Adejisola Atiba: Passion for Community Is Driving Her Efforts to Make Positive Impact on People

Adejisola Atiba’s story is not just about professional ascent and her leadership role. It is about perseverance, determination, continuous learning, and the attitude to never give up in the face of adversity. An African, born and raised in Nigeria, she moved to Canada after amassing a wealth of experience in the banking sector. Despite this, she had to start from the beginning again in the new country. She, however, once again climbed the ladder and has created a distinctive place for herself in the Canadian banking space. Today, she is the Community Manager at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), which is one of Canada’s largest banks based on market capitalization.

Adejisola is not just a banker but also a community advocate. She uses her platform and expertise to advocate for important processes, such as equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), making a difference to her community as well as the greater Canadian ecosystem.

Success, for Adejisola, means making a positive impact on the lives of everyone around her. In her various roles, her focus has always been on empowering and motivating individuals – both professionally and personally – so that they can reach their true potential. Everything she does comes from a place of passion. “I just dig in,” Adejisola says.

Adejisola is a lifestyle coach and a published author as well. “Authenticity: How My Why Me Moments Shaped Life” is her first book, published in April 2022. She is currently writing her second book, “Be Limitless.” “I am writing this book because I feel that everyone needs to try, try, and try again, as we know that, the moment one stops trying, it is the end of it. One failed. Period.” Adejisola’s story is exemplary and inspiring because she never stopped trying or gave up.

Starting Again in a New Country

In 1989, Adejisola began her banking career in Nigeria. She came to Canada with 15 years of experience in the banking space. However, she soon discovered that her experience amounted to naught in the new country.

“When I moved to Canada, I thought that it was waiting for me, as I felt I was the best since sliced bread,” Adejisola recalls. She also thought that once she landed in Canada, she would be where she wanted to be. She, however, soon had a rude awakening. There was no work for her and no place for her. She applied for over one hundred positions but received zero replies. “The first thing I would hear was, “No, you cannot get a job in Canada’,” Adejisola says. It was not what she was expecting to experience in Canada.

It was not for a job interview but to open a bank account that Adejisola had gone to RBC with a friend. The account manager who was opening her account, upon learning she had worked as a banker in her home, asked why she was not working in a bank. Adejisola did not want to answer him. “At that point, I was just done,” she says.

Later, the account manager introduced Adejisola to someone; this led her to her first job offer in Cananda’s banking space. She began as a customer representative/teller. It was not the role she wanted to start with, but then, she had no other option. “I knew who I was. I had 15 years of experience and had a bachelor’s degree in banking and finance,” she says. The teller position, however, enabled her to get her foot in the door of her profession. And, once she entered RBC, there was no looking back. Adejisola has been with RBC for 18 years now.

From Customer Service Representative to Community Manager

When she joined RBC, Adejisola knew that she would not work as a teller for long. It was her first step toward carving out a place for herself in the Canadian banking sector. As Canadian banking systems differ from Nigeria’s, Adejisola began to learn about it and gain a deeper understanding of its products and services.

While working as a teller/customer representative, Adejisola also obtained the qualifications needed to become a financial planner. Having already worked for 15 years in banking, it was easy for her to move from one position to another. After the role of teller, she was offered the position of account manager. Adejisola recalls that while she was working as the account manager, she won the popular cruise award – a minuscule percentage of top-performing employees were given the opportunity to go on a cruise with a partner. She then moved to the position of senior account manager, followed by financial planner, a role for which she had already qualified while working as a teller. “It was the best role ever,” Adejisola says.

However, soon, she reached a level where she felt it was time to move beyond sales. As someone who loves to inspire, motivate, and coach people, she decided to go back into leadership. While working as a financial planner, she also went back to school for four years. It is because she could not obtain her transcripts from Nigeria, and without them, she was unable to enroll in a Master’s program. She completed her bachelor’s in business administration with a minor in human resources, followed by an executive MBA degree. This led to her first leadership role in RBC. She was appointed branch manager and then manager, financial planning associates.

When she returned to financial planning as a manager, Adejisola was responsible for supporting fifty-three team members across three locations. She worked in this role for two years. “I wanted to do something else, so I moved into the Community Manager role,” Adejisola says. In this role, she supports around forty-one people in four branches.

Passionate About Community

What she experienced after arriving in Canada led Adejisola to the community space, sparking in her the desire to pave the way for others.

“Community is my passion,” she highlights. “One should always be one for all, and all for one.” She believes in sharing her insight with others to build their hope. It is because she does not want others to face challenges like hers. When she first came to Canada, she was alone, without friends, support, and guidance. She yearned to hear, “You can” instead of “You can’t.”

Her experiences have motivated her to guide and support others, particularly the youth. She wants to ensure that they get to hear, “Maybe it’s challenging, but we are here to support you and guide you.” She wants them to hear words that encourage them to enroll in courses to become competitive; someone offering them their help to improve their interview skills. Or, someone telling a person, “There is an opening in our office, how about you apply to it. I will be your reference.” Adejisola is driven by a desire to prevent others from hearing, “No.” “This is what passion for my community is all about,” she says.

