Ottawa Business Journal April 2019

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HOTEL INDUSTRY RAISING THE BAR Local lodgings launch renovations, new offerings in bid to lure clientele

April 2019 Vol. 22, NO. 02







OPIN launches new podcast discussing ideas that are reshaping the digital landscape In an effort to lead the conversation on the evolving digital landscape, OPIN launched a new podcast, “Reshape Digital,” where Chris Liko and Stephen Boucher, part of the digital marketing team at OPIN Software, discuss new ideas shaping the marketing landscape. The podcast features different partners and clients in the digital world. The podcast will address ideas that are reshaping the digital landscape. “We want to talk about ideas people have never heard of,” Liko says.

The ideas stem from OPIN’s expertise. As Canada’s fastest-growing digital agency, they help clients navigate the changing digital landscape. “Our community has given us a lot and we want to give value back to the community with our insights,” says Liko. Reshape Digital takes a different approach by looking at the process of generating ideas and using your marketing strategy to determine what technology is best suited to deliver your message. “People are bogged down with how stuff works, but they’re not sure why they are doing it in the first place,” says Boucher. “Instead of chasing the latest tech, start with the ideas first.” What sets Reshape Digital apart from other agency podcasts is the emphasis on the decision-making process and how ideas shape the use of technology. Boucher says the focus of marketing has shifted from adopting new technology to finding groundbreaking ideas.

“You want to start with why you’re doing something instead of rushing to buy new technology,” he says. “In the past, the focus in digital marketing has been too technical. We want to take a more philosophical look at marketing.” To subscribe to the podcast, please visit

Marketing Anti-trends reshaping your digital strategy

Many trends in the digital world are not what they seem. The digital marketing team at OPIN outlines what you need to avoid when revamping your marketing strategy.

APRIL 2019

Breaking the Rules It’s an old cliché –​ break the rules to get ahead – but what rules are worth breaking? Liko points out that the most innovative thing a company can do is choose a rule that works and stand by it. For OPIN, that means being committed to the Drupal content management system as the backbone of all their client projects. OPIN is well known in the industry for its unique commitment to the software. “Good rules are good because they work,” says OPIN Stephen Boucher. “This is what separates trendy companies from lasting institutions.”




Artificial Intelligence Many companies are trying to leverage AI technology. The question is what value, if any, can AI bring to your organization? A report from London-based venture capitalist group MMC Ventures revealed that 40 per cent of European AI startups don’t use the technology in a significant way in their products. The report raised the concern that AI is simply a buzzword used to attract investment. Instead of using buzzwords in your content, be authentic in your messaging. “Startups use AI as a catch-all term for complex technology,” says Liko. “Your users aren’t dumb - tell them how the technology actually works.”

Listicles Listicles have been popular for years because they performed well on search engines, but the proliferation of the style has made it so common it’s hard to stand out. “We have arrived at a point where listicle production has outpaced real innovation,” says Boucher. “Everyone is writing the same thing all the time, and it cheapens your brand to jump on that bandwagon.” Liko says a more impactful SEO metric is measuring the amount of time a reader stays on the page. Meanwhile, the growing trend in content marketing is to use long-form articles that demonstrate thought leadership. HubSpot, a marketing software developer, analyzed more than 6,000 of its own blogs and found that posts of between 2,250 and 2,500 words generated the most organic traffic. “Having your company recognized in search engines is about creating high-quality, evergreen content, not hopping on trends,” says Boucher.

Automation APRIL 2019

Automation has been an absolute game-changer in nearly every industry, and businesses are obsessed with it for good reason. In practice, automation results in an average of 15% increased sales and 12% decreased marketing costs. Naturally, everyone wants to automate everything, but this can be a trap in itself. Some processes are not as effective when automated, but more importantly, some automation takes longer to configure than the amount of time they actually save.




PROSPECTUS Is Canada in danger of losing its luster for entrepreneurs? Attendees to the Mayor’s Breakfast are accustomed to an early wakeup call. They likely didn’t expect the alarm, figuratively speaking, to blare at 8:20 a.m. as the guest speaker took the podium in City Council chambers. The newly appointed head of the Business Council of Canada, the affable Goldy Hyder, was doing all he could to shake the assembled business leaders from their slumber. Canada has been lulled into a sense of complacency, he vehemently argued. We, as Canadians, have an elevated sense of ourselves as we mockingly look down at the U.S. president, even as the country he leads reaches near-unemployment, cuts red tape and achieves a level of GDP growth that soon might be the envy of Canada. Even our vaunted status as a prime destination for highly skilled immigrants is at risk, suggested Hyder, with marginal tax rates in Ontario topping 50 per cent before consumption taxes. Immigrants are doing their homework these days and the shine of Canada could be wearing off, he warned. His most haunting question was this: Will this generation be the first to hand over a country in worse shape than it was before we assumed the mantle of leadership?

Fear not, good reader. Hyder believes that many of our problems, such as the logjam around pipelines, are self-made. And if that’s the case, we must surely have the means to untangle this mess, specifically on issues such as lagging productivity, lack of innovation, stalling economic growth and soaring deficits. The same sentiments were echoed the following day as OBJ and the Board of Trade gathered business leaders and experts to discuss the latest federal budget. There is a rising chorus of concern around Ottawa’s and Canada’s ability to compete in an increasingly global economy. CEOs, who are accustomed to action and results, need to engage with political leaders to share their worries and request an immediate change of course.

Ottawa is a hotbed of associations that are tirelessly working to advance important issues and create a better Canadian society. These associations have unique opportunities and challenges. With that in mind, we’re introducing OAX, the Ottawa Association Exchange, a joint project of OBJ and OTUS Group. This new initiative aims to provide association executives with the latest research and thought leadership. OAX wants to take your association leadership to the next level. To tap into new research and an exclusive report, please visit




The Networker is the official publication of the Kanata North Business Association TALENT and includes news, features ATTRACTION and events from Canada’s largest technology park. The latest issue looks at where Kanata companies are finding skilled workers in a tight labour market, how local firm MASV is accelerating file transfer technology and a whole lot more. Plus

WHAT WE’RE GEEKING OUT ON MASV accelerates file transfer technology Page 12


Tech workers help construct homes for deserving families Page 14

Where Kanata companies find skilled workers in a tight labour market Page 10

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Want this great publication conveniently handdelivered to your office each month? Well, now that’s a lot easier. Thanks to a partnership with local tech company Fusebill, you can now guarantee your regular monthly delivery of OBJ through an easy online system. Simply visit delivery to place your order. It’s a nominal fee of $8 per month to get 1-25 copies of OBJ handdelivered. Pick the number of copies that you need. It’s a flat delivery fee. Use the promo code PROSPECTUS for 50 per cent off the delivery fee for three months.


Taste and smell are an important part of any great meal, but what about sight? This concept will be explored at CNIB’s Dining in the Dark event. This fundraiser will include a blindfolded fourcourse gourmet meal, a “beer vs. wine challenge” and a cocktail hour that features interactive displays for the latest in accessible technology. It all happens at Crust & Crate restaurant at TD Place. Visit for info.


Bullying, especially online, is recognized as a major challenge in our wired society. Proud To Be Me is a local non-profit that started working on this issue in



How hot is Kanata’s tech job market? Well, get your answer at the Discover TechNATA Career Fair, when thousands of career-minded technology workers visit with dozens of Kanata-based companies looking to hire. The event is organized by the Kanata North Business Association. It all takes place between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. at Brookstreet Hotel. Come and experience the growth and success of Kanata North. You must register in advance for this free event at

2011. It says “youth with high self-esteem are less likely to be victimized, less likely to grow up to victimize others and more likely to have a positive impact within their communities.” To fund its activities and grants, Proud To Be Me will hold a gala event at Brookstreet Hotel, featuring a signature cocktail, three-course meal and live and silent auctions. You can also “dance the night away under the stars!” Visit for info.


The warmer weather signals a change in sports seasons, too. Hockey is almost done. Football and soccer will soon be here. With this in mind, OSEG president and CEO Mark Goudie will be the guest speaker in April at the joint OBJOttawa Board of Trade Local Breakfast Series. Goudie will provide attendees with a five-year recap of OSEG ​– including memorable events such as the 104th Grey Cup and the NHL 100 Classic – and take a look down the road to the future of TD Place and OSEG. The breakfast will take place at Otto’s Club at Lansdowne Park. Visit for info.

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APRIL 2019

w it h us

It’s an annual who’s-who of business executives, politicians and community leaders, all in support of youth in Ottawa. The Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa holds an annual breakfast that raises big bucks for free after-school, weekend and summer programs. The breakfast will once again take place at the Ron Kolbus Clubhouse. Note, this is an invite-only event, so please send an email to or call 613-232-0925, ext. 238.


Hexo buys Ontario pot producer in $263M deal

APRIL 2019

Gatineau’s Hexo is looking to become one of the largest cannabis companies in Canada – and by extension, the world – with its multimillion-dollar acquisition of an Ontario-based pot producer. Hexo announced in mid-March it has proposed a $263-million all-stock deal to acquire Toronto-based Newstrike Brands, parent company of pot producer Up Cannabis. The deal would add roughly 470,000 square feet of growing space in Ontario to Hexo’s existing footprint that already includes its 1.3 million-square-foot greenhouse facilities in Gatineau, enabling the combined company to produce some 150,000 kilograms of cannabis annually. If successful, the acquisition would raise Hexo’s net revenue guidance to more than $400 million in fiscal 2020. The two firms’ combined distribution agreements would cover eight provinces. The firm is also looking at cannabis market openings in Latin America, the United States and Europe. Hexo reported a loss of $4.3 million in its latest quarter as revenue grew to $16.2 million in its first full quarter following the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada. That compared with a loss of nearly $9 million a year earlier, when the company reported $1.2 million in quarterly revenue.




To have somebody that’s a world player come and say, ‘We think you’re so awesome we want to partner with you,’ to me that’s a cause for celebration. – UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA MARKETING PROFESSOR MICHAEL MULVEY, ON KANATA-BASED INSTANT BRANDS’ MERGER WITH U.S. HOUSEWARE GIANT CORELLE BRANDS (SEE PAGES 10-11)


Board of Trade unhappy with NCC’s LeBreton vision

The Ottawa Board of Trade is urging the National Capital Commission to return to the negotiating table with previous bidders on the LeBreton Flats redevelopment in hopes of salvaging a grand vision for the long-vacant land. The recently amalgamated local chamber of commerce, which acts as an advocate for more than 1,000 member businesses in the capital, released a statement in mid-March expressing its disapproval with the NCC’s new plan for LeBreton Flats. Following the collapse of preferred

proponent RendezVous LeBreton’s bid to redevelop the site with a series of condos and an NHL arena, the NCC announced it intends to parcel out the 55-acre swath of land into individual developments rather than handing the entire chunk of prime real estate over to a single entity. The Board of Trade says dividing up the land into a multi-party, multi-phased operation will create a neighbourhood focused on zoning, rather than “the magnificent, inspiring and high impact city-building initiative” that had been in the works for the past few years. Board president and CEO Ian Faris said in a statement that an overarching vision for the Flats need not include an arena for the Ottawa Senators – a key piece of the RendezVous LeBreton plan – and that there was still time to salvage previous proposals for the land.


You.i TV sets sales record in 2018 You.i TV has hired two seasoned video services executives to boost its global sales team following a banner fiscal 2018. The Kanata-based firm, which develops software platforms for smart TVs and over-the-top streaming services, announced in late March it set a sales record in 2018 – surpassing total revenues from all previous years combined. As a privately held company, You.i TV doesn’t disclose specifics on its annual revenues, but CEO Jason Flick told Techopia Live heading into 2018 that the company was aiming to hit the $100-million mark. The firm said nearly a third of its sales last year came from the company’s international market segments. The company recently added two new heads of sales covering Europe and Africa, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions. Heading up the firm’s European sales team will be Lara Lerville, who joins You.i TV from the Android TV-focused 3 Screen Solutions. Ghali Belghali, Lerville’s counterpart in Africa, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, was hired from video software firm Accedo, where he helped build international sales pipelines.


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It was very mirrored on the military, but we took the structure and inverted it.


Her favourite hobby is completing jigsaw puzzles of no less than 5,000 pieces. It relaxes her, keeps her mind off work and appeals to her introverted nature.


In her 30s, it was all about the tattoos. “I kind of ran out of body parts,” she jokes. Her body art is hidden by her business attire but one of the designs, located on her back, is a literary tattoo from Douglas Coupland’s epistolary novel Microserfs.

– CADSI chief executive Christyn Cianfarani, on reorganizing the lobby group’s top-down management approach PHOTO BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS

‘At the top of our game’ Christyn Cianfarani’s businesslike approach to running Canada’s biggest defence sector lobby group has made her a formidable force in a male-dominated industry BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS

APRIL 2019




hristyn Cianfarani has always felt like one of the guys. She played on the same childhood sports teams as boys, trained at the Royal Military College with men and has consistently worked in male-dominated industries. But don’t let the self-proclaimed tomboy with tattoos fool you; she’s also a nationally recognized role model for women. Cianfarani has broken new ground and helped to change the face of Canada’s defence sector since becoming the first female president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI). Last year, Cianfarani was among the WXN Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 award winners. In 2019, she’s a finalist for an Ottawa Businesswoman

of the Year Award. She joined CADSI in 2014 with 17 years experience in the private sector and a desire not only to do something bigger than herself – to help build a better Canada – but also to run the place more like a business than a notfor-profit membership organization. “When I started, it was very siloed with top-down decision-making,” says the defence lobbyist during an interview at CADSI’s downtown office near Parliament Hill. “It was very mirrored on the military, but we took the structure and inverted it.” Cianfarani created a work environment that has made people want to stick around. She introduced short-term and long-term disability benefits and maternity leave topup. Previously, there’d been no supplements to benefits. Her staff has grown significantly as a

result, with 20 employees now working for CADSI – half of whom are women. “That’s not deliberate. They’re staying here because we’ve done things to retain them and prove to them that they’re valuable assets in the workplace,” she says of the greater female presence. “We’re doing things like teaching all our employees corporate finance and entrepreneurship, so that they have the skills to succeed anywhere.” The 16-member board of directors at CADSI now also includes three women. It used to be all men, but that was before the association made a decision to open up its nomination process. “It wasn’t just, ‘Let’s pick a bunch of women to say we’ve got them on our board,’” says Cianfarani. “It was, ‘Let’s make it a competition and see who rises to the top,’ and women have risen to the top.”


Cianfarani is a self-described foodie. “I swear to God, if it’s not nailed down, I’ll eat it. I love to eat,” she says. She makes a point of always trying different restaurants while out of town for work. She also stays active, getting up at 5 a.m. to exercise for an hour each day.


Cianfarani is fond of potted orchids, mostly because they’re so low-maintenance. “Orchids are like cats; they like to be ignored,” she jokes of how her flowers respond to her benign neglect with a good watering.


When it comes to dishing out advice, Cianfarani says it pays to be “crazy curious” and to “never stop learning” from others. “Don’t burn bridges,” she continues. “You never know who you’re going to meet and you never know what impression they’ll have of you and how that’s going to come back later.”

CADSI is the national industry voice of more than 900 Canadian defence and security companies. The industry as a whole employs more than 60,000 Canadians and generates $10 billion in annual revenues, of which roughly 60 per cent come from exports. The association’s job is to represent its members to the government and to

make sure the industry is showcased. CADSI also organizes one of the nation’s largest trade shows, CANSEC, in Ottawa each spring.

PART OF EXPERT PANEL “It just feels like it’s humming all the time,” says Cianfarani, 47, of her job. “There might be a lot to do, but there’s nothing better, to me, than running a small business with a bunch of incredible people and being at the top of our game, which I think is where we’re at.” Cianfarani was born and raised in the southwestern Ontario town of Leamington. Her mother stayed home to raise her and her sister while her father worked for the school board as a technologist. He immigrated at 15 to Canada with his family from Frosinone, Italy. Cianfarani studied at RMC in Kingston because it provided her with a funded education she couldn’t otherwise have afforded, and it guaranteed her a job. She majored in literature and graduated in 1995, at a

time when the government had slashed its military budget. For this reason, it wasn’t so surprising she left the military following her six years of service to work for Montreal-based aerospace firm CAE. In 2013, Cianfarani was the only woman to be named to a governmentcommissioned expert panel led by high-tech executive Tom Jenkins that looked at military purchasing strategy. It led to Cianfarani being recognized as an industry leader through glowing reviews given later by Jenkins and thenpublic works minister Rona Ambrose to her employer, CAE. “I’ve been very lucky that people have done that for me, and it’s gotten me part of the way to where I am today,” she acknowledges. Cianfarani’s challenge these days is deciding what lies ahead professionally. She says she continues to get tremendous satisfaction from her job and enjoys her co-workers. “What is my next path?” she questions. “At 47, what am I going to do next? There’s a lot of runway there.”

