Recognized as one of BC's Top Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 6, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why DDB Canada was selected as one of BC's Top Employers (2016):
- DDB Canada offers employees referral bonuses when they successfully recruit a new candidate (up to $1,000) and encourages employees to save for the longer term with matching RSP contributions
- DDB Canada supports ongoing employee development, from paid internships for those starting out in the business to in-house and online training programs, subsidies for professional accreditation and tuition subsidies for courses at outside institutions
- DDB Canada employees can take advantage of an annual $500 subsidy as part of their health benefits plan, to be used for a range of additional services to take care of their mind and body
DDB Canada: a creative place where ideas thrive
DDB Canada prides itself on being the kind of creative agency where its people can take an idea and run with it. For proof, just ask Amanda Downs.
Downs, a Business Director for the Vancouver-based national agency, has a passion for all things digital. "I've always been a bit of geek about technology and startups," she says. When she learned the agency had formed a partnership with the University of British Columbia's e@ubc entrepreneurship program to advise students on lean startups, Downs jumped in.
Every week, DDB gave her time away from working with corporate clients to mentor student techies, and she soon realized the relationship could go much further. Backed by DDB, she spent an intensive 10 days in the executive program at Silicon Valley's progressive Singularity University, which focuses on cutting-edge "exponential technologies", particularly game-changing innovations such as Uber.
Inspired, Downs returned with a strategy to turn the existing tech initiative, DDB Ignite, into an accelerator that would involve the agency directly in start-ups, even taking an equity position. "It's a win-win," says Downs. "Typically start-ups don't invest in marketing communications until they absolutely have to. But you can't sell your vision unless you have a really strong and compelling brand. So by giving them the expertise of Canada's leading agency at an early stage, they're going to be able to articulate what their idea is and get better traction in the marketplace and for funding."
The idea has taken off. This year, the DDB Ignite accelerator will be rolled out at all four of the agency's Canadian offices, in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal.
Downs says DDB's culture empowers entrepreneurial thinking by employees. "What I've seen over six years here is amazing support for people who want to pursue different interests."
Executive Vice-President and Co-Managing Director Michelle Kitchen says each of the agency's locations in Canada operate quite autonomously, while pursuing a shared mission of working with clients "to transform their business through intelligent creativity." People at DDB work with the Canadian side of some of the world's top brands, including Netflix, Capital One, Nordstrom and Volkswagen, as well as leading Canadian organizations including Destination Canada and Rocky Mountaineer. They may also be involved in accounts run by international locations of the New York-based global agency.
"We are a culture of collaboration, and that is what drives us," says Kitchen. "We have a world-class talent pool, and we have a sense of family. We have a lot of respect and trust for each other."
DDB also offers some fun perks. "We're a creative industry, so fun is kind of expected," says Kitchen. There are DDB Days - an extra day off with pay on every long weekend between May and October. There is Hot Dog Day on the last Friday of every month, bringing staff together in a tradition begun by DDB Canada Chairman and CEO Frank Palmer, an industry giant, years ago.
And there are clever community initiatives, such as ShareDDB, an art crawl and auction of creations by DDB employees that has raised over $250,000 in the past 10 years for charities across Canada selected by staff. Employees also get $500 annually as DDB Fuel to use for a program to fuel their creativity or support wellness (one person bought a ticket to Burning Man). There is additional support for pro bono charity work and volunteering.
The perks say something to Downs about the company. "Little things like DDB Days and DDB Fuel really go a long way," she says. "They contribute to a feeling that even though we work very hard here, we get rewarded and respected for the work that we do."