When it comes to Canada’s tech scene, the time is now.
Global companies have opened offices throughout Canada, from Toronto to Vancouver, and innovation is thriving—even in the wake of a global pandemic and whispers of the word “recession.”
Canada hasn’t always been seen as a leader in the tech world, but I believe times have changed. Today, the second largest country in the world geographically is winning the talent war on a global scale. With programs for immigrants to come to Canada for work, and a focus on education, especially STEM, in Canada’s schools, businesses in the tech sector are continually able to hire top tech talent. In fact, Canadians are some of the most educated people in the world, according to this census report.
This emphasis on education and immigration—alongside a natural enterprising spirit—makes Canada’s tech force unstoppable. The challenges of the pandemic even levelled up Canadian tech companies due to employees embracing new ways of working. When the world closed its doors and went digital, Canadian tech companies not only learned to survive—but also to thrive—in a digital world. With the technology and talent already there, new business opportunities opened up and innovation flourished. Now, these same companies are in a place to build upon the progress they’ve made and transform even more in the future.
Focusing on people and partnerships
As the technology world continues to evolve exponentially, I think tech companies will continue to need people who can drive technology adaptation and innovation.
In some cases, people growth can be organic—and rapid. For example, our offices across Canada in Toronto, Montréal, Calgary and Vancouver have grown from three employees to nearly 1,000 employees in the last seven years, and to over 13,000 people globally. When hiring tech workers, it’s important to find people who are aligned with your mission and can help bring that company vision to life. Our purpose is to help people and organizations dream bigger, move faster, and build better tomorrows for all—and our people stand behind that.
Strong partnerships also drive growth as doors are opened to new connections and technology. We’ve focused on partnerships with key tech innovators such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) Microsoft, and Salesforce. Together, partners can deliver innovation, transformation, and outstanding customer experience.
In traditional consulting companies, hiring local tech expertise isn’t always an option. When it is feasible, however, the benefits of hiring local tech talent are powerful for everyone: the people, the company, and the customers. Living and working in the same community fosters connections and makes a local impact. For example, we worked with Plan International Canada, a nonprofit focused on improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children, to replace a legacy customer relationship management (CRM) system with Salesforce. Our team also worked to integrate its broader technology ecosystem so the organization could better manage international projects, child sponsorships, and donor relationships. I truly believe making an impact on these children benefits everyone in the community.
Leading people with purpose
For high-value, innovative tech workers who want to lead with purpose and contribute to projects like Plan International Canada, it’s up to the tech companies to create unique experiences for their people—just as they do for their customers.
I think one way to do this is to create a people-focused culture. When the world began talking about “The Great Resignation,” our team shifted that attention to “The Great Reconnection.” The focus: How do we reconnect with our people? And how do we connect in this new way of working to be bolder and better?
While some businesses felt they needed to lay off employees, others decided to focus on their people and fostering connection, whether virtual or in-person. With connection at the forefront, I’ve seen firsthand how employees can rally behind the idea of innovation.
Piloting people-focused programs and training opportunities
Ensuring everyone is keeping up with the latest technology is critical to succeed today, whether that technology is artificial intelligence or robotics. Implementing programs, certifications, and training opportunities inside an organization helps people adopt a “learning mindset.” Promoting a culture of staying humble and curious helps tech companies stay ahead of the latest technology trends and at the forefront of the industry.
When it comes to piloting programs in the workplace, I look for ways to keep people feeling connected, empowered, and happy. After all, happier employees lead to happier customers. Learning sprints, training opportunities, and employee resource groups (ERGs) support employees in feeling connected and empowered to be their best selves.
The way I see it, every day Canadian tech companies have a massive opportunity to innovate and compete on a global scale. We can do that by focusing on our people, our partnerships, and the communities we live and work in.
We’ve never had an opportunity like the one we do today to shape the future of tech in Canada while bringing meaningful work to our teams and communities. Our time is now, so let’s seize the opportunity.
Wayne Ingram is the Country President and General Manager of Slalom Canada.