Kanata North companies turn to workplace culture to fuel recruitment drives

Technata
Attendees at Technata (Photo by Invest Ottawa)

Sixty Kanata North companies set up shop in the Brookstreet Hotel on Tuesday, hoping to attract interested candidates at the second Discover Technata tech expo and talent hunt.

The hotel was bustling and cars lined the streets a mile away from the event as attendees and exhibitors discussed what was happening in Kanata tech. Companies such as Neptec and BlackBerry QNX brought their test vehicles to the showroom floor to show off the work candidates could potentially get their hands on.

Jenna Sudds, executive director of the Kanata North BIA, says the event was about “rallying the tech community.”

Ms. Sudds says the companies exhibiting at Technata aren’t just there to hunt for talent, but are interested in drawing back the curtain on the work that takes place in the Kanata technology park.

As far as recruitment goes, however, she says culture is the No. 1 tool companies are turning to in a competitive talent market.

Jenna Sudds
Jenna Sudds is the executive director of the Kanata North BIA

“From a company perspective, it’s a challenge of, ‘How do you stand out as a company and as an employer of choice?’”

Selling employees on the culture, she says, is one way to do that.

Recruiters at You.i TV, one of the exhibitors at the expo, know about the importance of maintaining culture in the midst of recruitment. Kylie Hurst, a recruiter with the company who herself joined the firm just last July, says the company hired 60 employees from September to November of last year.

“You can imagine what an impact in hiring 60 people in such a short amount of time can have on a company,” she says.

She says one of the best ways to use culture as a recruiting tool is to involve more than just the HR staff. Five members of You.i TV’s developer team, for example, were at the expo on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it should just be on HR or on the recruiters; everyone should take an active role.”

Technata also served as a platform for one of the newest companies in Kanata, Magnet Forensics. The Waterloo-based company develops software used by law enforcement to uncover digital evidence that may have been deleted from computers or smartphones. Eight staff work at its Kanata office, the company’s first expansion outside of Waterloo.

Thusha Adampodi, Magnet Forensics’ software development manager, says she finds the Kanata technology park a competitive place for small outfits like her office.

“It’s very competitive here. Everyone is very picky looking for really great talent, and fit is really important.”

Though culture is important on both sides of the hiring equation, Ms. Adampodi says she’s not looking for a new hire to just tow the company line.

“They don’t have to be the same. You can be different, you can be yourself, because I want you to bring your own ideas for how you approach a problem.”

There should be disagreements, she says, but those disagreements should be respectful. “In the end, the solution’s better for it.”

Magnet Forensics isn’t the only company setting up shop in Kanata. Multinational enterprises such as Apple and Amazon are expanding to the National Capital Region and putting more pressure on a talent pool that is already stretched thin. Ms. Sudds says she’s not worried about global companies coming to the area, since it’s a natural factor of growth. When world-class companies come, she’s confident they’ll attract world-class talent too.

“New companies move in from the U.S. and elsewhere, and I think it’s fabulous. They are choosing Ottawa, they are choosing the Kanata North technology park because of our talent.”