Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why BASF Canada Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2018):
- BASF Canada invests in ongoing employee development and recently revised its tuition reimbursement program to offer $25,000 annually for graduate programs and $15,000 annually for undergraduate programs
- BASF Canada provides maternity and parental leave top-up payments for employees who are new mothers and fathers (including adoptive parents), to 100% of salary for up to 17 weeks -- employees may also extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence and head office employees can take advantage of privately operated onsite daycare
- BASF Canada helps employees prepare for the future with retirement planning assistance, employer contributions to a defined contribution pension plan and health benefits that extend to retirees (with no age limit)
Personal growth drives corporate success at BASF
As part of a global chemical producer that creates and applies scientific knowledge, BASF Canada Inc. has a natural interest in developing the knowledge of its people. So it's no surprise that the company invests in a variety of programs to help employees upgrade their education and skills.
"We believe in innovating in all that we do, and that includes putting a focus on learning and development opportunities," says Marcelo Lu, President of BASF Canada. "We provide an amazing platform for people to learn and really be passionate about their career development. For us, there's a necessity to keep our talent motivated and excited about growing within the company."
The parent company, BASF SE, based in Ludwigshafen, Germany, was founded more than 150 years ago and is now one of the world's largest producers of chemicals, with locations in more than 80 countries, including 11 production facilities and offices in Canada.
"Our company has a defined purpose -- we create chemistry for a sustainable future," says Lu. "We help customers in almost every industry meet the current and future needs of society through the use of chemistry-driven innovation."
BASF Canada encourages employee learning through programs such as tuition reimbursement of up to $25,000 annually for graduate programs and $15,000 for undergraduate studies, and an online portal called YOU Learn, which provides training on topics ranging from sustainability and project management to marketing and leadership skills. Also available are an internal coaching program and the Canadian Development Centre, where employees develop leadership skills through a practical, immersive and introspective approach involving regional leadership.
"We take pride in offering a challenging and rewarding work environment while emphasizing lifelong learning and development," says Lu. "That mindset is ingrained into our culture of discovering and developing the best talent. By providing growth opportunities, we enable our employees to better connect with our customers and have the flexibility to adapt to market needs."
One of the many employees who have benefited from such programs is Yat Nagpal, Accounting and Reporting Leader in the finance department at BASF Canada's headquarters in Mississauga, Ont. "The learning and development opportunities are quite tremendous," he says. "I've taken advantage of lots of them."
After spending the summer of 2013 as an intern while he was earning his Master of Accountancy degree, Nagpal joined BASF Canada full-time in 2014 as a financial analyst and was promoted to his current position in July 2016.
"While I was studying for my Chartered Professional Accountant [CPA] designation, I was fully supported at work and was provided with the resources and flexibility I needed to be successful," he says. "I'm now pursuing an MBA, again with the company's support."
From the start, Nagpal says, what appealed to him most about BASF was the diversity and the opportunities offered. "You can really tell that we've incorporated diversity and inclusion into the fabric of our culture. Helping people achieve their personal goals is a cornerstone of BASF."
The company's global scope offers exciting opportunities for personal development, Nagpal notes. He took part in GRIPS, a business simulation competition in which teams from BASF offices around the world analyzed and interpreted economic interdependencies. Nagpal and his Canadian colleagues placed seventh out of the 150 teams in the competition.
"The experience gave me great insight into what it takes to run a company by challenging me with situations that were beyond the scope of my day-to-day role." he says. "It has equipped me with skills such as decision-making and group facilitation that I'll continue to use throughout my career."
BASF harnesses 'the power of connected minds'
With more than 700 employees working out of 11 locations across Canada, including three sites in the Greater Toronto Area, BASF Canada Inc. makes it a priority to keep its people connected with each other. The same is true across the worldwide operations of BASF SE, one of the world's largest producers of chemicals, which is based in Germany and has locations in more than 80 countries.
"We believe that through the power of connected minds, no challenge is too big for us," says Terri Howard, BASF Canada's Director of Human Resources. "The importance of connectivity is underscored by our drive for co-creation and collaboration in all that we do.
"Every idea, thought and opinion is valuable, and everyone brings something unique to the mix. We offer our employees different ways to connect and collaborate, in ways that extend beyond their teams, functions or business units."
Anne Shore is one of many BASF employees in the GTA who make the most of the company's collaborative initiatives.
"What I really love about my job is that I'm always busy and I always feel like I'm growing and learning. The company has so many opportunities to engage with people and activities outside my own area," says Shore, who works as Purchase to Pay and Order to Cash Liaison in BASF's Finance and Business Services Department.
Several different groups are available for employees to get involved with, including the Diversity + Inclusion Council, Women in Business, Toastmasters Club and IdeaLab, a new platform where people share ideas to make work more efficient.
Shore has joined several of these groups, including Women in Business, which she notes is international in scope, bringing female employees together with BASF colleagues from other countries, in person, by phone or by video conference.
"Engaging in these different communities helps eliminate the silos. You can break out of your bubble and network with colleagues you might not meet otherwise," says Shore, who has been with BASF since 2010.
In another initiative to promote greater connectivity, GTA employees are invited to attend quarterly town hall meetings, where they listen to guest speakers and are encouraged to be active participants in conversations on topics such as recognition and development, safety and sustainability.
"Our quarterly town halls are a great way to stay in touch with all of our teams, identify gaps, set goals, and focus on solutions as one company," says Howard. "They are hosted offsite at unique venues and give our employees a chance to connect with each other beyond the scope of their day-to-day roles. Throughout the event, our colleagues have the opportunity to drive the conversation by taking part in interactive live-polling via their mobile phones -- a wonderful tool that enables everyone to be engaged and have a voice."
In 2017, BASF Canada revamped the office spaces at its headquarters in Mississauga, Ont. Designed to enhance collaboration and connectivity, the revitalized spaces include an employee lounge called the Creator Space, where people can get together to discuss ideas, network or simply relax. Multiple work areas have also been updated to strengthen team collaboration and enable impromptu conversations that drive business activities and innovation.
Connectivity at BASF extends outside the company as well. "For us, connectivity is also about our commitment to our customers and the communities where we live and work," says Howard. "Throughout the year, our employees from across the GTA work together, volunteering their time and focusing on charitable giving activities that align with our primary philanthropic objectives: science education, ecology, health and safety."