Recognized as one of Montreal's Top Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 31, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Canadian National Railway / CN was selected as one of Montreal's Top Employers (2018):
- CN encourages employees to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles through its health and wellness program, CN Traction -- additionally, employees working at the company's Montréal head office have free access to an onsite fitness facility with a variety of instructor-led classes such as kickboxing, aerobics, yoga and Zumba
- CN cultivates an ownership mentality through a share purchase plan, available to all employees, and encourages employees to save for the future through the security of a defined benefit pension plan
- CN operates the impressive employee and pensioner-run "Community Fund", which has raised more than $14.7 million over the past decade -- and also manages the "Railroaders in the Community" program to provide grants to charitable organizations where employees, their families, and retirees volunteer their time
CN employees step aboard digital transformation
When Nayan Bharadwa joined CN in December 2016, he wasn't leaving the high-tech world behind. As Senior Director, Operations Technology, he is leading one of the largest digital transformations in Canada. "The fact that the CN team is completely committed to embracing leading-edge technology to leapfrog forward was a key factor for me," he says.
The largest railway in Canada is at an inflection point similar to that of the airline industry in the 1970s and '80s. "Back then," Bharadwa says, "the industry introduced instrument landing systems and on-board flight and traffic control systems into planes, towers and runways to improve safety and reliability as well as increase capacity."
CN is seeking similar gains from its Operations Technology (OT) group. "We don't call it fly by wire; we call it rail by wire," says Bharadwa. The idea is to build a connected railway that gathers valuable information in real-time, leveraging the power of IoT (the Internet of Things), big data, geo-positioning and "always on" networking to transform locomotives into mobile data centres.
The OT group now has 60 employees, and will continue to hire in 2018. The desired skill set for candidates includes hardware/software reliability, safety engineering, embedded control systems, big data, complex systems management, and communications.
Candidates with these skills who possess experience in rail, aviation, telecom or critical infrastructure are highly sought. "It is a challenge to find people with these core competencies as well as industry experience," says Bharadwa. "There is a great deal of excitement and energy that we are creating the railway of the future, and people want to be part of it."
While much of the hiring for OT is done externally, CN has been recruiting employees with the right skill sets internally as well. Nancy Deschamps, who has 20 years of service at CN, joined OT last May as a Manager, Product Demand and heads a team of 15 employees.
Her previous role, in Business Engagement, involved assessing and defining projects' business value, as well as evaluating the requirements for Positive Train Control (PTC), a still-developing, highly advanced safety system for controlling train movements to reduce certain types of accidents.
Now her role consists of product management and evolution for PTC and OT. "The OT culture is innovative," says Deschamps. "And CN is an employer that allows you to build your skills and your career."
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 1, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Canadian National Railway / CN was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2018):
- CN created the Aspire program in 2012 to help educate young women about opportunities in the railroad industry, and to encourage them to consider careers in non-traditional roles -- the company also maintains a dedicated internship program to provide women with exposure to transportation, mechanical, engineering, and intermodal disciplines
- Along with the formation of a diversity task force, CN produces quarterly diversity report cards to help track the organization's progress to achieving diversity goals -- report cards include information on recruitment, hiring, workforce representation versus market availability and outreach activities with community partners
- CN works with Canada Company, a non-partisan organization that connects businesses and community leaders with the Canadian military -- the company participates in the Military Employment Transition program and attends annual networking events to connect with veterans and reservists
CN signals its commitment to inclusion
At CN, Helen Genoway works in an operations environment where she doesn't think about her gender. As Senior Manager Autoport, Eastern Region, she oversees the complex activities of hundreds of CN and Autoport employees and suppliers.
"I pitch in and help with the offloading when things are really busy or there are challenges," she says. "I don't see myself as a woman in Operations. I am recognized for what I contribute, and my gender is not a factor. It is hard work, but at the end of each day, I can see the fruits of my labour. When I go home, I feel like I have made a difference."
Genoway has been with CN for 17 years, starting as a truck dispatcher for Intermodal (CN's container traffic) and later working in Sales, Marketing, Human Resources and Operations. "Unlike a small company, CN has many departments," she says. "You can move around, trying new things. CN is fabulous at training and developing people. I have never experienced any barriers to advancement because of my gender."
The Montreal-headquartered company is committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive work force. "Diversity provides us with a wider range of ideas and perspectives," says Mike Cory, Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer. "This increases the effectiveness of our decision-making, helping to foster innovation."
CN's strategic diversity and inclusion plan has a number of initiatives to increase diversity, including ensuring that 50 per cent of the candidates interviewed for any position are from diverse backgrounds. This requires efforts to reach out to diverse groups through their social media channels and their associations.
For example, CN draws on its relations with Aboriginal communities along its route to encourage the hiring of Aboriginal peoples and has close to 650 Aboriginal employees working in Canada.
So far this year, 35 per cent of CN's new hires were from diverse backgrounds, and approximately one-third of those diversity hires were women. "This is a transportation and logistics company, and we don't want the women we hire limited to office jobs," says Cory. "We want them to be comfortable whether driving an engine, working on the track or on our IT systems. And we want to see more women rising to leadership positions. In 2016, around 20 per cent of our promotions in Canada were filled by women."
Through its workplace culture of continuous learning, CN helps employees develop their skills. "The company is very interested in investing in long-term, sustainable, experienced employees," says Genoway. "I have taken many training and development courses that CN has offered over the years."
In addition to development courses, another key channel for the success of diverse groups is mentoring, either by leaders or peer to peer. "In one sense, there is equal opportunity, and in another sense, we make sure that people who start from a tougher position receive help and coaching so that they can succeed," says Cory.
Mentoring has played an important role in Genoway's advancement. "I had great leaders who took the time to mentor me," she recalls. Early in her career, her manager "saw something in me and pushed me forward. That was a turning point for me."
Later, when she was an entry-level manager at Intermodal, her boss also encouraged her, telling her she had much more potential than she realized. "I have a lot to pay forward," she says.