Ottawa Business Journal November 2019

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November 2019 Vol. 22, NO. 09





Jack Kitts ottawa-business-journal


Does your partnership agreement make room for a side hustle? Don’t limit your entrepreneurial passions with poor planning



he side hustle. Entrepreneurs are driven by the passion to create. The next great idea is always percolating. It is now common for people to juggle multiple business ventures simultaneously. According to a study released in September by Sage, a multinational software company, one in three working Canadians now manage their own side business. When you decide to act – to chase your innovation – you’ll want to know who gets to share in its success. It can be a real challenge to balance your existing obligations with your new pursuit. Individuals in a standard employment relationship have (or should have) a contract setting out the employee’s duties to their employer. Aside from those obligations, an employee is generally free to pursue (and own) their innovative ideas without ruffling their employer’s feathers.



Knowing where the goalposts are is a lot harder if you’re already in business with partners. Business partners have the liberty to decide what’s fair. It’s important to do so

early, and openly, so that each business can operate effectively. Deciding where one venture begins and the other ends is not something to leave to hindsight – lest your “partners” share in your success and run from your shortfalls.


If you or your business partner is starting another business, you both need to consider: • Time: What if the new venture starts to take up too much time at the expense of the existing business? • Expenses: Can supplies or materials needed for the new venture be

purchased through the partnership business? • Wear and tear: How should maintenance, repair and replacement costs be divided if equipment, tools or other resources are being used for both ventures? • Liability risk: Does the partnership business face additional risks if the new venture is, for example, using equipment with the partnership logo? • Out of bounds: How does a partner know where the lines between ventures are? “Side ventures are becoming increasingly common among entrepreneurs and business owners, as a means to get ahead and compete in the market,” says Caitlin Cardill, an associate with Nelligan O’Brien Payne. “Knowing where one venture ends and the next begins is a key to the success of both.”


Craig O’Brien, a partner with law firm Nelligan O’Brien Payne and leader of the firm’s Commercial Litigation practice group, regularly fields these kinds of questions with clients. He works in civil litigation, including commercial and construction litigation. “A partnership will succeed or fail. Either way, you need an agreement,” O’Brien says. He uses the example of Bev and Terry, two partners with a residential



foundation repair business. Bev also has roofing expertise and starts dedicating time to that business as well. Bev’s roofing business starts to outperform the foundation repair business. Bev dedicates even more time to roofing. Terry notices that the partnership business is suffering as a result. Terry becomes sour about the fact that he contributed more upfront capital into the partnership than Bev – including paying for the chromed-out, souped-up, partnership branded Ford F-150 that Bev is driving to her roofing jobs. So, Terry demands a share of the proceeds from the roofing business on the assertion that their business was a “construction” business, just like the foundation repair business, and therefore it falls under the umbrella of their partnership. Terry also bases his argument on the fact that Bev is using their partnership’s business truck for her “side hustle” ... notwithstanding that Bev is covering any resulting expenses for its maintenance and repair. “These kinds of situations often arise because business partners are operating without a clear partnership agreement or parameters,” says O’Brien. Effective partnerships, he adds, “need a roadmap for how to disagree agreeably.”


Craig O’Brien >

is a partner at Nelligan O’Brien Payne

One of the great virtues of operating a business as a partnership is that the partners decide what’s fair.

Caitlin Cardill >

is an associate at Nelligan O’Brien Payne

Busting 5 partnership agreement myths • It can wait until the business is successful: It’s better for all partners to put their cards on the table now and avoid misunderstandings later. A dispute between partners can arise at any time. • It’s rude to bring this up with my partner: It may be uncomfortable, but it’s to your mutual benefit. Having this conversation is the prudent and a wise thing to do. Leaving the tough talks to crisis time is much worse, and risks having others make the key decisions against your will. • It takes too much time: It frequently requires only a one-hour meeting with a qualified lawyer and a dozen or so emails back and forth. The more organized and prepared you are, the faster it will go. • It costs too much: Not really, given how little time it can actually take. For relatively little money now, you can have peace of mind. Without a sound partnership agreement already in place when you need it most, you could lose a lot more than the cost of advice. If you find yourself in court before a judge with your partners and have nothing to fall back on but a napkindrafted DIY partnership agreement and a string of emails, you could be in for a prohibitively expensive legal fight. • We can do it ourselves: Sure, you could, but you are taking a risk. Can you really trust boilerplate material from an Internet query to adequately address your current and future needs? What happens when you and your partner or partners (and the more there are, the more complicated it becomes) have disputes over specific parts of your DIY agreement? That’s when you will really see the benefits of the lawyer’s advice.




“People’s perspective of fairness is different looking forward to unknowns versus looking back at results. We tell clients that they control their own fate,” O’Brien says. “A proper partnership agreement allows freedom through structure.” A partnership agreement is not something to be done once and left to ferment. It needs to be reviewed at least annually; amended as needed. When disagreements arise – as disputes should in any healthy partnership – an agreement drawn up with the help of a lawyer keeps a conflict from devolving into messy litigation. A solid partnership agreement is the difference between a couple of awkward and complex litigation punctuated by DIY agreements or deals “proven” by email threads and text chats. In the emerging “gig economy,” side hustles are increasingly common and appealing. O’Brien and Cardill agree that anyone already engaged in a business venture should expect themselves or their partners to start side hustles sooner or later. It is in their long-term strategic interest to take the time and consult with a trusted legal advisor so that they can craft a partnership agreement that incorporates this growing trend. “You want to put the framework in place to contain your liabilities – and plan for runaway success,” Cardill says.


Cardill, who also practices in civil litigation, including commercial and construction litigation, cites another example. Sam has developed software and partners with Ashley for sales. Ashley thinks she has exclusive rights to sell all of Sam’s apps. Sam creates a new, game-changing app and asserts the sales deal with

Ashley only applies to the other apps. Ashley believes Sam is trying to pull a fast one sidelining her from what should be their partnership’s success. Sam believes that the deal with Ashley was to sell a specific product and the new app isn’t included. Sam and Ashley are business partners, but the scope of their partnership isn’t clear. With a comprehensive partnership agreement, they would each know whether Ashley gets a cut, and should try to sell the new app. “In an innovation economy, boilerplate is the enemy,” says Cardill. “A thoughtless agreement can be worse than no agreement at all.” She adds she often runs into situations where partners in a business have tried to go it alone without legal advice using material they have found on the internet. “Without a lawyer to help you and your partners ask the right questions, odds are that issues will pop up that you never considered” says Cardill, “that’s usually where things get ugly.”









Way back in 1992, in a U.S. presidential election featuring Bill Clinton and George Bush, political strategist James Carville coined the phrase “the economy, stupid” to bring clarity and purpose to Clinton’s campaign. It worked. Not only was Clinton elected the 42nd president of the United States, the U.S. economy entered a period of uninterrupted growth. The U.S. government even recorded a budget surplus from 1998 to 2001, its first since 1969. Imagine that. Sure, you can argue about how much any government controls a country’s economy, but Clinton’s campaign priority ultimately led to a rejuvenation of the American economy based on a centrist political philosophy that kept economic growth as its firm foundation. Contrast that sharp focus with Canada’s federal election campaign, where serious discussion about the economy was almost entirely absent. The Liberals floated vague notions about “building a green economy” and cutting taxes for companies with zero emissions. (By the way, the federal Liberals might want to check with their Ontario counterparts on such an idea. Ontario taxpayers have paid dearly for a provincial green energy plan that, according to experts, was a colossal failure. Billions of wasted taxpayer dollars.) The Conservatives talked about ending corporate welfare and budget cuts to slowly bring the budget back into balance. With all due respect to our political leaders, those are not bold, transformational ideas that are clearly defined, with measurable goals and realistic timelines. If plans to significantly grow the economy were obscure, the same cannot be said about spending. Federal

G v ng Guide


political leaders were crystal clear on their spending priorities. Consider, for example, the Liberal and NDP support for a national pharmacare system. (The Parliamentary Budget Office estimates this cost at almost $33 billion annually.) And what of the Liberals’ plans for a balanced budget? It would appear they have abandoned any such goal, instead opting to increase the deficit to $27.4 billion in the next fiscal year. So what are business leaders to make of all this? Should they throw up their hands in despair? No. On the contrary, their input on economic strategy and fiscal prudence is needed more than ever. CEOs live in a very different world than politicians. You grow or you die. Revenue growth outpaces spending increases or companies fail. It’s honestly that simple. In a minority parliament where politicians will get into horse trading involving billions in spending, business leaders need to be the voice of fiscal reason. They need to engage politicians to help Canada build competitive advantage that takes us beyond a resource-based economy. Yeah, it’s the economy, stupid. Don’t take it for granted.

Connecting charities with the region’s business leaders, the Giving Guide highlights corporate philanthropy opportunities in the region and provides valuable resources on corporate social responsibility best practices. Officially launched at the Ottawa Philanthropy Awards in mid-November, the Giving Guide can be found on OBJ newsstands and on ENGAGING YOUTH LEADERS


PLUS: Peter Nicholson, the founder and president of The Foundation (WCPD), on why we’re in a golden age of philanthropy.





How can you improve employee OTTAWA’S BEST WORKPLACES engagement? Read the stories behind this year’s Employees’ Choice Award recipients and learn how to foster a positive workplace culture in the fall edition of HR Update inside this issue of OBJ. The local leaders in employee engagement





@objpublisher Michael Curran

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 to place your order. It’s a nominal fee of $8 per month to get 1-25 copies of OBJ hand-delivered. 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.

NOV. 5

Ottawa’s economic boosters have long said this city needs to build a stronger brand. In a global economy where innovation and technology no longer provide the kind of competitive advantages they used to, cities must identify and exploit their distinct attributes to stand out. Developing and communicating an authentic, cohesive city brand can provide an impetus for economic growth. To deliver that message, one of the world’s leading experts in city marketing and place-branding is coming to Ottawa for this year’s Ottawa Economic Outlook luncheon. Frank Cuypers from Destination Think! will use international examples and Ottawa’s Place DNA project to describe how strategic city branding can enhance reputation and drive economic prosperity. The event also includes Aaron Goertzen, senior economist and vicepresident for BMO, who will provide his economic outlook for Canada, Ontario and this region. Mayor Jim Watson will speak about economic development highlights from 2019 and look forward to 2020 priorities. The luncheon takes place at the Shaw Centre. More info is available at

NOV. 12

The Right Hon. David Johnston, Canada’s 28th governor general, will be guest speaker at the next Mayor’s Breakfast. Prior to his installation as governor general, Johnston was a law professor for 45 years, served as president of the University of Waterloo for two terms and was principal of McGill University for three terms. He is also the first non-U.S. citizen to chair the Board of Overseers of Harvard University. At the Mayor’s Breakfast, Johnston will participate in an interactive discussion about his book “Trust: Twenty Ways to Build a Better Country.” The book has been called a “much-needed manual for the repair and restoration of the social quality on which all democracies rely.” Following the presentation, Johnston will sell and autograph copies of his book. The breakfast event takes place at Ottawa City Hall. For more info, go to

NOV. 22

Daniel Goldberg

Dr. Jack Kitts

It’s the highlight of the fall business calendar in Ottawa, when business leaders from all sectors come together to recognize and celebrate business achievement. Many of the city’s most distinguished business awards will be presented at the event: CEO of the Year, Lifetime Achievement and CFO of the Year. Awards are also presented to Best Companies, Best New Companies, Best Performance, Deals of the Year and more. OBJ and the Board of Trade have already pre-announced key awards to Dan Goldberg (CEO of the Year) and Dr. Jack Kitts (Lifetime Achievement Award). Network with a who’swho of Ottawa and get inspired by remarkable stories of business success. More info is available at


NOVEMBER 22, 2019


Please update your records - we will be moving to 290 Picton Avenue, Suite 203 this October. Our phone number and email will not be changing.


The Westboro Village BIA office is moving.

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Local group strikes deal for Champions A group of local businessmen says it’s reached an agreement in principle to buy the struggling Ottawa Champions baseball club. Rob Abboud, portfolio manager with Wealth Strategies, Fred Saghbini, a project management consultant, and Rob Lavoie, the regional operations manager of Play it Again Sports franchises across the city, told OBJ they are closing in on a deal to purchase the beleaguered pro franchise from owner Miles Wolff. Terms of the deal were not released, but the agreement is contingent on the buyers reaching a new long-term lease at cityowned Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton

Park. The city cancelled the team’s 10-year lease agreement to play at the 10,000-seat ballpark midway through last season and switched to a game-by-game payment structure after the club fell more than $400,000 behind on rent. The Champions joined the independent pro Can-Am League in 2015 and captured the league title the following season. But the team has failed to catch on at the box office, drawing fewer than 1,800 fans per game in 2019. Abboud told OBJ he believes the club can be a winner on the field and off with the right marketing approach. “I’m confident that it would be a

profitable franchise,” said the longtime baseball fan. “We’re looking forward to working with the city to attain the lease.” Wolff, who’s owned the Champions since their inception, had also been in talks to sell the team to a group backed by the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball club that included the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, owners of the CFL’s Redblacks. But he said that consortium felt it couldn’t secure a new lease at RCGT Park in time to field a team next season, and he felt a one-year layoff could deal a critical blow to the Champions’ hopes for long-

term survival. Which league the Champions will play in remains to be seen, however. The Can-Am League recently announced that five of its former members are merging with the independent Frontier League to form a single 14-team loop starting next spring, but the new league’s roster does not include the Champions. Abboud said his group is pursuing other options for 2020 and beyond, adding he hoped to make an announcement soon on which circuit the Champions will be joining.





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Kanata’s InGenius acquired by Texas firm in $29M deal A long-running but rapidly rising tech firm in Kanata has been acquired by a company south of the border in a deal the firm’s CEO believes will help the business reach new levels. InGenius Software said in October it has been acquired by Texas-based Upland Software. The Kanata firm sold for $26.4 million in cash at closing, with an additional $3 million coming in a year’s time, subject to indemnification claims. InGenius develops software for contact centres that connects phone systems to clients’ CRM systems, such as Salesforce. The 70-person company has been on a roll as of late, making the Growth 500 list of Canada’s fastest-growing companies two years in a row with three-year revenue growth of 540 per cent. InGenius counts the likes of Expedia and LinkedIn among its clientele.

InGenius got its start in the 1990s as an R&D consultancy working with local customers such as Nortel and Telesat. Dale Gantous, the firm’s CEO for the past 26 years, said the company realized a few years ago that the market was looking for a way to integrate phone systems into CRM platforms to provide salespeople with realtime insights about who they were calling. Since then, the company’s growth has taken off, and InGenius recently hit $10 million in annual recurring revenue. Gantous and Rich Loen, the company’s founder, decided the firm needed a strong partner with substantial industry contacts that could get InGenius into conversations at the CIO level of Fortune 500 companies. They had been meeting with investors for the past year, and ultimately decided Upland was the right suitor to take InGenius into the future.


Partners file plans to redevelop Kanata Golf and Country Club The owner of the Kanata Golf and Country Club has unveiled its contentious plan to redevelop the 71-hectare plot of land in the city’s west end, but nearby residents are vowing to “vigorously” fight the proposal to build up to 1,500 housing units on the site. ClubLink, which has owned the golf course since 1996, is working together with local developers Minto Communities and Richcraft Homes on a redevelopment plan that would see slightly more than half of the existing golf course property turned over to housing, with another 27 per cent earmarked for green space and the remainder for new roads. The proposal calls for up to 1,500 new residential units

divided among single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. ClubLink and its partners initially revealed back in December that they were planning to replace the golf course with a mix of housing and parkland. They officially filed the development application at City Hall in early October. Robert Visentin, ClubLink’s senior vice-president of investments, said ClubLink needs to look at ways of making its operations more financially viable over the long term. The new development will provide green space and recreation opportunities such as cycling paths and walking trails that will be accessible to residents 365 days a year, allowing the property to become “much better utilized,” he said. “That’s not happening today.” But opponents of the project say it will lead to more traffic congestion in the Kanata Lakes and Beaverbrook communities and put more strain on public infrastructure such as roads and schools.


Dr. Haakon Nygaard, Fipke Professor in Alzheimer’s Research Learn how we’re shaping the future at The potential is yours.



UBC – Potential is Yours

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embracing and relying upon the support systems around me. I have come to realize, from more experience over the course of my career, that we accomplish less by attempting to do it all ourselves. It is the sum of the parts – the collective community that we all have around us – that propel us forward.” Petten returns to work full-time in November as the president and executive director of the KNBA, after giving birth nearly a year ago to her baby boy Braedon (who now tops her list of life’s greatest accomplishments). She’s been working part-time for the past couple of months, just to ease her transition back. The Kanata North Business Association is a group of companies working to promote the area as Canada’s largest tech park. It’s home to more than 500 businesses and provides jobs for more than 33,000 people in the park and the immediate surrounding area. It’s led by a board chaired by 2019 Businesswoman of the Year finalist Amy MacLeod. “It’s an amazing honour to represent the businesses here in supporting their needs as they continue to grow,” says Petten, a 2018 Forty Under Forty Award recipient. “We have businesses from startups, SMEs, all the way up to multinational global corporations.”


Leaps of faith pay off for Petten Kanata North Business Association’s boss credits support of family and friends – as well as a strong work ethic – for helping her meet challenges head on NOVEMBER 2019





t’s funny how life works sometimes. During the same week Jamie Petten interviewed for the top position at the Kanata North Business Association, she also learned she was pregnant, causing her to question whether she could concurrently handle two big challenges: motherhood and the demanding new job that she was subsequently offered.

Of course she went for it. If there’s one thing Petten has learned, it’s that she’s not taking her giant leaps of faith alone. “By leaning on the support of those closest to me along the way, from mentors to colleagues to family and friends, I trusted that it would all work out,” she says during an interview at KNBA headquarters at 555 Legget Dr., in the Kanata North Business Park. “It’s the first time in my career that I’ve shifted my priorities in this way, fully


Petten, 30, grew up in Kanata, having moved to the west end of Ottawa with her family as a young girl. She graduated from Holy Trinity Catholic High School before earning a degree at the University of Ottawa, with a double major in communications and psychology. Early on, her parents instilled in her a strong work ethic. “If there were things that I wanted, I had to work to buy them,” says Petten. She remained employed throughout university at a pair of day spas located in the city’s west end. She was hired to do reception and administrative duties but took over the communications and marketing for the owners, Christine Cohen and husband Shane Cohen.



Her greatest role model is her mom, Anne Keeley, a former nursery school teacher who later became an entrepreneur by developing materials for early childhood educators.


Her father is retired deputy Ottawa police chief Ed Keeley, who sat for many years on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.


In 2016, Petten married her high school sweetheart, Jon, who works within the federal government and will be taking six months’ paternity leave to care for Braedon. “He’s just been the most supportive partner,” she says.


Petten was a figure skater growing up. She began at age five at the Glen Cairn Skating Club and coached when she was older.


She’s really into interior design. She shares the passion with her younger sister, Shannon Holbrook, a freelance hairstylist. They live just a few streets away from each other in the west Kanata neighbourhood of Arcadia.

After Petten graduated from uOttawa, she had the opportunity to get involved with the Cohens’ dream of building a beachside villa resort along with a restaurant and day spa in Negril, Jamaica. Petten travelled quarterly to Jamaica, spending several weeks at a time working there. The experience was not all rum punch and reggae. It was also hard work. “It was my first foray into working for a startup, a company that was being built from the ground up, on a Caribbean island no less,” says Petten. “I will not lie – the early days of operating the business were very challenging. We really did not have any experience – none of us – in running a hotel in the Caribbean.” The owners’ focus and attention to customer service and creating highly

Notice of Appointment

I have come to realize, from more experience over the course of my career, that we accomplish less by attempting to do it all ourselves.