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Merger means instant growth for Instant Pot Kanata-based firm behind global cooking appliance sensation eyes bigger global opportunities after joining forces with U.S.-based housewares giant BY DAVID SALI


ast summer, Instant Pot creator Robert Wang told OBJ his goal was to “build a brand that will last more than 50-plus years.” The man behind the global cookware sensation recently pulled the trigger on a deal he hopes will help him

do exactly that. Wang’s Kanata-based company, Instant Brands, announced in early March it is merging with Illinois-based Corelle Brands LLC, the firm behind such iconic houseware names as Pyrex and CorningWare. Financial terms of the transaction, which is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019, were not disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal

said sources pegged the enterprise value of the combined company at more than US$2 billion. Wang, a former Nortel engineer, said the corporate marriage with Corelle and its parent company Cornell Capital will give Instant Brands the financial heft and international marketing knowhow to achieve its aim of becoming a worldwide force in the cooking

appliance industry. “The deal happened pretty quickly,” he said. “We see a perfect fit between the two companies.” Since the Instant Pot debuted nearly a decade ago, it has gained almost a cult-like following among its devoted users, known as “potheads.” The high-tech device that combines the functions of a pressure cooker and a crock pot has spawned a cottage industry that includes more than 3,000 Instant Potthemed recipe books and close to a million instructional cooking videos. Wang said Instant Brands is now looking at partnering with “major brands” to produce ready-to-cook meals for the Instant Pot. He said the merger with Corelle will give the combined firm a presence at every stage of the meal preparation process, from cookbooks to containers for storing leftovers. “We touch every part of the culinary experience,” he said.


Veteran litigator K. Scott McLean joins Mann Lawyers LLP New General Counsel and Director of Practice Management sees opportunity to recruit and mentor young lawyers

APRIL 2019




fter a 42-year-career that has taken him to the Supreme Court, the Federal Court of Canada, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the Court of Appeal for Ontario, and trial and appeal courts in Quebec and Manitoba, commercial litigator Scott McLean is embarking on a new chapter in his professional career with Ottawa-based Mann Lawyers. Scott is the new General Counsel and Director of Practice Management with Mann Lawyers LLP, a regional full-service law firm. Scott will strengthen Mann Lawyers’ offerings through his mentorship of the firm’s young lawyers, carry on a commercial litigation practice in complex matters and help the firm expand with new practice areas. “I wanted a role that combined my passion for

the law and teaching,” says Scott. “This firm has a wonderful reputation and I’ve admired them for a long time. This is a great opportunity.” In his new position, Scott will support Mann to establish practice groups focused on internal corporate investigations, preventing disputes through strategic planning and advising hospitals in governance and risk management. Scott’s work and teaching history includes acting as Senior Counsel for the Special Investigator in the 2008 listeriosis outbreak, serving as Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group and teaching at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. “Scott adds a rich dimension to our firm as a seasoned commercial litigator,” says Ted Mann, OBJ360 CONTENT STUDIO

one of the founding partners at Mann Lawyers. “He understands client service and the importance of ensuring clients feel heard and understood. We believe all of our associates will benefit from Scott’s experience.”

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NEW PRODUCT PIPELINE Instant Brands, which employs more than 120 people, will remain headquartered in Kanata. Corelle CEO Ken Wilkes will become chief executive of the combined company, while Wang will take on the role of chief innovation officer and work with Corelle’s R&D team to develop new product lines. Wang has already begun diversifying his company’s merchandise beyond the Instant Pot, introducing a “cooking blender” last fall that can make soup at the push of a button. A number of other potential products are in the works, he added. “They have a ton of talent in-house,” he said of his new research partners at Corelle. “I see great chemistry between the team over there and us.” University of Ottawa professor Michael Mulvey praised the move, calling it a “wonderful accomplishment” for Wang and his company. Instant Brands will now be able to tap into Corelle’s vast worldwide network of distribution channels and “incredible marketing savvy” to grow

its business, he noted, while Wang can concentrate on creating new products. “You kind of get this old-school innovation with new-school innovation and it creates incredible new product development opportunities,” said Mulvey, who teaches marketing at the Telfer School of Management. “Everybody’s a winner here, I think.” Meanwhile, he downplayed the suggestion that the merger would allow more made-in-Canada intellectual property to fall into foreign hands. “I get frustrated whenever I see the obituary columns written about Ottawa companies,” he said. “This is a true success story. To have somebody that’s a world player come and say, ‘We think you’re so awesome we want to partner with you,’ to me that’s a cause for celebration. We’re great creators here, and I think part of being outstanding no matter what it is, whether it’s sports or whether it’s in business, is recognizing that you do have limitations sometimes and you need to work with other people.”

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APRIL 2019

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lobbies to make the spaces “something that’s more geared towards warmth and liveability,” she said. The complex’s 5,300 square feet of boardroom space will also be revamped as part of the project. Canderel is installing state-of-the-art audio-visual technology, new furniture and flooring and LED lighting in the four meeting rooms, along with amenities such as smartphone charging stations.

Constitution Square landlord hits refresh button Eyeing bid to expand its footprint in National Capital Region, Canderel set to revamp suites and meeting rooms at marquee downtown office complex BY DAVID SALI


ne of Ottawa’s largest class-A office complexes is revamping its lobby and meeting spaces and redesigning some of its suites in an effort to respond to changing tenant tastes and modernize the buildings.

Constitution Square will start to launch the projects this summer, senior leasing manager Vicky Dinelle told OBJ recently. It’s part of co-owner and building manager Canderel’s efforts to give the complex a new look and feel after purchasing the one-million-square-foot trio of office towers along with partners Greystone Managed Investments and Canstone

Realty Advisors in 2017. That deal –​ which saw the consortium buy the three downtown highrises from Oxford Properties and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for $480 million ​ – is the largest commercial real-estate transaction in Ottawa history. It also marked a return to the local market for Canderel, which helped build Constitution Square back in the late ’80s and early ’90s and is now looking to once again increase its footprint in the region. “They want to expand their growth here in Ottawa,” Dinelle said. Canderel’s plans to upgrade the building include installing new, brighter lighting and furniture in the buildings’

‘INDUSTRIAL’ LOOK Dinelle said she’s also looking at rejigging a couple of the smaller vacant office spaces in the towers as “quick suites” that will feature “open, collaborative, bright space” with glass finishes, sliding doors and higher-than-normal ceilings that have a more “industrial” look. “That’s really what the clients are looking for now,” she said, adding the first two spaces will be 2,500 and 3,000 square feet. A marquee tenant of Constitution Square is also expanding its presence in the complex. Toronto-Dominion Bank’s wealth management group, which already rents

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There was a time that we were all competing because a lot of the landlords did have quite a bit of vacancy, but it’s definitely improved. Everybody certainly has a lot less availability than they did 12 months ago. – Constitution Square senior leasing manager Vicky Dinelle, on the downtown class-A office market

the 11th floor of Tower One, recently agreed to lease nearly 17,000 square feet of space on the 16th floor in the same building, Dinelle said, cutting Constitution Square’s total vacancy rate to about eight

per cent. Full single floors in Tower I and Tower III are still empty along with a few smaller suites scattered throughout the complex, she added. The veteran leasing manager, who has worked at Constitution Square for nearly two decades, said Ottawa’s class-A landlords are riding a market resurgence after enduring several lean years. According to commercial real estate firm CBRE, the vacancy rate for class-A office space in downtown Ottawa dropped to 7.1 per cent at the end of 2018, its lowest level in eight years. Canderel is now posting leasing rates of about $26 a square foot for Constitution Square, up significantly from the same time in 2018, Dinelle added. “There was a time that we were all competing because a lot of the landlords did have quite a bit of vacancy, but it’s definitely improved,” she said. “Everybody certainly has a lot less availability than they did 12 months ago.” She said she expects the renovations to the building’s meeting rooms, which are expected to cost about $500,000, to get under way in early July and be completed by the end of August.


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Summer student programs among Hydro Ottawa’s initiatives aimed at engaging next generation of leaders As one of the National Capital Region’s Top Employers, Hydro Ottawa has long understood the importance of listening to its employees, and capitalized on the energy, insights and fresh approach of Ottawa’s youth. Chelsea Clark, a fourth-year accounting student from Bishop’s University, recently got a taste of corporate leadership at Hydro Ottawa through CEOx1Day - a national program in which third and fourthyear university students are matched with CEOs across Canada for a day of mentorship. During the day, Clark accompanied Hydro Ottawa President and CEO Bryce Conrad as the company hosted

dignitaries Hon. Rod Phillips and MPP Jeremy Roberts. Clark had lunch with three female executives where she learned about their career experiences at Hydro Ottawa. She also attended a Youth Council meeting where she got a first-hand look at how Hydro Ottawa engages its younger workers. “I learned that when you trust the people you have in place to do their jobs and give them the space to perform, you empower your people to do their best,” says Clark. One such example of the company turning its young employees’ ideas into a reality is the Hydro Ottawa mobile app – an idea born from students participating in the Summer Student

Program. Sparked by their insight, the consumer app, launched in 2017, monitors energy usage, provides bill information and outage updates. “Leadership exists at all levels,” says Conrad. “Our entire executive team has made a commitment to diversity and youth in our organization because we know that diversity spurs innovation.” In 2019, Hydro Ottawa was recognized, for the eleventh

consecutive year, as one of the National Capital Region’s Top Employers. They were also honoured with the Canada’s Top Employer for Young People award for the sixth year in a row and Presented By: for the second year running, Canada’s Best Diversity Employer. For more information about Hydro Ottawa’s student programs, visit the Students & Presented By: Graduates section on Hydro Ottawa’s website.



growing C O M PA N I E S 2019

Tickets are now available to salute this year’s top companies! Celebrate Ottawa’s Fastest Growing Companies and their business accomplishments at a special awards reception. Enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, network and learn about the amazing success stories behind these fastest growing companies.

Thursday, May 23, 2019 • 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Head Office Ottawa • 430 Hazeldean Road – Unit 6

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ith existing firms investing in new equipment and sizable industrial land tracts available for development, the head of the



Carp Road business association is predicting that one of Ottawa’s largest manufacturing hubs is poised to double in size in the coming years. While the area’s manufacturing industry may be overshadowed at times by the local tech sector, several

APRIL 2019


Advocating for business. Fuelling the future.

Skilled workers shortage threatens ongoing growth


Carp Road manufacturers building on success

aerospace, oil and gas, defence and space sectors, among others. The company is currently seeing year-over-year growth of approximately 20 per cent, principally on the strength of sales to the U.S. defence market. In addition to hiring new employees, Camcor is investing in capital equipment including a new twin spindle lathe as well as and fourand five-axis milling machines. Legere says the equipment will increase the company’s productivity, reduce its lead time and increase revenues. Partnerships with several Ottawabased manufacturing operations are also producing results, including a collaboration with Honeywell Aerospace focused on small satellite parts. Camcor also has a strategic business alliance with Sentry Precision, a local sheet metal and fabricating company to produce housing for electronic components in airplanes and satellites. Another business that’s expanding at a similar clip is the Production Case Co., which purchases off-theshelf travel cases before modifying them for the specific needs of its clients. Company president Nigel Lever says the firm is seeing year-over-year growth of 15 to 18 per cent. Most of the company’s business comes from within Canada, particularly in the government, medical and military sectors. For example, the Canada Border Services Agency, Environment Canada and RCMP need custom cases to securely ship high-tech equipment. Both Lever and Legere say attracting more qualified employees – and talented workers to the region in general – will be one of the keys to their growth in the coming years.


west-end firms are reaching new milestones and expanding at a rapid clip. Profits are growing at BluMetric, which makes water purification systems, and perimeter security firm Senstar cleared a major hurdle last year in having its technology safeguard U.S. Air Force bases around the world. There’s considerable diversity among the roughly 60 manufacturers who belong to the Carp Road BIA, which works with some 250 companies along the west Ottawa corridor overall. Loosely defined as companies that “make stuff” by BIA executive director Roddy Bolivar, Carp Road’s manufacturers run the gamut of firms making everything from computer components to kitchen cutting boards. “The corridor has the largest vacant zoned employment land base in Ottawa, so our goal is to double the number of companies,” Bolivar said. While many Carp Road firms face common challenges that threaten their growth trajectories, the BIA and some individual companies are working to overcome those barriers – a shortage of skilled workers chief among them. “We have had a number of students apprentice at our shop from Algonquin College. When they have a graduating class, we have a bunch of students over to interview them,” says Bruce Legere, general manager of Camcor Industries. The company also participates in local career fairs, such as one held in late March in Carleton Place. The firm specializes in manufacturing precision-machined components, assemblies and special machinery for customers in the



Congratulations to Ottawa Board of Trade members

APRIL 2019


Advocating for business. Fuelling the future.

Talent shortage: a conscious effort to be an influencer of change



With more than 163 years of advocacy behind us, the Ottawa Board of Trade speaks from a unique vantage point. Drawing on our history, we’re well positioned to identify trends and initiate important conversations on topics that are central to our collective success. Over the past few years, there has been intense political debate about whether Canada, overall, is suffering from a shortage of skilled labour. The Board of Trade’s own analysis of what drives economic growth in our region suggests that we do, in fact, we have a growing labour force issue that needs attention. According to our 2018 Ottawa Business Growth Survey, 63% percent of businesses cite a shortage of skilled labour as their top concern, especially within the manufacturing sector. With thousands of baby boomers preparing to retire, knowledge transfer is a growing issue. The survey also showed that despite this concern, many organizations don’t have formal succession plans in place. The Ottawa Board of Trade has taken concrete steps to educate businesses on the importance of identifying both immigrant and recent graduate talent pools to mitigate the talent shortage. In the past two years we have released two exclusive annual reports on ‘Skilled Labour Shortages, Immigrants and Hidden Talent’ and hosted a ‘Making It In Manufacturing’ summit to advance these issues. The future of our region is bright, and Ottawa’s rich cultural diversity and spectacular landscape make it an attractive place to do business, but we need the best talent to continue this thrust. We are in a very competitive environment for talent in Ontario & Canada and now is the time to make a conscious effort in our own organizations to be that influencer of change to consider new talent pools and continue our growth momentum.

Ian Faris President & CEO Ottawa Board of Trade

Congratulations Low Murchison Radnoff LLP on celebrating 80 years of business continuity. Pictured, from left, are Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, Douglas Smyth, a partner at Low Murchison Radnoff LLP, Jim Jeffcott, a partner at Low Murchison Radnoff LLP, Ian Faris, the president and CEO of the Ottawa Board of Trade, and OBJ publisher Michael Curran.

Let your business voice be heard! Here’s your opportunity to express your views on the local economy! Now in its fifth year, the Ottawa Business Growth Survey is an annual initiative by the Ottawa Board of Trade aimed at better understanding the city’s business climate and the challenges faced by local firms. OBGS findings help the Ottawa Board of Trade establish strategic initiatives and advocacy goals, and have been extensively used by a variety of stakeholders for strategic and economic program development. This year, survey respondents have the option of entering a draw to win an exclusive tasting menu experience at Beckta, valued at $500. All it takes is 10 minutes for you to make your voice heard and help make Ottawa a better place to do business. Take the survey at

Congratulations to long-standing OBOT member Binks Insurance Brokers Ltd. on 100 years of business continuity. Here’s to 100 more! Pictured above, Harry Binks, president of Binks Insurance Brokers Ltd., accepts the Board of Trade recognition from Mayor Jim Watson, left, and Ian Faris, right, president and CEO of the Ottawa Board of Trade.

Advocacy in action: Ottawa Board of Trade discuss talent shortage and transportation at the Local Breakfast Series Transportation and talent were on the minds of many attendees at the Local Breakfast Series: West Ottawa municipal panel, cohosted by the Ottawa Board of Trade and OBJ. The morning event featured a conversation with several west-end city councillors, including Glen Gower, Jenna Sudds, Allan Hubley and Eli El-Chantiry. Many attendess cited frustrations with traffic tie-ups in and around the Kanata North Technology Park, as well as concerns about the difficulty in finding skilled workers. Andrew Penny, the co-chair of the Ottawa Board of Trade’s economic development committee, said the two issues are connected. “Transportation can be an issue that makes it even harder to hire,” he told the CBC.

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Membership in Ottawa’s single largest independent business organization has many benefits. To learn more about why your organization should join the all-new Ottawa Board of Trade, visit or contact Rob Campbell at or 613-236-3631 x200.

Got a big project? Short a few people? Busy season coming up? We can find the people you need — as soon as you need them.

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“I have been involved with the Ottawa Board of Trade as it has evolved over the years and have always valued the business connections I have developed through networking events, the exposure I’ve had to businesses and topics through learning events and the role that the Board of Trade has played in advocating for the business community of Ottawa. The Ottawa Board of Trade provides a venue for business leaders to meet, learn from each other and provide a collective perspective to policymakers on matters that are vital to our economic growth.”

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• •

– Kevin Ford, president and CEO, Calian Group Ltd.

There’s no way around it; you need good people. The problem is, it takes time to find good people. The other problem is, you don’t have a lot of time.


• • • • • • • •

“It is extremely important to the Calian Group to be an active member of the local business community and to work closely with the Ottawa Board of Trade. The Board assists our organization by providing vital support and advocacy and has been a key defender on issues that affect our business. We are proud members and strongly recommend membership to those forwardthinking organizations that are trying to make an impact and manage a business in Ottawa.”

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20/eight DIGITAL Amy Pitkethly - Royal LePage Performance Realty Aon Risk Solutions Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario Broccolini Centennial Glass Citizen Advocacy Ottawa Cleland Jardine Engineering Ltd. Clickwave Com-Net Corporate Stays CoverageCorp Dealer Solutions CTM Media Group Dilfo Mechanical Ltd. ECOH Management Inc. FlexNetworks Garage Doors Unlimited Ottawa Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association H.U.B Inc Ottawa Heighten Your Business Industria Pizzeria + Bar J.L. Richards & Associates Ltd. JJ McNeil Commercial Loving Life Chiropractic Martello Technologies My Shipping Guru Inc. Nemko Canada O’Connell-Campbell Wealth Management at RBC DS OLG Ottawa Carleton District School Board Ottawa Demolition Services Rotary Club of Ottawa South SkyWave Mobile Communications Inc. Sodexo Canada Ltd. Stega Networks Storyline Productions Sysco Tannis The Growcer Inc. THINK Virtual CFO Top Performance Consulting Tungsten Collaborative Unearth Education Éveillée Zibi Master LLP ZipGrow Inc.

