Recognized as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 21, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Matrix Solutions Inc. was selected as one of Alberta's Top Employers (2017):
- Matrix Solutions encourages the next generation to pursue post-secondary studies with an academic scholarship program for children of employees (to $2,000 per child) and supports employee efforts to continue their education with tuition subsidies for courses taken at outside institutions (to $1,200)
- Matrix Solutions cultivates an ownership culture through a share purchase plan and offers a full suite of financial benefits including profit-sharing for all employees, signing bonuses for some, and matching and non-matching RSP contributions
- Matrix Solutions provides maternity leave top-up payments for employees who are new mothers (to 100% of salary for up to 8 weeks) and offers a number of flexible work options to help them transition to their new roles as parents
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 Matrix Solutions Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017):
- Matrix Solutions hosts annual company-wide training days which are followed by SpringFest, a 1-day team building event for employees to enjoy a subsidized mountain activity with peers such as skiing, snowshoeing, or walking in Banff
- Matrix Solutions maintains ongoing partnerships with schools across Canada to encourage young people to experience real world environmental science through hands-on, science-based field trips -- the organization also participates in the Operation Minerva program to encourage young women to consider a career in the sciences
Matrix Solutions engineers a unique environment
Back when Rob Pockar was looking for his first post-university job in recession-mired Western Canada, he applied to some 150 different organizations. As was the custom in 1993, he sent his CV via snail mail and made hundreds of follow-up phone calls. Pockar got just two responses, including one from Matrix Solutions, where he is now President and CEO.
The job he turned down "was a government position that didn't look very exciting. The other was a company with three employees," he says. "I would be employee number four."
Fast forward to 2016 when Matrix Solutions, an environmental and engineering consulting company with headquarters in Calgary, has grown to employ more than 550 people across the country and Alberta is once again going through tough economic times. "I am very conscious of how hard it is," says Pockar. "If a university student calls me, I will always offer to meet with them and give them any advice they may ask for."
He encourages other executives to do the same for young people. The industry is relatively small, and you never know who you'll end up working with or for, he says.
For Pockar, one of Matrix Solutions' strengths is its unique culture, with its commitment to new employees and helping them thrive. Junior staff are encouraged to take on challenging tasks with a level of complexity and risk suitable to their experience.
While the company has annual revenues of $70 to $80 million, its median project size is $7,000 to $8,000. It executes hundreds of small projects, making it possible for a new employee to go from working for a project manager to managing a small project on their own. They will have opportunities to assume leadership roles early on in their tenure.
While for many employees, this work involves tasks such as surface water monitoring, and environmental site assessments, Kaitlyn MacMillan's training is in communications and graphic design. At age 25, she already had four years' work experience under her belt when she was hired by Matrix Solutions at the start of 2016.
Almost immediately she volunteered for and was assigned to the redevelopment of the website as well as given responsibility for social media. "Matrix has allowed me to be successful in the things I really have a passion for," she says.
With all going well in her new job, MacMillan, a native Albertan, was suddenly faced with a major change in her personal life, in the form of a move to the Toronto area. She informed her supervisors, who agreed to consider the possibility of MacMillan working out of the Mississauga office even though she had only been with the company a short while.
Together, they came up with a plan that worked for everybody. "Matrix has been absolutely phenomenal in facilitating this transition," MacMillan says.
In her new role and location, MacMillan still reports to the same bosses in Calgary and continues to have many of the same responsibilities, including the website and social media. In addition, she's providing more support to field-based employees and working on new tasks including proposal assistance.
Career development and training are top priorities at Matrix Solutions, which has a large training budget, takes advantage of outside training opportunities, and brings the entire company together every spring for training days. "We want to find opportunities to grow people as fast as we can," says Pockar.
Over the next year, Matrix will be looking to fill some 30 positions, including junior employees ranging from environmental technologists to engineers to geologists. Pockar says Matrix Solutions hires and promotes based on skills and aptitude, as opposed to more traditional measures like experience and pedigree. "We encourage people to grow fast. We embrace and encourage the individuality of the person."