Léo Duguay, Chair of Tree Canada Board of Directors Tree Canada is pleased to announce the appointment of Léo Duguay as new Chair of the Board. Léo served as Vice-Chair of the Board for the past 3 years and joined the Board in October 2011. Mr. Duguay’s tenure as Chair will help guide the organization into its next 5-year strategic plan.

– Jamie Petten, president and executive director of the Kanata North Business Association

personalized experiences for guests “slowly but surely” earned The Spa Retreat Boutique Hotel the top spot on TripAdvisor, says Petten. “It was an amazing experience and I think I learned quite a few things about myself. No. 1 is that, from a career experience, I love to build business from the beginning. Every new challenge that was presented to me was a problem to solve.” But after four years, she was ready for her next challenge, preferably with a startup company in Kanata. Petten, who had no background in the tech industry, started emailing and cold-

calling around. Again, it was another leap of faith on her part. Eventually, she landed a marketing position in the world of startups, venture capital and tech with what would become Canada’s leading enterprise software accelerator, L-Spark. For the next four years, she worked alongside founding directors Leo Lax and Patrick White with L-Spark’s member companies, helping them to grow and achieve that next level of success. From spas to hotels to high-tech, one wonders if Petten has any more big leaps to make. She does. “I hope to be running my own company one day.”

Léo has served as a Canadian politician, educator, an active community member and school administrator in Manitoba. As a Progressive Conservative party member of the House of Commons of Canada, he was a representative on the Human Rights Committee at the United Nations 40th Assembly. Prior to joining the Rothwell Group, Léo held the position of Senior Vice President with a major international public affairs firm where he provided government relations counsel to a range of industry sectors. Léo is a member of both the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame and the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.


We do not do estate planning, tax consulting, accounting, create trusts, sell insurance, or help you sell your business. We do not arrive with teams of young people to address the challenge of business transition. At least 25% of family businesses fail once they are transitioned to the next generation. Our company goal is simple: take that number down to 0%. In fact, our preference is to help family businesses grow beyond their current state by assisting current and future owners: Update or build Family Charters as a touchstone for meaningful decision-making

Select the most appropriate family members for specific roles

Continue to develop future company leaders, whether family or non-family, to be high performing leaders

Update company strategy to take advantage of new markets, technology, innovative practices and recruiting/retention strategies which are best of breed…leading to exponential growth

Ensure alignment of the company and leadership culture with its strategy

How and where we have accomplished this is likely of interest to you. We would be pleased to meet on a no-obligation basis.

At Baker Tilly Ottawa, we offer hands-on partner involvement and practical tax strategies to more effectively plan and manage your business. Helping your business prosper and grow

Start the conversation 613.820.8010

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Feel free to call for a no-obligation interview (+1.647.290.1300) and visit our website at: • Ottawa • Toronto • New York City • South Florida

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Helping you succeed


This BCom degree connects you with a world of experience Student clubs ensure a well-rounded education at uOttawa’s Telfer School of Management


uilding a foundation for a rewarding career in the business world takes more than just a top-notch classroom curriculum. Students need the opportunity to build professional and personal networks, work with inspiring mentors and be recognized and rewarded for their academic achievements. Equally important is the chance to apply what they have learned under practical and real-world situations before they graduate. The University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management take this to heart with all of its students, particularly those who are pursuing their Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree. Thirteen on-campus clubs provide a variety of learning, mentoring and networking opportunities. That means Telfer BCom students benefit from the best of all worlds. They can pursue their degree in the nation’s capital with competitive tuitions and take advantage of all that these clubs have to offer.

Isabelle Décarie joined Telfer as its first official manager of student experience a year ago. It is her job to ensure each Telfer student feels welcome and engaged. Clubs play a huge role in her work. “We tell students, ‘we are with you on this journey until graduation and then we expect you will become engaged alumni,’” Décarie said. “It’s an honour to work with these students because they get so involved in our clubs and show such dedication. And then we have that big alumni community that wants to support students on-campus through our clubs and after they graduate.” STUDENTS STEP UP FOR CHEO One notable student club at Telfer is CASCO, which operates as a registered Canadian charity with an annual budget in the six figures. CASCO was founded in 1998 by two students who wanted to show support, raise money and honour a dear friend who had passed away from Leukemia. Each year,

GET INVOLVED AT TELFER Telfer has 13 clubs that, in addition to CASCO, include:


Enactus: A global non-profit with chapters in countries across the globe that aims to empower students to use entrepreneurial action to create a better world for us all.


Visit OBJ.CA/ OBJ-DIGITAL-EDITION to view the digital edition for exclusive features

The Entrepreneurs’ Club: A student-run organization that aims to bring like-minded students and professionals together to create an inspirational atmosphere for start-up ideas and pioneering opportunities. The Club organizes the annual ELLE (Excellence in Leadership, Legacy in Entrepreneurship) Gala, which recognizes the work of women entrepreneurs and leaders who are fighting to break the glass ceiling. This year’s gala in September featured a keynote from former governor general Michaëlle Jean. Learn about all of Telfer’s student clubs and associations at under “Get Involved.”



CASCO president Michaela McLoughlin, left, with Isabelle Décarie, the manager of student experience at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management CASCO hosts a soirée comprised of song, dance, and fashion that raises funds for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). To date $625,000 has been raised. BCom students make CASCO work. They can apply to join one of six CASCO teams and tackle any area of responsibility, regardless of their major. This ranges from soliciting sponsor and donor support by making real pitches to actual companies, to marketing and event management, and ensuring the books are up to snuff for the annual audit. “Students get to apply for what interests them and get real-world experience by applying aspects of their education to working for a non-profit,” said CASCO president Michaela McLoughlin. “This takes them beyond focusing on just getting good grades to building incredible relationships throughout the Telfer network and the community.” LEARN MORE ABOUT TELFER’S BCOM Telfer offers a rich variety of other experiences to open doors and ensure each BCom student’s education is well-rounded. These include the co-op program and the executive mentoring program, which is now in its ninth year. Learn more at




‘We need to build more companies over the long term’ Canadian Business Growth Fund CEO and Ottawa native George Rossolatos says a lack of patient capital is condemning too many of this country’s startups to quick deaths –​ a fate his fund is determined to help its members avoid





rowing up in Ottawa, George Rossolatos received a daily education on the challenges facing small businesses in Canada. His father Nick was the owner of Nick’s Service Centre, a garage at the corner of Richmond Road and Tweedsmuir Avenue in Westboro. An engineer by training, Nick Rossolatos turned to business after Canadian authorities wouldn’t recognize his educational credentials when he immigrated to the country from Greece in 1967. For the next three decades, the elder Rossolatos toiled away at his service station. George helped out in the summers while earning a commerce degree at Queen’s University, and later embarked on his own career as an entrepreneur after a four-year stint at EY’s Ottawa office. After seven years as CEO of Torontobased tech security firm Avante Logixx, George Rossolatos decided to put his experience to work helping other emerging startups find their own paths to growth. In 2018, he became the head of the Canadian Business Growth Fund, a national VC fund backed by 13 of the country’s largest banks and insurance companies.

Now worth more than $500 million, the Toronto-based fund provides longterm investments of between $3 million and $20 million to enterprises with highgrowth potential. The eight companies currently in its portfolio include startups from as far away as Victoria but none in Ottawa. Rossolatos, 47, is determined to change that. He recently spoke to OBJ about why his hometown is high on the list of places he’s targeting for the fund’s next round of investments. What follows is an edited transcript of that conversation. OBJ: How did you come into your role as head of a startup investment fund? GR: To go way back, I went to Ernst and Young to do a CA (chartered accountant designation), which is now a CPA (chartered professional accountant designation), and got exposed to a lot of small and medium-sized companies in my role there in Ottawa. That, combined with my upbringing, which is in a small business environment –​ my dad started a business as an immigrant to Canada –​ I just had this passion for entrepreneurship. Eventually I did an MBA in the States and joined a private equity fund, where I got to meet

entrepreneurs all day long and invest in those companies. After 10 years on the control private equity side, I decided I wanted to run my own company (Avante Logixx, where he served as CEO before being approached to run the Canadian Business Growth Fund). It just really resonated, given everything I’d done to that point. It was kind of a combination of my passions in one role, and I jumped at it. We started from scratch, and five months later we closed on $545 million. A year and a bit later, we are eight investments in, invested just under $90 million … and (we’re) really making an impact.

to five years. That’s not a long time to build a company, and we lose a lot of our intellectual property and our companies get sold to foreign buyers. Our thesis is we need to build more companies over the long term and keep those entrepreneurs in control of their companies longer. So, we’ve come to market with this fund, which is not only evergreen – which means that we don’t have to force (owners) to sell – but two, we’re only looking to buy a minority interest in companies. We want that entrepreneur to stay in control of their company so that they control their own destiny.

OBJ: What’s the idea behind the fund? GR: The thesis for the fund was that (in Canada) we have venture capital that helps start companies, we have buyout capital that buys control of them, but great companies aren’t built in the three- to five-year cycle that most private equity funds operate in. Great companies are built over 10 years, 15 years, sometimes longer, and there’s very little patient capital in Canada to take a company and help them grow over the long term. Because of the way funds are structured, they’ve got to look at forcing exits in generally three

OBJ: What sorts of services do you offer in addition to capital? GR: We’ll bring help to the table, we’ll bring relationships to the table, we’ll bring a network, we’ll guide them through some of the challenges of growing. I think it’s easy to say, ‘We don’t have enough talent in Canada, enough CEOs, enough VP sales, enough VP marketings.’ Well, we’ve got to grow them from somewhere. No CEO of a big company has just jumped into that role. They were at one time the CEO of a small company. I don’t think we do enough to mentor our young

entrepreneurs so that they become able to take their companies public and stay in charge and become able to do acquisitions and integrate them. Those skills aren’t just inherent. They have to be taught and mentored. That’s part of our mandate. We bring that advice to the table. We let them run their company, but we try and help them through some of these challenges. Most entrepreneurs in Canada would rather have a Canadian partner, and we give them this longterm, patient minority Canadian partner option. It’s really resonated so far.

A manufacturing company in the Ottawa Valley that’s growing at 25 per cent a year is just as important to the Canadian economy as a fledgling technology company growing at 60 per cent a year.

OBJ: What sorts of up-and-coming startups have you seen in Ottawa? GR: You have your range of companies. There are some manufacturing companies that are quietly growing at 25 or 30 per cent a year that are sizable, that are outside of the Ottawa core but are selling internationally and have really great opportunities if they (get) a little bit more capital. The AI companies I met were very impressive. And then there are the technology-enabled businesses that aren’t necessarily building new technology but are using technology to enable older-economy businesses. Ottawa’s really unique in that we’ve got this range of (industries). It’s known

for its tech community – it gets a lot of publicity for it and rightfully so – but there’s such a range of businesses in the Ottawa area, I think all of which are underserved (by the capital markets). A manufacturing company in the Ottawa Valley that’s growing at 25 per cent a year is just as important to the Canadian economy as a fledgling technology company growing at 60 per cent a year. SMEs create such a disproportionate number of our jobs in Canada – upwards of 90 per cent of our new jobs. We really have to focus our efforts on those companies that are under 500 employees and help them get bigger and get international and think about exporting and think about expanding, think about acquiring. And that’s our goal as a fund. OBJ: What elements have come together to make Ottawa such a vibrant economy? GR: Having lived there my whole younger life, it’s really a well-kept secret in that you’ve got a combination of a beautiful city – you’ve got the scenic side of it, which is wonderful, you’ve got the outdoors, you’ve got a ton of world-class entertainment options, you’ve got the government there which kind of anchors the economy in some ways and you’ve got a great standard of life. You’ve got two great universities that every year are generating a ton of great talent. It’s got a lot going for it. Everyone seems to focus on Toronto and Vancouver and Montreal to some extent as hubs in Canada, but I think Ottawa for that reason has been underserved in capital. And that’s why we’re spending a lot of time there. Capital hasn’t really gravitated to the city in the same proportions as it has to others. As a result, I think you’ve got some great fledgling businesses here that are ready to take their companies to another level but need a bit of help to do that. Ottawa, I would say, tends to look in Ottawa for its capital. There are great venture funds in Ottawa, but I think you won’t find any long-term, patient, evergreen minority funds in Ottawa that can do the type of capital that we invest. I’d encourage businesses to contact us. It’s a short flight. We would come see them and tell them what we do and see if there’s a fit.


OBJ: How has that lack of longterm patient capital affected the development of the Ottawa economy? GR: I know there’s obviously a great technology hub (in Ottawa), but I also know there’s a great non-technology hub. There’s a great number of

OBJ: Why hasn’t there been a fund like this before? GR: It’s an interesting question. The way private equity funds are structured, it’s been a historical norm. It’s been this way for 20 years. They’ve got five years to invest their money and five years to exit. It’s really hard to create a patient, minority capital fund in that legal structure. The groups that have done it are the pension funds, which have obviously unlimited lives. They’re not in the fund structure, per se. But the pension funds in Canada have gotten so big that their minimum cheque sizes are hundreds of millions of dollars, and so they’re not able to pursue the lower, middle market. It doesn’t move the needle for them. So there’s this hole that’s been created. It’s taken these financial institutions to

come up and say, ‘We’ll sign up for this and we’ll make this fund evergreen.’ I see the benefit of it every day. It really resonates with entrepreneurs. They don’t want to be forced to sell in three to five years. Especially the young ones. We’ve backed entrepreneurs that started their companies in their dorm rooms at university and five or six or seven years later they’ve built $20-, $30-, $40-million revenue companies and they’re in their twenties. They don’t want to sell when they’re 33. They might want to grow this for 15 years, and there’s not that many options of external capital that set them up to do that.


OBJ: Why do you think so many Canadian startups fail before they can mature into global firms? GR: It’s a great question. There isn’t a lot of patient growth capital to take them from the stage that they’ve proven their business model to a stage where they really try to expand nationally, internationally across the world. They don’t get to that stage. What usually happens is they take on an investor, it’s usually … a three- to five-year window where they’re looking to exit. Control is lost often to a foreign buyer. You’re seeing the repercussions of this in the IPO market, for example. We used to have orders of magnitude more IPOs in Canada than we do now. And the reason is that we’re not getting (companies) to a size level where they can be IPOd with liquidity. Often, some of the investment banks are taking up companies way too early, and they get stranded on the TSX Venture and don’t trade and they can’t raise money. To the extent we can grow some of these companies longer, it would start solving all these issues we’re having. When you look at the banks, their interest is to grow more SMEs into large companies. This is the pool of companies they’re serving. I equate it to the baseball system, where you’ve got a minor league system, and you’ve got the major leagues. We need to cultivate these companies through the system. I don’t think we’re doing that well enough.

businesses across the Valley that are growing, but they’re capital-starved. They don’t have any opportunity to raise the capital that’s right for them to grow. There is capital chasing the great technology businesses, but usually that’s three- to five-year capital. What usually happens is those great, up-and-coming companies get sold. And then we look for new ones to start. Our message is, think about growing these longer, where they can become lasting, meaningful, impactful companies for 10, 15, 20 years. We don’t have as many of those anymore as we used to. When I was working here, you had Terry Matthews, Michael Cowpland, (Jozef) Straus, Mitel, Nortel, Cognos, Corel. You had all these companies that had made a global impact coming out of Ottawa. You don’t see that as much anymore. You see kind of the three- to five-year buildup to a certain level and then they’re sold. One of the reasons this is happening is that entrepreneurs don’t have that patient (capital) option, and if they’re gonna give up control of that company, they’re just saying, ‘You know what? Just buy the whole company – I don’t want a new boss.’ When I came to Ottawa, I met 15 different companies, some of which were technologyoriented and some of which weren’t. None of them thought this was an area where they can easily find capital – in this patient, minority growth capital dynamic.


“It relieves the stress of having to drive into the downtown core for many tenants at 1 Nicholas.” Michael Morin, property manager, District Realty

With LRT open, downtown tenants snap up space ahead of phase two expansions limination of bus bottlenecks saving employees at 1 Nicholas St. commuting time





he wait is over. Ottawa’s new $2.1 billion light-rail transit system finally got rolling in mid-September, ushering in a transformational new era in public transit for Canada’s capital. For downtown workers, the impact of the city’s new mass transit system on their day-to-day lives is substantial. Nearly half of the employees who work at Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC), located at 1 Nicholas Street in Ottawa’s downtown core, use the LRT for their daily commute, says CEO Joanne Charlebois. The office tower, at the corner of Rideau Street, is steps away from two station entrances: One right across the street, and another inside the Rideau Centre, which makes it easy to go shopping after work. After polling her staff, she says SAC’s light-rail users stated that it was saving them anywhere from

five to 20 minutes in travel time each way. “I think that it’s wonderful,” says Charlebois. “It’s such a huge step for the city. (LRT) will give people another reason to recognize Ottawa as a world-class city.” Charlebois is most looking forward to being able to access new parts of the city when SAC’s board of governors makes their next bi-annual visit. “We now have the ability to venture out of the downtown core with our guests,” she says. “It opens up other parts of Ottawa, which is a real benefit.” Beyond just a more efficient commute, it’s those kinds of additional benefits that makes the arrival of LRT so exciting for downtown workers, says Michael Morin, a commercial property manager at District Realty. “It relieves the stress of having to drive into the downtown core for many tenants at 1 Nicholas,”


says Morin, adding the benefits extend beyond the downtown office tower’s tenants. “The ease of access of the LRT will encourage and assist with meetings and reduce travel expenses relating to parking,” he says. Employees of l’Association de la presse francophone (APF) who are commuting to 1 Nicholas St. from suburban areas such as Orléans, are already looking forward to Phase 2, says APF director Linda Lauzon. Charlebois agrees. Last year, SAC renewed its lease at 1 Nicholas with the arrival of LRT and its subsequent expansion factoring heavily into the decision. Phase 2 will extend the LRT system as far as Trim Road in the east, Moodie Drive and Algonquin College in the west as well as Limebank and Earl Armstrong roads in the south, easing travel for hundreds of thousands of residents in suburban communities. The Confederation Line’s grand opening comes on the heels of many other improvements to the ByWard Market and downtown area. Large investments in infrastructure and the emergence of new retailers and restaurants have made the downtown core more alluring than ever. There are currently several blocks of space available for lease inside 1 Nicholas St. Companies and organizations interested in office space options in the heart of downtown Ottawa can explore their options at

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WATCH THE EMPLOYMENT LAW MINUTE Practical solutions for employees and employers to common workplace issues

Are you really an independent contractor?