The benefits of OBOT membership

BILINGUALISM “C’est payant!”

Martello CEO John Proctor.

Get your marketing material translated at a low price with the RGA. Take courses in French as a second language When you provide services in the two official languages, we will promote it on our website.

APRIL 2019


Advocating for business. Fuelling the future.


Martello Technologies provides clarity and control of complex IT infrastructures. The firm was co-founded in April 2009 by Niall Gallagher and Emilio DiLorenzo, who were introduced by Sir Terry Matthews. In September 2018, Martello opened trading on the TSX Venture Exchange. Martello’s listing was the first time a tech firm in Ottawa had gone public since Shopify in 2015. Company officials say the milestone of going public was not just about Martello, but also about drawing attention to the many exceptional tech companies growing in Ottawa. In the last year, Martello closed two



Visit for more information and registration details on these and other upcoming business events.

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Local Breakfast Series - Mark Goudie


OBOT member spotlight: Martello Technologies

Translation & Language Solutions

April 16 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Otto’s Club at TD Place in Lansdowne Park

acquisitions to expand the company, with employees spread out across several cities. By taking on this challenge and integrating people and systems, the company – led by president and CEO John Proctor, chief financial officer Erin Crowe, chief technology officer Doug Bellinger and vice-president of product development Rob Doucette – has created a strong platform for future expansion. FUN FACT: The name Martello is meaningful: close to Fort Henry in Kingston and on the Plains of Abraham you will find Martello towers, meant to give visibility over the environment.

The Ottawa Board of Trade and Ottawa Business Journal will host its Local Breakfast Series event with The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group at TD Place on April 16. Hear from Mark Goudie, president and CEO of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, about what lies ahead for Lansdowne, TD Place and OSEG.

Mayor’s Breakfast Series April 9, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Ottawa City Hall


Tackling the skilled trades shortage in Ontario Amid rising demand for qualified graduates, College La Cité received over $2M in grants to invest in new labs and equipment


he growing adoption for automation, instrumentation and electronics has many employers searching for skilled trades workers to install, service and maintain new and complex equipment. Increasingly in demand are tech-savvy electrical, mechanical and HVAC technicians, occupations that have evolved considerably in recent years. To help ensure employers have the skilled employees they need to grow, Ottawa’s La Cité is investing heavily in new technology. That includes a multi-million dollar grant to add equipment for its security and alarm systems lab, a state-of-the-art plumbing and hydronic lab as well as new electrical labs where students can learn how to master programmable logic controllers. According to the Colleges Ontario key performance indicators, La Cité’s employer satisfaction rate is 95.6 percent compared to an average of 92.5 percent. “Nowadays skilled trades and technology are directly intertwined,” says Patrick Mainville, Chair of Skilled Trades at La Cité. He gives the example of an automotive service technician who’s now called upon to diagnose problems with the complex electronic systems that are increasingly common in modern vehicles. The school’s state of the art equipment gives

students hands-on experience. In the security and alarm system lab, apprentices and students use control panels to learn how to wire alarm system networks. Through simulations created by faculty, students learn to troubleshoot problems and find solutions. “In addition to fixing the network physically, we ask them to explain the reasons why it was faulty,” Mainville says. “We also ask them what they could have done to prevent the situation from happening in the first place. That allows them to develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities and creativity all at the same time.” In addition to receiving technical training, La Cité students develop four main competencies: entrepreneurship and initiative, creativity, community engagement and bilingual capacity. Students learn English terminology in their respective fields. “Employers love that many of our graduates are bilingual,” says Mainville. “Our graduates become a valuable asset to many employers when it comes time to interact with suppliers, customers and subcontractors in French.” To learn more about La Cité’s Skilled Trades programs, visit the La Cité’s website at

WHY YOUNG PEOPLE SHOULD CONSIDER SKILLED TRADES With an aging population, there’s a high demand for young people to pursue a career in skilled trades. “We need a new generation of skilled tradespeople,” says Patrick Mainville, Chair of Skilled Trades at La Cité. “While most people head to university for good career prospects, there is another way to make a good living in Canada without having to rack up school debt. It is time we start exploring skilled trades seriously for our youth.” Here’s a snapshot of the career opportunities in skilled trades:


• Skills Canada estimates that one million skilled trades workers will be needed across this country by 2020; • Skills Canada estimates that 40 per cent of new jobs created in the next decade will be in skilled trades.

APRIL 2019


• According to a 2017 survey by Canadian Tooling and Machining Association, 20 per cent of its skilled workers are over the age of 54 and will retire in the next decade;




Hospitality industry seeks crackdown on ‘pseudo hotels’ Short-term rental platforms worsening Ottawa’s housing crunch, critics charge as hotel association head calls for new rules aimed at Airbnb and its competitors BY DAVID SALI

APRIL 2019




s the head of the region’s main hotel industry association, Steve Ball sees plenty of room for growth in a local hospitality industry that enjoyed its best year ever in 2017 and followed that up with another solid season in 2018. After a string of hotel closures a few years ago, the industry has bounced back in a big way. New properties from major brands have sprung up across the region such as the Alt Hotel on Slater Street, the Andaz Ottawa Byward Market and a pair of Hilton lodgings at the site of the former Delta hotel on Queen Street. A number of other high-profile projects –​ including Group Germain’s $40-million plan to construct a 180-room Alt-branded hotel at the airport ​– are in the works. “Ottawa is a very stable market,” says Ball, the president of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association. “We’ve got the government sector, we’ve got a good, solid tech sector and business sector. I think it shows confidence that investors are doing a build, because a build isn’t cheap.” Ball would appear to have plenty of good reasons to cheer.

Even with the addition of more than 1,000 extra rooms to the city’s stock in 2018, the overall occupancy rate at local hotels last year was still a respectable 73 per cent, according to commercial real estate firm CBRE, down two percentage points from the record-breaking Canada 150 year of 2017. Meanwhile, the average room daily room rate last year dipped by $3 to $169, not a huge surprise considering the surge in demand for accommodations in the nation’s capital during the country’s sesquicentennial celebrations. But local hoteliers aren’t riding a completely unbridled wave of optimism. At the same time as the hotel stock has been growing, the number of visitors renting accommodations on room-sharing platform Airbnb has also jumped from 185,000 in 2017 to 225,000 last year. Other competitors such as are getting into the game, offering travellers even more alternatives to traditional hotels. Ball and other industry executives say it’s high time the city slapped rules on shortterm rentals to prevent owners of multiple properties from running what they refer to as unregulated “pseudo hotels.” City officials are currently studying

the issue, with the aim of presenting a report on proposed regulations to council before the end of the year. “Let’s find out what’s really happening in the short-term rental economy, because there’s misinformation out there that the public’s not aware of,” Ball says. “The big one is the commercialization of that industry.” The City of Toronto has already tried to impose rules that would force homeowners to register for a $50 permit to host short-term rentals and bar them from listing more than one property on Airbnb and other platforms. Those rules are currently under appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. Affordable housing advocates claim the regulations would return 6,500 homes to that city’s rental housing market, helping push down rents by boosting the supply of inventory. Ball and others say Ottawa should implement similar regulations, arguing that reining in Airbnb and its competitors would ease a housing crunch that saw the city’s rental vacancy rate drop to 1.6 per cent in 2018. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment rose nearly six per cent last year to $1,301, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., the benchmark rate’s largest increase since 2001.

RENTAL MARKET SQUEEZE “We are losing access to affordable and accessible housing,” says Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney. “There is no doubt when people are buying up apartments and condos and renting them out as short-term rentals, that has an effect on the affordability of housing accommodations in the city.” Ball’s association is a member of Fairbnb, a coalition of about 15 organizations calling for stricter regulation of room-sharing platforms. Fairbnb researcher Thorben Wieditz says the organization is set to release a study of the industry’s impact on Ottawa’s housing market shortly, adding the group will likely recommend rules similar to Toronto’s, with a few “tweaks.” Continues on page 23

NEW IN 2018

Fairfield Inn & Suites (airport): 232 rooms

Hilton Garden Inn

(downtown): 175 rooms

Holmwood Suites by Hilton (downtown): 171 rooms

Hotel Le Germain

(downtown): 115 rooms

Holmwood Suites by Hilton (Kanata): 101 rooms

Fairfield Inn & Suites (Kanata): 98 rooms

Holmwood Suites by Hilton (Ottawa south): 93 rooms

GLo Best Western (Kanata): 69 rooms

SCHEDULED TO OPEN IN 2019 Holiday Inn Express

(downtown): 167 rooms

Sandman Inn

(Ottawa south): 150 rooms


Alt Hotel (airport) Andaz Ottawa Byward Market (136-room expansion)

Chateau Laurier (expansion) Hilton (ByWard Market) Holiday Inn (Moodie Drive) Microtel Inn & Suites (Kanata) Barrhaven property Source: Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association

TOTAL HOTEL ROOM NIGHTS BOOKED: 2016: 2,637,230 2017: 2,776,253 2018: 2,745,644 Source: Ottawa Tourism


Tourism makes its mark on Ottawa’s transformation Long known for its vibrant neighbourhoods, green space and Parliament Hill, Ottawa is undergoing a significant transformation in the eyes of visitors and residents alike. Light rail, fresh attractions and new hotels are reshaping the city and continually evolving our worldclass destination. Emerging from the Canada 150 celebrations that helped to attract more than 11 million visitors, Ottawa’s tourism industry took the opportunity to strengthen the city with series of major infrastructure investments that are changing how visitors see Canada’s capital. Major investments include the highly anticipated LRT expansion, the Parliament of Canada’s Centre Block renovations, and 2018 opening of the new Ottawa Art Gallery and new Le Germain hotel. “What the Canada 150 celebrations in 2017 did for Ottawa was to elevate the conversations people were having about Ottawa both on and offline,” says Catherine Callary, vice-president of destination development at Ottawa Tourism. “Those celebrations gave locals a new feeling of pride in our city. This continues to be true. Festivals and events give a platform from which locals can express their pride in the city, creating positive interactions with visitors.” Ottawa Tourism conducted an economic impact study that measured the contributions from Ottawa businesses, attractions and events involved in tourism to Ottawa’s overall economy. Here are some key takeaways from the 2019 study. You can read more by visiting the Ottawa Tourism website.

There are 30,640 direct full-time jobs in the tourism industry with employees earning $1 billion in direct wages and salaries.

VISITOR SPENDING In a typical year in Ottawa, overnight and same day visitors spend $2.2 billion in our city.

NEW ATTRACTIONS Ottawa residents are surrounded by national institutions, several of which have recently undergone massive facelifts such as the National Arts Centre’s new Elgin Street façade and entrance.



Tourism generates $755 million a year in tax revenue. On a percapita basis, that means the tourism industry contributes over $750 towards vital government services per resident, which includes such services as health care and snow removal.

APRIL 2019




Hoteliers finding room for fresh attractions From treasure hunts to outdoor ‘ice bars,’ local industry eyeing new ways to entice guests in face of rising competition BY DAVID SALI

APRIL 2019




uring a brief break from the frenzy of activity that always surrounds a new restaurant opening, OCCO Kitchen owner and head chef Mark Steele flashes the grin of an entrepreneur who’s found the ideal business partner. Nobody who knows him would be too surprised to find out that partner is a hotel. Steele, after all, spent years as a chef at the Fairmont, Hilton and Marriott chains before launching his first OCCO Kitchen in Orl​éans four years ago. In early March, Steele opened a second OCCO location at the Albert at Bay Suite Hotel, serving up pub grub ranging from homemade beef burgers on freshly baked buns to fish and chips with craft beer-infused batter. It was no small venture, with Steele and the hotel combining to spend $2 million to completely gut and rebuild the space formerly occupied by a pub. But the restaurateur is confident his investment in the 160-seat eatery and bar will pay off handsomely. “It’s great to have 200 rooms attached to your restaurant,” the affable Newfoundland native says. “People who are here visiting, they need that product, they need that service. I also really like the dynamic of this approach, because OCCO Kitchen owner Mark Steele takes a break at his eatery’s new location at the Albert at Bay Suite Hotel. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON

The Andaz hotel’s ‘ice bar’ attracted more than 1,000 visitors in February. PHOTO PROVIDED

a lot of hotel restaurants, they’re kind of old, stale, boring. With this, it’s really exciting. It’s a standalone restaurant that thrives on being edgy and inventive. To pair that up with a hotel, I think we’re probably setting a new trend.” John Cosentino, the Albert at Bay’s longtime general manager, says Steele brings an “edge and flair” to his culinary creations that is already luring plenty of curious foodies from outside the hotel in addition to guests who dine out for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the new venue. “We had a few opportunities with other businesses, but … Mark, with his credentials and his background, we saw it as the perfect fit, so it was a no-brainer for us,” he says of the collaboration.

‘COOL’ NEW IDEAS The Albert at Bay is far from the

only Ottawa hotel that’s undergone renovations or launched trendy new activities recently in an effort to stand out in an increasingly crowded market. Kanata’s Brookstreet Hotel, for example, recently debuted a new children’s activity modelled on the popular “escape room” concept. Each weekend, part of the resort’s convention space is converted into a 1,000-squarefoot room where kids hunt for “treasure” stolen from the hotel’s giant bee mascot, Buzz. “Escape rooms now are so popular, and they’ve been trending the last few years,” says Brookstreet general manager Nyle Kelly, who figures the room drew about 40 or 50 eager youngsters for its debut on the Family Day weekend in February. “We know that our leisure business is an important part of our success, so bringing families in and

having something for them to do is really important.” Other local properties are trying to capitalize on annual events such as Winterlude with special promotions to attract guests and outside visitors. The Andaz Ottawa Byward Market installed a bar sculpted out of ice on its rooftop patio during each weekend of the annual February festival, with hotel guests being admitted for free and outside patio-goers paying a $5 cover charge. Hardy partiers packed the patio to capacity every weekend, with a total of more than 1,000 people coming out to sample apple-cider cocktails and other adult beverages designed to warm their insides. “That was definitely a cool attraction,” says the hotel’s marketing manager, Rachel Kerr. “It was one of the most popular events we’ve ever done.” The venerable Chateau Laurier, too, has gotten into the act, recently remodelling its signature Zoey’s lounge and hiring a full-time “mixologist” who specializes in exotic cocktails. It’s all part of the hotel’s ongoing effort to “stay one step ahead of the game” when it comes to the latest industry trends, says director of public relations Deneen Perrin. “It has to be about engaging your guests in so much more than just an overnight stay,” she explains. “I think hotels in general always have to be looking at what they’re doing.” The rising popularity of short-term accommodation platforms such as Airbnb has ratcheted up competition in a local industry that’s already expected

to be adding hundreds of new hotel rooms to its inventory in 2019, notes industry expert Michael Tarnowsky. Properties looking to separate themselves from the pack need to look at every angle to find an edge, he says –​ ideally without breaking the bank. “I think the emphasis has to be on augmenting that (hotel) experience even more and really being able to stand out not only from the Airbnbs, but also from the competition,” says Tarnowsky, a former industry executive who now teaches at Algonquin College’s School of Hospitality and Tourism. “But those are expensive propositions, and it takes a lot of time and planning to work out these kind of add-ons. In doing that, you’re always measuring the demand. You have to be able to justify that.” At the Lord Elgin Hotel, which embarked on a multimillion-dollar renovation of its 355 guest rooms a couple of years ago and recently remodelled its restaurant, general manager David Smythe says such projects are simply good business practices. “The competition is very stiff,” he says. “A lot of properties are improving their product, so it’s paramount that we remain competitive in that regard.” Perrin says even before Airbnb and the like came on the scene, savvy hoteliers were always seeking new ways of offering customers something a little different from their competitors. “I don’t think that’s a result necessarily of the Airbnbs,” she says. “I think that is hospitality as a whole.”

“When has the hotel industry ever been concerned about the rental market and housing?” she says. “This is about being able to restrict their competition. It’s about protecting the room rate, protecting their revenues.” Dagg says that far from being unregulated hoteliers, the vast majority of hosts on the platform are people who rent out single rooms to make a bit of extra income. In Ottawa, she says, Airbnb’s 2,800 hosts earn an average of $6,000 a year

from 70 nights’ rentals. “Our data just doesn’t ever substantiate or give credence to the kind of things (critics are) saying,” she adds. McKenney says if that’s the case, Airbnb and its competitors shouldn’t have a problem with the rules. “If in fact what they say is true, then I don’t see why they would oppose regulations that would stop people buying a number of homes and then renting them out,” she says.

Crackdown on ‘pseudo hotels’


those feelings. “There’s no question that Airbnb and other digital platforms are affecting our industry,” says Nyle Kelly, the general manager of Kanata’s Brookstreet Hotel, one of the largest properties in the region with 276 rooms. “The impact is on the city and the community as well. It’s putting a strain on affordable housing in our community.” But Airbnb spokesperson Alex Dagg isn’t buying that argument.

