Bright Side of Business: Giatec and Iversoft celebrated for excellence in immigrant employment

Giatec
Along with Iversoft, the Giatec team, above, received the Employer Excellence Awards for the second year.
Editor's Note

The Bright Side of Business is presented by Star Motors.

In 2005, Pouria Ghods moved to Canada from Iran in pursuit of his PhD in civil engineering at Carleton University. Today, he is the CEO and co-founder of Giatec Scientific, an Ottawa-based tech company that is revolutionizing the concrete industry. 

The company has come a long way; since launching in 2010, Giatec has grown from 10 employees to almost 100. Through upcoming partnerships, Giatec is working to increase the lifespan of infrastructure and reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry. 

Pouria
Pouria Ghods is the CEO and co-founder of Giatec Scientific. 

Having come to Canada as an international student, Ghods knows first-hand the benefit of working with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. That’s why, today, Giatec’s staff come from over 30 countries and speak more than 20 languages, including Arabic, Farsi, Spanish, French, Turkish and Mandarin. 

“If you have a culture of diversity that everybody can contribute to and you have lots of people from different backgrounds, (you) can increase the chance of making the right decision,” Ghods says. 

For the second year in a row, Giatec has won an Employer Excellence Award from Hire Immigrants Ottawa and the Employer Council of Champions. The award recognizes local employers for their innovative work policies, recruitment practices and integration of newcomers to Canada.

According to Ghods, some of the best talent that Giatec has ever had — including on its leadership team — are first-generation immigrants, some having moved to Canada as recently as three years ago. 

Except for co-op interviews — every semester, Giatec hires 20 students — Ghods is personally involved in Giatec’s hiring, taking on final interviews, no matter whether the potential employee is at a junior or senior level. That’s close to 700 interviews to date.

In addition to ensuring there is a corporate culture fit, Ghods is involved in the final interviews because of his personal experiences as a first-generation immigrant. 

“Sometimes the communication is not perfect, or there is an accent, or (a person might) need more time to get better in (the) language,” Ghods says. “I've gone through all those challenges. It’s more visible for me, compared to somebody who was born and raised here.” 

Alongside Giatec, Ottawa’s Iversoft also received an Employer Excellence Award for a second consecutive year. Founded in 2009, Iversoft is a software development company with over 50 employees operating from coast to coast. 

Iversoft
Led by CEO Graeme Barlow (front centre), Iversoft also received an Employer Excellence Award for the second year in a row. 

Graeme Barlow, CEO, explains that Iversoft is a services company, meaning “our most valuable product is our team. It's our people.” 

Within three months of the pandemic, Iversoft terminated its commercial lease and committed to becoming a virtual-first company with a four-day work week and flexible work schedule. 

These new policies have allowed Iversoft to attract new talent, Barlow says. He shares that Iversoft’s staff currently includes about 10 newcomers to Canada.

“They've come from all over the world and are getting settled here, starting careers in software development, design, (user experience) and product management,” Barlow says. 

He adds that there are “so many weird hang-ups” when it comes to traditional hiring practices in Canada, with some employers only recognizing Canadian academic institutions or requiring Canadian work experience. 

“There (needs to be) more consideration about how to improve that, especially as companies are struggling for talent,” Barlow says.

Ghods’ advice? “The leaders of the companies need to be very proactive (about hiring for diversity) and be more cautious to not get into a comfort zone.”

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The Bright Side of Business is an editorial feature focused on sharing positive stories of business success.

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