Rules employers must follow when accommodating workers with disabilities

Employment Law Minute hosts John Scholes, left, and Alex Lucifero, partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP



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Major malls in ‘comeback’ mode as holiday season approaches Buoyed by new tenants and other attractions, regional shopping centres like Bayshore and Rideau Centre predict strong finish to 2019 BY DAVID SALI


That’s music to a retailer’s ears ​– people and money. I think it’s going to be a really good (holiday) year. – Rideau Centre GM Brian O’Hoski PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON people and money,” he says. “I think it’s only up from here, to be honest. I think it’s going to be a really good (holiday) year.” Canadian consumers are expected to shell out an average of just under $1,600 this holiday season, according to a recent report from accounting firm PwC Canada, up about two per cent from 2018. Ottawa retailers are also likely to see a bit of a bump in overall sales in the frantic final two months of the year, says local industry analyst Barry Nabatian,


60,000 commuters funnel through the Rideau Centre every workday, traffic that helps the mall generate a hefty salesper-square-foot rate of more than $1,000 annually, one of the top figures in the country. Now, with the Confederation Line finally up and running and the busy holiday season rapidly approaching, O’Hoski is expecting big things for the 2019 retail rush. “That’s music to a retailer’s ears –​


rian O’Hoski’s voice suggests it’s not only kids who get excited about new Lego as Christmas approaches. The general manager of the Rideau Centre is counting down the days until the opening of Ottawa’s first store dedicated to the iconic children’s building blocks. Set to make its debut across from the Disney Store at the downtown shopping mall in early November, the Lego Store and a new Nike store that’s also slated to open next month are among several Ottawa firsts for the Rideau Centre this year. “We’ve added a lot of new brands for Ottawa over the course of 2019,” O’Hoski says, listing the Levi’s store, Australian body-care merchandiser Aesop and Turkish luxury men’s fashion retailer Damat Tween among the mall’s other new tenants this year. “Our loading dock is just crazy right now.” Already Canada’s fourth-busiest shopping centre with more than 25 million visitors a year, the Rideau Centre expects those numbers to grow even further with the recent arrival of the new light-rail system that delivers passengers right to its door. About

thanks in part to a favourable federal election outcome. A shift to the Conservatives – who vowed to cut the amount of federally leased office space in Ottawa by 30 per cent – would have almost certainly sparked a sense of unease in a city where six in 10 employees either work directly for the government or in a related field such as health care, Nabatian says. But with the Liberals maintaining their grip on power, Ottawa consumers will likely feel a little more confident about opening their wallets this holiday season, he suggests. “I think that economically speaking, especially about retail spending, it’s a sigh of relief for the vast majority,” says Nabatian, the director of market research at Shore-Tanner & Associates. Based on his conversations with local businesspeople, Nabatian said he heard significant concern that a Conservative government would’ve hurt business confidence, which would in turn lead to job cuts and lower consumer spending. But a Liberal minority will likely mean business as usual in the nation’s capital. “I think that we can expect a reasonably good – not excellent, but a reasonably good – retail sector the rest of this year and the Christmas season,” he said. A few kilometres west of downtown at the Bayshore Shopping Centre, general manager Denis Pelletier says he’s feeling “pretty confident” the mall’s patrons will be in the mood to spend over the next two months. “We think that we’ve got a (retail) mix that people want,” says Pelletier, adding that while traffic tends to slow down during elections, he expects to end 2019 on a high note. Continued on page 45


HOW OREB HELPS ITS COMMERCIAL MEMBERS GROW THEIR BUSINESS Realtors and customers alike benefit from Canadian Commercial Network



he Ottawa Real Estate Board’s (OREB) partnership with the Canadian Commercial Network (CCN) makes it easy for commercial Realtors in Ottawa to stand out from the crowd. The local real estate board, which represents hundreds of commercial Realtors as well as their residential counterparts, works closely with the CCN – a part of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) – to generate more visibility of the city’s experienced commercial Realtors. OREB members have access to several tools, services and real estate networks that advance their knowledge of commercial property sales. They also receive special CCN branding opportunities, which demonstrates their extensive knowledge to clients through an endorsement from a recognized national network.



THE REALTOR ADVANTAGE Commercial Realtors who join the CCN gain access to commercial research papers, international trends and financial calculators that give their business – and customers – an advantage over competitors. Members can use CREA’s WEBForms online transaction tool, which simplifies and quickens the sale or leasing process. The tool quickly populates a standardized and vetted template with data specific to the transaction. “It reduces the Realtor’s cost and saves time,” says Marc Lafrance, director of product management and member services at CREA. “I’ve seen Realtors do a deal over the phone, e-mail all of the documentation to the client and within hours the transaction had closed.” One of the biggest benefits is the high visibility members receive on, the most widely used real estate marketing site in Canada. Member profiles are posted with a CCN badge, which automatically puts them and their listings at the top of the search list.

“The real advantage (to joining the network) is that mix of board services and CREA services,” says Lafrance. “We complement each other, and it’s a real benefit to the commercial practitioner.” MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION With common membership requirements, all OREB Commercial Services Network (CSN) members automatically become part of the CCN and CREA, which already represent more than 6,800 national commercial Realtors.

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. Unless you are a member of CREA, you can’t call yourself a Realtor. 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.


“We promote the value of using a Commercial Realtor from our network to the public,” says Lee Freeman, manager of professional practice and education at OREB. “Now, people will be able to select a commercial member who has met the education and experience levels set out by the CCN, which is a pretty big endorsement.” Only experienced commercial agents can apply for full membership. OREB and CREA commercial Realtors must have a minimum amount of sales volume, appraisals or property management experience under the belt to be considered. These requirements assure customers that CCN Realtors can navigate the commercial transaction with ease, says Lafrance. “From a consumer’s perspective, you’re (working with) people who have taken courses or have experience dealing with the commercial sector,” he says. “That’s important because it’s very different from residential.”




Ottawa Senators customizing fan experiences to boost attendance in new season


Hockey club aims to be ‘one-stop shop’ for business entertainment


FANS CHEER ON THE OTTAWA SENATORS AS THE TEAM TAKES ON THE VANCOUVER CANUCKS IN 2015. PHOTO BY AARON TOTH / FLICKR out,” and has been working on this initiative for the last five years with the implementation of Club Bell, the Brookstreet Lounge and the Hard Rock Club and through this year’s partnership with The Royal Oak. “It’s a one-stop shop (in terms of the event, food and connecting with others) when you buy your ticket, so it really is about transforming the business community and the customers’ experience at the Canadian Tire Centre,” Bonneau said. “It’s really about creating customized content and living inside the social ecosystem that we have.”

Bonneau gave the example of the “Omni Pass,” which allows fans and businesses to have different seats and suites depending on their goals, such as business development, employee rewards, team-building, networking and client appreciation. “Essentially you create your program with us. Our marketing and sales teams are really not selling a commodity … there’s a lot more about customization and flexibility,” Bonneau said. On the Foundation side, Robinson said there are a few new projects in the works, including extending the usual 50/50 draws beyond just game crowds.


Attendance has been a struggle for the Sens in recent seasons, hitting a 22-year low in 2018-19. At the Local Breakfast Series, the organization’s reps touted plans to improve the local club’s marketing game through customization and brand awareness during what’s being called a “transitional year.” Dorion had one ask for the panel’s attendees as the team looks to bounce back from its last-place finish in the previous season: “patience.” According to Bonneau, the organization is “focused on creating (an) all-inclusive experience between networking, culinary and dining


etting fans and corporate groups customize their experiences at Ottawa Senators games is the latest pitch Sens management is making to attract bigger crowds to the Canadian Tire Centre this season, according to a recent panel event with the team’s front office. The latest edition of the Ottawa Board of Trade and Ottawa Business Journal’s Local Breakfast Series saw Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion, former defenceman Chris Phillips, chief revenue officer Mark Bonneau and Danielle Robinson, the president and CEO of the Ottawa Senators Foundation, speak to a group of local business leaders and community members at the Kanata Golf and Country Club in October.

Advocating for business. Fuelling the future.





Advocating for business. Fuelling the future.




• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Christopher Simmonds Architect ABRAutism Services Advanced Business Imaging Baiame Consulting Benny&Co. Bruyère Foundation Burovision Colliers MacAulay Nicholls Colonnade BridgePort Corporate Immigration Law Firm Couple Enrichment Crossroads Truck & Career Academy Diabetes Canada Engagement Marketing Ewyn Studios of Orléans Extend Pharmacy FanSaves Fidus Systems Freedom 55 Financial Global Payments Hugh McBride Writes I-60 Consulting inBay Technologies Indspire Intega IT John Graham & Company Kreativ Insight Consultants Kyalis Group Oxygen Events Pan African Confederation of Investment Predictive Success Ross Video Ruckify Sandman Signature Ottawa Airport Hotel Sightline Process Control TGS The Children’s Wish Foundation The Millar Trident Clouds TÜV SÜD Canada Willis College

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 BusinessDeveloper@ or 613-236-3631 x200.


Bruce Linton unapologetic about Canopy Growth tenure in speech to Ottawa business leaders


e might no longer be in charge of the country’s largest cannabis firm, but Bruce Linton made one thing abundantly clear during a humorous and insightful keynote address to a business crowd in Kanata in early October: he’ll never apologize for doing exactly what he felt was required to build Canopy Growth into a Canadian pot powerhouse. “This is the closest thing to actual real work I’ve had since about July 2,” the guest of honour said during the CEO Talk event, drawing roars of laughter from the crowd in the Brookstreet Hotel’s ballroom. Linton was referring to his last day as chief executive of Canopy Growth before he was abruptly fired after six-and-a-half years as the firm’s leader, a decision that stunned many in the tight-knit Ottawa business community. As Canopy’s co-founder, Linton oversaw the company’s spectacular rise from a tiny startup based out of a former chocolate factory in Smiths Falls to the darling of a multibilliondollar industry. He became one of the country’s most recognized corporate bosses after cannabis was legalized for recreational use in Canada nearly a year ago and earned OBJ’s CEO of the Year Award last fall. But he was abruptly turfed after Canopy reported a larger-thanexpected fourth-quarter net loss in June attributable to shareholders of $335.6 million or 98 cents per share, despite a jump in net revenue to $94.1 million that beat market estimates. Constellation Brands, Canopy’s biggest shareholder, said then it was “not pleased” with the firm’s year-end results as it recorded

Former Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton was the keynote speaker at the October CEO Talk, co-hosted by the Ottawa Board of Trade and Ottawa Business Journal. OBJ FILE PHOTO a US$106-million loss in its own financial first quarter in connection with its stake in the Canadian cannabis company. Linton defended Canopy’s performance at the time, saying he was positioning the company for sustained long-term growth by investing in more production capacity and preparing for the launch of edibles and other next-generation pot products that are soon set to become legal. During his speech at the Brookstreet, Linton suggested he wasn’t willing to sacrifice his longterm vision for short-term financial gains.

“The whole idea of learning how to like corporate keywords like ‘fetch’ and ‘roll over’ ​– that stuff that you’re supposed to do as a really good CEO ​ – I just didn’t understand it,” he said. Linton spoke as part of the CEO Talk Series, which is co-presented by the Ottawa Board of Trade and the Ottawa Business Journal. The event allows professionals to come together and gain insight on many aspects of business from an influential and significant member in business, as well as network and hear present and past executives share their personal stories of success along with interesting and insightful business-related topics.

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OBOT hosts first-ever Ottawa Aviation Summit

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Waste Management, which has a significant presence in Ottawa, has been named an industry leader on the 2019 North America and World Dow Jones Sustainability Indices. “Waste Management has spent nearly 30 years focusing on environmental innovations, sustainability and change,” said Waste Management president and CEO Jim Fish in a statement. “We continue to take significant strides forward and the accolades we receive are a result of the ongoing dedication and drive of our employees.” The distinction recognizes sustainability practices and performance of large global companies.

Advocating for business. Fuelling the future.

Tourism CEO Michael Crockatt said on the sidelines of the summit. “It’s the first impression a lot of visitors have when they come to our community, and it’s often the last impression they have when they leave.” Sueling Ching, the interim CEO of the Ottawa Board of Trade, said she wants the organization to survey members to find out how much the lack of direct flights to international destinations is affecting their bottom lines. Hard evidence is necessary to persuade the airlines that more such flights are necessary, she noted.

The new operators of a Kanata tech testing facility officially opened its doors to the community with an Oktoberfest-themed open house celebration this fall. German firm TÜV SÜD specializes in testing, auditing, inspection and certification services and employs a dozen staff at the 23,000-squarefoot lab on Teron Road. “This new lab offers our local customers a complete regulatory testing solution and aligns with our North America strategy to become the leader in wireless and EMC testing services,” said Darryl Fleger, TÜV SÜD Canada’s country manager, in a statement.


ozens of local business leaders gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn Ottawa Airport in October to share success stories in the local aviation sector and tackle some of the challenges around developing new routes and connections to Canada’s capital. The first-ever Ottawa Aviation Summit featured panel discussions and speakers from Air Canada, Kanatabased First Air, the Ottawa International Airport Authority and Ottawa Tourism. “Ottawa’s airport is critical for Ottawa’s tourism sector,” Ottawa





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PASSING THE TORCH: The complexities of succession planning



t is a common scenario. An entrepreneur has put their heart and soul into developing a successful business and now has some crucial decisions to make about who will run the business and how the accumulated wealth will be shared after he or she retires or dies. Succession planning is a detailed, often emotional and personal process that can – and often does – take years of contemplation and complex negotiation to complete. The benefit? No surprises, no expensive and ugly family legal battles over a will and, hopefully, happy and contented beneficiaries who all feel they have been treated fairly. “If you have a successful business, there is so much to be gained from properly planning for the transfer of that wealth to the next generation,” says GGFL partner Deborah Bourchier. “And it’s a far cleaner process if the business founder is involved during the planning process,” she says. “There are invariably difficult conversations about who is inheriting the business, who is inheriting the associated built-up wealth and who is not. If there are questions, the founder is there to answer them.”

“There is so much to be gained from properly planning for the transfer of wealth to the next generation.” – Deborah Bourchier, partner, GGFL

The founder can also be an important mentor to the family member who is taking over the business. Bourchier has chaired numerous discussions for business owners and their families who have been clients at GGFL for decades. “We treat our clients in a very holistic way,” she says. “We don’t just understand the client’s business, we build strong, trusting relationships with their families. “It helps enormously when we get to the stage of legacy wealth planning because we understand the business, its culture and the founder’s motivations and aspirations,” Bourchier adds.



Visit OBJ.CA/ OBJ-DIGITAL-EDITION to view the digital edition for exclusive features

The succession process often begins with an informal chat with a business founder and can evolve year after year into detailed family discussions. Finally, a fully formed plan emerges.



“A couple of my recent succession planning processes took more than two years but they can take up to 10 years,” says Bourchier. “I have been at family meetings with 20 stakeholders. Sometimes there are disagreements, sometimes it is harmonious.” The challenges can be as varied and complicated as any imaginable family dynamic. Perhaps there are several children to consider. What if one or two have no interest in the family business and the others do? How do you treat them all equally? What about spouses of the founder’s children, or blended families where children from previous marriages are part of the equation? According to Bourchier, Ottawa is a real estate rich city and real estate accounts for a large portion of the business community’s privately owned wealth. But if a succession plan won’t come into effect for several years – until the founder dies or retires – how do you accurately assess the future worth of a building or business? This is a necessary assessment for future beneficiaries who prefer their equal share in cash. When a succession plan is close to completion, GGFL will help determine the current value of property or business. GGFL Partner Kody Wilson is a chartered business valuator who can help with the valuation process. That value is then “frozen” and is used to determine an equivalent cash amount for those not interested in the business. Any future increase in value is allocated through shares. So, how wealthy do you need to benefit from this process? “You could own one income-generating building worth $2 million and have just two beneficiaries,” says Bourchier. “In that case, creating a plan would be relatively inexpensive and could eventually pay for itself in saved taxes and legal costs.” The GGFL partner says it’s a privilege to be trusted to a degree that clients will ask her to chair these sensitive family discussions. “We know these clients well and understand each other,” she says. “They’re not afraid of having difficult discussions with me moderating or leading those discussions.” But rarely is the process without complexities. “Money,” she adds, “is a very sensitive and private thing.”

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Dr. Jack Kitts is retiring in 2020 after serving nearly two decades as CEO of the Ottawa Hospital. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON


the Ottawa Hospital’s leader, Kitts, the anesthesiologist-turned-administrator, has helped build his organization into one of the country’s most renowned patient care and medical research facilities. For all that the 64-year-old father of three has done to help promote and deliver world-class patient care in the Ottawa region, Kitts is the 2019 recipient of OBJ and the Ottawa Board of Trade’s Lifetime Achievement Award. True to his nature, Kitts instantly hands off credit for his myriad of accomplishments to others – especially his late mother Joan, who raised nine children as a single parent after Kitts’s father died when he was 16, and his wife of 38 years, Lian. “Women in my life have been a big influence,” he says with a grin. “When the supervisor asked me to be the CEO of the hospital, I went home and said to (Lian), ‘I can’t believe he asked me,’ and she said, ‘Well, Jack, if you have an opportunity to lead and you don’t take it, are you willing to follow whoever does take it?’ I had to think a lot about that. That little pick-meup talk really influenced me.” Kitts’s quiet determination had already fuelled his steady climb up the ladder. After joining the Civic hospital as an anesthesiologist in 1988, he gradually took on more and more important positions, from the Department of Anesthesia’s research director to the first medical director of the hospital’s Preoperative Assessment Clinic in 1992. Three years later, he was appointed the Civic’s chief of anesthesia before being promoted to vice-president of medical affairs in 1998, the same year the Civic, General, Riverside and Grace hospitals were amalgamated by provincial decree. Upon moving into the CEO’s office, Kitts immediately got to work on redefining the hospital’s core mission. He felt the disparate institutions that comprised the Ottawa Hospital needed a wakeup call to deliver the best possible health care to residents. “I had the attitude that if you live in the nation’s capital, you should expect and receive world-class health care. We can do that,” he says firmly. “But we have to

‘He’s a true community builder’ NOVEMBER 2019

In nearly two decades at the helm of the Ottawa Hospital, Dr. Jack Kitts has used a quiet brand of leadership to guide his institution to the front rank of Canadian health-care facilities





hen Dr. Jack Kitts assumed the mantle of CEO of the newly merged Ottawa Hospital on an interim basis 18 years ago, the prognosis for the institution’s long-term success didn’t look good, to put it mildly. Forged out of the 1998 amalgamation of four separate health-care facilities

with four very different cultures, the Ottawa Hospital was wracked with debt and political infighting as the 21st century dawned. The situation ultimately deteriorated to the point where the Ontario government took the thenunheard of step of firing the hospital’s entire board of directors on the July long weekend in 2001. A provincially appointed supervisor

subsequently turfed the CEO and asked Kitts, then the hospital’s vice-president of medical affairs, to take over. Welcome aboard the Titanic, captain. By now, nearly everyone in Ottawa – especially the countless residents and their grateful loved ones who’ve benefited from its services in the years since – knows the outcome of that “temporary” appointment. In nearly two decades as

believe it, and we have to take the steps to do it.”



sometime in 2027 at the earliest, the new Civic will also have a new leader. Earlier this year, Kitts announced that he will step down as chief executive next June to make way for younger blood at the top. “For me, it’s a really exciting time to be in health care,” he says. “When I became the CEO of the Ottawa Hospital 18 years ago, I had the drive, the fire in my belly, the energy, the excitement, and there was a long horizon. So I asked myself to be honest: do I have the same energy, drive, passion – all the things that it’ll take to make the Ottawa Hospital great, and am I the right leader for the time? And while I love what I’m doing and I will miss it dearly, I felt it was the right decision, not only for me but for the hospital, the staff in the hospital and the community we serve. We need a fresh infusion of energy, passion and the will to make it all happen.”

PUSHING FOR BETTER CARE Kitts says he has no plans to fully retire, however, explaining he has a passion for health care and wants to keep pushing to make it better in one way or another. Asked what he hopes will be his legacy, he pauses to reflect. “I will smile and look back fondly on my career if I hear in the community, ‘That Ottawa Hospital, they really treat you like a loved one. They give world-class care and treat you like a loved one.’” It’s a lofty status he never would have imagined while growing up the secondoldest of nine kids in Barry’s Bay. Before the interview with an OBJ reporter ends, he takes a moment to praise another major influence on his life: his high school guidance counsellor, Bill Houle, who once told a teenager by the name of Jack Kitts he owed it to himself to aim much higher than his stated ambition of working at the local liquor store. “He didn’t like slackers,” Kitts says with a chuckle. “The word on me was, ‘Not living up to his potential.’” Houle died a few years ago, and Kitts says he regrets never properly thanking the former teacher for those words of advice that helped change the course of his life. “I hope he knew that he had a big part (in my success),” Kitts says quietly. You needn’t worry, Dr. Kitts. Somewhere right now, Bill Houle is smiling.