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Continued from page 20 Ball says such regulations will make housing more affordable for long-term renters who are currently being squeezed out of a market that’s become even tighter thanks to Airbnb and other platforms. “The housing market is a supply-anddemand business,” he says. “Ultimately, more inventory might make it more of a renters’ market. Presumably, that helps to drive prices down.” Ottawa hotel executives echo


Under the influence

Bloggers and Instagrammers becoming a growing part of hospitality industry’s marketing efforts – but how much of a boost to business do social media personalities really provide?


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hen Katie Hession first started posting photos related to her “favourite F-words” –​ family, food, fashion, fitness and fun times – on her Instagram account a couple of years back, she never expected her hobby to turn into a cottage industry. Today, the Ottawa mom’s account, yowcitystyle, has more than 19,000 followers, and Hession has become one of the city’s best-known Instagrammers. She’s one of a growing number of social media “influencers” who partner with hotels and restaurants across the region and beyond to promote those businesses on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. “When I first came on the scene, there weren’t too many people doing what I do, and there definitely weren’t too many people doing it with a focus on Ottawa,” the former special education teacher says. “Now, I’m really seeing a rise in the food Instagramming community in Ottawa. Restaurants are really seeing the results of working with Instagrammers.” The hotel industry has been quick to jump on board the influencer bandwagon as well. Locally, Hession has been tapped to promote properties such as the Alt Hotel, Andaz Byward Market, Brookstreet and Metcalfe hotels and the Wakefield Mill. Typically, she receives one or two nights’ free accommodation in exchange for taking photos and writing blog posts about her stay. Hotels will often throw in free meals and other perks as part of the deal. “I definitely love it when a hotel has a special treat waiting for you in your room,”

Ottawa influencer Chantal Sarkisian with husband Michael at the Hotel Le Germain’s Norca restaurant.

It’s very hard to put dollars and cents to it. We want people who want to know about us, and an influencer who is the right fit can help us build those engaged (social media) followers. – Deneen Perrin, director of public relations at the Chateau Laurier she says with a chuckle, noting chocolate is one of her favourites. Hotels agree influencers’ growing

ability to target coveted social mediasavvy demographics can’t be ignored. Brookstreet manager Nyle Kelly says the Kanata resort gets requests virtually every day to partner with “influencers, bloggers, radio hosts – anybody with some kind of online or media presence.” Kelly says his property’s marketing team evaluates a number of factors to determine if an influencer is a good fit, including how many followers they have, the quality of their photos and posts and their target audience. He says the hotel has worked with everyone from golfers who blog about their rounds at Brookstreet’s course, the Marshes, to moms such as Hession who bring their families for a weekend stay. The longtime hospitality industry executive says he believes influencers can be effective marketing partners for hotels, although he concedes “it’s really hard to put tangible numbers” on how much additional business they actually bring in. “It’s a lot of anecdotal feedback,” he says. Deneen Perrin, the director of public relations at the Chateau Laurier, says her team uses special software to analyze whether a particular influencer is likely to be a strong partner. “It’s not just the number of followers,” she notes. “It’s how are they engaged. We look at all of those metrics.”

ROI TOUGH TO MEASURE She says the hotel receives an average of about 30 requests a month from bloggers and Instagrammers looking to stay at the historic property for free in exchange for providing social media content. Typically, she’ll accept just one or two. “If it’s only a fashion blog, it isn’t my

market,” she explains. “It really has to be a fit with our brand. It just depends on what it is that we need as a hotel and then see if that matches with the influencer who’s connecting with us.” Like Kelly, Perrin agrees it’s not easy to calculate the return on investment an influencer provides. Her team looks at metrics such as whether the hotel’s Instagram account gets a bump in followers after a particular influencer’s stay as one way of measuring their impact. “It’s very hard to put dollars and cents to it,” she says. “We want people who want to know about us, and an influencer who is the right fit can help us build those engaged followers.” Rachel Kerr, the marketing manager at the Andaz Ottawa Byward Market hotel, says she typically teams up with influencers who target women between the ages of 25 and 45. Hotels are always looking to feed their own social media accounts, she adds, and bloggers and Instagrammers such as Hession and others can provide useful material to bolster the property’s own marketing efforts. “Often influencers are the best content creators,” Kerr says, adding the hotel sometimes asks its partners to attach special offer codes to their posts as a way to track the return on their investment. Chantal Sarkisian, who boasts nearly 13,000 Instagram followers and blogs about her experiences at Ottawa hotels under the name Chantsy, agrees. “We’re almost like a mini tourist hub,” she says. “People are looking at tourism content through us.” Hotels and influencers say it’s important for both sides to do their homework before entering into an agreement. Hession has created a detailed media kit that includes key analytics such as a breakdown of her followers based on age, gender and location. She says influencers owe it to hotels to be accurate and truthful when it comes to their reach. “If you know that your audience is not right for whoever is contacting you to partner with, then you really should not be accepting that collaboration or seeking them out,” she says. “As Instagrammers, we definitely hold that responsibility to make sure that we know what our audience is and that it fits right with whoever’s contacting us.”

Forty Under 40 Gala


Friday, June 21, 2019 @ Hilton Lac-Leamy. Celebrate the city’s rising business stars! Get your tickets at For ticket info, email or call 613-236-7029 ext.135 Individual Tickets: Ottawa Board of Trade Member - $200+ HST Future Members - $220+ HST Corporate Tables of 10: Ottawa Board of Trade Member - $1900 + HST Future Member - $2100+ HST


APRIL 2019





What’s inside a commercial Realtor’s toolkit? Ottawa is home to many commercial real estate professionals. Within the sector, commercial Realtors have a competitive advantage because of their membership in the Ottawa Real Estate Board.

WHAT IS A COMMERCIAL REALTOR? “Realtor” is not a job description. It is a trademark of the Canadian Real Estate Association and stands for service, competence and high ethical practice. OREB’s commercial members who have met high standards of education and experience are eligible to become members of OREB’s Commercial Services Network. Commercial Realtors provide professional services including: Access to listings of thousands of other Realtor members of OREB and other Boards through their exclusive MLS System access. Far-reaching marketing services, and access to local, national, and international buyers through their commercial affiliation within, which boasts 264 million visitors in 2018 and 5.3 billion views Professional advice based on knowledge, experience, and education. Tenant and landlord representation. Advice on real estate investment purchases. Competent service based on extensive market knowledge.

Here’s a quick glimpse inside a commercial Realtor’s toolkit. ETHICAL STANDARDS ACCESS TO LEGALLY VETTED FORMS

RealTrack is a database of nearly 30,000 commercial real estate transactions worth more than $500,000. The information in RealTrack includes location, property descriptions and financing details. While some brokerages have their own licenses, OREB provides free access to its members. “It is a complete and timesaving database, putting accurate statistics and data at the tip of our fingers instantly,” says Leena Ray, a Realtor at Coldwell Banker Real Estate. “It’s certainly cost-efficient for commercial Realtors that the Board retains a license for our use.”

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Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) have access to hundreds of legally vetted commercial forms and clauses, ensuring buyers and sellers feel protected. “Knowing that I am receiving offers on standard forms, I am able to respond quicker to clients when explaining the details in the contract,” says Royal LePage broker Jillian Jarvis. “Standardized forms is one more level of protection for clients.”


OREB Realtors must abide by the Canadian Real Estate Association Realtor Code of Ethics. Basic principles in the Realtor Code include providing professional competent service, maintaining honesty and integrity in business dealings, and being cooperative and fair to others. Realtors must disclose in writing who they are representing as an agent in a transaction and cannot acquire an interest in a property without disclosing that they are a real estate professional. “Most beneficial to me and my clients, being a commercial OREB member, are the ethical obligations, strict standards and entrusted values and expectations between Realtors,” says Ray.



ACCESS TO INFORMATION OREB members use Matrix software, a web-based MLS System, to list and search for commercial properties on behalf of their clients. Only Realtors have access to the MLS System. “It is vital as a commercial real estate broker to have access to up-to-date, trustworthy information. This is what OREB provides,” says Jarvis. “Having all the options on one platform is imperative for saving time and giving clients peace of mind.”

Christyn Cianfarani

Stayci Keetch

Kathy Cooligan

Pierrette Raymond

Lynn Ferron

Amy McConnell

Trina Fraser

Jennifer McGahan

Jennifer MacKinnon

27 Amy MacLeod



Christina Hlusko

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Allyson Chisnall


Eugeniya Tsetlin Paliga Senior manager, Commercial Real Estate Finance Group, CIBC


Soula Burrell


Jessica Keats

Healer/consultant/secret weapon


Margaret Shistko

Interior design consultant, CPI Interiors – Decorating Den Interiors


Kim Farr

CPA, CA, senior manager and team leader, CIBC Commercial Banking


Lisa Duncan Account executive – Business Intelligence, BizXcel – a Qlik Partner


Jen Wright

Owner, RMT Whole Therapy


LETTER FROM THE CHAIR Dear Readers, I would like to take a moment to share with you my experience with the Women’s Business Network (WBN) and the Ottawa community which I call home. In 2010, I decided to relocate from Montreal to accept an opportunity in Ottawa. Having been exposed to the Women’s Business Network back in Montreal and acknowledging the need to expand my limited Ottawa network, I immediately looked for a similar group in Ottawa. I was pleased to find that, not only was the WBN established, it was a well-run organization supported by many accomplished female professionals and entrepreneurs. Following nine years of membership, I am now proud to represent the WBN as president. The WBN membership now makes up much of my professional network, and I am fortunate to count many as close friends. While the organization continues to evolve and grow and new initiatives and challenges are faced, what remains the same are our values: We promote, support and recognize businesswomen in our community. One way we do this is through the Businesswoman of the Year Awards (BYAs). The BYAs were first launched by the WBN in 1981. They were created as a platform to recognize women who have achieved success in a challenging and highly male-dominated business world. The BYAs have now grown to recognize 12 businesswomen annually through four different categories. These women and their achievements are celebrated at the BYA Gala.

I am forever grateful to my predecessors and the WBN founders who chose to encourage and empower women through recognition, rather than complain about their hardships or stay silent. These women have created a powerful platform and a legacy that Ottawa and the business community should be very proud of. On behalf of the WBN, I look forward to celebrating this year’s 12 finalists and all businesswomen in our community on April 11 at the Infinity Convention Centre. Eugeniya Tsetlin, President

Michele Corriveau

Doctor of chiropractic, Glebe and Byward Ciropractic Clinics and Massage Therapy Centres



Christina Nesralla

Desjardins Financial Security independent network, investment funds, life and health insurance adviser

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Melissa Baird

Glebe and Byward Chiropractic Clinics and Massage Therapy Centres, chiropractor



MAY 16

SEPT. 19

36th Businesswoman of the Year Awards gala

25th fundraising golf tournament

Women in Disruptive Technology

Economic outlook

Infinity Convention Centre

Canadian Golf & Country Club 7800 Golf Club Way, Ashton, Ont.

Panel discussion series

by senior economists from the Bank of Canada


Abbie Sizer

Senior banker - Nesbitt Burns | Private Wealth, BMO Bank of Montreal

WBN also holds monthly breakfast and evening networking events, quarterly “Power Hour Breakfast Series”, quarterly “Lunch & Learn” and other ad-hoc events. Visit

WOMENINBUSINESS2019 Meet the 2019 WBN Businesswoman of the Year finalists PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY Katherine Cooligan

Regional managing partner, Ottawa Office Borden Ladner Gervais

Principal practice leader, registered interior designer, president elect, ARIDO HOK Inc. Ferron says her breakthrough project was designing and managing our team for the offices of Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. Using the concept of sky, earth, airplane materials and construction inspired her to create a workplace that truly reflects Air Canada’s DNA. Several companies and one cross-province move later, she’s now a principal at HOK. Ferron is also an avid runner who has raised thousands of dollars for charities such as Team Diabetes and the Sears Great Canadian 100km Relay Run to end kids’ cancers. Over the years, she’s participated in more than 25 full marathons (including the Boston Marathon, twice) and one 50-km ultra trail race and has no plans to slow down.

Trina Fraser

Partner, Brazeau Seller Law

Christyn Cianfarani

President and CEO, The Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries Cianfarani leads an organization that represents more than 900 member companies across Canada. For more than two decades, Cianfarani has blazed a trail for women in Canada’s aerospace, defence and security industries. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Toronto and a bachelor’s degree from the Royal Military College of Canada. After a stint with the Royal Canadian Navy, she was hired as a proposal specialist at Canadian aerospace firm CAE, eventually holding leadership positions in strategy, research and development and business solutions. In 2013, Ms. Cianfarani was the only woman to participate in a federal government-commissioned panel on military procurement, which has played

Christina Hlusko President and CEO CAA North & East Ontario

A native of Montreal, Hlusko graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in industrial relations from McGill University and received her master’s degree in industrial relations from Queen’s University. Prior to joining CAA, she worked in the fields of human resources, labour relations, marketing and product management, travel and automotive services and operations. She currently chairs the CAA National Automotive Services Task Force and is a lead participant in the CAA National Insurance Services Task Force. Hlusko is a founding member of the leadership committee for the Women In Philanthropy program at Queensway Carleton Hospital, which brings together like-minded women who want to help transform health care for Ottawa and our region through their collective giving. She is married and has a daughter.

Amy MacLeod

Vice-president, strategic communications; corporate diversity officer, Mitel A seasoned tech executive, MacLeod has more than 25 years’ experience in Ottawa’s political and private


Fraser is the co-managing partner at Brazeau Seller Law, a business law firm in downtown Ottawa. She joined the firm as a first-year associate


a significant role in shaping defence procurement policy. In 2014, she became the first woman to lead CADSI in its current incarnation, and under her leadership the 35-year-old association has seen female representation on its board of directors rise from zero to 30 per cent. Outside the office, she enjoys doing giant jigsaw puzzles.

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Katherine Cooligan is a family law lawyer with more than 25 years of experience. Cooligan graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in law and psychology from Carleton University and obtained her law degree at the University of Ottawa in 1989. She began her law career at Gowlings, then Canada’s largest law firm. In January 2006, she joined Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG), now Canada’s largest national law firm, as the leader of the family law group. She is now the regional managing partner of BLG’s Ottawa office, the only woman at BLG to hold these senior management roles. A mother of three, Cooligan is an active board and executive member of the CHEO Foundation Board, a member of Women for Mental Health with the Royal and is on the organizing committee for the Royal’s Leaders for Mental Health Breakfast.

Lynn Ferron

in 1999 and was invited to become a full equity partner in 2009. Fraser’s practice is now almost exclusively focused on the cannabis industry. Identifying an emerging opportunity in cannabis law five years ago, Fraser formed BSL’s CannaLaw group and acts as its head. She has emerged as a leading practitioner in cannabis law and is often called upon for comment and opinion by leading journalists. The mother of two is also a dedicated community activist and volunteer and currently sits on the board of directors of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) as well as zOttawa-based charity The Snowsuit Fund.


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sectors, where she has served as the senior communications executive and spokesperson for multiple organizations. A member of the Mitel executive leadership team, in 2018 she was appointed to her current position as the company’s first corporate diversity officer. Prior to joining Mitel, MacLeod held senior communications roles at General Dynamics Canada, Alcatel-Lucent and Newbridge Networks. She currently serves as chair of the board of directors of the Kanata North Business Association, home to Canada’s largest technology park with more than 21,000 employees. MacLeod earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Waterloo and completed post-degree studies in law and history from Carleton University and the executive development marketing program at Queen’s University. She lives in Stittsville with her husband and daughter.




An Ottawa native, Chisnall lived in various communities across Canada growing up and later worked for KPMG in New Zealand, Cavendish & Co. in London, where she was the only woman on the accounting staff, and with Britain’s Electricity Supply Association, where she audited the largest pension scheme in the United Kingdom. After returning to Canada, she worked for

CS Co-op (Alterna Bank) and Logan Katz Chartered Accountants before starting her own company. In 2013, she joined MediaStyle as an equity partner and CFP. Married with two adult sons, Chisnall is an avid runner and triathlete who regularly raises money for Ottawa charities through those activities.

Jennifer MacKinnon CEO, Fenix Solutions

MacKinnon is the founder of Fenix Solutions, a web technology company with 14 employees that has operated for 18 years in the Ottawa area. Fenix’s clients include local and global leaders such as Nokia. She says her background in account management and sales has

allowed her to build a company that is focused on customer service and delivering quality service.

Pierrette Raymond

Owner/coach, 1-800-GOT-JUNK?/Moving Forward Matters A former teacher, Raymond started her first home-based business at the age of 26 while her son was just an infant. Twenty-three years later, she owns and operates two businesses and recently sold a third. A founding franchise partner of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, she has operated the business with her husband Luc since July 2000. Raymond also runs a private executive coaching and consulting practice, hosting

mastermind sessions every 60 days for everyone from entrepreneurs who are hitting six-figure revenues for the first time to those who are running companies with annual revenues of more than $30 million per year. In addition, she hosts a podcast and video show called Speaking of Business.


CEO and creative director, On Brand by Stayci Keetch

Owner, Tea & Toast Inc. Friesen holds a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the University of Ottawa as well as a Business Marketing diploma from Algonquin College. After spending nearly a decade working in the retirement home industry across Ottawa, in 2014 she launched Tea & Toast, personalized local search service to help ease the decision-making process regarding retirement living. Since then, she and her team have assisted more than 500 families in the Ottawa area to find the best retirement home to fit their needs. Friesen is a member of Informed Opinions, an organization striving to increase women’s voices in media, and the Worldwide Association of Female Professionals, an international organization empowering women to become executives.

