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Lisa Scian, at left, is the vice-president of people and culture at ProntoForms and says the speed at which the company works and the technologies that it uses help the rapidly growing company recruit employees. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON

How Kanata North companies are gaining an edge in the war for talent For some rapidly growing firms, workplace culture starts with giving employees engaging and meaningful projects to tackle

10 KANATA NETWORKER WINTER 2020

W

orkplace culture” can be an abstract concept to define, let alone build. But several Kanata North tech firms are looking beyond funky office designs and traditional team-building initiatives to create companies that are magnets for top-tier talent. Their secret? Offer employees engaging work, provide them with cutting-edge tools to do their job and challenge teams to uncover creative solutions to their customers’ challenges. “We’ll turn down work if it’s not something our employees enjoy doing,” says Richard Deboer, CEO of semiconductor firm Rianta. “(That)

really builds the team’s trust and makes us stronger.” By building their business around tackling interesting and meaningful work, several Kanata North companies are gaining an edge in recruiting and retaining skilled workers as they scale up. Here’s a look at the workplace culture of three rapidly growing Kanata North firms:

ENCOURAGED TO EXPERIMENT

ProntoForms, a software company specializing in mobile forms and data collection, has nearly doubled its headcount in four years by equipping its employees with the newest software

programs to encourage innovation. The office prides itself on using the latest app development platforms to build its paperless information storage technology, such as open source software Redux and NodeJS. “We’re able to attract (a high) calibre of talent because of the speed we work at and technologies that we use,” says Lisa Scian, vice-president of people and culture. “We’re not afraid of trying new things or experimenting with technology to see what will take us to the next level and I think people get excited about that.” With 140 employees, ProntoForms firmly believes that the success of its

business is directly tied to employee retention and productivity. Staff are encouraged to pitch new ideas and advance their careers within the company – which also creates opportunities for new hires. “Every new person brings a little piece of them in and that’s what enhances our culture,” she adds. “We don’t want people to conform to how we do things, we want them to be creative, to challenge ideas and help us grow.” The fast-paced work environment is also attractive to potential employees who are looking to use the latest tools to quickly bring products to market, she says. While a rapidly growing headcount can create challenges for some companies to maintain a cohesive workplace culture, Scian says ProntoForms overcomes this through open communication with its employees and celebrating company milestones such as major contract wins to encourage employees to continue to innovate.

DEVELOP ‘THE NEXT BIG THING’

Rianta has seen a similar growth trajectory, expanding from a fourperson team in 2012 to more than 100 staff at the end of 2019. Developing technology used in some of the most exciting emerging tech sectors – think autonomous vehicles and 5G – Rianta has been able to hire entire teams at once. Rianta has previously brought on groups of up to 25 people from companies going through downturns. When laid-off staff evaluated their options and picked their next career move, they chose Rianta because they believed in the products, says Deboer. “We work on the largest switches, the largest multi-core processors, artificial intelligence and machine learning,” he says. “As technology engineers you want to work on the next big thing, and here they get to help build some of the most aggressive semiconductors in the world.” While it may seem like a challenge to create a cohesive culture when a company adds 25 new staff at a time, Deboer says the company has always

Profile for Kanata North Business Association (BA)

The Kanata Networker Winter 2019  

The Kanata Networker is a publication available in both print and online, that highlights news and events from the Kanata North business com...

The Kanata Networker Winter 2019  

The Kanata Networker is a publication available in both print and online, that highlights news and events from the Kanata North business com...

Profile for knbia