Kitts also set out to beef up the hospital’s research capabilities. Soon after he was appointed CEO, the institution launched an ambitious campaign to raise $100 million to recruit the country’s brightest doctors and researchers. “It’s one thing to have all the professionals who can treat and fix and cure, but it’s another thing to have the latest in leading-edge therapies, leadingedge technology, leading-edge research and discovery,” says Kitts. “If you don’t have that research component, I think it’s difficult to claim world-class care.” In 2007, with the help of countless generous donors, the campaign surpassed its goal. Those funds help the facility lure renowned researchers such as cardiologist Duncan Stewart, a leader in developing gene-based therapies to treat heart disease whose arrival in 2008 paved the way for a wave of new recruits that have made the Ottawa Hospital the country’s third-largest

medical research centre. Other researchers at the hospital are now pioneering new treatments for a range of diseases. Dr. John Bell, for example, is a world leader in developing procedures that use viruses to target and kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. “I just can’t keep up, but one thing I know for sure is there will be cures for cancer,” Kitts says. “And my hunch is one of those cures may be found here in Ottawa with John Bell’s team.” Kitts’s legions of supporters say his contributions to the hospital’s success regularly get overlooked – largely due to the nature of the man himself, who’s never forgotten his small-town roots growing up in the rural eastern Ontario community of Barry’s Bay. “He’s a Valley guy in the sense that he’s very humble and down-to-earth,” says Tim Kluke, the CEO of the Ottawa Hospital Foundation, who has worked alongside Kitts for the past eight years. “That kind of humility I think is exceptional and has I think helped attract the community to him. There’s no ego there.” Katherine Cotton, the chair of the hospital’s board of directors, says Kitts’s steady hand on the tiller kept the merged institution from going off the rails in those rocky early years. “He’s a true community builder,” she says. “He’s humble to his core and very quick to deflect any praise that comes his way and in turn direct it squarely on other individuals and the teams who deliver health care in the (hospital) every day.” Today, Kitts is quietly overseeing the launch of the most ambitious infrastructure project in Ottawa healthcare history: the $2-billion campaign to build a new Civic campus at the northeast corner of the Central Experimental Farm on Carling Avenue near Preston Street. The province has committed millions of dollars to early planning for the new facility, which will replace the current building that opened in 1924. A doctor to his core, Kitts has a gleam in his eye when talking about the future Ottawa super-hospital. He imagines a place where every patient will have his or her own room, a green building with state-of-the-art medical technology on every floor. But with a targeted completion date of


Kitts established three key priorities: boosting staff morale, getting the hospital’s finances in order and, most importantly, improving patient care. Kitts sensed that there was something missing in the hospital’s level of care. It’s one thing to mend broken bones and perform surgeries, he believes, but quite another to make patients and their loved ones feel like they’re the only people in the room. “When someone smiles, introduces himself and says, ‘I’ve got your back,’ it really is an act of kindness that will never be forgotten,” Kitts explains. “And nowhere in the metrics do you measure that type of interaction. For me, it’s the whole experience.” Kitts, who was named the hospital’s permanent CEO in 2002, set out to do just that. It wasn’t always a straightforward progression, however. While the institution consistently garnered positive ratings above 90 per cent in patient satisfaction surveys, those assessments included everything from good to excellent. Kitts wanted a more specific breakdown. “The question was, ‘How many gave us excellent?’ It was 36 per cent,” he says. “So we said, let’s focus on bringing the excellent up.” A particular catalyst was a letter from the husband of a woman who underwent a hip replacement at the hospital in 2007. Kitts – who says he reads and responds to every letter or email he receives from patients and their families, good experience or bad – took the man’s words to heart. “Basically, what he told me was, ‘You treated her, you didn’t have any errors or complications, she got a state-of-the-art hip, she’s walking, she’s home,’” he recalls. “And so from a hospital CEO lens, well, what’s the problem? Then he described how they felt during the four days in hospital, where it seemed that nobody took the time to ask them how they were doing or whether they could help. It was almost like the patient wasn’t there.” The hospital administration began surveying patients and family members, asking them what they could do to make their experience better. Topping the list

were things like front-line staff introducing themselves by name, care workers doing shift reports in a patient’s room instead of the hallway, doctors performing rounds at least once a day and nurses calling to check in on patients after they’d been discharged. “In there, there is nothing that costs money ​– and nothing you have to invest in except ensuring that we all do that,” Kitts says. Within half a dozen years, the hospital’s ratio of “excellents” in patient satisfaction surveys had nearly doubled to 70 per cent. “It’s amazing how when 70 per cent of your patients have an excellent experience, how that gets around,” he says. “I can’t imagine, but I’d love to see it, what 100 per cent does in both the hospital and the community.” Kitts himself has gained a reputation for conducting his own hands-on research into the patient experience ​– willingly eating nothing but hospital food for a week after a flood of complaints about its awful taste, for example, and recently enduring a steady dose of the coffee and tea served to patients. (Spoiler alert: he hated it.) “I said, ‘I’m not going to serve coffee or tea to people that I wouldn’t drink myself,’” he explains. “I’m a huge fan of patient feedback. Any feedback is good feedback.”​


Small business success celebrated at inaugural summit, awards W

hile awards and headlines tend to celebrate Ottawa’s largest and fastest-growing companies, OBJ and the Ottawa Board of Trade took a day during Small Business Week to celebrate the little guys. Ottawa’s inaugural Small Business Summit, held in late October at the Westin Ottawa, also featured the city’s first-ever Small Business Awards. These honours are reserved for companies in Ottawa with fewer than 10 employees and at least one full year of business

under their belts. Recipients were split between Ottawa’s east and west ends, and were divided among professional services firms, retail stores and business services and manufacturing. The 2019 Small Business Awards winners are: • accountrain inc., a full-service accounting firm; • Bayview Windows, door and window replacement specialists; • Clariti, HR consultants; • Re4m Design and Fabrication,

Sheba Schmidt of West End Kids and Rahul Kulkarni of Shopify talk during a presentation at the Small Business Summit on Oct. 23. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON

creating new spaces from upcycled materials; • Simple Story, a digital marketing firm; and • Stray Dog Brewing Co. In addition to the awards presentation, the Small Business Summit featured a full-day of panels

and discussions aimed at giving upstart companies a leg up in areas such as marketing, e-commerce and leadership. Among the speakers was Lt.-Col. Robert Teschner, a former F-22 U.S. fighter pilot, who brought air force-inspired lessons for business owners. ​– OBJ staff

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David Arntfield

It is with profound sadness that CMLS Financial Ltd. announces the tragic passing of David Arntfield. Dave had a distinguished career in real estate finance, beginning in Toronto with a major bank and, for the last seven years, as a key member of the CMLS Financial Ltd. team in Ottawa. He earned respect and admiration from his borrower and investor clients alike. Dave was a trusted advisor and a tireless advocate. His relationship with clients transcended business and he was viewed by many as a friend. Dave touched


the lives of many, and his positive, “can do� attitude will be sorely missed.




Accounting firms beefing up service portfolios Ottawa-based Welch’s partnership with T.O. investment firm a sign of the times as mid-size firms expand offerings to compete with Big Four BY DAVID SALI


It’s all designed to be better advisers, to create more knowledge about subject matter (so) that we can provide expertise to our clients. –​ Welch managing partner Micheal Burch, on the firm’s new partnership with Toronto-based Purpose Financial PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON

blurred, and we thought we have this opportunity to provide this service so it’s one stop (for clients),” he explains. “So it’s sort of like, ‘Just come here and we’ll take care of you.’” That need to keep up with the Joneses was also a big part of what motivated another independent accounting firm, MNP LLP, to merge with Ottawa consulting company A Hundred Answers three years ago. That same year, MNP joined forces with Mississauga-based cybersecurity company NCI in a bid to boost its expertise in that emerging field. Continued on page 30


he figures, it’s closer to three per cent, but he expects that number to rise sharply in the near future. “I think it’s what’s coming,” Burch says. “This opportunity to partner with them and have a joint venture with them really made us feel like, ‘Yeah, this is the thing to do.’” Burch also notes that big banks such as RBC and CIBC that once provided services that complemented those offered by firms like his are now getting into the wealth management game themselves, and the Welches of the world can’t afford to get left behind. “The lines are all kind of getting


s one of the last independent accounting firms left standing in Canada, Ottawa’s Welch LLP is always looking for ways to set itself apart from the pack in an industry dominated by the “Big Four” of Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers. So when Welch managing partner Micheal Burch began noticing that many clients were coming to his firm for tax and estate planning but looking elsewhere for someone to handle their investments, he sensed an opportunity. “Many times, when we would be doing sort of a robust financial or estate plan, the client would say, ‘Well, what I am going to do with the money?’” Burch says from Welch’s downtown Ottawa head office. “It seemed logical that, ‘Yeah, you know what? We probably should (offer) that (service).’” Burch’s push to expand Welch’s service offerings ultimately led the firm to form a partnership with Toronto-

based Purpose Financial, which specializes in passive investments known as exchange traded funds. In early October, the two companies announced they had formed a joint venture called Harness Investment Management, a portfolio management company that aims to partner with other professional services firms looking to broaden their range of investment offerings to clients. Purpose Financial controls 80 per cent of the new entity, with Welch owning a 20 per cent share. Burch suggests Welch likely won’t be the only smaller Canadian firm entering into such a venture in an effort to keep pace with other organizations that are also moving into the investment management space. Judging from his conversations with fellow members of BKR International, a group of more than 160 independent accounting firms from countries around the world, he estimates that almost half of mid-sized firms in the U.S. now offer such services. In Canada,

Continued from page 29 Sean Murphy, the former CEO of A Hundred Answers and now a partner at MNP’s Ottawa office, says professional services firms today are doing what they can to ensure they cater to as many of their customers’ needs as possible. “That’s part of us broadening the relationship with clients … so that clients don’t have a reason to go elsewhere,” he says. “I think what it really shows it that we want to listen to the market, we listen to our clients.” Murphy’s firm offered HR management and tech consulting services to federal government departments as well as major private corporations such as WestJet. Many of those customers are now MNP clients, he notes, giving the Calgary-based firm a foothold in market verticals it hadn’t necessarily been able to crack in the past. “They were trying to figure out how to expand into consulting services in eastern Canada, and in particular in Ottawa, with a federal government presence,” Murphy says. “They were

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looking for a consulting capability … to kind of give them instant credibility, if you will.” Burch says his firm, which employs a total of about 350 people at a dozen offices in Ontario and Quebec, believes that partnerships like the one with Purpose Financial will help it win the ever-escalating battle for talent as well as client share. “By having a broader list of services that we can provide, new employees can come in and they can test drive a few things, find out where their niche is, what they enjoy the most,” he says. “It’s all designed to be better advisers, to create more knowledge about subject matter (so) that we can provide expertise to our clients.” Both Burch and Murphy list cloudbased accounting services and artificial intelligence auditing platforms as the next frontiers for growth. Welch, for example, is currently testing groundbreaking software from Ottawa’s MindBridge Ai that uses machine learning to detect discrepancies and fraudulent activity in a client’s books.


Helping CHEO with the click of a button Hydro Ottawa kicks off next round of ‘Go Paperless’ campaign in support of local health-care institution





ydro Ottawa customers again have the opportunity to help the environment while supporting the important work at CHEO. The utility’s “Go Paperless” campaign donates $5 to CHEO for every customer who switches to online billing or registers for automated payments. Since 2015, this annual fundraiser has already seen thousands of customers do away with paper bills, sending approximately $400,000 to CHEO. “Keeping CHEO equipped with the best equipment is a huge and expensive task. It would simply be impossible

without partners like Hydro Ottawa,” says Jacqueline Belsito, vice-president of philanthropy and community engagement at the CHEO Foundation. CHEO is the only children’s hospital in this region and helps more than 500,000 children and youth a year. Through its support of CHEO, Hydro Ottawa’s “Go Paperless” campaign has already helped countless local families by donating money to causes such as the Max Keeping Fund for Kids, which offsets some of the cost of medicine and treatments not covered by insurance to ease the financial burden

on families. Previous campaigns have contributed to the purchase of portable patient monitors, an echocardiography machine for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and numerous children’s programs at the hospital. “We feel that there is a corporate responsibility to give back to the community,” says Julie Lupinacci, chief customer officer at Hydro Ottawa.


CHEO is planning to purchase new ambulatory blood pressure monitors, which are portable blood pressure recording devices, with the proceeds of this year’s “Go Paperless” campaign. “The machines are used daily and they monitor critical information, moment by moment,” says Belsito. Last year, nearly 24,000 Hydro Ottawa customers signed up for online billing and automated payments, gaining access to an online portal that allows users to view current and previous bills, track their electricity usage and eliminate the need for paper. Hydro Ottawa is hoping they can maintain that momentum, says Lupinacci. “If you haven’t registered for online billing and you’re on the fence, now is the time to do it,” she adds. “The decision could make all the difference to a family in the area.” This year’s Hydro Ottawa “Go Paperless” campaign runs until Dec. 31, 2019.


FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT LA FACTORIE DESJARDINS: 1. The building housing La Factorie Desjardins is a recent addition to the campus and opened in September 2018 2. There are four main fields of focus in the entrepreneurship program: Bioinnovation, Smart prototyping, AgriFood and Social innovation 3. La Factorie Desjardins offers corporate training for both private and public enterprises 4. The main room at La Factorie Desjardins is the Ideation room, which was designed for entrepreneurs to brainstorm and problem solve during product development Spiderwort CEO Charles Cuerrier with Danika Bourgeois-Desnoyers, manager of entrepreneurship and innovation at La Cité.



“We needed access to labs and expertise, but as a startup we couldn’t afford to hire loads of people with the specific knowledge to help us with studies,” says Cuerrier. “La Cité has tapped into a definite need here in Ottawa.”

workshop in Toronto and will be hosting one on the college campus in November. “Our niche is really Franco-Ontarian entrepreneurs because it is rare to find multiple workshops or training offered in French,” says Bourgeois-Desnoyers, highlighting how the college focuses on producing bilingual, entrepreneurial graduates. As Spiderwort continues to settle into its new workspace, La Cité is gearing up for a new expertin-residence program that will begin in November. Entrepreneurs will receive free advice from a variety of industry leaders in sectors such as financing, marketing and business leadership coaching. “We are very new, but even within the last two months the interest is there,” says BourgeoisDesnoyers. “We’re going to grow, and there is a need, so we just have to get the word out that we’re here to help.”

FROM INSPIRATION TO IMPLEMENTATION The idea for an onsite business accelerator program at La Cité came after the college saw how relatively few of its applied research projects ever made it to market, says Danika Bourgeois-Desnoyers, manager of entrepreneurship and innovation at La Cité. “(Teams) just didn’t have the help to bring it to the next stage,” she adds. The entrepreneurship program is designed to help pre-startups, startups and scale-ups through three major phases: inspiration, innovation and implementation. Through mentorship and free hands-on workshops, participants advance their business from conception right through to market readiness. La Factorie Desjardins is also DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE looking to help local Francophone Visit OBJ.CA/OBJ-DIGITAL-EDITION to view startups by offering programs to help the digital edition for exclusive features them through the growth process. La Cité recently participated in a French




n Ottawa biotech startup that’s finding new ways to regrow skin, bones and even spinal tissue has found a new home in La Cité’s accelerator program – the latest addition to the college’s entrepreneurship program. Spiderwort recently moved into La Factorie Desjardins – an area designed for entrepreneurs in the newly constructed Excentricité pavillion. The bioengineering company started at the University of Ottawa in 2015, studying how to regenerate body parts using non-synthetic materials such as plant-based tissues. While the university had sufficient lab capabilities, the business side of Spiderwort was operating out of Invest Ottawa, which created a disconnect for the company, says CEO and co-founder Charles Cuerrier. La Cité had the solution and was able to provide the company the space, equipment and mentorship it needed to be successful. “La Cité created that environment where we can all be together in the same place and interact day-to-day,” says Cuerrier. “The new lab is also there to support startups ... It’s just perfect for where we are at right now.” The accelerator space has eight workstations currently occupied by Spiderwort, which has access to resources such as assistance from professors, students and funding grants.

5. The accelerator program is open to all startups – not just La Cité students

JOIN THE BIGGEST CELEBRATION OF LOCAL BUSINESS IN 2019! Single Ticket: Ottawa Board of Trade Member: $200.00 + HST Non-Member: $225.00 + HST

2019 CEO of the Year 2018 Daniel Goldberg President & CEO Telesat

Lifetime Achievement Recipient Dr. Jack Kitts CEO The Ottawa Hospital

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NOVEMBER 22, 2019






OBJ.Social is supported by the generous patronage of Mark Motors, Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties, Bruyère Foundation and Sparks Dental. STORIES AND PHOTOS BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS


Disco-themed fundraiser dazzles convention centre crowd Malhotra announced that he’d be matching the $51,000 ceremonial cheque presented that night, thereby raising the grand total to $102,000. The gala marked the third annual benefit party hosted by the ICC since it first splashed onto the scene in 2016 as



to view the digital edition for exclusive features

one of Ottawa’s new event spaces. It’s located close to the Ottawa airport. The ICC is owned by Aggarwal and the Sohal family. Together, they also own five hotels in Ottawa. The creative mind behind The Infinity Ball is ICC coowner Anu Sohal, with event planner



The Infinity Convention Centre really knows how to throw a party. Some 650 people attended this year’s disco-themed Infinity Ball on Oct. 11 for a cocktail reception and sit-down dinner that showcased unique entertainment. There were acrobatic roller-skating performers, an electric harpist and Bollywood disco dancing. Later, the floor was packed with partygoers grooving to Punjabi music under a massive disco ball. The evening also featured a surprise ending. Organizers’ donation to the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health was doubled faster than you can say: “That’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it.” It was seasoned real estate developer Bill Malhotra, who helped to make a big difference that night. Malhotra is the founder and CEO of Claridge Homes, and he’s also very good friends with Anand Aggarwal, one of the business partners at the Infinity Convention Centre (ICC).

pro Tami Varma helping to execute her ideas. The evening was the perfect farewell for India’s outgoing high commissioner, Vikas Swarup. Supporters from the business community included Cleland Jardine Engineering co-founding partner Mike Cleland, District Realty president and founder Steve Ramphos and representatives from BMO Bank of Montreal. There on behalf of the Royal Ottawa Foundation was Tracey Welsh, director of community engagement. Richcraft owner Kris Singhal was there. So was Bruce Raganold, director of business development and a partner at Welch LLP. He was with his son, Josh Raganold, who recently joined the accounting firm as its business development manager. During the cocktail reception, Riti Gupta and Sandeep Gupta were offering samples of their new tequila, Cada Dia. Other attendees included Dipak Roy, founder and executive chairman of D-TA Systems Inc.; Algonquin College president and CEO Claude Brulé; Dr. Sanjay Acharya, chief of staff at the Queensway Carleton Hospital; Ruckify’s chief financial officer, Sunny Khosla, and Ottawa Police deputy chief Uday Singh Jaswal.

OBJ.Social is supported by the generous patronage of Mark Motors, Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties, Bruyère Foundation and Sparks Dental. STORIES AND PHOTOS BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS


Fabulous 50th: NAC Gala raises $765K on arts centre’s golden anniversary The National Arts Centre could not have asked for a better birthday gift than the remarkable $10-million donation that came its way from philanthropists Janice and Earle O’Born, which was announced during the NAC’s signature gala on Oct. 5. The good news was shared on stage in

Southam Hall by Christopher Deacon, president and CEO of the NAC, prior to the start of the concert featuring Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan with the NAC Orchestra and its music director, Alexander Shelley, as maestro.

Earle O’Born is chairman and founder of Toronto-based firm The Printing House, while Janice is chair of the board of directors for the NAC Foundation. “It’s the largest gift in the history of the National Arts Centre,” said Deacon before going on to say how the funds will help



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enrich the lives of Canadians through the performing arts. “I’m a little verklempt,” chimed in NAC Foundation CEO Jayne Watson, who was standing alongside Deacon at the podium during their remarks. Watson also shared the amount of money raised from that evening’s NAC’s 50th Anniversary Golden Gala: $725,000. The net total rose to $765,000 after the post-concert dinner, which included a live auction. The funds will help support the NAC’s education activities in music, theatre and dance across the country.