Jennifer McGahan

Principal/owner, Jennifer McGahan Interiors McGahan graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1996 and cut her renovation chops by flipping properties. Her passion for design led her to Algonquin College, where she studied AutoCAD and design. Jennifer founded Jennifer McGahan Interiors in 2015 and has grown the business to $1.4 million in annual revenues since then. Her work has been featured in the Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa At Home magazine and Luxe magazine and on CTV. McGahan lives and works in Stittsville with her two teenaged boys.

Join professionals and business owners - male and female alike - in a 9-hole round in support of

APRIL 2019

Keetch leads a team of creative professionals to deliver high-end marketing to small to mid-size businesses. She launched her career in television broadcasting in 1998 and has worked for YTV, produced TV shows for HGTV and The Food Network Canada and produced documentaries for TVO. Keetch has managed websites and client brands from the Canadian Museum of Nature to international diamond security firms. She launched On Brand by Stayci Keetch in 2015, and since then the company has been acknowledged by the West Ottawa Board of Trade in 2018 as a Company to Watch finalist. Keetch was named a finalist for businesswoman of the year by the Orleans Chamber of Commerce in 2018 and received a Forty Under 40 award from OBJ and the Ottawa Board of Trade the same year. She is an active member of the Ottawa community and an ambassador for the board of trade and supports a number of local causes, including the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, Ottawa Food Bank, Barrhaven Food Cupboard, Ottawa Hospital and Harmony House.

Amy Friesen


A night

Stars under the

FRIDAY, MARCH 29TH 2019 6PM BROOKSTREET HOTEL | KANATA 2019 Title sponsor BMO Financial Group


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SINGER EDWARDS DELIVERS INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE AT ROYAL OTTAWA FUNDRAISER mental health advocates as honorary patron Margaret Trudeau, mother of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; former governor general David Johnston and his wife, Sharon; and The Royal’s community ambassador, hockey hero Daniel Alfredsson, with his wife, Bibbi, honorary chair of Run for Women. They



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“I know first-hand the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and they are very powerful things that disengage any rational and any true feeling you know about yourself.” Edwards returned on stage during the live auction to help TV personality Derick Fage from Breakfast Television Montreal sell an exclusive concert for 50. It will be held at Quitters, a café she opened in Stittsville almost five years ago after she took a break from her music career. The gala, once again presented by TD Bank Group, was wildly successful. It raised a record-breaking $521,724 for mental health research and care at The Royal Ottawa. There were also some amazing personal stories shared through the presentation of six awards to those who have overcome challenges related to mental illness, educated others about the importance of dealing with mental health issues and helped to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. VIPs included such prominent

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The 16th Annual Inspiration Awards Gala for the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health offered up a bit of magic, a lot of hope and a very special performance from singer-songwriter and musician Kathleen Edwards. The Ottawa-based artist took to the stage March 1 with her acoustic guitar to croon an old Joni Mitchell tune in front of a black-tie crowd of more than 550 businesspeople and community leaders. For her, the cause of mental illness is deeply personal; she was diagnosed with a mood disorder in 2012, the same year she released her last album. “There is no greater relief that I can think of in my entire life than having a doctor say, ‘I believe you have clinical depression, and I’d like to prescribe to you a medication that might help you,’” she told everyone in the Infinity Convention Centre ballroom, which was beautifully lit up in colourful but calming hues. “Within several weeks, I was feeling like there was a piece of me that came back into the universe.

brought their oldest boy, Hugo, 15, who attends Ashbury College. Former Inspiration Award recipient Stephanie Richardson was also among the notable supporters. She co-founded the Do It For Daron (DIFD) youth mental health movement with her husband, former NHLer Luke Richardson, following the tragic suicide of their daughter, Daron, 14, in 2010. Luke is now an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens. Other guests included Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, MPP for Kanata-Carleton and the minister of colleges, training and universities.



Maddy’s Gala honours child’s memory while aiding Roger Neilson House

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Maddy’s Gala ​– started by a pair of grieving parents looking to give back to a children’s hospice that helped them in their darkest hours – has blossomed into a beautiful and bountiful evening that raises six-figure amounts for Roger Neilson House. The 12th annual event returned in late February to the Brookstreet Hotel, attracting 420-plus guests and bringing in $106,000. There to welcome everyone and thank supporters “from the bottom of our hearts” were Dean and Jeanine Otto, along with their daughter, Hannah, 19.



The Ottos created Maddy’s Gala in honour of their younger daughter, Madison “Maddy” Otto, who, in 2007, passed away at the age of five. Guests heard how Maddy had gone from happy and healthy, to suffering a seizure, to going to CHEO to get checked out, to dying less than 48 hours later. She had an inoperable, terminal brain tumour. Maddy’s final hours were spent at Roger Neilson House, a pediatric palliative and respite care facility located on the grounds of CHEO. At first, the family was hesitant about going to the new facility.

“We knew it would mean accepting the fact that she was going to die, but it was the best decision we ever made,” Jeanine told the room. “The six hours that we were there, and the two years that we went for bereavement counselling (at Roger Neilson House)


616 St. Laurent Boulevard 613-740-1001


saved our lives.” There was not a dull moment at the gala, which saw the Tunis Shriners of Ottawa, No. 179, serve as presenting sponsor. Jugglers and acrobatic artists from Cirque Carpe Diem entertained and engaged guests during the

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in memory of Hall of Fame coach Roger Neilson. Spotted from the business community were Paul Chiarelli, president and COO of the private, global investment management firm Wesley Clover; Chris Spiteri, managing partner of Ursulak & Spiteri LLP; Quality Entertainment owner Brian Henry; and Creative Edge Studio owner Steve Hanniman. Also seen were Business Council of Canada president and CEO Goldy Hyder, board chair of the Ottawa Senators Foundation, and Barbara Crook and Dan Greenberg from their charitable Danbe Foundation.

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cocktail hour. Even Ottawa Senators defenceman Ben Harpur got a taste of circus life. The performers continued to wow guests throughout the dinner with their fancy aerial acrobatics. The gala packed as much substance as it did style by bringing profound awareness to the services Roger Neilson House offers families facing progressive life-limiting illnesses. Ottawa mother Emma Gofton earned herself a standing ovation after sharing with guests how Roger Neilson House has become a “second family.” Her two children, ages 14 and 16, suffer from an ultra-rare genetic, degenerative neurological condition that weakens their muscles and makes it progressively harder for them to talk, breathe, eat and move. “What I quickly learned is: Roger Neilson House isn’t about learning how to die well, it’s about learning how to live your life as best and as a full as you can, for as long as you have,” said Gofton. “Thankfully, they have helped us do that.” The facility was founded by the Ottawa Senators Foundation in 2006



GOOD FOOD, LOCAL LIBATIONS TASTE OF HOPE’S SUCCESSFUL RECIPE Everybody’s got to eat, so why not eat really well, make it more fun by doing it together and raise some funds for charity while you’re at it? That’s the concept behind Taste for Hope, a successful and popular foodie event that supports Shepherds of Good Hope, one of the largest organizations in our city dedicated to meeting the needs of homeless women and men. The seventh annual benefit was back in early March at the Horticulture Building, located at Lansdowne Park. Ottawa’s culinary community is the main ingredient in Taste for Hope, which was expected to gross more than last year’s total of $80,000 from ticket sales, sponsorship and auction proceeds.

The restaurants participate on their own time and at their own expense. Chefs cook up a variety of gourmet canapés and cocktail snacks, washed down by local libations. It’s the kind of night that offers the easygoing vibe and all-around friendliness of a wonderful cocktail party. With 350 people in attendance, it was another easy sellout. “It’s become such a well-soughtafter event,” said John Lindsay, from returning presenting sponsor BMO Wealth Management. “And it’s for such a good cause.” It’s the favourite foodie event for Pelican Seafood Market and Grill coowner Jim Foster. “You don’t feel like there’s a gazillion

meet our menu

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A new season brings new food and a new menu to the Shaw Centre with fresh, organic and sustainable ingredients. Chef Patrick Turcot works with local suppliers to secure the very best in farm to table produce. Our talented kitchen creates incredible, palate-pleasing dishes with élan and flair. Prepare to be wowed as Canada’s Meeting Place becomes Canada’s eating place!



people,” he told Eighteen chefs took part this year from: Andaz Hotel’s Feast + Revel, Coconut Lagoon, Ola Cocina, National Art Centre’s Le Café, allsaints Event Space, Oz Kafe,

Stofa, Orto Trattoria, Oat Couture, Black Tartan Kitchen, Eighteen Group, Pelican Seafood Market and Grill, Heart & Crown, Le St. Laurent, Fraser Café, Thyme & Again, Sutherland Restaurant and Fairouz.


Stephan Jou is CTO of Interset AI. Photo by Mark Holleron

Building a machine you can trust Ottawa developers espouse the responsibility – and business case – for ethical artificial intelligence BY CRAIG LORD



his past February, computer scientist Joy Buolamwini penned an article in Time magazine describing a troubling interaction with artificial intelligence. She described using facial recognition software that

isn’t just focused on developing artificial intelligence ​– it works with companies to implement a framework to ensure ethical behaviour. Through a mix of professional services and software, the firm seeks to measure AI systems based on levels of bias, transparency and privacy. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” Bhargava says. Roughly a year into business, has a few lead clients under its belt and has also landed a coveted spot on the federal government’s AI source list, qualifying it to supply the feds with AI solutions. Bhargava says that while the company believes its framework can be a boon to any AI developer, the level of trust required for public sector applications represents a strong market for the company. “Considering unintended consequences are certainly at a high level within the whole public sector … so developing these checks and balances with the government makes a lot of sense for us.” Jou says there are numerous ways to ensure AI applications are developed in a responsible way, many of which boil down to the underlying algorithms. Some such algorithms are able to explain why they made certain choices in processing a result, which can aid in transparency. Others have deliberately limited scopes, a function that Jou says helps with ensuring an application isn’t used in a way for which it wasn’t intended. Developing well-behaved AI systems is quickly becoming the industry standard, Jou says, largely due to privacy concerns. Applications that handle sensitive information such as patient records need to be airtight and auditable to ensure data isn’t leaking into the wrong hands. Jou notes that the other important use of ethical AI is as a recruiting tool. With thousands of startups around the world claiming to be on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence, a company that stakes its reputation on responsible development could well stand out from the crowd. “It helps everyone to know that they’re building AI for good, not for evil,” Jou says.

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couldn’t identify her dark-skinned face – until she put on a plain white mask, at which point the algorithms underlying the technology were able to detect her humanity. Buolamwini’s experience is not the only example of a machine learning application either unable to identify nonwhite users or, worse, biasing outcomes against them. It’s also backed up by her own research that revealed signs of gender and racial bias in AI systems

developed by some of the world’s biggest tech companies. While advocates are excited by the promise of machine learning tools, evidence is growing that artificial intelligence is capable of problematic biases if left unchecked. In Ottawa, developers and business leaders are increasingly espousing the importance of responsible development – and even finding business opportunities in keeping AI ethical. “In some ways, this is not specific to AI; any time there’s new technology investments, there’s always an ethical conversation to be had,” says Stephan Jou, chief technology officer at Ottawa’s Interset AI. “What I think is interesting about AI is that it’s moving so quickly and the promise of AI is … so outstanding and so pervasive.” Interset, which was recently acquired by IT giant Micro Focus, is among the signatories of the Montreal Declaration for Responsible AI, a creed for developers committed to developing AI systems within a transparent and trustworthy framework. Jou says that while AI holds the promise of automation and exciting new technologies, that kind of raw potential requires proactive oversight. “AI by itself as math – as pure math – doesn’t have a moral compass, right? The bad guys can use it just as easily as the good guys,” he says. That’s not to say that “bad guys” are the only ones using AI irresponsibly. As was likely the case in Buolamwini’s experience with inaccurate facial recognition technology, the datasets developers use to train AI hold a great bearing on the final application. Buolamwini, herself the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, says facial recognition algorithms are often trained with pictures of predominantly white men, making women and visible minorities all but invisible. “Machine learning ... has this selflearning capability that creates a big upside but also means that we need to think differently about how we would manage it,” says Niraj Bhargava, the CEO of Bhargava’s Ottawa-based startup


Beyond KPIs: Four business indicators every entrepreneur should measure Numbercrunch co-founder Susan Richards shares her process performance metrics Virtually every business has its own set of key performance indicators that provide insights into how a company is operating. KPIs are important, to be sure, but rarely tell the full story of a firm’s health. “The most popular KPIs used today are typically not management tools,” says numbercrunch co-founder Susan Richards. “They are actually not focused on the key processes that drive business performance and therefore not great at uncovering underlying issues.” Process performance metrics (PPIs) examine how a business operates. Richards says PPI dashboards should be comprised of a variety of metrics covering four key areas: Efficiency, capacity, productivity and quality. Here’s a breakdown of what you need.


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These indicators highlight the relationship between the results achieved and the resources used. Efficiency indicators enable management to generate the best results using the least amount of resources. Balancing revenue growth with customer retention generates the best return on investment.

An example of an efficiency indicator for a SaaS company is with the SaaS Quick Ratio, which divides new revenue by lost revenue to measure your growth. In simple terms, it involves dividing monthly recurring revenue from new and existing customers by the comparable revenues lost from customers reducing their orders or ceasing purchases altogether.



When it comes to production, there are almost always capacity constraints that a growing firm inevitably needs to address, with the correct inputs. “Nine women cannot make a baby in a month,” says Richards. “Leveraging technology can help increase capacity but not in all situations.” Capacity indicators can also trigger when to purchase new equipment or hire new employees.



When you establish your capacity, you also make certain assumptions about productivity. These indicators enable you to see how you are measuring up against your limits.


“Startups are often initially fuelled by the passion of the founders, but as the business grows, one common complaint of entrepreneurs is that their hired employees do not produce the same volume of output as they do,” says Richards. “One way to confirm whether this is true is to ensure there are measures of productivity in place.”



This measure enables you to see the relationship between qualified output and total output. “Tim Hortons is in the business of quickly getting customers through the drive-thru, but if customers discover they have the wrong order, the extra time spent fixing the order can really add up,” says Richards. “By introducing a PPI dashboard you’ll get better visibility into how to keep your KPI dashboard looking green.” Process performance metrics will help you up your game when it comes to seeing your business performance in a whole new light. For more information, contact numbercrunch at

Assent Compliance CEO Andrew Waitman. File photo

Assent Compliance was top dollar in 2018

Invest Ottawa CEO Michael Tremblay at AccelerateOTT 2018.

AccelerateOTT putting $150K up for grabs at pitchfest


Ventures to make knowing some of Canada’s top startups are located there,” said the fund’s partner, David Dufresne, in a statement. Nick Quain, Invest Ottawa’s vice-president of venture development, noted that the exposure alone of winning the sizeable investment will make a “serious difference” for an early stage firm. Startups in Ottawa and eastern Ontario interested in taking the stage at AccelerateOTT will need to qualify at one of two “pitch-ins” held April 4 at Bayview Yards and

May 7 at a Tech Tuesday event in Kanata. In order to apply, tech firms must have seen revenue growth of at least 50 per cent in the past year and plan to seek additional venture capital in the next 18 months. In total, five to seven startups will have the chance to pitch at the conference. The AccelerateOTT website notes that winning the pitchfest does not guarantee funding, as Panache Ventures will conduct due diligence and negotiations with the winning startup after the event.


ttawa’s homegrown innovation conference is putting up a pretty purse for its annual pitchfest this year. AccelerateOTT has secured a $150,000 cash prize for its pitchfest at this year’s event, slated for June 11 at the National Arts Centre. Organizer Invest Ottawa said in a statement that the seed funding, provided by early stage investor Panache Ventures, is the largest such prize ever provided for a local pitchfest. “Ottawa’s startup ecosystem is on fire, so it was an easy commitment for Panache

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Assent Compliance’s enormous series-C round last fall was the largest such venture capital raise from a Canadian company in 2018, according to a recent report. The Ottawa SaaS firm, which develops software to help companies meet compliance and regulatory demands, raised $160 million last October in a round led by U.S.-based Warburg Pincus. Initial reports pegged the investment at $130 million, but Assent co-founder Matt Whitteker confirmed in an email that the total deal value was in fact $30 million higher. Even without the higher total, Assent’s series-C round topped all disclosed VC deals across Canada last year, according to the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association’s 2018 market overview. The report puts Assent at the top of the country’s 15 “mega deals” last year, surpassing Montreal-based Hopper’s $129-million round as well as large raises from Clearbanc, Ritual and Ecobee. While 24 other Ottawa firms secured deals last year, Assent’s large round put the capital into the No. 4 spot nationally for total funding raised, behind Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Canadian firms collectively raised some $3.7 billion across 610 rounds in 2018. Though that represented an increase in the total number of deals over 2017, those transactions raised $100 million less than the previous year’s deals. Ottawa also cracked the top disclosed private equity deals of 2018, with Mitel’s $2.1-billion acquisition by California-based Searchlight Capital Partners taking the third spot nationally.


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2018-08-22 3:06 PM


Molding the leaders of Ottawa’s business community Stratford Managers delivers leadership development for top talent


APPLIED LESSONS Stratford’s Leadership for Success program has already helped business and association managers across the

The TOP FIVE habits of high performing leaders What makes a great leader? Stratford Managers published a report highlighting the top five habits that successful leaders exhibit. Here’s a brief overview of the list.


