Recognized as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 12, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Hydro Ottawa was selected as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2017):
- Hydro Ottawa provides maternity and parental leave top-up payments for employees who are new mothers (to 90% of salary for up to 25 weeks) and parental top-up for new fathers and adoptive parents (to 90% of salary for up to 10 weeks) -- additionally, the organization offers a generous subsidy for IVF for parents-to-be (up to $15,000)
- Hydro Ottawa manages a Brighter Tomorrows Community Investment program to support communities in which the organization operates and encourages employees to give back by providing paid time off to volunteer and matching employee donations
- Hydro Ottawa encourages ongoing employee education with tuition subsidies for job-related courses and also invests in the education of the next generation through an academic scholarship program for children of employees (to $2,000 per child)
Hydro Ottawa energizes workforce of tomorrow
Hydro Ottawa has been powering the nation's capital for more than 100 years, generating and delivering electricity that keeps the lights on at homes and businesses. While its mandate has remained steady over the past century -- supplying power safely and reliably -- the organization is in an era of change.
"We are undergoing a generational transformation as a result of retirements," says Chief Human Resources Officer Lyne Parent-Garvey. "We've been replenishing our workforce for the last 10 years and have opportunities for rewarding careers, especially in trades and technical roles."
Hydro Ottawa employs people in five different trades -- power line technician, cable jointer, station electrician, meter technician and systems operator -- and it has been hiring in all five areas.
Brayden Martell, a recent graduate from Algonquin College's power line technician diploma program, which is delivered in partnership with Hydro Ottawa, joined the company in September 2016 as a cable jointer -- a trade that is responsible for constructing and maintaining the underground part of the electrical system.
"I got hired through a co-op placement and worked with two seasoned employees," says Martell. "They were very experienced, proud of their trade and willing to share their knowledge."
Kelsey Cabral is another recent graduate from the program and another newly hired employee. As part of the power line technician diploma program, her co-op placement was with an overhead distribution line crew. "I loved it," says Cabral. "I learned so much that it gave me a passion for this kind of work."
Cabral now works as a distribution design layout agent and is responsible for designing layouts for new or upgraded services, both residential and commercial. "I work with a lot of my fellow employees to get as much advice as I can and everybody in this company is very helpful," she adds.
Hydro Ottawa, like electrical utilities elsewhere, is going through a technological transformation, as well. "Our industry is changing dramatically with advancements in technology," says Parent-Garvey. "Our infrastructure is aging and we've been making investments in order to maintain solid reliability for our customers."
It all adds up to plenty of opportunity in a dynamic and rapidly-changing industry and employment in an organization that thrives on innovation and continuous improvement. "We actively solicit feedback and ideas from all our employees, including those new to the company, in order to make their jobs more efficient and deliver better service to our customers," says Parent-Garvey.
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 9, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Hydro Ottawa was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017):
- Hydro Ottawa organizes The Student Apprentice, a half-day program that provides students with an opportunity to present "value-added" ideas to the organization and interact with executives, including the organization's President and CEO
- Hydro Ottawa created an Engineer Intern Training and Development program to support the development of recent engineering grads -- participants are assigned a Professional Engineer mentor (separate from their supervisor) to provide coaching and mentoring as well as monitor the intern's progress
- Hydro Ottawa launched a Youth Council, chaired by the organization's CEO, to generate insights on issues that involve or affect youth at the organization as well as provide networking opportunities for young professionals within the company
At Hydro Ottawa, youth is a vital energy source
Within a year of landing a permanent job at Hydro Ottawa, Ross Chapman was tapped to try to make payroll processes more efficient for the staff of about 700. Last year he was in a meeting to brainstorm about how to streamline the utility's manual processing of time sheets. A payroll employee at the time - he had also been a summer student for two years - he helped come up with the proposed solution.
"My manager said, 'We think this is a great idea, just go ahead and run with it. We're here if you need help.'" In the end, the idea was adopted. "What I really like about Hydro Ottawa is that if you are looking at taking on more and continuing to grow and learn, there's always an opportunity," says Chapman, now 25, who has since been promoted to HR Automation Analyst.
Being keenly attuned to the enthusiasm and ambition of younger employees is a point of pride for Hydro Ottawa, which is wholly owned by the city and provides electricity distribution, renewable energy generation and energy conservation and management services. But it also arises from the utility's demographics. Chief Human Resources Officer Lyne Parent-Garvey notes that within the next decade, 37 per cent of Hydro Ottawa's workforce will be eligible to retire, with even higher levels of eligibility among trades and technical workers and management.
So, apart from valuing the innovation, creativity and enthusiasm of youth, she says, the utility needs to recruit and prepare a new generation. "The opportunities for young workers here are greater and faster. Folks can expect to move into a supervisory or managerial role within 10 years, easily. In the past it was more 20-some years." Parent-Garvey notes that Hydro Ottawa has a Youth Council, chaired by the President and CEO, to ensure young workers' needs and expectations are met.
Hydro Ottawa's strategies for attracting youth include co-op placements at the high school, college and university levels and a vibrant summer student program. It also offers paid trades apprenticeships, as well as a training and mentorship program for engineering-grad hires that allows them to fulfil all the requirements for their professional engineer (P. Eng.) accreditation.
Samantha Evelyn, 26, is one of those grads working towards her P.Eng. She is a Project Manager in the utility's Asset Management section. Hydro Ottawa supports her in taking courses at Carleton University and lets her take time off for classes, so that the civil engineering graduate can brush up on the electrical side of things.
And like Chapman, she was given extra responsibility early on. In 2015, a year after joining Hydro Ottawa, she was asked to manage the ongoing Ellwood Energy Storage Project, a lithium ion battery energy-storage facility that will inject energy into or take it from the electricity grid to assist in grid stabilization and provide customers with quality service in an environmentally responsible way.
Evelyn says being asked to lead the project "let me know that the company has a lot of faith in me. It makes me feel part of the Hydro Ottawa family."
In 2014, Chapman discovered it's a family that really cares. When he experienced a "family tragedy," the utility and its staff rallied around him. "There were no expectations that I would be back at work at a certain time or that I would have to do this or that while I was gone. People would come out to my house and bring things. It became clear to me that Hydro Ottawa cares about its employees not only during working hours, but outside of 9 to 5 as well."