Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2015)
Here are some of the reasons why Nuance Communications Canada Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2016) and Montreal's Top Employers (2016):
- Nuance Communications let's everyone share in the company's success through a share purchase plan as well as a profit-sharing plan, and offers signing bonuses for some positions and a generous new employee referral program that includes bonuses from $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the vacancy
- A important part of Boston-based Nuance Communications Inc., the company's Montréal location is the company's second largest office and home to over 540 highly skilled employees who come to work in the completely renovated "old Eaton's department store" in the heart of the downtown -- the heritage building offers comfortable and easy access to shops, restaurants and the city's Métro system
- As part of their health plan, Nuance employees receive an annual wellness account ($150 annually) as well as a health spending account for additional coverages (to $500 annually) -- the company also brings in a professional yoga instructor for regular onsite yoga classes and provides new employees with four weeks of paid vacation allowance to start
Speak! Nuance Communications will hear you
When you call your bank, do you get frustrated by the verbal hoops you jump through just to identify yourself? Name, address, birthdate, PIN, perhaps even a recent transaction? If so, you will happily embrace Nuance Communications Canada, Inc.
Thanks to the work of the Enterprise division, there is now technology that identifies you in a flash, just by the way you speak. "With as little as 3-5 seconds of audio, it can tell whether the caller is who they say they are," says Tariq Yakoob, Senior Project Manager, Solutions - Enterprise. "It analyzes about 100 voice characteristics, including pitch, tone, cadence and behavioural aspects. This can save a lot of time on the call - it can complete the authentication even while you're still explaining your problem to the agent."
Voice biometrics is just one of the groundbreaking areas that software engineers get to work on at Nuance, part of a global company with headquarters in Burlington, Massachusetts. With its second-largest global site in Montreal, the firm recently celebrated the launch of the state-of-the-art voice technology at two major Canadian financial institutions, RBC and Manulife Financial, among other customers worldwide. In voice biometrics, says Yakoob, "we represent more than 80 per cent of the commercial market. In the areas we work in, we are the leaders in the space."
Nuance has four major market areas - Healthcare, Enterprise, Mobile-Consumer and Document Imaging. The company draws on decades of experience in speech, natural language understanding and artificial intelligence to create seamless interactions with consumer electronics, apps, cars, IT systems and much more. Nuance is also behind such well-known brands as Dragon and OmniPage, as well as Swype smartphone keyboards.
The majority of Canadian staff are concentrated in a heritage building in downtown Montreal, and boast academic backgrounds in such disciplines as computer science, engineering, cognitive sciences, linguistics and business. There are additional offices in Waterloo, Ont., and Ottawa. "We look for employees who are bright, highly motivated, great team players, good communicators and able to adapt easily to changing project demands," says Claudia Wagner, Senior Manager, Professional Services - Enterprise.
Nuance emphasizes staff development. Nuance University provides internal training, and senior leaders mentor younger staff. The attractive range of benefits includes four weeks' vacation, profit sharing, a share purchase plan and an on-site yoga instructor. The company also hosts a robust student internship program involving top universities in Quebec and Ontario.
Wagner says Nuance employees have a great deal of responsibility for their projects, even early in their careers. "We give them a lot of room," she says. "We mentor them, we empower them and we don't stand in their way."
Tommy Cai, a Senior Software Engineer who worked on RBC's voice biometrics system, agrees, noting that he has been able to deal directly with clients. "As a company they have a lot of trust in you to put you in front of the customer," he says. "It shows a lot of confidence and support."
Cai joined Nuance in 2010 after completing a master's degree in electrical engineering at McGill University, and was soon working on interactive voice response (IVR) systems. The work has meant a lot of collaboration with Nuance staff in places as far away as Germany and Australia, and Cai has also been able to travel to offices on the West Coast of the U.S. and in the U.K.
It's a very friendly company, says Cai. "I have learned and experienced so much in five years here."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Canada's Top 100 Employers winners, published November 9, 2015 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 10, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Nuance Communications Canada Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2016):
- Nuance Communications employees can participate in "Engineering Excellence", a program to support the professional development of Nuance Technologists -- the program offers live and recorded sessions, videos and blog posts on technical and non-technical topics and skill development recommendations to support technical learning
- Nuance Communications provides students with unique development opportunities through its global internship program and hosts executive lunch and learns specifically to allow interns to meet the company's senior executive team
Nuance looks for people to help you talk to your car
If you have driven a late-model car recently, you've probably found you can talk to it. Depending on the system, you can safely dictate and send messages, tune your radio, check your tire pressure or launch the on- screen navigation, all with your voice.
But it's not just the carmakers who produce these wonders. In many makes, you can thank the technologists at Montreal-based Nuance Communications Canada Inc. for helping to create these features. And they've only just begun.
"The connected car is now the big battleground in technology," says David Ardman, Vice-President, Engineering. "The car is the last place where we're not fully plugged in."
Now, as the Internet becomes more available in vehicles, the options for drivers are beginning to multiply. Systems are able to take advantage of the cloud for more complex operations - all needing easy-to-use voice activation. "At Nuance," says Ardman, "we're here to humanize the interface between person and machine, to allow people to interact in a natural way."
The next step, now in the R&D lab, is an Automotive Assistant, he says. In a connected car, the assistant would get to know the driver's needs and be able to, say, find a parking spot in a lot near the destination, under cover if it's raining, less expensive if required, and pay for it with a credit card.
Given the fast pace of change in the industry, with self driving vehicles on the horizon, the connected car is sure to be a major growth area for software engineers who join Nuance, notes Ardman.
A global company with headquarters in Burlington, Massachusetts, Nuance has four major market areas - Healthcare, Enterprise, Mobile- Consumer and Document Imaging. It draws on decades of experience in speech, natural language understanding and artificial intelligence to create seamless interactions with consumer electronics, apps, cars, IT systems and more. Most of its 730 staff in Canada are concentrated in Montreal, the global company's second largest site, where more than 100 people work in the automotive section.
Among them is Dwijesh (Dean) Bhageerutty, who joined Nuance in January 2015 as a User Interface Developer in the company's Automotive Professional Services team. His job involves drawing on Nuance's Dragon Drive technology to develop voice interfaces for information
and entertainment units in cars.
"The number one advantage of my role is the impact of my work," he says. "Millions of cars around the world use Nuance technology for voice recognition. It's very gratifying to see somebody using our technology in their car and being able to say, 'Ha! I worked on that!'"
That kind of pride seems to be a hallmark of Nuance employees. "Nuance is a world leader in developing intelligent interaction systems," says Lior Ben-Gigi, who joined three years ago as a Technical Product Manager. "When I need to explain to my young kids what I do, I tell them that I am 'teaching cars how to speak'."
The company runs an extensive internship program, bringing in 30 students per term, three times a year. "It's a wonderful way to experience our culture," says Ben-Gigi. "The interns are mentored by senior employees in their specific roles while also enjoying organized activities tailored for them."
He notes that many of them join in the firm's popular Innovation Challenges, in which Nuance people compete to show off new ideas and prototypes that are often developed further by Nuance.
"Very few companies can match what we do here," says Bhageerutty. "For young people looking for a challenging and fun workplace, this is the place to be."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Canada's Top Employers for Young People winners, published January 11, 2016 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.