A highly effective leader:

1. Aligns team and individual work to the organization’s direction;


Uses effective communication methods to share thoughts and Break the applying whatThrough they learned from theBarriers National Capital Region become more ideas;to Growth workshops in the workplace. effective in their positions. When program participants The Federation of Canadian Empowers others with the get together, they use the power of Municipalities enrolled Rachel resources and authority they need Deslauriers into Leadership for Success the group to explore solutions to to succeed; after promoting her from senior advisor challenges, gain support, and most importantly share success stories. to manager of programs outreach last Manages individual and Tracy King, the vice-president of year. team performance; and marketing at Martello Technologies “The program helped me transition in my new role by giving me confidence explained it’s the unguarded interplay Helps others achieve more Virtual/Interim Management. between theCoaching. people of the group that in my team leadership abilities. It Consulting. through feedback, instruction and makes the experience so valuable. confirmed the intention behind encouragement. Stratford Managers specializes in helping businesses accelerate performance and achieve greatadvisors to be able leverage the approaches I was taking,” says scale. We’re“It’s trusted andtoexpert bench strength for many of Ottawa’s leading and diversity fromlevel. Deslauriers. “In addition, I’ve been companies. able the experience Take the first step to the next To read the full report, visit within our coaching circle.” Says King. to share some of the tools I’ve learned | Finance Human ”Seeing how others |apply theResources teachings | Operations | Intellectual Property | IT with my team so that they too can Sales | Marketing has provided me with new insights become more effective leaders in their and approaches to my leadership roles.” effectiveness.” The program brings together people who are in different stages of their career in coaching circles: For more information about Leadership for Success, please visit small groups where up to six program participants share their experiences of


4. 5.



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ooking to strengthen leadership in small and medium-sized businesses in Ottawa, the Stratford Managers Leadership for Success program is equipping individuals and teams with the tools and habits to achieve better business results. The purpose of the eight-month blended learning program – which includes self-assessment, monthly in-person workshops, small group coaching and online lessons – is to help participants dive deeper into the expectations of a leader and provide them with tools to better lead, motivate, delegate, coach, and communicate. While large organizations often have the resources to create internal leadership programs, small and medium businesses frequently find it difficult to prepare leaders for the next steps in their careers. “We really think we are revolutionizing the approach to developing leaders. We are enabling participants in our program to personalize it,” says Dean Fulford, leadership development practice lead at Stratford Managers. “Rather than us telling everyone how they’ll behave at the end of the program, we coach people to create their own goal for the program and draw connections to that goal from all the learning that takes place. What is more motivating than taking measured steps toward what you have defined as success!”

Aydin Mirzaee on the Ottawa tech scene’s evolution

T (613) 238-2022

Spring clean your books No job is too big or too small. Bank reconciliations going back months or years.

echopia Live went on tour recently to OneEleven Ottawa, the latest accelerator in the capital’s everchanging ecosystem. We sat down with entrepreneur Aydin Mirzaee, who’s running his new startup Fellow through the scale-up program, to hear how Ottawa’s tech scene has evolved over the course of his career. Mirzaee got his start as the founder of Fluidware, a form-building software company launched more than a decade ago. He told Techopia Live that he had to start the company from a two-bedroom apartment – back then, Ottawa didn’t have infrastructure and support services like OneEleven to house and groom the city’s most promising startups. “There wasn’t really this ecosystem,” Mirzaee said. “Now, when I bring candidates to come in for an interview, we look like a big company.” Fluidware eventually moved out of that apartment, growing into a 90-person company with offices on York Street before SurveyMonkey acquired the fledgling firm back in 2015. Today, the Silicon Valley tech giant has grown Mirzaee’s original team to more than 150 people and put down roots for its Canadian headquarters on Laurier Avenue, just around the corner from OneEleven’s Slater Street location. Mirzaee says SurveyMonkey quickly learned what the rest of the world is just starting to realize: Ottawa’s tech scene is

APRIL 2019

Migrating from one software to another.



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Aydin Mirzaee is the CEO of Fellow, a startup at OneEleven Ottawa. Photo provided

an undiscovered “treasure.” “The more they learned and the more that they understood what Ottawa has to offer, I think they liked what they saw,” he said. Mirzaee added that Ottawa’s underdog status is something startups should be using to their advantage. With the roaring success of Shopify and other growing tech firms in the capital, more large companies will soon come knocking on Ottawa’s door, making resources such as talent all the more scarce. At the same time, when he talks to investors about growing a company from Ottawa, Mirazee said he doesn’t have to explain where he is. People get it. “Ottawa’s now on the map. It’s not the Ottawa of 10 years ago,” he said.


Reducing wait times

How uOttawa engineering researchers are transforming healthcare

Quality healthcare starts well before a patient starts to receive treatment. Professor Daniel Amyot from the uOttawa Faculty of Engineering is working with a diverse team of software engineers, doctors and managers to find a cure for long wait times in hospitals. Using a combination of data mining and artificial intelligence called process mining, researchers look at data logs from Ottawa hospitals such as the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario to see how patients are transferred from one hospital unit or practitioner to another and then compare the process with expectations – all with the goal of reducing the amount of time patients spend waiting for treatment. “We want to create technology that can help doctors with the hundreds of decisions they have to make each day,” says Amyot. “We’re moving towards more evidencebased medicine, at the process level.”

Biotech, data analytics promising better quality of care for patients


area of research is growing new tissue. Natural polymers such as those found in algae and synthetic polymers that make up objects in our everyday life are being used to build tissues in a dish. “We modify the base material and build structures that encourage tissue regeneration in the lab,” says St-Pierre. “You need the right mix of chemical and mechanical properties to grow tissue. For example, if the tissue is soft, your material has to mimic those conditions from the human body.” Biomaterials can also be used to prevent further deterioration in the body. When these materials are placed in a patient, they send signals to the surrounding cells to delay or even stop the damage. “This research can work early in the disease,” says St-Pierre. “For example, if someone has suffered



a sports injury that is determined to have a higher likelihood of developing into arthritis because of the injury. If so, we could eventually use these materials to prevent any further damage.” To keep up with the latest developments in healthcare and technology, visit the Faculty of Engineering’s website at APRIL 2019

rthritis is one of this country’s most common illnesses, with nearly one in six Canadians suffering from the disease. There’s currently no known cure – something researchers in Canada’s capital are working to change. Jean-Philippe St-Pierre, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Engineering, and researchers at the St-Pierre Biomaterials Lab are exploring how biomedical engineering can ease arthritic pain. His team is working on creating regenerative tissue to replace damaged cartilage. “Arthritis is the most prevalent chronic disease without a cure in Canada,” says St-Pierre. “It is really rewarding working in a field where we can have an impact on the quality of life of individuals.” In biomedical engineering, one major promising




Patrick Houston knows all too well how quickly fate can deliver a knockout punch to a promising public company. The finance executive spent more than a decade at DragonWave, working his way up to chief financial officer in 2015. But during his tenure, the Kanata telecom firm saw its revenues plummet after it got hit with a pair of back-to-back blows: Nokia, one of its key sales channel partners, was acquired by DragonWave competitor Alcatel-Lucent, and then a product glitch destroyed the traction it had gained in the burgeoning foreign market of India. The two events wiped out 60 per cent of DragonWave’s revenues in just two years. By the time Houston left the firm in late 2017, both the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq had delisted its shares and the company was under foreign ownership. Still, his experience there, if humbling, also served as a valuable lesson in the importance of staying on top of market trends. “We were competing with some of the biggest companies in the world, and things change very quickly in that space,” Houston says. “Whatever strategy you have, you have to keep looking at it, challenging yourself and trying to stay ahead of the curve. What worked one year maybe doesn’t work anymore because of things changing in the market, so you have to keep looking outwards and adjusting as quickly as you can.” The Orl​éans native is betting that lesson will serve him well in his new job.



Patrick Houston/Calian After leaving DragonWave, Houston split time between up-and-coming local ventures Corsa Technologies and CanvasPop before joining professional services powerhouse Calian Group in January. In early March, the 38-year-old graduate of the University of Ottawa officially took the reins as Calian’s CFO, replacing well-respected industry veteran Jacqueline Gauthier. After some tumultuous years in the C-suite at DragonWave, Houston says he’s thrilled to join a firm that’s the epitome

of stability: Calian now tops $300 million in annual revenues, has churned out profits for more than 60 quarters in a row and has gained a reputation for making smart acquisitions that have expanded its services and customer base without breaking the bank. “Jacqueline and the rest of the team have done a tremendous job building up this company over many years,” he says. “When you look in Ottawa, from a stable, profitable public company (perspective), there aren’t many, and Calian is one of them. It’s certainly a tremendous base

to build on.” CEO Kevin Ford hasn’t been shy about his desire to see Calian aggressively expand its customer base beyond Canada’s borders. Houston says his time at DragonWave, which generated almost all its sales from foreign buyers, has given him plenty of insight into the dos and don’ts of penetrating global markets. “There’s usually more you don’t know than you do know,” he says with a chuckle. “You learn stuff and you adjust. Fortunately, I’ve been through a lot of those growing pains of trying to get into a new market and figuring out how it works, who the competitors are, how to price it, how to complete the transaction, the logistics around it, all those things. A lot of people talk about growing internationally ... but it’s harder to do it than to say it.” Though it’s one of Ottawa’s most successful public companies, Calian still flies under the radar, partly because its eclectic array of products and services ​– which range from operating healthcare clinics to providing IT and cybersecurity expertise –​ make it hard to categorize. Houston is eager to get Calian’s message out to the wider marketplace. “I’ll be going out there and telling the story to investors about the tremendous opportunity for growth at this company,” he says. “Growth is what really gets me excited in terms of taking a company to the next level. Hopefully, in four or five years, this company is a whole lot different than today, and hopefully I can help them get there.” – David Sali

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE Jeffrey Dale has been named CEO of the Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association. Dale has been a member of the EORLA board since 2013 and has extensive board and management experience in the technology, manufacturing, education, health-care and airport sectors and served as president of Invest Ottawa forerunner OCRI. A not-for-profit organization, EORLA provides laboratory services for 16 acute-care hospitals in eastern Ontario. Mark Taylor has joined United Way Ottawa as its vice-president of resource development. Before joining the United Way, Taylor served two terms as a city councillor for Bay Ward and was deputy mayor from 2014-18. Pierre Cyr has been hired as the new vice-president of public affairs at FleishmanHillard HighRoad. Cyr recently served as director of board and stakeholder relations at Canadian Blood Services. Prior to that, he was former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne’s executive director of operations. Sebastien Dignard has been named executive vice-president of member relations and services at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. A recipient of OBJ’s Forty Under 40 award in 2017, Dignard comes to the chamber after nearly six years at Munich-based imaging technology firm FRAMOS, where he served as president of its North American operations, FRAMOS Technologies. K. Scott McLean has joined Mann

Lawyers LLP as general counsel and director of practice management. McLean previously practised predominantly in corporate and commercial litigation in the Ottawa office of an international law firm. Mike Kuehn has joined TITUS as its chief revenue officer. Prior to joining TITUS, he served as vicepresident for Actifio, one of the world’s leading enterprise data-asa-service software providers.

HATS OFF The Ottawa International Airport was awarded first place in the category of Best Airport by Size and Region –​ North America for airports that serve between two million and five million passengers in the 2018 Airport Service Quality Awards. The awards program surveys departing passengers at airports, measuring 34 key performance indicators. In 2018, there were 376 participating airports in more than 90 countries. CowaterSogema, Daltco Electric, Donna Cona, Nanometrics, Raymond Group, Regional Group, Scalar and Wills Transfer have been named to Canada’s Best Managed Companies list for 2019. Now in its 26th year, Canada’s Best Managed Companies is one of the country’s leading business awards programs recognizing Canadianowned and managed companies for innovative, world-class business practices.

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Weathering the climate change storm Management expert Shalini Nagrani says small business has a huge role to play in combating the damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions SHALINI NAGRANI

APRIL 2019



Last October, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a dire warning: Climate change could trigger “unprecedented” changes to life on this planet by the year 2030. Disasters such as droughts and flooding could lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths, the panel said. Clearly, we can no longer ignore the impact of climate change on the environment. Now, you might ask: What can I possibly do as the owner of a small or medium-sized business to make a truly meaningful difference in curbing the effects of climate change? Quite simply, a lot. According to the Canada Revenue Agency, small and medium-sized enterprises make up nearly 98 per cent of all businesses in this country, employing two-thirds of Canada’s workforce. The people behind these businesses fight every day to keep their companies relevant as we prepare for the economy of tomorrow. In doing so, they develop the knowledge, skills and talents necessary to combat climate change in an efficient way. For too long, our key policy-makers have focused on broad strategies to curb greenhouse gas emissions at

the expense of practical solutions. It’s time for all of us in this country to roll up our sleeves and do what we can as individuals ​– and individual businesses ​ – to fight the devastating long-term effects of climate change. Everyone, especially those in small businesses, can make a huge difference. We no longer have the luxury of time to argue if we can afford it. We are out of time to debate who should lead the way. I am writing this as a representative of OpenConcept Consulting, a digital agency that has been delivering digital products in the Ottawa market for 20 years.

CARBON 613 Our company is a member of Carbon 613, a network of community organizations working to set targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. As a member of Carbon 613, each year we provide data on our usage of utilities such as hydro and natural gas and our air travel information. A Carbon 613 membership provides access to a carbon accounting tool that helps us measure our impact on the environment. Our belief is that by measuring that impact, we are already starting to change our mindset and behaviours. As a member of Carbon 613, every year we have to measure our impact, buy offsets and set goals for reducing our carbon imprint for the following year. There are times when we end up performing activities that contribute to

climate change ​– one relatable example is air travel. We measure our air travel impact with help from Carbon 613 in a shared document listing our flights, distance and number of people who travel. Once we know our air travel carbon footprint, we buy Canadianbased offsets through Less, a Bullfrog company. This money goes back into Canadian projects that are reducing our carbon footprint as a country. Less maintains that “offsetting is an imperfect solution to the complex issue of climate change” and is only offered as a last resort. OpenConcept is also part of a network of businesses looking to measure their social, environmental and cultural impact and find ways to enhance it. This network is known as the Certified Benefit Corporation community. By no means are we a perfect organization, doing all the right things for the environment 100 per cent of the time. We are human beings, and each day we make human mistakes. But through organizations such as Carbon 613 and the B-Corp network, we are making a sincere effort to be a force for positive change. I am not proposing that we as small business entrepreneurs need to be perfect, but I am suggesting we need to strive for it. If we all start believing we have a role to play in reducing climate change, then this mindset is the fuel for taking action. The impact of climate change on our future lives is too big, too urgent and too relevant for us to ignore. At this stage, it is much bigger than each individual, each business and (dare I say it) each government. Only if we work together, using our collective energy and expertise, can we do something that will change this trend within the next decade. As Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Shalini Nagrani is the general manager of OpenConcept Consulting and a part-time student pursuing her master’s degree in psychology.

Great River Media, 250 City Centre Ave., Suite 500, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 6K7 TELEPHONE Phone: 613-238-1818 Sales Fax: 613-248-4564 News Fax: No faxes, email PUBLISHER Michael Curran, 238-1818 ext. 228 CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER Terry Tyo, 238-1818 ext. 268 EDITOR, PRINT CONTENT David Sali, 238-1818 ext. 269 WEB EDITOR Craig Lord, 238-1818 ext. 230 HEAD OF CONTENT Peter Kovessy, 238-1818 ext. 251 CONTENT CREATOR & CAMPAIGN MANAGER Julie Sobowale, 238-1818 ext. 222 NEWS RELEASES Please e-mail to ADVERTISING SALES General Inquiries, 238-1818 ext. 286 Wendy Baily, 238-1818 ext. 244 Eric Dupuis, 613-266-5598 Victoria Stewart, 238-1818 ext. 226 CREATIVE DIRECTOR Tanya Connolly-Holmes, 238-1818 ext. 253 GRAPHIC DESIGNER Celine Paquette, 238-1818 ext. 252 FINANCE Jackie Whalen, 238-1818 ext. 250 PRINTED BY Transcontinental Qualimax 130 Adrien-Robert, Parc Industriel Richelieu Gatineau, QC J8Y 3S2 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR We welcome opinions about any material published in the Ottawa Business Journal or issues of interest to local businesspeople. Only letters with the writer’s full name, address and telephone number will be considered for publication. Addresses and phone numbers will not be published, but they might be used to verify authenticity. Letters can be e-mailed to

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PRESIDENT Michael Curran

All content of Ottawa Business Journal is copyright 2019. Great River Media Inc. and may not be reproduced in any form without permission of the publisher. Publisher’s Liability for error: The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for other errors or omissions in connection with any advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue or the refund of monies paid for the advertisement. A guaranteed minimum of 10,000 copies are printed and distributed.

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for gender diversity are respectively 35 per cent and 15 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.” This report, among others, shines light on the evidence that diversity drives innovation, and innovation helps drive bottom-line results. My conclusion? Diversity + inclusion = better business outcomes. Period. Business leaders and companies in Kanata North increasingly regard inclusion and diversity in their workforce as a source of competitive advantage and a key enabler of growth. The Kanata North workforce is comprised of individuals with many different mental and physical abilities, nationalities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities and perspectives. (Stay tuned, the Kanata North Business Association will have more to share on this!) Attracting, nurturing and retaining diverse talent is a source of opportunity for Kanata North. As Canada’s largest technology park, Kanata North is all about unprecedented growth and opportunity. Contributing $13 billion to Canada’s GDP and with more than 33,000 workers and in excess of 540 companies, we are Canada’s capital of technology and innovation. #SuccessHappensHere because our engine is our people, and their innovation (and diversity) is our strength.


