Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Export Development Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017):
- In addition to three weeks of starting vacation allowance, EDC employees enjoy five days of paid shutdown during the winter holidays
- As part of EDC's health plan, employees receive a health spending account of up to $1,000 per year which can be used to top-up existing coverage or cover a variety of additional wellness-related expenses
- EDC offers academic scholarships for children of employees who are interested in pursuing post-secondary education (up to $2,700 per child) as well as scholarships for undergraduate university or college students interested in pursuing a career or furthering their studies in international business (up to $4,000)
Variety is the spice of trade at EDC
Eric Agyemang was in Sweden on an international exchange scholarship from Export Development Canada, when he received news he was in the running for a full-time position as an EDC intern once he completed his degree. A Skype interview was scheduled and Agyemang hurried out to buy a very expensive Stockholm tie on his tight student budget.
The tie proved its worth but "luckily," says Agyemang with a laugh, "I had a dress shirt."
Agyemang, who studied international business, got the internship, which EDC runs together with the Forum for International Trade Training, and then got a permanent position at EDC. He is now Account Manager, Commercial Markets and Small Business, responsible for parts of southwestern Ontario stretching from Mississauga south to the Niagara region.
His task is to help out businesses looking to sell their goods and services abroad. He provides market intelligence, offers information on best practices, and facilitates financing and insurance solutions through EDC and in partnership with commercial banks. Studying in Sweden, he says, opened his eyes to the challenges Canadian business owners face when they operate in different countries with different languages.
As part of his job, Agyemang is on the road regularly, travelling from head office in Ottawa to his territory at least once a month. He visits manufacturing plants, economic development groups, and even vineyards. His clients range from small game developers to pharmaceutical companies to wineries looking to break into the ice wine market in Asia. Agyemang gets a close-up view at the businesses he supports and "the passion behind them. Just looking at the financials, you miss out on some of the uniqueness of the talents behind their product or service," he says.
Stephanie Butt Thibodeau, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, believes employees like Agyemang come to EDC because they want to make a difference for Canada and the country's businesses. She joined the organization 21 years ago fresh out of university and spent the first half of her career working in insurance before switching to international business development.
As she chatted with a colleague in financing one day, the pair hatched a plan to temporarily trade departments and jobs. Within months of talking to their leaders, it became a reality. That ability to learn and develop by moving within the organization continues to be an option for employees who want to try out different fields. "You can have multiple careers," says Butt Thibodeau.
The variety has also been a big draw for Robert Fosco, a lawyer who arrived at EDC from a law firm 16 years ago. He liked the idea of "doing something for Canada" at a corporation that operates like a commercial institution in the private sector.
"We are profitable," he says with pride of EDC, which, unlike many export credit agencies, does not rely on annual governmental appropriations.
Fosco, who is now Vice President of Talent, Learning and Culture, has held many different jobs including a foreign posting as consul and senior trade commissioner for Canada in Seattle, and, back in Ottawa, Director of Small Business Financing.
Both Fosco and Butt Thibodeau have seen EDC develop into a far more diverse corporation during their tenure. Among other things, women now hold over 45 per cent of leadership roles.
Earlier this summer, Agyemang launched an initiative to celebrate the cultures of the different countries EDC does business with, which is now set to become an annual affair. The inaugural event was held in conjunction with the Indian High Commission. "It showcased the beauty of Indian culture and the business we've done together," says Agyemang, who appreciated the opportunity EDC gave him to run with his idea.
"EDC has invested in me and has given me the platform to kickstart my career in international trade," he says. As the organization evolves to meet future challenges, he plans to be there with it.