutique investment house. While I had a solid base of theoretical marketing knowledge from my bachelor’s degree, in order to be fully confident in our direction, execution and the advice I was providing to our executive team, I wanted to improve my knowledge and ensure my team and I were employing best practice approaches. The skills I gained from my PgDip have been invaluable in analysing the environment, deriving a strategy, developing well-considered implementation plans and measuring our impact.”

Tell us about your role as CIM’s London Sector Interest Group Ambassador

“In 2016, I joined the Board for CIM’s Greater London region. I’d always appreciated CIM’s events including those specifically geared for the finance sector and organised by CIM’s Finance Sector Interest Group. I wanted to develop links with CIM’s interest groups so that CIM members are aware of all the interest groups open to them, especially since many of these national groups hold excellent events in London.”

About CIM Sector Interest Groups

CIM members can join up to three groups free of charge. Each group brings together marketers with specific industry knowledge, from finance to construction and travel to the food, drink and agriculture sector.

Find out more

Call 01628 427120 to join a group.

You’re incredibly busy, what made you take up running?

“While I’m far from being a natural runner, I was fascinated at the concept of running a marathon as it seemed to be more of a mental than physical challenge. For some inexplicable reason, I decided to make a speculative application to a charity for a London marathon place on the basis that I definitely wouldn’t get it but at least I’d tried. The call confirming my place came through one day while I was in a supermarket. I stopped dead in the shop and burst into tears. Then went home and started planning my training program. It is amazing what your body can do when you put your mind to it.”

What advice do you have for non-runners considering taking the same leap?

“Sign up. Get a great training guide (I used the Non-Runners Marathon Trainer). Eat right. Keep going. Enjoy every second.“

Looking back on your career so far, what advice would you give to London marketers?

“It sounds basic but be sure you fully understand the commercials of your business and clearly articulate how what you do adds value and supports the firm’s success. I always think that the best marketers are experts in three things: one - marketing; two - their industry; and three - the benefits they deliver to their clients. With the world evolving a rapid pace, each of us must keep up with new developments across all three of these areas to ensure we avoid our firms becoming victims of ‘Marketing Myopia’.”