I am putting a challenge out to our Kanata North business community to engage in and continue the conversation on how your organization can attract and hire diverse talent and foster diversity. C-suite and HR leaders set the tone at the top. Make diversity, inclusion and equity part of your core values. I also strongly encourage you all to share your successes and lessons learned. I look forward to exploring the topic of diversity and inclusion, creating more space for these conversations and, helping connect diverse bright minds to the many opportunities that are abundant in the Tech Park. Veronica Farmer Director of Operations, Kanata North Business Association


fter a whirlwind start to the year and the culmination of a successful week of International Women’s Day events, I took a moment to reflect on several recent conversations with individuals from the Ottawa and Kanata North business community – particularly those on diversity and, more specifically, how diversity positively affects business outcomes. We all know that having different perspectives at the table is good for lively after-dinner conversations. More importantly, we all intuitively know that diversity is good for innovation. At this point, most of you will say “show me the data.” Well, now there is more data to demonstrate that companies with more diverse, or inclusive, workforces see greater financial returns. In a 2018 report titled Diversity Matters, McKinsey researchers found “companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity and those in the top quartile


what’s inside

CONTENTS “Work hard, be fair (and) kind, contribute, join in, hate no one.” – TEDxKanata speaker Amy MacLeod, reflecting on the career advice she would give to teenagers preparing to enter a new world of work.


WHAT’S NEW, WHAT’S NEXT Upcoming events and key dates


KANATA’S TECH HISTORY New mural celebrates 60 years of innovation

8 PROFILE David Ritonja takes on global responsibilities from Nokia’s Kanata base 10 WHERE WE WORK Overcoming the talent shortage 12 WHAT WE’RE GEEKING OUT ON MASV takes on tech giants by accelerating file transfers 14 WHERE WE LIVE Kanata Tech Build looks to raise $100,000 16 BUSINESS BRIEFING News from Canada’s largest tech park





WHAT WE’RE GEEKING OUT ON MASV accelerates file transfer technology Page 12

WHERE WE LIVE Tech workers help construct homes for deserving families Page 14


Where Kanata companies find skilled workers in a tight labour market Page 10

The Kanata Networker is the official publication of the Kanata North Business Association. Learn more at

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what’s new - what’s next?

DISCOVER TECHNATA TECH EXPO & CAREER FAIR April 2, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Kanata’s fourth annual Tech Expo & Talent Hunt job fair is the largest of its kind in the area with more than 80 exhibitors and in excess of 2,500 attendees. As Canada’s Largest Technology Park and a vibrant tech hub, Kanata North has thousands of exciting job opportunities. Discover TechNATA connects talent with opportunity, providing a platform to spotlight those career opportunities and allow job seekers to meet with employers and recruiters all under one roof. Register at



A brand-new networking series, the Kanata North Kitchen Parties series was initially launched as a winter escape to get together with our tech-park pals. It’s a casual no-frills networking opportunity to meet neighbours and fellow employees in our business community. If your company is interested in hosting a Kitchen Party, get in touch with Alycia Douglass at KNBA and head over to our blog to read more about Kitchen Parties and why you should host one.


The Kanata North Business Association worked with the Wesley Clover Group to track down companies in the area to contribute some historic timelines, photos and memorabilia to be featured on the new technology mural on display in the Brookstreet Hotel lobby. The KNBA donated an updated version of its famous tech map to be part of the display showcasing the many technology firms in the area. The new mural presents a history of tech in the Kanata North business park spanning from the 1960s to today. Read more about it in the article featured in this issue.



The University of Ottawa has launched a new educational event series titled “uOttawa Innovates,” hosted in its new training facility in Kanata North. The events are a networking opportunity to connect the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Engineering with its alumni, industry partners, co-op employers and friends from the technology and innovation industry. Each event will bring in industry experts and professors specializing in different fields of study to present research and ethical engineering principles. Watch for more events in the upcoming months in our events calendar.


March 27, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Hire Immigrants Ottawa and the Kanata North Business Association invite you to a complimentary professional development opportunity on March 27. The HIO crosscultural competency training is designed to equip employers, HR professionals and people managers with practical skills, strategies and tools needed to increase cultural competencies and prepare workplaces for a culturally diverse employee base. Check our events calendar for details.

April 2, 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Carleton University’s READ initiative, KNBA and the Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) will host a breakfast with the theme “Talent, Diversity and Inclusion” at Discover TechNATA at the Brookstreet Hotel. The breakfast will include panel discussions and networking opportunities with our business community. Watch for details in our events calendar.


May 9, 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Nokia Powering the Inside Ride is a partnership between Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation and Nokia committed to making a difference in the lives of kids and families living with childhood cancer in the Ottawa region. Businesses in the Kanata North tech park are invited to put together a team and participate in this celebration of fundraising, an excellent team-building exercise for your employees. The Inside Ride is a one-hour, team-based indoor cycling challenge that raises money for Candlelighters Ottawa, a grassroots charity that provides support to young Children fighting cancer in Ottawa and their families. The event takes place under the big top on the Nokia Campus in Kanata North. For more details about registration and participation check our events calendar.


April 8 to April 10 The International Society for Professional Innovation Management will host a threeday event that will bring together world-renowned innovation managers, researchers and business thought leaders to share insights on specific local and global innovation challenges and management. Check our events calendar for details.


April 17, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The 18th Annual RE$EARCH MONEY conference will shed a spotlight on how Canada can maintain its research and talent strength while adding new policies and programs to accelerate business growth and increase the number of large Canadianowned multinationals. See our events calendar for details.


Innovators of Kanata North: New mural celebrates local tech history By Elizabeth Howell


The mural is designed to accommodate additional companies in years to come. At the end is space reserved for the 2020s that is currently blank, except for a quote by Matthews that reads: “Opportunities are through the roof for those who get it right, and if you think that the opportunities have ended, you’d be very much mistaken.” The aim of the mural is to provide visitors to Kanata a broad sense of the history and diversity of the region’s tech companies. The story of many of these Kanata tech firms is far from linear. Ownership changes, pivots and M&As are part of

the corporate histories of many of the region’s most well-known tech firms, such as Mitel and Newbridge Networks. Matthews says these are all signs of a healthy tech ecosystem. “Some (companies) are sold, some combined, some are started up. The important thing is to keep (the industry) active,” he said.


rom the early days of Northern Electric to current rising stars such as Martello, a new installation inside the Brookstreet Hotel is documenting Kanata’s rich tech history and showcasing the region’s innovation and achievements. Serial entrepreneur Terry Matthews helped unveil a new mural honouring the past 60 years of Kanata’s tech industry at a ceremony attended by some 75 people in early March. The multi-panel mural – titled Innovators of Kanata North – stretches more than 25 feet across the hotel’s

main floor, on the way to a Starbucks that companies in the local tech hub often use for meetings. The mural is broken up by decade between the 1960s and the 2010s, listing milestones of nearly 50 Ottawa tech firms including Mitel, DragonWave-X and Wind River. The first mural has a single entry about Northern Electric, which would later become Nortel and a central part of Ottawa’s tech ecosystem for decades. As visitors reach the 2010s, they read milestones achieved by Kanata’s current generation of tech stars, such as BlackBerry QNX’s 2017 on-road test of an autonomous vehicle – a Canadian first.



David Ritonja served as co-chair of Invest Ottawa for four years, during which time the organization moved into its current home at Bayview Yards. PHOTO COURTESY OF INVEST OTTAWA


Community builder David Ritonja takes on new global role at Nokia Former Invest Ottawa co-chair sees stronger ties between Kanata and downtown tech communities By Rosa Saba


avid Ritonja, a well-known leader in Ottawa’s tech community who has spent years helping the sector grow and diversify, has landed a new

job at Nokia that will see him take on new global responsibilities from the company’s Kanata base. Ritonja says the skills he developed at OCRI, Invest Ottawa and other organizations will be instrumental in

his new role as vice-president of market development in the Finnish telecom firm’s fixed networks division. Ritonja joined Alcatel-Lucent, which was acquired by Nokia in 2016, some 18 years ago. However, his career started as an air force engineer after studying at the Royal Military College of Canada. He went on to spend two years with a software startup before joining defence giant Lockheed Martin to work on mobile technology as the company diversified. “I started getting my feet wet into the whole networking side of the house,” explains Ritonja, adding that this was “during the crazy days of dot-com.” Knowing Lockheed Martin likely wouldn’t go as far in the networking space as other network-focused companies, he started looking around for opportunities and found one when

Nokia plans to add 237 new Canadian jobs – the vast majority of which will be located in Kanata North – as it develops 5G technology for mobile networks. The Finnish telecom giant made the announcement at its March Road offices earlier this year. The federal government will contribute $40 million alongside $12.4 million from Ontario’s provincial government. Additionally, Nokia said it is bringing its Bell Labs research division to Kanata to capitalize on work being done in artificial intelligence and other areas.

Alcatel offered him a position running research and development for the company’s DSL business. It turned out to be the right move. “As time went by, the business that we had for that type of product set in North America kept growing in status,” says Ritonja. A few years later, he took over leadership in Ottawa and has been there ever since. As technology continued to evolve, the company began working with bigger customers across North America.

“My responsibility grew beyond just the DSL business to effectively all our access technologies in North America,” says Ritonja. “It became very, very interesting.”



Even throughout the dot-com downturn, Ritonja says business was stable. He says the company culture at Alcatel, and now Nokia, suits him and has allowed him to stay with his family in Ottawa despite taking on increased responsibility. “The bosses that I’ve had have actually given me the opportunity and the autonomy to grow and do what I want,” he says. “There’s a lot of flexibility to grow into other roles in a large company without actually having to move.” That includes plenty of opportunities for development and growth, including in his new market development position. “I was at that point in my career where I was actually getting a bit restless,” admits Ritonja. “Maybe my boss sensed it. It was actually a timing that worked well on both sides.”

– David Ritonja, who was recently named vice-president of market development in Nokia’s fixed networks division. In his new role, Ritonja will be helping Nokia expand and diversify globally, identifying new markets and key sectors. “One of the strengths that I ... feel I brought to the table is truly understanding business development and understanding where markets are evolving,” says Ritonja. “It’s going quite well.” Ritonja is no stranger to the importance of diversification, not just for a company but for the tech sector itself. He joined the board of OCRI – the predecessor of Invest Ottawa – approximately eight years ago, and says the change in the tech sector post-boom took him by surprise.

“It was an immense eye opener for me to realize how our city had diversified already,” he says. “There’s an entrepreneurial nature in our community.” His belief in the importance of tech’s contribution to economic development in Ottawa led him to help facilitate the first-ever federal development grant to the city, which was used to encourage students to develop apps. The next step was for OCRI to transition into an organization with more of a focus: Invest Ottawa. “I think that was a good step for the city,” he says of the initiative. “What Invest Ottawa really allowed was a refocusing of what we needed to do.”

With Bruce Lazenby as Invest Ottawa’s first CEO – a “startup kind of guy,” Ritonja says – the Nokia executive served more than four years as the economic development organization’s co-chair. During that period, he says Invest Ottawa put itself on the map and helped build connections in Ottawa tech between downtown and Kanata North. “I believe that relationship has maintained itself,” he says. “I feel quite strongly about the progress that we’ve made and proud of it.” Looking back, Ritonja says he has seen Ottawa’s tech sector not only diversify, but also come together. “We weren’t as unified as we needed to be,” he says. “And I honestly believe as time has gone on, a lot of those barriers have come down.” Though Ritonja’s new role at Nokia has him thinking globally, he plans to stay connected in Ottawa as he uses the leadership and networking skills he gained here abroad. “I have just incredibly fond memories of ... contributing and feeling like I made a difference,” he says.

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where we work

Tight talent market no barrier to growth for creative Kanata companies Tech employers use co-ops, international recruiting and a new approach to workplace culture to find skilled staff

By Rosa Saba



n a winter day in Kanata North, red signs outside You.i TV’s office proclaim, “We’re hiring!” You.i TV isn’t the only Kanata North company with big growth plans. But many tech firms are finding it harder than it used to be to find the talent they need. STEM jobs are growing faster than any other sector in Canada, with demand increasing by 4.6 per cent compared to 1.8 per cent overall, according to the latest census data. But less than a quarter of students are graduating with STEM degrees, and the gap between need and talent is growing. According to a 2017 study by the Information and Communications Technology Council, by 2021 the demand for new tech workers will have reached 216,000 nationally. This means companies across Canada are vying for the talent they need to grow. Real estate services firm CBRE reported that Ottawa had the highest concentration of tech talent in the country in 2017, beating even Toronto. Ottawa’s talent is educated, but expensive, even though the city boasts lower rent and home ownership costs than Toronto or Vancouver. “It’s a highly competitive, day-to-day fight for talent. Not only in Ottawa, but in tech in general,” says Amy MacLeod, corporate diversity officer and vicepresident of strategic communications at Mitel. “You must constantly look and assess to make sure that you have those next-gen skills.” Despite the challenges, companies

Syntronic president Hans Molin says his firm has grown from 30 employees to 260 since 2016 and expects the company’s headcount to double in the next three years. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON in Canada’s largest technology park are hiring, often with great success.



Beyond prompting hiring managers to think internationally, Molin says the talent shortage is affecting workplaces in another way: “We can see headhunters are more aggressive in approaching our people,” he says. But rather than taking a defensive posture in response, Molin says it’s an opportunity to think more about how to keep employees engaged – a process that can even start before an employee’s first day of work. Molin says it’s important to keep the hiring process efficient, while allowing candidates to meet as many people as possible and really get a feel for the

“YOU’RE NOT JUST INTERVIEWING CANDIDATES ANYMORE. THE CANDIDATES ARE INTERVIEWING YOU.” – Steve Stanley, founder and managing partner, Newfound Recruiting


Tech companies also increasingly have diversity on the radar: Ottawa’s tech talent pool is less than a quarter female, according to the CBRE report. Skilled immigrants can also face obstacles in getting themselves into the job market. For example, Henry Akanko, director of Hire Immigrants Ottawa, says that many companies have “a lack of awareness

of the changing demographics and the labour market.” “This is usually shown in the type of recruitment processes and practices that (companies) have,” he says, adding that some of these practices are now falling short. Hire Immigrants Ottawa helps employers address the barriers they face in hiring and integrating immigrants into their workforce. “It’s hard for somebody who is new to the city to know all the employers,” he adds, recommending that firms review their policies and practices to identify gaps. Beyond more tech talent, a diverse talent pool brings a wide range of ideas and perspectives, as well as nuanced skill sets, says Akanko. “These are people you can tap into from all parts of the world.” MacLeod says one of the ways Mitel is trying to widen its hiring net is by closely examining the language of their job descriptions, as well as making a diverse set of employees part of the hiring process. “There are subtle things you can do that make people feel included,” she says, adding the company has “just scratched the surface.” MacLeod says it’s also important to explore different avenues for job advertising, and adds the company is exploring the possibility of partnerships with organizations that help new immigrants. As a global company, she says diversity is inherent in Mitel and an asset to the firm. “We’re used to working across cultures,” she says. Molin agrees, adding that any tech company can benefit from a workforce that represents its clients. “Tech is global,” he says. “Tech in Canada would not be where it is if we didn’t have that foreign talent.” Despite the competitive nature of the tech talent world, Molin says Syntronic puts a lot of effort into supporting organizations such as Invest Ottawa, and the Kanata North Business Association in the hopes of building up a robust community of tech talent from which all companies can benefit. “What we’re trying to do is to also get ourselves involved with customers, competitors (and) other companies to make Ottawa more attractive,” he says. “The more companies we can bring in to Ottawa, the more attractive Ottawa will be for high tech.”