The jury is in: lawyers earn thumbs-up for musical talents at Rockable Hours Let the record reflect that the quality of live music at Rockable Hours was at times so good that you could almost swear ​– with one hand on the Bible –​ you were listening to bona fide bands. In reality, the musicians were either lawyers or law students from the University of Ottawa. The popular rock concert benefit returned Oct. 4 to the downtown nightclub Babylon. It attracted a packed crowd of keen supporters and raised $8,550 to help the 39,000-plus people who rely on the Ottawa Food Bank’s services each month. The event has been organized for the past five years by Albert Chang, a lawyer with the Ottawa-based Canadian Internet Registration Authority. The non-

profit organization, which oversees all .ca domain names, was a sponsor. So was law firm Gowling WLG. This year marked the first time Chang, who’s also a bass player, has ever played in the concert. Usually, he’s too busy working behind the scenes. Chang stepped in to help the Department of Justice band Caveat Rumpus after it sadly lost its drummer, Ian Kerr, 54. The popular law professor at the University of Ottawa passed away this past August after battling cancer. There were numerous mentions made of Kerr throughout the evening by the musicians and by emcee Katie Black, a partner at a new firm, Edelson Friedman Black LLP, as well as a part-time law prof at uOttawa.

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OBJ.Social is supported by the generous patronage of Mark Motors, Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties, Bruyère Foundation and Sparks Dental. STORIES AND PHOTOS BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS


White-collar boxing extravaganza a knockout event for a great cause Celebrating 125 years of serving the evolving needs of member dentists, dedicated to ongoing professional excellence in oral health for our community.





Just like so many of the greatest boxers, Fight for the Cure has gone from humble beginnings to glory. In its inaugural year, back in 2008, the charity white-collar boxing night raised a measly $500. Slap a few zeros onto the end of that figure and you’ve got this year’s record-breaking net total of more than $522,000 for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. At FFTC’s launch party this past spring, its goal was $400,000. The remarkable success was achieved with the help of business sponsors –​ including title sponsor Heart & Crown Irish Pubs –​ and a dozen wannabe boxers who work regular office-type jobs, for the most part.

The competitors spent the past nine months honing their boxing skills and mustering up the guts to step into the ring. They fought their opponents for their first time on Oct. 19 at the Hilton Lac-Leamy in Gatineau. Win or lose, there was a sold-out crowd of 1,100 spectators watching them and cheering them on. Fight for the Cure, which has proven to be one of the top business networking events around, is organized pretty much by one guy. “One person put this on ​– just one person,” Assent Compliance cofounder Matt Whitteker told the room as he proudly introduced his younger brother, Scott Whitteker, director of Fight for the Cure. The Whitteker brothers created the event together, and












PM 2019-05-22 1:02

He was the second-highest fundraiser, bringing in $80,350. Among the sponsors spotted in the room were: the Bradley family from the Heart & Crown Irish Pubs (including 2018 Fight for the Cure champ Michael Bradley), Maureen Graham from the Tony Graham Family Foundation, Jon Hughes from the Hughes Foundation and Pat Santini, senior law partner at Kelly Santini. Also back as sponsors were Extension Marketing founder and CEO Pat Whalen and ExecHealth president Sanjay Shah. Huntington Properties, represented by founding partner Alan Whitten and his adult children, was also a sponsor. The evening featured a silent auction and a chance to win $5,000. The prizewinner, Suzanne Racine, donated her winnings back to the cause.




“I met Jeff Clarke about a year ago,” Scott Whitteker said. “He told me, ‘Scott, I’m going to quit smoking –​ which he did, just to throw that in –​ and I want to raise $100,000 for Fight for the Cure. “At that meeting I thought to myself, ‘Good luck, buddy,’” confessed Whitteker, who’s probably pretty glad he kept those doubts to himself. Clarke went on to raise $161,900, making him the top fundraiser in the nine-year history of the event (there’ve been a few years when FFTC didn’t take place). The 29-year-old chief executive was awarded a special plaque that night by Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation president and CEO Linda Eagen. His company was a sponsor as well. Also hauling in some serious dough was Marc Morin, co-founder of Koble Commercial Real Estate and Brokerage.


Scott works closely with the participants every year to help get them into boxing shape. “The first rule of Fight for the Cure,” began Matt Whitteker, while referencing film favourite Fight Club, “is you need to talk about Fight for the Cure.” That includes talking about the cause. All the proceeds from the evening go toward the cancer foundation’s support of clinical trials and research and its cancer coaching program to help patients and their families through the challenging journey of dealing with the deadly disease. Most of the competitors not only achieved but also exceeded their fundraising goal, cumulatively raising close to $400,000. In a class of his own was Jeff Clarke, president and CEO of Inflector Environmental Services.

E 2019.indd 1




Does your website comply with the new regulations?


Tips from Ottawa’s OPIN Software on creating an engaging digital presence for all audiences



When the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) approached OPIN Software in 2018 to overhaul its website, the Ottawa-based digital agency knew that creating an engaging homepage wouldn’t be enough. The website had to be accessible to meet the needs of all visitors to the national organization’s website. Armed with the knowledge to build a fully functioning accessible website, the OPIN team rebuilt the CPC site. They ensured all videos included closed captions and the text was navigable by a screen reader for those with visual impairments, meeting the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). “Accessibility shouldn’t be an afterthought – it should be baked into the process,” says Tyana Awada, a web designer at OPIN Software. “When it comes to design and being creative or innovative, you don’t have to forsake accessibility.” In 2021, government regulators will roll out mandatory new rules for all Ontariobased organizations to make websites more accessible for all users. With these changes on the horizon, OPIN is committed to helping businesses build accessibility roadmaps, ensuring they understand what these changes mean in practical terms. The digital agency has partnered with software-as-a-service company Siteimprove for its latest webinar series, which will focus on AODA website compliance and provide businesses with web accessibility strategies.

Siteimprove monitors websites with a crawler, checking for errors and finding ways to improve the site’s functionality and accessibility. With OPIN Software’s extensive knowledge of Drupal — the leading open source content management system – the two firms are looking to prepare clients with the tools they need to host a succesul, accessible website. Pairing a testing platform that identifies website errors and a digital agency such as OPIN enables businesses to create engaging and accessible sites, says Jennifer Chadwick, lead accessibility strategist and product expert for Siteimprove North America. “It’s a really powerful combination,” she adds. UNDERSTANDING ACCESSIBILITY Website accessibility can be understandably difficult to grasp at times. There are several barriers that can make content inaccessible to a user, says Chadwick, stressing the importance of working with a qualified, knowledgeable website designer. Customers with visual, auditory or even physical impairments can’t click links, read small text or watch a video in the same way an able-bodied person can. Businesses need to be accountable for their content, Chadwick adds. “The way you code a website might actually exclude a screen reader from navigating or reading things correctly, which is a huge barrier for a lot of people,” she says, adding that businesses that fail to offer customers an accessible website are excluding a large market of prospective customers – and may even find themselves tied up in lawsuits.


Tyana Awada, web designer at OPIN Software.

Recently, Domino’s Pizza was taken to court in the U.S. by a man with visual impairment who was unable to order food from the website or app. Had the restaurant considered accessibility from the outset, the whole situation could have been avoided, says Chadwick. Awada and the team at OPIN took that into consideration when building the CPC website. The layout was structured with screen readers in mind, ensuring that visually imparied users could access all images by including alternative text labels and HTML formatting. “One of the biggest issues we find is a website’s colours aren’t accessible,” says Awada. “Blue text on a light grey background, for


“When it comes to design and being creative or innovative you don’t have to forsake accessibility.” – Tyana Awada, web designer, OPIN Software


1. Assess the status: Run an accessibility check using an automated tool or through manual testing with assistive technologies such as keyboard-only navigation, a screen reader, zoom magnification, colour contrast inversion and closed captioning. 2. Test with real people: Run trials of the site with persons with disabilities or conduct an exercise where you consider a set of disabilities. Consider the limitations of visual impairment, cognitive issues, colour blindness, hearing impairment as well as mobility issues.

Web designer Tyana Awada and web developer Benjamin Merkley work collaboratively to ensure OPIN’s clients meet web accessibility guidelines.

example, may not pass the colour standard, so we would go in, re-evaluate and make the appropriate changes.”

5. Think about the use of PDFs: Tag PDFs and re-design in Word, if necessary. Or, reconsider making them into web pages. If downloaded from the site they must accessible.

Interested in learning more about the new online accessibility guidelines and how you can bring your business up to code? Register HERE for OPIN Software’s webinar on Oct. 30, 2019.



4. Double-check videos: Ensure all videos have captions for the hearing impaired.


OPIN’S EXPERTISE Under the incoming AODA guidelines, all large businesses – defined as having 50 or more employees – will need to abide by WCAG 2.0 Level AA requirements. These include giving users the ability to resize text and adjust font colours to add more contrast, the inclusion of clear headings and labels as well as the use of consistent identification icons and phrasing. While ensuring accessibility may sound like a large undertaking, OPIN Software has helped many of its clients through the process, ensuring they meet the AODA standard. In addition to the

CPC website, OPIN recently rebuilt the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital website, creating a fully accessible platform set to launch later this year. “Most of the basic or foundational items you need to make a site accessible weren’t there,” says Awada, adding that the team did rigorous testing to ensure the colours, text and navigation of the hospital’s site functioned with assistive technologies. While going online is a seamless part of the daily routine of many people, Chadwick says it’s important to remember that there are those who can’t access online content as easily as others. “Understanding the ‘why’ behind the need for online accessibility and caring about people and recognizing them as consumers in the community is really important,” says Chadwick.

3. Design your interfaces inclusively: Structure your pages logically – use headings, labels, clearly defined instructions and descriptive links.


Electric vehicle charging stations growing in popularity among Kanata tenants


Landlord KRP Properties has highest concentration of charging stations in Ottawa-Gatineau



Use of electric vehicle charging stations is on the rise in Kanata North, Canada’s largest research and technology hub. KRP Properties, which manages 33 buildings spanning 3.1 million square feet of space in the area, recently expanded its EV charging station program to meet the demand. “People are more aware of greenhouse gases, climate change and of their environmental impact,” says Ray Cleroux, senior property manager at KRP. “We are continually expanding our sustainability initiatives and wanted to invest in this program sooner than later.” Cleroux spearheaded the project in 2016 by surveying tenants to gauge interest in having access to EV charging stations in parking lots. The findings were overwhelmingly positive and included many workers who said they were considering the purchase of an EV. KRP partnered with ChargePoint, the world’s largest network of independently owned and operated EV charging stations, to pilot the project with six chargers at buildings where demand was the highest. After seeing heavy use at the initial installations, KRP expanded the project and now offers tenants an opportunity to charge their EV at 29 dual port stations – the highest concentration of charging stations in Ottawa-Gatineau, according to ChargePoint. Users pay a small hourly fee to charge their vehicles and are notified through the ChargePoint app when their cars are fully charged.

People are more aware of greenhouse gases, climate change and of their environmental impact,” says Ray Cleroux, senior property manager at KRP. In the last three months, KRP’s Kanata North charging stations have seen 670 sessions. “The initial installs piqued people’s interest,” says property manager Sara Carriere. “Some tenants even reached out to say that the ability to charge their vehicles at the workplace was a motivating factor in purchasing an electronic vehicle.” When the initial survey was done in 2016, some 40 respondents reported owning an EV with 100 EV owners projected for 2018. With proven buy-in from tenants, KRP wants to continue to move the needle on its many sustainability programs, says Carriere. In addition to the EV charging station program, KRP has made green upgrades to its infrastructure, offset its electricity use by purchasing green energy through Bullfrog Power, lowered its base building

power consumption and has seen success in its waste diversion program. “Some buildings have diversion rates of 70 per cent or more,” says Carriere. “We work really closely with our tenants to keep our numbers up.” Carriere says KRP tenants are regularly checking in to see if they’re meeting their own sustainability targets. “We get regular requests from tenants to see their consumption or energy data so that they can monitor it internally,” she says. Carriere says KRP is looking into expanding the information that is available to tenants to provide even more robust data and continue the progress that is being made in Kanata North. “We’re always exploring new ways to advance our approach to corporate social responsibility,” she adds.


New accelerator seeks bootstrappers BY CRAIG LORD



Bayandor says this approach, which aims to help bootstrappers grow at their own pace, will ultimately yield a better product than the hit-or-miss VC approach. “I think the bootstrapping segment’s getting a little bit neglected,” Bayandor says. “Everyone’s on this hunt for this unicorn, running around town pitching. We want to work with these guys who want to really build a sustainable solid company.”

Andy Bayandor, CEO of Twelve-7 Ventures

Twelve-7’s philosophy attempts to separate the company’s pitch deck from its founders. While the accelerator’s application will include a breakdown of the business, that’s just to get in the door. Godcharles says the in-person


After Interis was acquired by BDO in 2013, all three men started delving into the startup scene, either as advisers or CEOs themselves. Through their regular


“Everyone’s on this hunt for this unicorn, running around town pitching. We want to work with these guys who want to really build a sustainable solid company.” -

conversations will help the team decide whether the founders are more interested in the “glamour” of startup life – flashy, Dragon’s Den-style pitches and large VC rounds – or, as he puts it, “doing it the hard way.” The Twelve-7 team isn’t suggesting startups should avoid VC at all costs. Some capital-intensive businesses, for example, might find merit in raising a sizeable round. Godcharles cites the recent success of Montreal-based Lightspeed POS as an example of the merits of waiting to raise. Though Lightspeed raised hundreds of millions in venture capital before its IPO earlier this year, CEO Dax Dasilva told BetaKit it deliberately went seven years without collecting a single VC cheque. That helped the company to shape its identity and mission before getting outside input and funds from investors, he said. Godcharles agrees with Dasilva, adding that a company that already has a solid foundation of annual revenues will have more leverage if and when it finally does seek a major venture capital deal. Four companies will be selected for Twelve-7’s inaugural cohort. Applications are open now at, with programming set to start in early 2020.


t’s easy to get caught up in the glamour of big venture capital rounds. To the average onlooker, the simple equation for VC rounds is that the bigger the dollar value, the bigger the potential. Entrepreneurs themselves – the ones that are looking to change the world with their next big idea – can be forgiven for getting their heads in the clouds too, thinking venture backing is the only way to the top. A new accelerator in Ottawa, however, is looking for founders with their feet on the ground. Twelve-7 Ventures has opened applications for its first accelerator cohort, seeking established companies committed to long-term bootstrapping with the hope of hitting annual revenues of $12 million in seven years. The new accelerator is the vision of three local executives steeped in the management consultant business. CEO Andy Bayandor, a graduate of the Telfer School of Management, got his start out of university at Ottawa-based Interis Consulting. That’s where he met Denis Godcharles and Richard Mercier, the co-chairs of Twelve-7 Ventures.

conversations with other entrepreneurs in recent years, the founding team started to hear some familiar problems. For example, entrepreneurs who wanted to grow a business at their own pace were having trouble accessing working capital from banks, while the traditional VC model of grow-at-all-costs took control away from founders too early in the journey. “There is a gap there for entrepreneurs who want to grow their business and keep control,” Mercier says. In an attempt to address that gap, Twelve-7 Ventures is currently raising a fund of roughly $1.5 million to provide its participating companies with the working capital they need to steadily grow the business. At the same time, Twelve-7’s team will run the companies’ entire back office operations, letting the founders focus on executing their individual strategies.


MindBridge Ai detecting fraud for central bank


indBridge Ai has been tapped to pilot its artificial intelligence-powered audit platform with Canada’s central bank, which could give the fast-growing Ottawa firm a major reference customer. MindBridge, which uses AI to detect fraud activity in a company’s books, announced Wednesday it will participate in the Bank of Canada’s innovation program, putting its application to

work to spot abnormalities in payment transactions. MindBridge’s tech is especially relevant to the central bank, as it’s responsible for managing federal government funds. Should the pilot go well, MindBridge’s made-in-Ottawa tech might play a pivotal role in monitoring the feds’ payments through the Bank of Canada. The proof-of-concept project will look to find ways to block atypical activity,

MindBridge Ai CEO Eli Fathi. File photo monitor transactions in the Bank of Canada’s network and improve the central bank’s existing controls. This isn’t MindBridge’s first interaction with a central bank, nor with a major Canadian institution. The Ottawa firm participated in the Bank of England’s fintech accelerator back in

2017. And just a few months ago, the company also raised its series-B round, with $14.5 million coming from the federal government itself. MindBridge CEO Eli Fathi is also on the feds’ AI advisory council, helping to shape government policy around machine learning technology.

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Techopia Live:

Fintech firm is ‘the tale of two cities’


or small businesses looking to send money across borders, the user experience leaves a lot to be desired. Veem, a Silicon Valley fintech firm that calls Kanata its second home, is building out a substantial payment network underpinned by blockchain to cater to these underserved clients. Sheila James, Veem’s vice-president of operations, joined Techopia Live recently to explain why she believes the global payments industry is “ripe for the fixing.� The traditional process for businesses looking to send money internationally is through the banks’ SWIFT system, which involves a series of transactions – with the associated fees and currency conversions – across the banks’ global networks. While the process can take days and rack up a

hefty cost along the way, James said one of the main issues with money transfers is the extensive amount of banking information senders and receivers need to exchange before they can get payments on their way. Veem, which has so far raised US$70 million in venture capital, requires just a recipient’s name and email address. That simplicity, which mirrors person-to-person domestic payments, is Veem’s major selling point, James said. One of the ways Veem simplifies payments is by introducing the blockchain as a new payment “rail.� James noted that the fintech firm was one of the first companies to use Bitcoin in its application: Veem converts a sender’s money to the digital currency as an intermediate step

CLICK HERE in the digital edition for our full conversation with Veem’s Sheila James.

between the recipient’s final payout, thus removing a host of transactions and conversions from the standard process. “Using new technology is what really helped us build a new, innovative payment network,� she said. While Veem’s solution sounds like it belongs in the company of other Silicon Valley fintech stars such as PayPal and Square, the majority of the company’s 130 employees actually work out of its Kanata offices. James said it was always the plan to grow Veem from both cities. Her history in the capital’s tech scene gave

her confidence in the city’s talent pool: She and Veem co-founder Marwan Forzley worked together on Ottawa-based payments firm eBillMe before selling it to Western Union in 2011. While Silicon Valley is ripe with fintech expertise, James said, access to talent is tight in San Francisco. She said that Ottawa tends to be a less competitive market and noted that the city’s tech workers are skilled when it comes to building products. “It really is the tale of two cities. San Francisco and Ottawa complement each other extremely well,� James said.

Neptec Design Group (now part of MDA and Maxar) has long been a NASA prime contractor. Its latest flagship project is a contract from the Canadian Space Agency to design and build the Dextre Deployable Visions System (DDVS) for the International Space Station. Mounted on an external arm, the DDVS will carry out critical damage inspection and act like an airport control tower to guide approaching spacecraft as they arrive to dock.


Learn more about manufacturing in Eastern Ontario




Ensuring an intelligent and secure digital future uOttawa Faculty of Engineering researchers tackle the big issues with society’s digital transformation

Prof. Lionel Briand holds the Canada Research Chair in Intelligent Software Dependability and Compliance.



rom AI to big data, our society is rapidly changing. With that change comes a host of privacy and security issues that must be addressed. Two School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science professors at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Engineering are leading that charge.