Adejisola’s passion for community involves supporting people of all ages, from youth to elderly. She inspires and empowers them through programs. For example, programs that enable young people to gain financial literacy. At the time of this interview, Adejisola was in Nigeria. A series of programs were lined up for her to attend, including programs for young people, and professionals.

There was a program for entrepreneurs as well, Adejisola points out. They learned about how to create their own business plan, and through another program, they learned about various loans, grants, and other financial resources available to them. “Information is power,” Adejisola says. “It allows you to make informed decisions.”

She often shares her expertise and experiences to empower others to make informed decisions. This also shows her passion for the community.

Canadian Government Needs to Step In

Although the Canadian Government is empowering non-profits and charitable organizations to do more, it still needs to step in, Adejisola points out. It is particularly important to ensure that all the professionals coming in and landing in Canada do not feel grounded but feel landed. “The Government needs to step in and make sure that everyone coming in is dealt with fairly and treated equitably,” Adejisola says.

Adejisola highlights that the African-Caribbean community still hears a lot of “Nos.” “Therefore, it is important to make sure that the community is represented across all sectors,” she adds. “It helps when people see people that look like them.” Adejisola also feels the government needs to promote more accessibility in terms of opportunities. She wants to see more opportunities for Black-African businesses.

She informs that the Federal Government has extended the UN International Decade for People of African Descent from 2024 to 2028. “It tells me that their focus is on supporting the community. I hope that it will trickle down – not just remain at the federal level, but trickle down to private and public organizations,” she adds. Adejisola also wants the see the Government having more conversations, as, according to her, this is the only way one can view the African community better and Canada better.

Color-Coded Calendar, Not a Regular Day

Adejisola does not have a regular day at work. As she says, being a Community Manager means “there is never a dull moment.”

Her day starts with a huddle. On a Monday, for instance, she has a huddle with one of the branches to discuss how they fared in the past week and what they tried to achieve and not achieve. She also looks at all the bank activities. “The most important thing for us is to gain the trust of our customers,” she points out. “RBC is a brand. Anyone who walks into an RBC branch wants to do business with RBC. So, we need to make sure that we are prepared to add value to them by leading with advice.”

Adejisola reveals that they start their day with rewards and recognition – who did what. They may celebrate achievements like the outcome of a survey or talk about somebody who went above and beyond expectations in the previous week. She makes sure to motivate everyone. This huddle with one of the branches, which lasts for around 15 minutes, is followed by discussions with her leaders. Adejisola also helps coordinate resources if any employee is on leave. Additionally, she holds discussions with her direct reports who are not based in the same location as hers.

And, as Monday marks the beginning of a new week, she reviews the activities and events of the previous week with her leaders – four leaders report to Adejisola. If there are any issues, they discuss them with her. As she is a workaholic, she often skips lunch, waiting until she reaches home to eat.

“I have set time for everything. In banking, if you must get something done, schedule it. If it is not scheduled. It is not done,” Adejisola points out. “So, my calendar is color-coded.”

Almost 25% of her time is dedicated to reviewing and analyzing the developments of the previous week. At work, Adejisola can also be seen supporting her team, welcoming the client, or speaking with frontline staff.

A Long List of Achievements    

For Adejisola, her greatest achievement has been seeing the impact of various organizations she supports. One of them is the Council of Nigerian Professionals (CNP), which has impacted and continues to impact many lives.

CNP, according to Adejisola, has supported a lot of people to get jobs. Some even received a 6-figure job offer – these people are now mentoring and supporting others. It has also empowered youth with financial literacy and leadership skills – it has even employed many of them over the years. The two flagship events of the organization are the Black History event and essay writing competition; and Power of Inclusion, with many other online value-add and empowering programs. In 2023, another organization called the Council of African Professionals (CAP) was registered, based on community feedback. By 2025, CNP is going to move to CAP, Adejisola informs.

Another organization that Adejisola is proud of is the African Caribbean Council of Halton (ACCH). It offers the African Caribbean & Black Excellence Scholarship Award that supports youth academic excellence in the Halton Region. By offering scholarships, Adejisola says, they are empowering the youth, and this also, she counts among her greatest achievements.

Currently, Adejisola is also the President of the Rotary Club of Milton, Ontario, Canada. She says that she visited her home country with a grant of 12,000 Canadian dollars to buy STEM textbooks for four schools in Nigeria in February 2024.

When she first entered the field of community work, Adejisola did not see it as a “big deal.” At the time, she said to herself, “There is a need, let’s do it.” But it has led her to receive a lot of accolades – “I can’t even count them.”

“There is no year that I don’t get an award,” Adejisola says. Some of these awards include the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Pin, CAUFP Power of One Award, and RBC Global Citizen. “I don’t do what I do because of awards,” she points out. “I do it because there is a need and have the passion to do it. My goal is to help the next person by doing what I do.”

Adejisola also has given a TEDxCaledon talk on “The Powerful Voice of the Parent.”

Adejisola’s late parents instilled good values in her. She is married to Tunde Dimeji, mother of two young men, Oluwatofunmi and OreofeOluwa, and mother of many, as she is the first of six children.

Icing on the Cake

The Ghanaian King recently reached out to Adejisola to inform her that they were bestowing upon her the title of “Queen Mother,” recognizing the work she has been doing. “They are going to crown me in July,” Adejisola says. “This is like the icing on the cake for me.”