Research and consulting firm Syntronic opened its Kanata location in 2014 with just 20 people, says president Hans Molin, who was responsible for launching the location. Between 2016 and today, the firm has grown from under 30 employees to 260, and they’re still hiring – Molin says he expects the headcount to double in the next three years. With an extra 6,000 square feet recently added to the firm’s previous 22,000, and another 12,000 available for fitting up, Molin is confident in Syntronic’s growth trajectory. “We are very good at hiring people and keeping people,” he says. But before a company can even think about extending a job offer and working to retain that employee for the long term, hiring managers need to find those skilled professionals. And, in a tight labour market here at home, that has many looking to recruit talent from not only outside Ottawa, but beyond Canada’s borders. One tool that Syntronic has

successfully leveraged is the Global Talent Stream, a federal pilot program aimed at helping Canadian companies recruit international talent faster. It’s specifically targeted at those companies that need highly skilled foreign nationals for unique and specialized skills in order to scale up and grow. Molin says the Global Talent Stream has been “very successful” for Syntronic, reducing hiring times from months to weeks.

company’s workplace culture. “Competence attracts competence,” he says. “We’re hiring our people full-time and we keep them busy.” Steve Stanley, founder and managing partner of Kanata firm Newfound Recruiting, agrees that in a competitive market, tech firms need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Stanley says his firm has been much busier as companies look for help finding employees. He finds himself advising companies to do more to differentiate themselves – workplace culture is key, and social media is the best tool to advertise your company’s culture. “You’re not just interviewing candidates anymore,” explains Stanley. “The candidates are interviewing you.” Stanley says it’s also important for companies to connect with local postsecondary institutions, piquing the interest of STEM students before they graduate with co-op placements and job fairs. Policymakers and major Kanata employers are paying more attention to developing and nurturing this pool of future job-seekers. In February, BlackBerry QNX said the company will receive $40 million in federal funding to support close to 1,000 co-op placements over the next decade, as well as to add 800 jobs.

what we’re geeking out on

Small startup, big files: MASV accelerates data transfer technology Competing against Dropbox and IBM, Kanata firm makes inroads with media and entertainment customers By Rosa Saba



nside the offices of LiveQoS, a small team is working away at a service that could make transferring large files over the internet a whole lot faster – and cheaper. MASV is a browser-based service originally intended for media and entertainment creatives that is giving the biggest names in file transferring a run for their money. David Horne, the vice-president of marketing for MASV, is the son of a well-known Ottawa tech leader. His father Martin is the CEO of LiveQoS, a network acceleration company. Though the younger Horne has a tech background himself, his main focus lies in digital marketing and strategy. After working at a startup called Blaze in Ottawa, he spent more than three years with Boston-based Akamai before Ottawa pulled him back. “I kind of cut my teeth in the startup scene,” says Horne. “With my dad being who he is ... I’ve always been drawn to the startup stuff.” Horne found himself at LiveQoS, where the company had started taking the technology they normally sold to large manufacturers and providing it

to end users. However, they quickly realized that though they had the technology, end users needed a product – and there was a whole client base waiting. “The media and entertainment space just kind of popped up as somebody who’s moving very large files on very tight deadlines,” explains Horne. “They really need to use the most out of their internet connections to be able to hit their deadlines.”


MASV was born out of that need: a browser-based, pay-as-you-go transfer service able to send hundreds of gigabytes of video files in a matter of hours. The first version, released almost two years ago, was simple: just a service clients used to send their files over an accelerated network. The second version had a new cloud provider, Microsoft’s Azure, as well as a portal function – essentially, the receiving end of the service. The third version, released in February, offers significantly more. Horne says he hopes 3.0 will be the version of MASV that really allows the product to take off.


“The two first versions were kind of testing the waters, figuring out what people wanted,” he says. The biggest change is that MASV 3.0 is built on an API, which means the service can integrate with programs

such as Adobe Premiere Pro or Slack. Deliveries can now be tracked in more detail, which is critical for the timesensitive nature of many media projects. The service is also customizable – media companies can upload their own

art to the mobile-friendly site, making the service professionally branded. MASV 3.0 also upgrades a previous 10 servers to a total of 160 around the world, making file delivery faster, and adds Amazon cloud servers to the mix. The service makes a big difference for small and medium-sized companies, as well as freelancers, explains Horne. One example he gives is a customer in Los Angeles on a 10-day shoot whose post-production company is in the U.K. The customer has to send around 400 gigabytes of data every single day. Their options before MASV were slim: they could ship a hard drive daily at a cost of about US$250, which can take a couple of days and isn’t always reliable. “There’s no customs on the internet,” notes Horne. They could use DropBox or Google Drive, but that takes time, too. (MASV is eight times faster than DropBox and three times faster than Google Drive.) Or, they could use one of the programs that offers a comparable service to MASV – but with a couple of caveats. The first is that any service comparable in speed to MASV (Horne

The MASV team developed technology to send hundreds of gigabytes in a matter of hours. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON mentions IBM’s Aspera and Signiant) is expensive. Until recently, both competitors were subscription-based, though soon after MASV was released, Aspera began to offer a pay-as-you-go solution as well, albeit at four times the cost of MASV. For larger enterprise customers such as broadcasters, this may not be a problem. But for small

companies and freelancers, the cost is prohibitive. Second, both Aspera and Signiant are UDP-based, meaning they operate much like a torrenting program. Both the sender and the receiver must have the program installed, which makes them less user-friendly. Furthermore, network firewalls often block UDP traffic.

“They have a really fast solution that works well, so long as they control both the networks that are using it,” explains Horne. This is fine for large networks, but not for freelancers or small companies filming all over the world. MASV’s solution is to be based in the browser instead, more like Google Drive or Dropbox. “We’ve taken kind of the best of both worlds,” says Horne. “We’re able to transfer really fast. But we’re highly compatible with whatever destination you’re trying to transfer from.” Horne is confident the third version of MASV will accelerate the product’s growth, especially since 3.0 will be easy to update regularly. Updates after 3.0 will include an app (currently being developed in partnership with Algonquin College), integrations with video editing software and other options such as pay-as-you-go cloud storage. The growth of MASV’s consumer base, Horne says, is likely to come from the clients themselves. “I’m a firm believer that the only way to build a really successful SaaS business is through word of mouth,” he says.


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Members of Kanata’s tech community will be teaming up to help construct a home for a deserving Ottawa family later this year. SUBMITTED PHOTO.

From hardware to home construction T By Rosa Saba

Kanata Tech Build looks to raise $100K for Habitat for Humanity

ech workers across Kanata North are rolling up their sleeves in preparation for the 2019 Tech Build, with a $100,000 fundraising goal in mind and an opportunity to give back to their community. Habitat for Humanity is a charitable

organization that helps deserving families own their own homes by engaging corporate sponsors, teams of volunteer workers and donors to build houses. To date, Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa has constructed 76 homes, and plans to finish another four and start another eight this year. “Companies love it. I think it’s a great equalizer,” says Alexis Ashworth, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa. “You’ve got everybody from executives to support staff, all swinging a hammer side by side.” Though this is Habitat for

Humanity’s first-ever tech build, it’s not the first time the tech community has participated in the organization’s work. In fact, Ashworth says the idea for a tech build came from the enthusiasm of two corporate sponsors, Cisco and IFS, over the past couple of years. “We thought, OK, we’ve got these tech companies that are sponsoring – why not make this into … a collaborative effort with the tech industry in Ottawa?” she says. “They have a great team-building experience with their colleagues.”


Both Marisia Campbell of Entrust Datacard and Jennifer Ross-Carriere of IFS participated in a build around 25 years ago, and are now on the advisory board for the 2019 tech build. Ross-Carriere first got IFS involved in a build two years ago. She says the team enjoyed the experience so much that the next year, they did two builds. Now, as part of the team making the tech build happen, she’s excited for more teams from the tech community to experience the same.

Alexis Ashworth is the CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa. SUBMITTED PHOTO. “One of our core values at IFS is to give back to the community,” she says. “Our people just loved it.” Unlike more traditional teambuilding events, Ross-Carriere says

the opportunity to work alongside colleagues on a meaningful project is something memorable and rewarding. “It gets people out of the office, which I think is really important to the community and exposes them to something they may not have seen,” she says. “You really do get a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.” Ross-Carriere has fond memories of build days with IFS teams, and says she’s looking forward to the 2019 build. “It’s a great, great way to just get out of your day-to-day space, and have fun doing something completely different,” she says. For Campbell, the memory of participating in a build years ago still stands out: “It was an excellent experience,” she says. Now, as part of the advisory board alongside other Kanata tech leaders, she hopes to get tech firms big and small involved. Corporate sponsors put together teams of 10 who spend a day onsite doing everything from installing insulation to laying down the lawn. Employees from smaller companies can put together their own peer-to-peer

teams, with a fundraising goal of $5,000. Ross-Carriere says she hopes to see tech workers from different companies working together on the build, since the tech community in Ottawa is already tightly knit. “We think it’s a great way to get the tech community together,” she says. “Similar to having different groups in our office work alongside each other, it’d be really fun to have lots of tech companies work together.” Both Campbell and Ross-Carriere say that the build days, where teams work on the construction site alongside the family that will live in the house, are often eye-opening. “You never know where people are coming from or what’s going on in their lives,” says Ross-Carriere. “It’s opened up a lot of good conversations in the office.” Campbell adds that many people aren’t aware of how much help is needed in their own community. “We always think outside the community, not always within,” she says. “Tech build is an exciting opportunity for the community to give back.”


Kanata North tech panel explains why it’s not just about women in business


More than 100 people turned out to Mitel’s offices at 350 Legget Dr. on International Women’s Day in March for a special panel discussing the importance of gender equity. Stratford Managers’ Louise Reid moderated a panel featuring Mitel’s corporate diversity officer and vicepresident of strategic communications Amy MacLeod, Martello Technologies CEO John Proctor, Magnet Forensics engineering manager Thusha Agampodi and Qlik development evangelist Tamimi Ahmad. The hour-long discussion was focused entirely on business – not just

Solink’s Cory Michalyshyn and Mike Matta.

women in business. Reid and the panelists broke down data that showed how valuable having a more diverse company can be in building a company. Proctor, who acknowledged that he perhaps stood out on a panel showcasing diversity, noted the importance of different skills and approaches to conflict resolution. MacLeod put it succinctly: men’s and women’s styles may be different, but the substance is the same. Ahmad, who spends many of his days at trade shows looking for feedback on Qlik’s products, said

having a diverse representation at public exhibitions draws people to the company. In turn, being more welcoming to a multitude of people means the company receives a wider range of feedback. Since launching Magnet Forensics’ Kanata R&D offices a few years ago, Agampodi has built the engineering team to more than 20, some 40 per cent of which are female. She noted the importance of hiring women leaders in an organization to show prospective candidates that there’s a place for people who look like them. Once they’re in the organization, she added, elevate them – employees who feel like they belong will stick around and become role models for the next generation.

Nanometrics named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies Nanometrics was recently recognized for its overall business performance and sustained growth by being named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies. The recognition honours companies that demonstrate strategy, capability and commitment to achieve sustainable growth. “We are proud of what we have achieved together, so it’s both humbling and exciting for us to be recognized in this way,” said Nanometrics CEO Neil Spriggs. The Kanata company has evolved from an engineering and manufacturing firm specializing in seismic instrumentation to a vertically-integrated service provider with geophysical data products based on scientific research and technologies such as artificial intelligence and cloud-based automation.

Solink raises $16M

Purecolo strikes IXP deal

Kanata company Solink, which develops surveillance video software, recently raised $16.3 million in series-A funding. The round was led by Valor Equity Partners. Also contributing were Generation Ventures, ScaleUp Ventures and the Business Development Bank of Canada’s IT Venture fund. All investors already had stakes in Solink, which currently counts around 60 people on its team. The funding will be used to “continue growing and developing the Solink platform,” according to the company’s press release. Solink’s software uses artificial intelligence to analyse video surveillance data and flag areas of concern in businesses’ daily operations. Customers include national brands such as Tim Hortons and Five Guys Burgers & Fries as well as financial institutions.

Data centre Purecolo has made an agreement with the Ottawa-Gatineau Internet Exchange (OGIX) to house an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in the nation’s capital. An IXP is a hub that helps companies, service providers and other stakeholders improve internet speeds and keep traffic local. Ottawa doesn’t have one – but soon, it could have two. OGIX, which includes representatives from Invest Ottawa, the Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks (CENGN), local ISPs and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, has been lobbying for an Ottawa IXP, which stakeholders say will be necessary for enabling smart-city technology and, eventually, autonomous vehicles. OGIX is also in talks with Fibre Centre to develop another IXP location in Ottawa.

accepted at the national competition, and received the award for best editorial image in the Ontario competition. Cain also recently became the vicechair of the Eastern Ontario Branch of the Professional Photographers of Canada.

Mitel laces up deal with L.A. Kings Mitel’s software will be at the heart of the Los Angeles Kings’ new cloud-based communications services. The Kanata company is using a platform from Frontier Communications to provide analytics to the hockey team’s sales department as well as facilitate communication between coaches, scouts and management. “When you’re competing, on and off the ice, you want to be ahead of the curve,” said LA Kings president and Hockey Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille in the press release.


Photographer wins national awards Kanata-based photographer Steve Cain of South March Studio recently won two awards for his work from the Professional Photographers of Canada. One award was for best portrait in the Ontario competition, and the other was for out-of-province photographer of the year in the Atlantic competition. Last year Cain had four submissions

Kanata North company Karman Interactive will soon have a boost to their 12-person team, as an acquisition by Ottawa studio Kindly Beast will see

the two firms join forces. Kindly Beast is the studio behind “Bendy and the Ink Machine,” a popular game series that propelled the company to success. Kindly Beast co-founder and CEO Mike Mood actually got his start in the industry at Karman Interactive, and later the two firms partnered on Bendy’s mobile spinoff. Karman co-founder Jon Keon told Ottawa Business Journal that he and the company are excited to be joining forces, combining the creativity of Kindly Beast with Karman’s business acumen.

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TEDxKanata speakers imagine bright futures for Kanata, Canada and the world Fifth edition of annual gathering aims to spark new ideas among 500 attendees


By Haley Ritchie


rom personalized medicine to artificial intelligence, today’s cutting-edge technology was nearly impossible to predict a generation ago. How do you navigate that? One strategy: take very detailed notes at TEDxKanata, where this year’s theme was “Imagine.” Eli Fathi, CEO of MindBridge Analytics, was one of eight speakers to take the stage, sharing his story of growing up with nine family members in a one-room apartment. No television,

no internet – and no way to imagine the AI tech that would someday become the foundation for his own successful company. “When I grew up, the world was different. There was no cellphone. There was no social media. Today each one of you has this at your fingertips,” said Fathi. “If you can imagine it, you can accomplish it.” The focus of the evening was the importance of looking ahead to the future, however unpredictable it may sometimes seem.

Dr. Phil Wells, head of the Department of Medicine at the Ottawa Hospital, shared the crystal ball potential of new technology in healthcare. Military veteran-turnedCEO John Proctor, of Martello Technologies, shared his insights from two different career worlds. Amy MacLeod, Mitel’s first corporate diversity officer, framed her talk as a question: what career advice would she give to a teenager facing an unknown future? Travelling back in time for an answer, MacLeod reflected on how her mother – who had no career outside the home – was still able to guide her children to success. “Change is going to happen. We have

no way of knowing what that will be. I’m no more qualified to offer advice than my mother was,” she said. “Work hard, be fair (and) kind, contribute, join in, hate no one. Value your values.” For some, including Shopify’s Anna Lambert and SocialRise CEO Connor Larocque, the theme focused on the challenge of maintaining values alongside emerging technology and social media. Lambert described how tracking her daily cellphone usage brought a change in perspective. In one week, she tracked five hours spent on Instagram – calculating that over time, those numbers would accumulate to 574 days of her life on the platform. “Are you kidding me?” she asked the audience. “I would never actively choose to give up those days. The thing that leaves me feeling most alive is real human connection.” Lambert emphasized that while social media can be an amazing tool, too much screen time can leave us feeling disconnected. As individuals and companies trend towards algorithms and online interaction, Lambert encouraged audience members to “put your phone down, use your brain and slow down” to remain “as human as humanly possible.” Katherine Cooligan, a partner at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, encouraged women in leadership positions to make bolder moves. Jim Perkins, founder of the Capital City Condors adaptive hockey program, shared his lessons on finding contentment. TEDxKanata organizer Roxanna Grecco said all 400 tickets sold out for the event, but the demand didn’t stop there. After sponsors and other lastminute attendees, the total number of attendees rose to more than 500. This year marked the fifth edition of TEDxKanata. Since it began in 2015, several other TEDx spinoffs have launched within neighbouring communities, but according to Grecco, TEDxKanata remains unique. “In Kanata North we have a wide variety of businesses. We have great speakers, and we have amazing leaders,” said Grecco. “We want people to be inspired, but we also want people to leave here thinking a little bit differently.”


Ottawa Senators Foundation launch online 50/50 draws Expansion of popular raffle will help Ottawa youth


oping to boost funding for youth programming, the Ottawa Senators Foundation 50/50 draw, which was previously restricted to fans attending live hockey games at the Canadian Tire Centre, is now available online. The 50/50 draw, which is conducted and managed by the Ottawa Senators Foundation, can now be played from anywhere in Ontario. “We want to enable fans to have that quintessential game experience while watching the game at home,” says Jonathan Bodden, the vice-president of corporate relations and fundraising partnerships at the Ottawa Senators Foundation. “By raising more funds, we’ll be able to support our programs in social recreation, education and healthcare.” Participants must be 18 years or older and by in the province of Ontario at the time of purchase in order to play. Winners are drawn at the start of the third period during Ottawa Senators home games. The addition of online tickets is part of the

Ottawa Senators Foundation’s efforts to raise funds for its youth initiatives. The Sens Summer Campership program sends 3,000 children to summer and day camps each year, free of charge. Funding also supports the Senators Sport and Leadership League, the only year-round sports league with no registration fee.

The foundation worked with Ottawa companies Shopify and the Canadian Bank Note Co. to create a website that would comply with strict provincial regulations and be user-friendly. A random generator is used to determine the winner. For more information about the 50/50 draw, please visit

Telethon raises $88,276 for Ottawa children



One in five Ottawa children live in poverty and don’t have access to sports or after-school programming. The Ottawa Senators Foundation is working to change that. On Feb. 28, the foundation partnered with TSN and Mitel to host a telethon supporting youth programming in recreational activities and mental health awareness. Through the telethon, the foundation raised $88,276. Besides youth and recreational activities, the foundation also supports mental health awareness. Project step – which stands for support, treatment, education and prevention – provides counselling resources to youth for drug and alcohol addictions in local high schools. Last year, the Foundation supported 53,800 children through its sports, mental health and recreational programming. To make a donation to the Ottawa Senators Foundation, please visit

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2019-02-26 2:24 PM

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