Software systems we can trust Prof. Lionel Briand holds the Canada Research Chair in Intelligent Software Dependability and Compliance. Recently returned to Ottawa after 12 years in Europe, he is eager to connect with local tech companies and align his research with their needs. In fact, he believes it is crucial to the global competitiveness of Canada’s tech sector for academic researchers and private industry to do a better job of coordinating their efforts. “I have always done my research in close collaboration with industry to ensure the research problems I work on are relevant and the solutions I devise will be impactful,” he said. During his 25-year career, Prof. Briand has worked with around 40 private sector companies, often in the automotive, telecommunications and financial industries. His research focuses on improving reliability and dependability of software systems – their security against malicious actors, their functional reliability, and their compliance with laws and regulation – though increased automation. Why automation? There is a growing shortage of qualified computer scientists in most industries to manage all the aspects of development, testing and certification of these increasingly complex systems. The “intelligent” in his title refers to the fact that greater

University of Ottawa Faculty of Engineering professor Guy-Vincent Jourdan leads a team that’s detecting and countering malicious activities in cyberspace. automation through artificial intelligence is key to offset this shortage of human expertise. “This has highly practical applications because all aspects of society and all industry sectors now depend on reliable, safe and secure software,” he said. “Whether it is online banking and shopping, automobiles or avionics, there is no aspect of life that is not affected.” If you want to discuss a research collaboration, contact Prof. Briand at Smarter algorithms to drive the bad guys out of business In the battle against cybercrime to secure critical networks and websites and protect the public interest, the first rule is to know your enemy. That is a guiding principle for Prof. Guy-Vincent Jourdan. “You cannot effectively fight against something if you don’t understand how it operates,” he said. “If you understand how it operates, you can push where it hurts.” His team is working in partnership with IBM Security teams all over the world to address the challenges of detecting and countering malicious activities in cyberspace, such as phishing attacks, by using machine learning and purpose-built algorithms. We are all acquainted with phishing – the bad guys contact you by email or text message, often posing OBJ360 CONTENT STUDIO

as a legitimate institution, to lure you into providing sensitive data or to click a link that will download malware into your system. The challenge is to quickly identify and target these efforts, before than can even succeed in luring a victim. “If you come up with the perfect algorithm that is going to analyze a web page and tell you in 30 seconds that the page is a phishing site, that is great in academia but it is far too slow to be useful in the real world,” Prof. Jourdan said. Creating that faster algorithm goes hand in hand with learning the weaknesses of the cybercrime industry’s business models. One weakness is the thin margin of profit under which most malicious actors operate. ”For example, by making it more time consuming and expensive for them to mount a successful attack, by cutting the bridge between the attacker and the information they are trying to obtain, it is no longer profitable for them,” Prof. Jourdan said. Prof. Jourdan can be reached at

Continued from page 17 “It has been one of the best things about this market is that it is a very stable market,” he says. “Now that the decision is made and we know what we’re dealing with, people are just gonna move on.”

NEW TECHNOLOGY Pelletier says the retail plaza has stepped up its efforts to target tech-savvy shoppers through promotions such as last spring’s 1970s-themed “Heart Melt Motel” experience aimed at creating an “Instagrammable” attraction for visitors as well as a new app that lets users access the mall’s directory on their smartphones. The recent addition of new tenants such as Saje Natural Wellness and Purdys Chocolatier to a roster that already includes big names such as Apple, Hudson’s Bay and Roots will give consumers even more reason to head to the mall during the pre-Christmas rush, he adds. Visitor traffic is up about two per cent over 2018, Pelletier says, while average sales have jumped almost five per cent

year-over-year to about $800 per square foot. “If we ended there by the end of the year, I think we’d be very pleased with those results,” he says. Downtown at the Rideau Centre, O’Hoski says his property is also looking at new ways at making itself more of a pre-Christmas destination in the e-commerce era. The mall is moving its Santa’s chair to a larger area in front of Simons on the third floor, for example, and a series of DJs will be performing every Thursday night near Nordstrom on level two starting in mid-November. Nabatian says that although smaller community malls are in a fight for survival as consumers increasingly turn to online commerce, large regional shopping centres such as Bayshore and the Rideau Centre are experiencing a renaissance. “It seems that (major) shopping centres are seeing a bit of a comeback,” he explains. “People want to go there for fun, for window shopping, to meet people.” O’Hoski couldn’t agree more. “We’re in really good shape,” he says.

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174 60

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132 55

63 28

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2 70 1 0

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92 52

45 11

21 00

Lionel David Nolet Brighten, Jeff LeBlanc, Tim Malleau, Greg Mouland

1980 1979

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2002 1968

Full-service small and medium entrepreneurial businesses Full-servicefirm firmfor providing audit, tax, consulting, risk management and net worth clients. Taxation planning and compliance andhigh financial advisory services. services including corporate restructuring, purchase and sale of business, succession and continuity and estate planning, business valuation and startup advisory services

Parker Prins Lebano McCay Duff LLP 1796 Courtwood Cr., flr, Ottawa, ONON K2C 2B5 141 Laurier Ave., 6th Ottawa, K1P 5J3 613-727-7474 //613-727-3715 613-236-2367 613-236-5041

26 55

13 28

11 00

SteveHowarth Parker Jason

1996 1946

Fullservice: service,auditing, except bankruptcy Full accounting, taxation (corporate and personal), business advisory, business valuation, corporate reorganizations, estate and succession planning, fund administration, business purchase and sales, due diligence

Crowe Katz BGK LLP Logan LLP 400-340 March Rd., Rd., Ottawa, Kanata, ON ON K2E K2K 8A3 2E4 105-6 Gurdwara 613-836-8228 //613-228-8284 613-836-8338 613-228-8282

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11 15

11 01

Brian Chainé Kreisman Denis

1950 1994

Full-service firm providing and accounting, business Personal, corporate, SR&ED,audit cross-border, U.S. taxation, taxadvisory, mergersand andcompliance, acquisitions,assurance, SR&ED and government grants, U.S. planning business advisory, corporate tax, personal and corporate tax, reorganizations, estate planning, reorganization, back office support, estate and succession planning, commodity tax recruiting services, bookkeeping

Bouris, Wilson Andrews & Co. LLP 1701 Woodward Dr., 2nd flr, ON Ottawa, 540 Lacolle Way, Orléans, K4AON 0N9K2C 0R4 613-727-8500 613-727-8585 613-837-8282 // 613-837-7482

22 52

10 11

11 00

Kevin Brighten, Dykstra Jeff LeBlanc, David Tim Malleau, Greg Mouland

1960 1979

Full-service firm providing audit, tax, consulting, risk (outsourcing); management Audit and assurance; business management services and financial advisory personal, corporate andservices. estates/trusts taxation; financial statements; bookkeeping; business succession planning, restructuring and financing; bank financing; mentoring; planning; business valuations

McIntyre&&Koshy Associates Professional Connelly Professional Corp. Corp. 200-900 Morrison Dr., Ottawa, 401-2934 Baseline Rd., Ottawa, ON ON K2H K2H 8K7 1B2 613-726-7788//613-225-0730 613-729-4477 613-224-0212

21 35

11 13

21 00

Brent Hiscoe, Larry Hasson, Luc Imbeau Jennifer Brownlee, James S. McIntyre

1981 1968

Full-servicefirm firmproviding offering assurance accounting, including Full-service audit, tax, and consulting, risk management bookkeeping, payroll, services. corporate and personal taxes, incorporation, and financial advisory corporate reorganizations, business acquisitions, succession planning, budgeting, forecasting and cash-flow projections.



1 0

Steve Parker


Full service, except bankruptcy

KPMG LLP 1800-150 Elgin St., Ottawa, ON K2P 2P8 Company/Address/ 613-212-5764 / 613-212-2896 Phone/Fax/Web Deloitte Ernst & Young 1600-100 QueenLLP St., Ottawa, ON K1P 5T8 1200-99 Bank/St., Ottawa, ON K1P 6B9 613-236-2442 613-236-2195 613-232-1511 / 613-232-5324 PwC 800-99 Bank St., Ottawa, ON K1P 1E4 Welch LLP 613-237-3702 613-237-3963 123 Slater St.,/3rd floor, Ottawa, ON K1P 5H2 613-236-9191 / 613-236-8258 BDO Canada LLP 100-1730 St. Laurent Blvd., Ottawa, ON K1G 5L1 GGFL LLP 613-739-8221 / 613-739-1517 287 Richmond Rd., Ottawa, ON K1Z 6X4 613-728-5831 / 613-728-8085

* Includes: CPA,Parker CA, CMA,Prins CGA. Does not include CPA students. Lebano 1796 Courtwood Cr., Ottawa, ON K2C 2B5 613-727-7474 / 613-727-3715

Grant McDonald Managing partner(s)

Full-service firm, operating through four service lines: audit, tax, advisory, enterprise (private company advisor). Services offered Full-service firm providing audit, tax, consulting, risk management Full-service assurance, IT audit, fraud investigation, advisory and financialfirm: advisory services. services, cybersecurity, domestic/cross-border tax, transfer pricing, transaction advisory, emerging growth services, private client services, not-for-profit, government. Provides professional services including audit and assurance, risk assurance, tax,corporate deals andtax consulting inSR&ED areas such as cybersecurity Personal and planning, tax credits, accounting/ and privacy, human resources, digital transformation forensics. financial reporting, business advisory, doing businessand in Canada, financial statement audit, government contribution audit/compliance audit, M&A, corporate finance, intergenerational wealth planning Full service bilingual assurance and accounting, tax, U.S. tax and advisory services, including government incentives, valuations, Full service, specializing in owner-managed businesses. Assurance, litigation insolvency debt restructuring, consulting advisory,support, accounting and taxand services, insolvency, corporate (planning, performance, transformation, change), risk management, restructuring, estate and succession planning, real estate, medical technology solutions, business not-for-profits transition, wealth advisory and dental software professionals, construction, and legal counsel. Bilingual full-service firm specializing in audit, tax, strategy and Full-service firm, operatingITthrough four serviceaudit, lines: tax audit, tax, performance consulting, audit, contribution credit, advisory, company advisor).valuation, sales and businessenterprise succession(private and continuity, business acquisitions, recovery and reorganization (businesses and individuals)


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For a man who’s been tapped to lead a marquee series of projects at Ottawa’s fastest-growing animation studio, David Gerhard had a somewhat awkward introduction to the art form that’s dominated his professional career. “When I first started watching cartoons when I was really little, I remember being really afraid of them,” he tells OBJ with a chuckle. “Rocky and Bullwinkle would come on, and the colours and the sharp contrasts actually kind of scared me. But I soon fell in love with them once I got over that fear. My mom raised me on a healthy dose of Ren and Stimpy, Pee Wee’s Playhouse.” Gerhard, 42, has continued to cultivate that affection over more than a decade as an animator and director for a number of prestigious studios south of the border, including industry heavyweights such as Warner Bros. and the Cartoon Network. After six years at Nickelodeon’s studios in Burbank, Calif. ​– including the past two as the creative director of the animation giant’s alternative media team –​ Gerhard decided to leave sunny southern California for the Great White North. He starts a new job as creative director of Ottawa’s Atomic Cartoons in nearly November, overseeing teams working on projects for NBCUniversal. The Hintonburg studio has been on a hiring tear since opening its doors in late 2018. The headcount at Atomic’s Wellington Street workplace has risen to nearly 50, with another hundred or so employees expected to be brought on board by the middle of next year. Atomic has quickly made a name for itself as producer of the

David Gerhard/Atomic Cartoons Netflix series Last Kids on Earth, a show about young students battling zombies. Its deal with NBCUniversal, one of the world’s largest media organizations, is sure to accelerate that momentum. “I like the projects that they’re working on and the direction they’re heading,” says Gerhard, adding he was ready for a new challenge after spending most of his career to date in California. “(Atomic) just seems like the right fit. Ottawa has this rich (animation) history and the energy behind the artistic vision of Ottawa is growing. I think it’s just gonna be a really fun and interesting ride to grow with this studio and grow with the animators and artists in Ottawa.”

At Nickelodeon, Gerhard was a driving force behind cutting-edge advancements in technology that included a virtual reality experience featuring characters from the network’s 2D-animated series Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, even putting his skills as a puppeteer to good use playing Donatello. The studio was a “lovely home” that let him spread his wings as an animator, he says. “I’m a bit of a tech geek on top of being an animation geek,” he explains. “I got to do a lot of new, innovative storytelling stuff that was just a lot of fun.” Gerhard, who grew up in Lexington, Ky., and studied animation at the California

Institute of the Arts, is now looking to build on those experiences in Ottawa. The nation’s capital has long been an animation hotbed. The Ottawa International Animation Festival has been running since 1976, and the city is home to more than half a dozen acclaimed studios that include Mercury Filmworks, which now employs nearly 300 people and recently won an Emmy for its work on the Netflix series Hilda. Meanwhile, a $40-million sound stage that’s expected to open next year on Woodroffe Avenue will include four sound stages for film and TV productions as well as office space for animation firms. Atomic might be the new kid on the block, but it comes with an impressive pedigree. Its Vancouver head office has 500 staff and has produced series for some of the biggest names in the industry, and Gerhard can’t wait to get to work putting the Ottawa location on the map. He says the explosion of social media platforms and video streaming services and the use of new software technology are revolutionizing the industry. In contrast to the traditional 22-minute episodes of the past, today’s animated shows are often 11 minutes or less, and many are produced in a non-linear format better-suited to platforms such as Snapchat. “It’s actually sort of an exciting time to be making animation because there’s so many different (elements) to explore,” Gerhard says. “It all comes back down to creating good characters and good stories. The tech is really just a fun way to explore that.” – David Sali

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE David Goldstein is joining Gusto Worldwide Media as chief operation officer. Goldstein brings almost three decades of executive experience in media management, corporate strategy and global markets to the role, most recently as president and CEO of Destination Canada, a federal tourism marketing agency. He will navigate Gusto’s international growth into new territories while overseeing the operations of its studio and test kitchen as well as its postproduction, master control and playout services. Erin Fenn has been named executive

CONTRACTS The following contains

vice-president of Ottawa tech firm Intouch Insight. Fenn has more than a decade of experience as a sales and marketing leader, most recently as chief operating officer of 1VALET, and was a 2019 Forty Under 40 recipient. In her new role, she will be responsible for the sales, marketing and product management departments.

international business development. He will lead Ienso’s global activities.

Sebastien Dignard has been appointed president of Ienso, a provider of embedded imaging and wireless technologies for consumer and commercial applications. The former CEO of FRAMOS and a 2017 Forty Under 40 recipient, Dignard brings more than 18 years of experience in management and


information about recent contracts, standing offers and supply arrangements awarded to local firms.

Emerion 200-368 Dalhousie St. Informatics Professional Services Buyer: Department of National Defense $5,671,205

M.D. Charlton Co. 103-66 Iber Rd. Replenishable field medical sets, kits and outfits Buyer: Department of National Defense $505,190

T.E.S. Contract Services 304-301 Moodie Dr. Informatics Professional Services Buyer: Employment and Social Development Canada $9,151,060

CORADIX Technology Consulting 500-222 Somerset St. Informatics Professional Services Buyer: Department of National Defense $5,541,219

TCI Translators, conference interpreters 1803-160 George St. Translation Services Buyer: PWGSC $488,644

Teksystems Canada 1000-123 Slater St. Informatics Professional Services Buyer: Employment and Social Development Canada $8,981,626

TeraMach Technologies 105-1130 Morrison Dr. ADP Software Buyer: Library and Archives Canada $5,145,796

Cummins Eastern Canada LP 3189 Swansea Cres. Generator maintenance Buyer: PWGSC $211,742

S.I. SYSTEMS ULC 300-170 Laurier Ave. W. Informatics Professional Services Buyer: Employment and Social Development Canada $8,955,098 S.I. SYSTEMS ULC 300-170 Laurier Ave. W Informatics Professional Services Buyer: Employment and Social Development Canada $8,833,171

ESRI Canada Limited 430-1600 Carling Ave. Software Buyer: Department of National Defense $1,678,323 Carleton University 510 Tory Building-1125 Colonel By Dr. Design, Development, Formulation, Modification: Science and Technology Related Buyer: Department of National Defense $817,650

Valcom Consulting Group 300-85 Albert St. Logistics Support Services Military Aerospace related Buyer: Department of National Defense $187,272 Ottawa Business Interiors 183 Colonnade Rd. Cabinets and furniture Buyer: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada $174,800 Rampart International 2574 Sheffield Rd. Individual Equipment Buyer: RCMP $157,883

Get your OBJ at Hillary’s Cleaners OBJ’s monthly newsmagazine can be conveniently picked up at select Hillary’s locations, including World Exchange Plaza, Constitution Square, Place Bell, Minto Place and 1235 Bank St. in Old Ottawa South.

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Randstad Interim 410-1600 Carling Ave. Informatics Professional Services Buyer: Employment and Social Development Canada $8,699,710

Ecole de langues Eagle 305-176 Gloucester St. Language and training services Buyer: PWGSC $2,000,000

The Masha Krupp Translation Group 500-1547 Merivale Rd. Translation Services Buyer: PWGSC $201,206

The Ottawa-based Canadian Internet Registration Authority won the MaxSys Staffing & Consulting Award for Most

Ottawa General Contractors has been selected by Remodeling magazine to join theRemodeling Big50. Each year, the Remodeling Big50 inducts 50 remodelling companies that have set exceptionally high standards for professionalism and integrity through exemplary business practices, craftsmanship and impact in their community or the industry.


PricewaterhouseCoopers 700-99 Bank St. Informatics Professional Services Buyer: Employment and Social Development Canada $8,799,671

Ecole de langues Eagle 305-176 Gloucester St. Language and training services Buyer: PWGSC $2,000,000

Feenics has named Hanna Farah its new chief technology officer. Most recently, Farah was a manager at Deloitte, where he advised technology companies on incentive programs in research and experimental development.

Effective Recruitment Strategy at the sixth annual Canadian HR Awards in Toronto. The awards recognize outstanding leadership and innovation in Canada’s HR sector.



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Longtime baseball scout and executive Duncan MacDonald says the sport can still be a hit with fans in the capital – if the ballpark is relocated to the heart of the city

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 238-1818 ext. 251 NEWS RELEASES Please e-mail to ADVERTISING SALES General Inquiries, 238-1818 ext. 228 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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not to renew at all. The Can-Am League’s Ottawa Rapidz arrived in 2008. The team did not do a great job at providing a value proposition beyond the game itself and lasted just one season. The Ottawa Fat Cats made it work for the 2010 and 2011 seasons, thanks to a marketing strategy that focused on putting “bums in seats” with creativity and the bizarre. The Fat Cats knew they had about 6,000 empty seats every night – so they bundled up more value and increased the value proposition for corporate groups and the core target audiences. And they delivered fun. The game was secondary.

NO LACK OF FAN SUPPORT Now, after five seasons, the Ottawa Champions are out of the CanAm League for 2020. An expensive lease with the city didn’t help, while outdated promotions reduced the value proposition for casual fans – the biggest target customer. If baseball doesn’t happen to succeed in Ottawa in the future, it won’t be because of a lack of fan support. Rather, its failure will be due in large part to the weight of the operating lease and ineffective marketing. Forget about games in April and May. A team in the short-season Class-A New York-Penn League, which has just 38 home games from mid-June to Labour Day weekend, would be the ideal tenant. But rather than dwell on the failures of the past, let’s look forward and applaud city management for being open to negotiating a more workable

Duncan MacDonald is the former coowner of the Ottawa Fat Cats of the Intercounty Baseball League and a former amateur scout with the Toronto Blue Jays.


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.

