Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 12, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc. / IMS was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2018):
- Employees at Intelligent Mechatronic Systems can elect to enroll in the company's health benefits plan or opt to receive an annual health spending account of up to $2,400, to direct as needed
- Intelligent Mechatronic Systems starts new employees with 3 weeks of paid vacation and considers previous work experience when setting individual vacation entitlement for new hires -- and offers up to 3 paid personal days every year, as well as additional time off over the Christmas holiday season
Driving a high-tech route to the future at IMS
The path that led Jenna Scharman to Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc. (IMS) is not the typical route many take to employment in the IT sector. Instead of a degree in one of the STEM fields, she graduated university with a double major in Spanish and French. Her first full-time job was with a commodity parts distributor, but seeking a more stimulating workplace, Scharman joined tech leader IMS in October 2014.
It's also fair to say that the Waterloo, Ont.-based provider of award-winning connected car and telematics technology is not your typical tech-sector employer. IMS prioritizes hiring potential high performers from all walks of life. The company, consequently, is not only uncommonly accepting of international education and designations, more than half of its workforce is female, a high percentage in what remains a male-dominated field.
This diversity, among numerous reasons, is why Scharman describes IMS as a great fit for her desire for exciting work in a friendly, fast-paced environment. At first, her entry job entailed directly supporting the company's growing roster of international clients, which includes insurers, governments and consumers.
After a year, Scharman asked for mentoring and cross-training and she was soon on the inside track to technological growth and proficiency. She is now an Information Technology Coordinator, which includes a focus on data security and privacy matters.
"We have a great open door policy where management is very receptive to any conversations you want to have with them," she says. "I've received a lot of one-on-one coaching sessions, plus IMS was really helpful with more formal instruction."
Founded in 1999 and built on R&D, IMS has some 200-plus patents and patents pending, with operations focused in North America and Europe. It is the leader in the fast-growing field of insurance telematics and usage-based insurance. IMS products provide insights on how and where a car is driven, enabling insurers to offer rates based on driver behaviour or to reconstruct accident scenarios.
In turn, the technology gives drivers feedback on their driving habits. As well, governments use IMS technology as a cost-effective alternative to toll roads and expensive infrastructure. The ultimate goal is to make transportation and driving safer, smarter and greener.
In 2014, IMS established an Employee Focus Group which now has 12 employees chosen by their respective departments. One of their key findings was that employees wanted more effective communications from management, especially in terms of what their priorities should be.
"Employees have a lot of valuable information to share, especially when it comes to doing their jobs," says Chief Corporate Officer Jeoff Shiekh. "We took their feedback seriously and hired a consultant to help us realign our business processes. We are all now marching in the same direction."
Shiekh has seen a number of changes since he joined IMS in 2008. Back then it operated out of a timeworn office building, but rapid growth led the company to move into an open-concept, light-filled building. Here employees can enjoy 20-minute chair massages, health and wellness classes with accredited instructors, daily snacks and weekly breakfasts, or take advantage of an onsite rejuvenation room.
Also among the initiatives aimed at reducing on-the-job stress and creating a collegial workplace culture are numerous social activities. The company, for instance, celebrates diversity and culture through a variety of festivals, including Cinco de Mayo, International Women's Day, and an International Potluck Buffet where everybody provides a dish.
IMS offers a competitive pay and benefits package. But according to Shiekh, that's only the starting point. "Waterloo Region is very competitive when it comes to hiring top IT talent," he adds. "What really attracts people is often a little more intangible."
As Scharman sees it, IMS has the mix right. "We work hard, we play hard," she says. "It's a place where you can really flourish."