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An unexpected career path for a mechanical engineering alumnus

Author: UNB Alumni

Posted on Jan 11, 2021

Category: Inspiring Stories , UNB Fredericton , Engineering , Young Alumni


Who knew that a mechanical engineer could end up in an innovation role at one of Canada’s big banks? Malcolm Nwokotubo (BScME’16, DTME’16) sure didn’t when he first came to study at UNB.

Growing up in Nigeria, Malcolm was always interested in problem solving, math and engineering. He decided he wanted to study in Canada because of the country’s reputation for being welcoming and friendly. Although he’d never heard of New Brunswick, he won a scholarship that opened him up to the possibility of UNB – and when he learned about the high-quality engineering program, along with the opportunity to take a co-op option – he was sold.

He landed in Fredericton to start his studies during the winter term – a harsh introduction to Canada for a young man who’d never travelled outside of his home country. “I’d heard about Canadian winters, but experiencing it was something completely different,” he recounts. “I adjusted and loved UNB and Fredericton. It was a great place to study without a lot of distractions, and the people were very welcoming. I met a lot of good friends there.”

He took mechanical engineering and also enrolled in the diploma program in Technology Management and Entrepreneurship to explore innovation and entrepreneurial thinking. He worked for three co-op work terms in British Columbia for Teck Resources Limited monitoring equipment and gaining experience in a fast-paced industrial environment. “I realized both how vast and different Canada is and also how big the industry is as well. It helped me understand different areas.” 

Malcolm wanted to stay in Canada after graduation but wasn’t exactly sure what jobs to pursue. As he began applying for traditional engineering roles, he saw a posting for RBC’s career launch program – a one-year paid internship that gives practical work experience in different areas of the company. “I applied and was accepted, and in my last rotation I got to work in RBC’s Innovation Lab in Toronto. That’s where I discovered this was more than just a bank.”

“One of the team's mantras is to imagine the possibilities – and that was exactly what I love to do.” He was able to stay with the Innovation Lab full time as an analyst. “We were encouraged to look at problems with a wide lens and find novel solutions that aren’t just financially-focused. We were the eyes and ears of RBC to look into the fin-tec space and find trends and potential partners. My role was a hybrid one – I acted as both product owner and mechatronics engineer responsible for installation and maintenance of the lab. I worked on IoT devices, robots and all kinds of other interesting projects. We were encouraged to try new and innovative ideas.”

Malcolm says he worked on telepresence robots for offices, sensors for desks to provide data for optimizing space and efficiencies, and remote digital signage systems for messaging. He also dove into virtual and augmented reality for training purposes. “The future is here, and the pandemic has only sped up the use of this tech.”

Malcolm recently transitioned to RBC’s Corporate Treasury team within the CFO (Chief Finance Office) Group, as a data engineer and manager of business and data solutions. The team is responsible for calculating capital requirements across RBC, and he works with technology partners to improve infrastructure and determine new systems to meet required objectives while finding efficiencies. “We look for ways to streamline the entire process.”

Malcolm says the skills he learned at UNB have helped him in his work – even though it’s not in a traditional engineering role. "I learned the value of teamwork and communication. I also learned through projects at UNB the value of understanding your stakeholders and asking the right questions. Problem-solving is an art and a science – the approach taught at UNB in my engineering degree is still the approach I take today.”