I remember a conversation I once had with the late Howard Darwin, the man who brought Triple-A baseball back to Ottawa in 1993, while he was sipping on a Labatt 50 at his favourite haunt, the Ottawa Nepean Canadians Sports Club. I asked him if he had to do it all over again, would he still own the Lynx? His answer was a sombre no. He said the revenue-sharing model under which the city received points from parking, concessions, signage, suites, ticket surcharges, naming rights and more made baseball a tough proposition in Ottawa. The decline of the Lynx after the club’s inaugural 1993 championship season was extremely difficult to watch. Season after season, attendance totals dropped, leading to the franchise’s eventual departure from the capital in 2007. So why did the Lynx fail? I believe it came down to four major factors: the lease, the weather, the entertainment value and the sheer number of home games. The team’s lease at Ottawa Stadium (now Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park) was extremely intrusive, but the stadium had to be paid for. The weather in Ottawa is NOT suitable for baseball night games in April and May. And the 7,000-plus season ticket-holders learned quickly that attending six games in seven nights on a typical homestand would be tough on any household – which is why they began to give their tickets away and subsequently opted to buy half- or quarter-season ticket packs or decided

lease arrangement for the Champions in the future. Perhaps the city will offer a lease that is comparable to the less punitive terms it negotiates with junior hockey teams that use city-owned sports complexes (facilities that all lose money). Let’s hope. What’s the best-case scenario for the future of baseball in Ottawa? The current stadium is outdated and too large for minor professional teams. A solution is to repurpose the current facility’s assets and build a new, smaller stadium at LeBreton Flats. I’m sure many developers would be interested in buying the current ballpark site on Coventry Road, which is prime territory for a business park with residential towers. The city would increase the commercial and residential tax base as well as get more use out of the pedestrian bridge to LRT and the train station. Meanwhile, the NCC and visitors to LeBreton Flats would benefit from a new multi-use stadium with artificial turf that could host concerts and a multitude of sporting events. If NHL hockey is ultimately expected to be a main attraction for fans in the winter, then baseball could fill the same role at other times, luring tourists and residents looking for something to do on a hot summer night. With professional baseball’s future in Ottawa up in the air, now is the time to consider a new home for the sport. LeBreton Flats would be ideal.


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• HR specialists, from novices to executives • Contains thought-provoking articles from prominent leaders from a wide variety of industry sectors • Feature interview with a prominent individual who shares fresh, new insights into HR challenges and achievements • Opportunity to build brand awareness in front of this important audience and generate sales leads • Associate your business with a trusted media source • Published twice per year in Spring and Fall


• Distributed as an advertising supplement inside the Ottawa Business Journal newspaper to over 10,000 business owners, managers, and professionals • Digital magazine is posted to OBJ.CA for one year (70,000 unique visitors monthly) and posted to forever

CATCHING ‘FREE AGENTS’ Recruiting top talent through non-traditional employment arrangements PAGE 8 PLUS



Bring your resources to our readers Prospective advertisers email for more information

VOLUME 22 • ISSUE 03 • MAY 2019





Uncovering communication and conflict resolution talents



exchange is based on a different model where you develop different relationships with each person and give your employees individual attention.

Q: How can the hiring process be improved with a focus on “personalized approaches” to leadership? There are characteristics that seem to contribute to better relationships between leaders and subordinates, like emotional intelligence. For servant leadership, it seems having this pro-social motivation is very important for people. The idea that you’re concerned about other people, communities and your organization is very important. That’s one of the challenges in hiring practices – you need to make sure you have people who have characteristics that are amenable to servant leadership in the first place.

Q: You’re also researching workplace diversity. How does considering diversity improve workplace culture?





leadership and leader-member exchange, a concept premised on the idea that leaders need to do more than just motivate their subordinates. They need to also develop a relationship that extends beyond the workplace and take a personalized approach where people develop a mutual respect for one another. He recently spoke to Saskia Rodenburg about his research and what it means for HR leaders:

Q: What is servant leadership? Servant leadership is an approach where the leader prioritizes the needs of their followers over everything. That can help

Q: What are some common missteps of leaders? How can they improve?

One issue that sometimes occurs with leaders is overcommitment, and a sense of the organization achieve its goals by having overwhelm. A servant leader looks out for supervisors and leaders express their their employees’ needs and sometimes do interests in different ways as support. work they didn’t foresee doing because of Prioritizing the needs of your collaborative work instead of delegating. subordinates not only contributes to In terms of failures in leadership, one performance, but also overall wellness. It’s is not keeping your employees advised of a strategy I would argue works in the long what’s going on in the organization. So, term. part of building good relationships with Other approaches don’t capture your employees is being authentic and the need to develop individualized honest. relationships with employees. Keeping open lines of communication Previously, the concept was that you’re with your employees and building the leader and you’ve given employees a communities inside and outside the sense of the company’s vision, which you organization are what builds relationships. try to fulfil by motivating them with your charisma. This interview has been edited for length Servant leadership and leader-member and clarity.


hen Greg Sears was starting his career, he worked with an abusive supervisor and quickly saw how the effectiveness of that form of leadership was questionable at best. Now, as an associate professor of human resources management and organizational behaviour at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business, Sears works to better understand leadership dynamics and workplace relationships. One of his specific interests is the field of “personalized” leadership – a strategy that may seem counterintuitive to even progressive employers. This approach includes servant

I did a study recently with my colleagues, and we found that HR executives’ perceptions of their CEO’s commitments to diversity played a critical role in whether diversity practices and inclusion practices are implemented. Most CEOs say “diversity is great,” but they don’t walk the talk. Your HR managers and chief diversity officers play critical roles in implementing diversity, but an uncommitted CEO will result in more difficulty to implement diversity practices.



Fresh approaches to tackling the talent crunch TECH COMPANIES RETHINK RESKILLING IN TIGHT LABOUR MARKET By Adam Langenberg



ttawa’s hottest technology firms are eagerly watching Shopify’s pioneering program to help lapsed software developers re-enter the workforce as it launches this month. Several say they are watching to see the results before joining the e-commerce giant in its approach to attract new talent and say there’s “great merit” in the three-month program for experienced developers who have been outside the workforce for more than two years. Shopify said it’s received an “overwhelmingly positive response” from jobseekers, although it declined to say

how many lapsed developers have been approved to join the course. Anna Lambert, Shopify’s director of talent acquisition, said the Welcome Back program for developers with more than three years’ experience had gained plenty of interest from candidates who wouldn’t be found otherwise. “Our goal is to create an accessible program that reinvigorates a tech foundation that already exists in candidates,” she said. “We designed this program knowing that it can be difficult for people to reenter the workforce despite having a great set of skills and experience.” The program is just one of many

innovative approaches the company was taking to lure talent in a “tricky” labour market, Lambert said. Djoume Salvetti, Shopify’s director of engineering who created the Welcome Back program, said it would help the company access qualified engineers and developers who were having a tough time re-entering the tech industry. “It’s a fast-paced industry, and that’s why we’ve tailored the program to focus on refreshing existing technical skills in candidates we know show great potential,” he said.

TALENT PIPELINE But while eagerly awaiting the results of Shopify’s programs, fellow high-tech firms Kinaxis and Entrust Datacard are focusing on other ways to attract talent, although Entrust said it has long worked to help

employees return to the workplace after lengthy absences. Both firms face the same uphill battle to fill talent shortages in the short and long term, with Kinaxis chief human resources officer Megan Paterson saying hiring was getting “harder and harder every year.” Kinaxis’ employee referral program is the Kanata-based firm’s greatest sources of hires, while a branding program to make the company stand out from its competitors has already yielded more applications for each advertised position. A newly appointed vice-president in thought leadership will also work with universities across the world to insert Kinaxis’ software into courses in a bid to boost brand awareness, although Paterson said the initiative was not directly linked to recruitment. Worried about a lack of computer science students graduating from universities, Kinaxis has started speaking about technology careers to high school students to ensure a future talent pipeline. “We’re realizing you have to get them quite a bit younger so they make those choices in the courses they choose in high school so they can qualify to go into computer science if that’s what they want to do,” Paterson said. Kirsten Paquette, Entrust Datacard’s senior human resources manager, said about 20 of the more than 300 positions in its Kanata office were “hard to fill,” citing cryptography as a particular skill shortage for the firm, which designs identity and secure transaction technologies. “As technology gets more and more specific, we are finding that we’re not able to find the exact skills, whether it’s languages or experience, readily available. Given we’re in one of the tech hubs of Canada, the fact we can’t find them is definitely a problem,” she said. In response, the company is increasingly turning to student hires, focusing on being visible in the Kanata tech hub and redoing its employee referral program. But Paquette said an industry wide approach was necessary to bring new talent out of Vancouver and Toronto and into Ottawa, rather than relying on individual companies to do the heavy lifting. “It’s a very open environment in Kanata. We see it as shared talent, we all recognize talent is now going to look for the next thing every couple of years and that’s OK,” she said. “We’re hoping that if we all increase a municipal brand awareness it will benefit all of us in bringing talent in.”

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Accessible workplaces are beneficial for all employees Local businesses can take simple steps to build inclusive workplaces





common misconception exists that employing a person with a disability places stress on employers who must go out of their way to accommodate their new hire. But as many Ottawa companies are discovering, tapping into this often-overlooked talent pool can lead to improved workplace culture and higher employee retention rates. Employee accommodations can be as simple as rearranging desks, offering flexible hours or adjusting the lighting. And a growing number of businesses and organizations are realizing how seamless it can be to integrate employees with disabilities into their workforce through these lowimpact, high results practices. With the assistance and collaboration of organizations like the David C. Onley Initiative (DCOI) and United Way Ottawa’s EARN

THE NEW ACCESSIBILITY IDENTIFIER For businesses looking to showcase their commitment to inclusive workplaces, the DCOI has launched a new symbol that raises awareness among current and prospective employees, associates and community members. The identifier, part of the DCOI’s #AbleTo campaign, is a symbol that means “accessibility for all.” If you would like to highlight your business’s commitment to inclusivity, contact the DCOI to request a free identifier decal to display in your office or storefront. Email for more information.

(Employment Accessibility Resource Network), local employers have access to the tools and advice they need to make their businesses more accessible. “Accommodations are actually beneficial for all employees, not just those with disabilities,” says Julie Caldwell, assistant director of the DCOI. “More inclusive workplaces allow all staff members to perform at their personal best.” FIRST STEPS Incorporating accessibility into your business can start as early as the recruitment process, such as creating inclusive job postings that describe the work environment. For example, mention if your office is open concept – for those that might not be able to work in busy, distracting environments – or scattered with cubicles – for those with physical disabilities and mobility aids. “Employers will say they aren’t seeing people with disabilities applying for jobs – but it is important to consider that many disabilities are non-visible,” says Caldwell. “Being inclusive is about taking everyone into consideration.” Some people live with neurological disabilities, or painful conditions such as fibromyalgia, which can require a certain level of accommodation. Offering flexible work hours, ergonomic chairs and desks, or different assistive software can shape a workplace that benefits all staff. MAKING CHANGES Once a business has hired a person with a disability, several practices can be instituted to make the office more navigable. But it starts with having an open dialogue with employees. “It’s important to remember that the needs of each person are different – there isn’t a one-sizefits-all solution,” asserts Caldwell. Sean MacGinnis, co-founder and president of the

accessibility contracting company BuildAble, agrees. “It may sound obvious, but the best person to help you become more inclusive is someone living with (a disability),” says MacGinnis. One of the biggest mistakes MacGinnis sees when it comes to outfitting a workplace for accessibility is not consulting someone with a disability. “When you actually have an accessibility plan, have someone try it out to make sure it actually works,” he says. According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability Reports by Statistics Canada, the most commonly required types of workplace accommodations are flexible work arrangements, workstation modifications, and human or technical supports. “The average cost of accommodating an employee with a visible or non-visible disability is under $500,” offers Caldwell. “That’s a very small price to pay to attract and retain top talent for your business.”

#ABLETO TAKE THE PLEDGE Join the DCOI’s movement and make a social media pledge about how you’re #AbleTo help employees and colleagues with visible and non-visible disabilities in the workplace. Learn more at


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SAVE THE DATE Upcoming events, hosted by the Human Resources Professionals Association Ottawa Chapter. For more information on these and other upcoming events, visit HRPAChapters/Ottawa/programs FATIGUE: ONE BIG RISK FACTOR AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT Nov. 19, 2019 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sala San Marco (215 Preston St.) Clinton Marquardt, one of Canada’s top specialists in sleep-related fatigue, will discuss some of the most common sleep disorders and present tools that organizations and individuals can use to deal with them.


HR: A STRATEGIC PARTNER TO BUILD AN ANALYTICS INFRASTRUCTURE Feb. 20, 2020 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Location TBD Speaker: Manny Campione, market leader and principal, Normandin Beaudry TRANSFORMING FROM HR PROFESSIONAL TO HR LEADER March 25, 2020 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Location TBD This practical and hands-on session will focus on how you can begin your journey of upping your game as an HR professional and evolving into an HR leader who is sought after for your strategic mind. Speaker: Jodi ZigelsteinYip, chief HR innovator and founder, Enliven HR Consulting HRPA ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING May 6, 2020 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Collab Space (70 Bongard Ave.)




ttawa employers need to prepare for a future of “disruptive changes” by partnering with post-secondary institutions on co-op placements, encouraging students to attain relevant skills and hiring with diversity and inclusion in mind. That was the overall message of the inaugural Ottawa Talent Summit, an event hosted by the Ottawa Board of Trade and the Ottawa Business Journal at Kanata’s Brookstreet Hotel this fall. With Ottawa home to three major post-secondary institutions, there’s no shortage of local graduates armed with the necessary skills. The problem, said Cathy McCallion – the recruitment strategy and community relations manager at Ross Video and one of the panellists at the Talent Summit – is that most lack the experience employers desire. To overcome this hurdle, Ross Video takes in between 15 to 20 co-op students per term. While some employers may think that co-op placements are only for large

companies, McCallion had a message for startups and small companies: “You can’t afford not to do co-op. “Get out there and get to know your college and university partners,” she advised. “We all have a part to play in this, and it’s not the responsibility of one entity.” Adding to the talent crunch challenges facing employers is the rapid pace of technological change. More than 25 per cent of jobs across the country are predicted to be disrupted by technology in the coming decade, and half will require a significant overhaul of the required skills, said Andrew Arnott, regional vicepresident at RBC, citing a recent report commissioned by the bank. The study, titled Humans Wanted, also forecasted additional demand for “foundational skills” such as critical thinking, social perceptiveness, active listening and complex problem-solving abilities. Several panelists discussed the evolving ways candidates can communicate their informal skills as well as “microcredentials.” For example, Algonquin

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College has introduced “digital badges” that allow individuals to convey their achievements in the form of an online image with verifiable metadata on the badge issuer, criteria and any supporting evidence. “It allows (students) to show off the skills they attained,” said Patrick Devey, dean of Algonquin College’s Centre for Continuing and Online Learning. Other sessions at the Talent Summit focused on untapped labour pools, including individuals with disabilities and recent immigrants. Kelly McGahey, the senior manager of stakeholder relations at Hire Immigrants Ottawa, said the skills and talents that newcomers bring to Ottawa continue to be frequently underestimated. She said her organization finds that myths around the skills and qualifications of immigrants are quickly shattered once an employer starts seriously considering them as candidates. “What we found with a number of workplaces is that as they become more comfortable with hiring from diverse sources, those fears begin to slip away,” she said.


Ottawa’s engaged workplaces


he Employees’ Choice Awards (ECA) program honours organizations within the National Capital Region that recognize employees as their greatest asset. The selection, recognition and awarding of the Employees’ Choice Awards allows organizations to demonstrate why they are an ideal place for employees to work. This year’s 10 recipients – selected after a survey and analysis of the companies’ workforces – run the gamut of sectors, from tech to hospitality to marketing to, perhaps fittingly, recruitment. What makes the Employees’ Choice Awards unique is that recipients are determined by the company’s own staff through internal, confidential surveys. “There’s a lot of awards out there where it’s driven by the partners of the company or the owners of the company. This one was a lot different because it’s driven by the employees and they have the final say on if we win or we don’t win,” said Kody Wilson a tax partner at GGFL, one of this year’s recipients. Here are the stories behind this year’s recipients: Profiles by Maureen McEwan. Photos by Mark Holleron




‘Stop, breathe and enjoy the journey’ Preserving a distinct corporate culture can be a challenge for rapidly expanding companies as additional staff are hired and the business expands into new markets. But don’t tell that to Solink, a Kanatabased video analytics company, which has been recognized as one of Ottawa’s Fastest-Growing Companies as well as an Employees’ Choice Award recipient for the past two years. “We’re on the right track and moving the company in the right direction,” said Erin Bailey, Solink’s manager of people operations. “We’re happy to hear that the employees feel the same way.” In their survey responses, staff reported enjoying events such as ice cream days, trivia nights, Friday lunches and year-end parties. They also appreciated the bright

office space, flexible work hours and the opportunity to have an impact on the company. “We all work really hard for the same common goal. We’re all really excited about the products that we have here, and we want to make sure that we stop and have a little bit of fun along the way,” Bailey said. “That really comes from top down.” Solink created a social committee in late 2018 to help organize staff programs and events. The employee-led committee ensures that engagement doesn’t “fall through the cracks” as the business grows, Bailey said. “We want to be sure that we stop, breathe and enjoy the journey,” she added. When recruiting, Solink looks for candidates who will complement the existing team and the company’s culture, said marketing vice-president Karen McNaughton. She added that it’s the “excellence factor” that sets Solink apart and helps maintain the positive workplace atmosphere. “Some organizations (can)

appreciating the adjusted summer hours, regular staff lunches and the company’s dedication to work-life balance. “We have a very different philosophy here than a lot of other tech startups,” Potter said. “We subscribe to a philosophy that says get stuck in the mud or get stuck in the when you are in the office, you come in and negative,” said McNaughton. “At Solink, you work hard and you work for eight hours we just focus on delivering excellence – performing at a high level across all parts of a day. And then you don’t work. “We believe that that focus on work-life the organization. That reflects on different balance is one of the reasons why we’ve been teams within the company.” able to achieve the levels of growth that Looking ahead, the company will work we’ve achieved,” he added. to preserve its commitment to transparency The business has experienced the type and strong internal communications. Solink of rapid growth that can be detrimental to encourages ongoing staff feedback through surveys and other methods, and Bailey said the employee engagement at some companies. Potter said fast-growing startups – often company will “double down” on those efforts. short-staffed and occasionally lacking in polished internal processes – can be frustrating places to work. REWIND Potter said the co-founders’ work experience helped, as they were able to bring the best elements from their previous companies into Rewind. He added that they’ve maintained their core values and culture, and that the company has a similar feel, regardless of staff What started as a side hustle for two size or business growth. entrepreneurs has turned into one of the One of Rewind’s goals is to maintain city’s hottest startups, powered in large part with an emphasis on employee engagement. a low turnover rate. In tech, the term “When James (Ciesielski) and I first started “knowledge worker” takes on an added meaning as the value of the company is the company, it was one of our corporate goals to make Rewind a great place to work,” stored with its staff. Employees know the said CEO Mike Potter. “It’s always been really, clients, processes and systems, and have the really important to us. And it’s nice that we’ve power to improve and grow the business, he added. got some way of recognizing that we’re “In tech, there is so much turnover that if achieving the goal that we set out to hit.” you can build a company where people really Rewind offers data backup services want to stay, it can really be a competitive for web apps and platforms. There are advantage for you,” he added. “That’s always currently 31 employees working out of been our focus.” Rewind’s Hintonburg office. Staff reported

Growth through work-life balance


will be working to ensure the “lines of communication” are kept open with staff. “The ideas don’t have to come from the creative person, it doesn’t have to come from the boss,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I want it to come from the grassroots (and) everybody to be invested in the creativity of the company.”




Investing in creativity

Roughly four years ago, Alphabet Creative faced a challenge: How to add a formal level of management that’s needed by a growing company of its size without losing the collaborative culture that had brought the marketing agency to that point? “There was no hierarchy, it was flat. So that’s fine when you are 12 to 13 people, but when you double that ... you can’t have a flat hierarchy,” recalled Tony Lyons, the company’s founder and chief creative officer. Based on the feedback of an external human resources consultant, a “director layer” was added. There are also different departmental “pods” now – tech, creative, client services, strategy – which has helped manage the company as it grows, Lyons said. “You can have an open-door policy, that people can come in and chat, but you have to have a management level. Otherwise the machine just doesn’t work,” Lyons said. To keep employees engaged, the company holds monthly employee events, offers external educational opportunities and hosts internal leadership training. Lyons said

one of the events he’s most proud of was a mental health education session hosted by two employees. Finally, the famous team member and office dog, Sadie, helps to provide a positive atmosphere. Looking ahead, Alphabet Creative will be putting even more emphasis on giving employees information on the company’s strategic direction and client relationships. “We try hard to deliver a really good experience to our clients⁠ – and to overdeliver a lot of the time – and I think people who work here are invested in that and they really care about it,” he said. During busy periods, Lyons said they


After 26 years with InGenius Software, CEO Dale Gantous said she’s learned to look for a specific trait in prospective employees to ensure they’re adding to the tech firm’s corporate culture. “We often call it the ‘light behind the eyes,’” she said. “We’re looking for people who are smart, get things done, can work really well on a team, enjoy what they are doing and be proud of what they are doing. It’s important to carry that along through the organization as it gets bigger.” This is the second Employees’ Choice Award in two years for InGenius, which provides computer telephony integration services and products. “It’s such a nice testament to how the employees feel about working here,” she said. “We always wanted to create the kind of place where we wanted to work, and

we know everybody else wants the same thing.” InGenius currently has 65 employees. To keep staff informed on company news, Gantous hosts “what’s happening” lunches every four to six weeks. To promote fun at the office, there are Halloween contests, ugly sweater days, regular staff outings and family movie nights. Employees also reported that they appreciate the inclusive atmosphere and a strong sense of teamwork. In early October, InGenius was acquired by Texas-based Upland Software. Gantous said that she believes the two cultures of the two companies will fit well together. “All indications so far (are) that, culturally, we are very compatible,” she said. “Working with them, I think they believe in the having fun part of working,” she added. “But they are very, very serious about success, as are we.”


Opening doors to internal advancement As a locally owned and operated company with a 73-year history in Ottawa, GGFL already stands out in the accounting industry. But toss in axe-throwing teambuilding activities and in-house massages during tax season and it’s easy to see why this Employees’ Choice Award recipient has so many long-tenured employees in a sector known for its high turnover. “We really work as a collaborative team here,” said partner Kody Wilson. “What we really care about is the firm’s success and individual success. We have this ‘firm first’ mentality – When the firm does well, all of us do well.” Continues on next page




of surveyed employees say the leaders of their organization care about employees’ well-being


say they like the people they work with at their organization


say they understand the importance of their role to the success of the organization


say their workspace has adequate privacy for staff to do their job


say their supervisor helps them develop to their fullest potential


say they are encouraged to explore growth or advancement opportunities within the organization


Continues from previous page As a local company, GGFL can be creative with staff engagement and try some “out-ofthe-box” initiatives such as creating its own “Westboro Amazing Race.” Employees reported that they also appreciated catered dinners, summer hours, on-site bike storage as well as the health and wellness allowance. Many of GGFL’s 87 employees have been there for a long time, which Wilson said speaks to the firm’s positive workplace culture. GGFL recently conducted a compensation review, developed a new system for internal feedback and revamped its long-standing coaching program. GGFL has also made a continuous effort to inform employees about advancement opportunities that exist within the company, he added. “Creating a culture where people want to stay and finish their careers with GGFL ... has helped with engagement,” Wilson said.

86% 12 HR UPDATE FALL 2019

say they’re satisfied with their organization’s benefits package

Building an engaging environment

Dan Julien said he regularly experiences the same challenges that he solves daily for clients at his own company. The managing director of NewFound Recruiting, a staffing and employee search firm, concedes that it’s difficult to attract and retain talent in Ottawa’s tight labour market – and his business is no exception. But since launching in 2011, the professional services firm has been able to grow to 22 employees – something Julien said is at least partially attributable to creating an upbeat work environment amid the pressure of meeting performance targets. “We have a very positive atmosphere,” he

said. “It’s keeping them engaged while still being able to coach them … (and) while still being able to keep them (targeted) towards their metrics. It’s a very tough balance.” Julien said that making managers available to staff is vital for employee engagement. The company’s founders, Steve Stanley and Todd LeSage, are accessible every day and Julien himself is on the floor with fellow employees. Internal communication is also heavily emphasized. Quarterly town halls are used to gather feedback from the team and develop action items. Employees reported that they appreciate the monthly incentives and quarterly reward programs, the annual anniversary event and staff lunches and creative team outings. The company makes an effort to recognize professional and personal milestones. There’s also been a more concentrated effort to evolve NewFound’s coaching practices over the last year, Julien said. Depending on need, there can be daily or weekly check-ins with staff. “It’s (about) building a positive environment … (and making) people want to stay part of this,” Julien said. “We see the success every day.”



say they would recommend working at their organization to a friend


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engagement is a focus on growth – both for employees and HR practices alike. “We need to be creative in making sure that our (staff ) understand that there (are) growth opportunities within the hotel,” said Annie Corriveau, the company’s director of human resources. She added that this is especially important as an independent company, which doesn’t have the same volume of job postings as a multinational hospitality chain. “We continue to explore how we can help our (staff ) grow … (and understand) what is next for them,” she added. Employees reported that they enjoy free covered parking, a staff cafeteria and events such as an annual gala, a Christmas party for children, and “B Thankful” appreciation week. Corriveau said there are many opportunities for staff to be involved, whether on the company’s different committees, at meetings or through training. While the Brookstreet and the Marshes have racked up multiple Employees’ Choice Awards over the years and were nominated for a 2019 Canadian HR Team of the Year award, the team continues to explore ways of improvement. Over the last year, the business introduced a series of in-house initiatives and programs. Those efforts, or company “commitments,” are based off of an annual internal survey. A “Blue Binder” initiative was developed to bolster communication within and among departments. A platform called “LifeWorks” was brought in as an employee assistance and employee recognition program. The company also introduced an internal mentoring program where the executive team meets with rising leaders one-on-one. Continues on next page

Harrison said the results were positive and also led to the creation of an employeedriven “tiger team” tasked with making recommendations on how to better engage and recognize staff. “Everybody works hard at their particular roles,” he said. “You want to make sure that those people know that they are valued.”



• Quiet / meditation rooms • Office dog • Regular staff parties • Team BBQ challenges • Video gaming nights • Sporting game outings • Ping pong table • Ugly sweater contest • Office pancakes cooked and served by the CEO • Family skates at the Canadian Tire Centre



Cultivating international collaboration


Continues from previous page Corriveau said she believes the company’s recent HR accolades reflect the effort their staff has put into “tweaking” their processes and programs to better support their employees. “When (employees) join, they start here in the HR office. That’s the first point of contact,” she said. “That’s where we make sure (they) are set up for success.”


Unleashing a ‘tiger team’ to strengthen employee engagement

Stittsville-based BriteSky Technologies has a simple mantra, according to president Joey Harrison: “Do the right thing.” “If somebody comes in, we’re responsible for them,” Harrison said, noting that the company enrolls its staff in its health-care plan on their first day and also offers tuition reimbursement and other professional development opportunities. “We’ve got a really good vibe going. There’s always been an energy to this place,” Harrison said. Employees reported that they appreciate events such as team barbecues, video game nights, office lunches, themed days and sport outings. It’s the first Employees’ Choice Award win for BriteSky, which specializes in enterprise cloud services, but its sister company – Decisive Technologies – is a previous recipient. There are 53 employees working across the two firms. As the ventures grew, staff became spread out across two different buildings. Harrison conceded that it has been challenging at times to maintain the “closeknit” dynamic as employees are invested in their own teams and groups. However, managers have overcome this by taking a proactive approach to maintaining a strong corporate culture. The human resources department recently led its own survey on employee engagement.

It can be difficult to build a cohesive corporate culture when one’s head office is an ocean away. But the Kanata-based team at Swedish tech firm Syntronic has found a way to blend the cultures of the two countries while ensuring the company’s founders can still share their vision with their Canadian staff. “It’s tough to do because you want to stick to your core values,” said Syntronic Canada president Hans Molin. “What we do in Canada is not exactly what we do in Sweden … I’d say we do a bit of a mix between the Swedish way and the Canadian way ⁠— it’s somewhere in between.” Molin moved from his native Sweden to Canada to establish bonds between the two branches. Canadian staff were sent to Sweden on three-month rotations to create “connections” to the head office. “That’s the way they do it and it works,” said senior vice-president Darrell Wellington, adding the Kanata team has started to make a name for themselves within the company, which operates in eight countries around the world. “We’re now five years in, and a lot of people know about us in Ottawa,” he said. Syntronic employs 274 people at its Kanata office, which specializes in the design and development of embedded software, electromechanics and electronics. Staff reported they enjoyed the company’s family barbecues, sporting events, staff training opportunities and “fika,” a Swedish coffee break held on Fridays. The typical Syntronic project will include six employees working for six months. Wellington said that the smaller teams work well, but it can be a challenge to get the wider team together. To overcome this, the company engages and communicates with the entire office through events, town halls and regular newsletters. “We’re kind of like a well-funded startup company,” Wellington said. “That’s our


Breaking the mould of negativity around rules By Lewis S. Eisen

MINDWIRE SYSTEMS atmosphere and it’s the Swedish way too. Everybody pitches in.”


Fostering mentorship through internal training

WHAT DO EMPLOYEES LOVE ABOUT WORKING AT THEIR ORGANIZATION? • Coworkers who listen to each other and have an open-door policy • Employee recognition awards • Perks, such as discounts on food, hotel stays, gift cards, and golf • Employee gala • Flexible work environment • Birthdays off • Reduced summer hours and Christmas shutdown period • Biweekly team lunches • Compensation • The people!

These statements seek the same overall result: HR wants no less than seven days to process vacation requests. So why is Statement A so much longer? If you listen to it carefully, you can hear a subtle – but clearly perceptible – undertone of frustration. Evidently, too

Lewis S. Eisen is the author of How to Write Rules that People Want to Follow: A Guide to Writing Respectful Policies and Directives.


While many companies emphasize employee training and professional development, Westboro-based IT firm Mindwire Systems takes a holistic approach to advancing the abilities of its staff. It’s a strategy that’s paying off, said chief operating officer Marc Bolduc. “Focusing on those soft skills, focusing on those touch points, having that employee engagement will lead to the business development and the target results that you want to achieve,” he said. “Happy employees are efficient employees.” Many of the company’s 44 employees reported that they enjoyed quarterly appreciation awards, gift cards, Friday Fun Days and Kick-Off Weekend events. The company also holds professional development days and offers tuition coverage for education. Through internal employee surveys, Bolduc said he heard that there is a desire for more training and development. Rather than engage outside consultants, Mindwire tapped its veteran employees with strong skill sets who can act as trainers and bring it “back in house” with more mentoring and coaching. “(What) we are looking at for the future is how we can train the trainer internally and share that knowledge,” he said, noting that

Mindwire has employees who have worked with the company for more than 20 years. He said it’s important to disseminate their knowledge through internal training sessions. “Your greatest asset is your people. And if you’ve got great people, you’ve got a great team. And (with) a great team, you’ve got a great company,” Bolduc said.

Most people associate HR policies with notions like strictness and discipline. Those connotations are unfortunate, because that’s not what policies are supposed to be about. Even in those organizations that claim to hold “respect for others” as a core value, the reality is often different when you look at their rules documents. Whether they call them “HR policies,” “employee terms and conditions” or simply “general company guidelines,” many of these rules sound like they were written by angry parents scolding naughty children. HR professionals have a major role in creating and maintaining a healthy corporate culture. Sometimes, though, their written policies are inconsistent with that goal. Compare the following statements: A) “Employees MUST submit vacation requests NO LATER THAN seven business days in advance. Any request not submitted on time may be refused.” B) “Employee vacation requests are eligible for approval when submitted at least one week in advance.”

many people at that office have paid no attention to the seven-day lead period and the HR people have had enough. This wording delivers the rule like a smack in the face. Statement A is an indication that management believes that employees’ habits will not improve unless they are faced with an ultimatum. But the exact opposite is true. Compliance is more likely in an organization whose rules sound positive and helpful. Statement B is gentler. The precondition is still strict, yet it’s expressed in a helpful rather than reproachful manner. HR policies are a direct reflection of the corporate culture. By backing harshly worded policies, HR risks being seen as supportive of the toxic negativity generated by management’s approach. A policy full of “must,” “should” and “no exceptions” statements is a clear indication that the organization lives under a command-and-control management style rather than taking a collaborative and teamwork-based approach. Creating and maintaining a respectful workplace is everyone’s responsibility. Whether it’s in a formal HR policy, semi-formal employee handbooks, or informal day-to-day e-mail messages, HR professionals need to be aware of the tone of voice in their communications.




Ensuring professionalism and objectivity will ultimately serve both you and your candidates. The difficulty comes when you learn something personal about them in the process of a social media background check. Below is a summary of the key takeaways for best practices regarding the use of social media in the hiring process:


Succession Planning

Q: Why plan for succession? A: Simply put, not having a succession plan (SP) can prove very costly. If you have to scramble to replace someone and/or (worst case scenario) your newly hired leader turns out to be a bad decision, the costs add up quickly. Having a SP in place before it’s needed will help stabilize your existing team, give other stakeholders confidence and, when the time comes to replace a leader, enable you to react strategically. Planning a transfer of leadership is crucial yet smaller organizations often don’t have adequate resources to put a plan in place. Fortunately, the SP process can be divided into manageable pieces that make starting easier.

Q: Where does it fit? A: The purpose of a SP is to increase your access to talent that’s ready to assume leadership roles. A SP should be a part of a business’ overall Talent Management strategy; talent can be developed internally and/or be continuously attracted externally. Ideally, the knowledge transfer happens while the current leader is still in place but plan for contingencies in case this isn’t possible.


Q: Ready to get started? A: A SP should aim to: 1) Take inventory of capabilities, skill sets and career aspirations of your current staff. 2) Show current and potential talent gaps. 3) Suggest ways to approach training and mentorship of internal team. 4) Connect with the right talent outside the organization to close any gaps. Start with one of these tasks and build up from there. Use your internal team (if you can spare them) and don’t be afraid to leverage external consultants to expedite the process.



Should you look at a job applicant’s Facebook profile?

perceives it as the reason they weren’t hired. Legal experts say hiring managers shouldn’t be afraid of doing a little bit of social media research on job applicants, but add that they should have appropriate survey, 70 per cent of hiring professionals policies in place to protect against use social media in some way during the unfounded accusations of discrimination. hiring process. But what happens if you Aaron Rubinoff, co-chairman and stumble upon something you shouldn’t partner at Ottawa law firm Perleyknow? Learning a candidate’s immigration Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l., says status, age or other personal information hiring managers and HR professionals such as a pregnancy could open the door to have many tools at their disposal, including a human rights complaint if the candidate social media searches.



ocial media has become a hardto-resist tool for hiring managers in the age of Google, allowing a prospective employer to learn more about a candidate with a few quick keystrokes. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder

As a hiring professional, you have the right to check publicly available information about a candidate and use it in your hiring decision as long as it does violate the candidate’s human rights. Consider the importance of knowing a candidate’s social media history. If their personal life can’t negatively impact their performance or the company, consider proceeding with the customary professional background and reference checks. Keep detailed notes of the candidate screening to show that you followed the proper protocols and made decisions objectively. Remember that while you must observe the human rights protections of candidates, you are also hiring on behalf of your organization and that thorough screening ensures you’re hiring the top applicant.

“They have every right to do that to the extent that somebody leaves themselves exposed,” he says, noting that candidates can use privacy settings and other features to shield their accounts if they choose. If online content shows a candidate’s poor judgement or a behaviour that the organization is not comfortable with, it’s typically OK to factor it into a hiring decision. Rubinoff says the distinction is that the hiring manager is exercising their discretion that the candidate is someone they do not want in their workplace, rather than basing their decision on some prohibited grounds. Andrew Montague-Reinholdt, an associate at Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP, says it’s often beneficial for hiring managers to ask themselves if a social media check is necessary for the particular position they’re looking to fill. If the job is a public-facing role, it may be prudent to check if the candidate has previously published offensive content or made public comments that could tarnish the organization’s reputation. When an individual’s past transgressions go public, their company may have to deal with the embarrassing fallout. “The question is whether it matters

It’s often beneficial for hiring managers to ask themselves if a social media check is necessary for the particular position they’re looking to fill. if the candidate posted something (questionable) years ago,” he says. “If it does, then take a look.” Montague-Reinholdt adds that it’s important that managers do not make any discriminatory assumptions about candidates as a result of any social media posts they come across. “It’s about reminding themselves about the obligations they have to people if they learn that there may be a human rights issue at play that they weren’t aware of,” he says. There are several best practices that can help hiring managers sidestep potential issues, such as only accessing publicly available databases. Avoid

looking into accounts in a way that might be unlawful or not publicly accessed. “It’s also important to keep records so you can show your professional process, what you looked at and how you arrived at a decision objectively,” says Rubinoff. It’s also valuable to keep an open mind and avoid solely looking for incriminating material. After all, there’s only so much information that can fit on a CV. Learning more about a prospective employee’s professional achievements and personal pursuits may help you discover that a candidate is the perfect fit for your organization.


70% of hiring managers use social media in the hiring process.

47% say they are less likely to hire someone without a digital presence.

While the highest percentage lies in managers searching primarily for professional information (58%) it was also reported that 22% did not hire after finding something negative.

The top three reasons for not hiring a candidate were for provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information (40%), information about them drinking or using drugs (36%) and discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc. (31%).

Source: 2018 CareerBuilder survey

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gile was born as a software development process but is increasingly being applied to other fields, including performance management. While “agile” can mean different things to different companies, it most commonly includes: • • • • •

Taking an iterative approach with short, repetitive cycles; Continuous feedback, enabling teams to inspect and adapt; Experimentation without fear of failure; Responding to and expecting change; and Self-organized and trusting teams creating a collaborative culture without micromanaging.

There is a clear place for agile in performance management, which has four key goals: • •

All of these goals are easily achieved by following an agile approach to certain processes.

FREQUENT FEEDBACK The typical one-on-one is a very simple, unstructured conversation – often approximately 30 minutes in length – that can be a recurring monthly, biweekly or weekly meeting that managers and their direct reports never skip. This meeting is a time for a manager to listen to an employee’s concerns, help manage priorities and offer advice. It’s not a time for a manager to delegate work or steer the entire conversation. It should be up to the team member to decide how to use the time. The objective for managers is to show they are available, open-minded and supportive. Some great starter questions include: • • •

How’s life outside of work? Do I give you enough feedback? As your manager, what should I consider changing or start doing?

Gone are the days of the annual performance review. The more modern approach is preparing quarterly performance reviews to ensure a more frequent feedback loop. After all, who can

remember what they did a year ago in relation to their career goals? Agile is all about quick and short cycles, leaving room for experimentation and change. If you are only reviewing once a year, you are not allowing for continuous feedback or response to change. A great approach to the quarterly review is to set aside an hour between the manager and direct report to review each other’s answers to a short survey consisting of four to six questions. Some examples of questions to ask of the employee include: • •

What are some things I do well? How could I improve? And, for the manager:

• •

How could [employee name] take their career to the next level? What is the most significant contribution [employee name] made in the last quarter?

Once completed, the employee leaves with clear goals for the next quarter.

RETROSPECTIVE Lastly, there is an agile “ceremony” that can be easily inserted into any team’s routine with some planning and a commitment to improvement. A retrospective is a meeting that intentionally sets aside time to reflect on a past period in time. Some teams work in “sprints” – a set period of time – and typically have a retrospective at the end of each sprint. If your team doesn’t work in a sprint, you can just pick a period in time to reflect back, such as each month or each quarter. Retrospectives should include a series of exercises that encourage teams to talk about what went well and what could be improved upon. Each of these performance management activities follow an agile approach by being structured around experimentation, integration and review, as well as a trusting and collaborative culture. Start simple and see where it takes your team! Laura Mindorff is the chief operating officer at both Industrial, a digital agency, and SaaS firm Wicket.


Providing and receiving feedback; Creating a space for two-way collaborative communication; Career growth based on individual motivators; and Demonstrating supportive leadership through coaching.

Agile is all about quick and short cycles, leaving room for experimentation

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