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 Nuance Communications Canada Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018) and Montreal's Top Employers (2018):
- Nuance Communications maintains a formal incentive performance program as well as various awards to recognize exceptional performance, including an annual Values Award, for employees who best demonstrate company values, and a Patent Award, to encourage employee creativity
- As part of the company's health plan, Nuance Communications employees receive an annual wellness account of $150 as well as a health spending account for additional coverage (to $500 annually) -- the company also brings in a professional yoga instructor for regular onsite classes
- New employees receive 4 weeks of paid vacation allowance to start and can take advantage of flexible work hours and a telecommuting option
Nuance delivers AI solutions to the world's largest companies
When reaching out to your choice of airline, retailer or bank, the old phone routine no longer applies. Instead, consumers today are contacting customer service through artificial-intelligence-powered virtual assistants that are accessible not only by phone but also via mobile SMS, online chat and home devices like Amazon Alexa. Through a few natural-language commands, you can pay your bills, book a flight or check on a shipment.
In the past, you were asked your name, date of birth and mother's maiden name at the start of your call to verify you were who you said you were. Now, you can be authenticated through voice recognition, simply speaking to validate your identity, no longer needing to remember multiple pins and passwords.
Such innovations are among the solutions that Nuance Communications, provider of cognitive and conversational artificial intelligence, is focused on. Employees across the Canadian offices are harnessing the power of machine learning and biometrics to help enterprises deliver better, smarter customer service.
"The company's culture is one of excitement and pride in being part of something big -- not only for Nuance, but for society in general," says Anthony Mancini, Vice President, Professional Services. "In our enterprise division, for example, we are deploying solutions to the largest call centres and contact centres in the world."
Nuance hires mostly engineering and computer science graduates for its professional services, R&D, technical support and quality assurance divisions. It also hires individuals with linguistics backgrounds because of its work on voice recognition. "Our recruiting strategy is to hire for entry-level positions and grow the individuals into higher-end positions of more responsibility," says Mancini.
The Montreal office, with nearly 700 employees, is the global organization's largest R&D site, and second in size to the head office in Burlington, Mass. "With our growth comes opportunity for people at every level," says Mancini. "If we have a manager position or a director position open up, we will look first for internal candidates."
Among other approaches, the company grooms its employees at "Nuance University," an internal training program that allows them to add skills and keep pace with industry standards. "Nuance University has a huge list of courses for training and certification for the various Nuance products," says Jason Nico, a Principal Systems Integrator.
Nuance's internship program recruits approximately 150 students a year, but whether they are interns or permanent hires, Nuance makes a point of pairing its newcomers with a senior employee who mentors them. "In professional services, we try to assign new people to customer projects immediately, because that's the best way to learn -- on the job, with a more senior person coaching them," says Mancini.
Nuance has a strong employee referral program that pays $1,500 to $10,000 for referrals. In addition, Nuance has a popular internal transfer program that welcomes employees moving into new areas within the organization. Sylvie Djihanian, a Principal Project Manager with a degree in computer engineering, has had the opportunity of rotating through several different teams. "I have been fortunate to taste a bit of everything," she says. "For the past three years, I've been on a new team -- cloud services, where we host our products in a cloud environment. I've been learning every day on my job."
"The team at Nuance is incredible," says Nico. "There are a lot of smart, fun people who make coming to work enjoyable. The teams collaborate often, which makes you feel part of the solution, and allows us to have direct feedback into the designs of our future products. Nuance has always been there to help me grow my career."
Nuance Canada paves the road to the autonomous car
If you drive a vehicle made by any major automaker in the world, its voice recognition and artificial intelligence (AI) technology likely comes from Nuance Communications Canada Inc.
Nuance's technology is integrated into more than 200 million cars on the road today, enabling drivers to interact safely with conversational human machine interfaces in more than 40 languages, from English to Urdu.
"We're aligning innovation and science with real-life customers," says Dave Ardman, Vice President of Mobile Speech R&D, in Montréal.
As the global organization's largest R&D location, Nuance's facility in Montréal provides AI solutions for healthcare, automotive and enterprise applications.
In the automotive sector, Nuance continues to push the limits of AI to deliver increasingly sophisticated human-machine interfaces to the world's major automotive companies.
"There are no roads where we're going," says Paulo Radtke, Senior Manager, Application Research. "We have to pave the road ourselves. We're constantly moving forward, which is great for researchers and developers."
New vehicles already incorporate microphones, cameras and real-time sensors; autonomous driving will expand these human-machine interfaces even further. As this occurs, Nuance technology will provide a seamless and intelligent conversational interface that enables a safer, smarter in-car experience while keeping drivers connected to the outside world.
As principal researcher on Nuance's Natural Language Understanding and AI team, Jonathan Greenspan "looks for the best way to apply the latest machine learning and AI technologies to our automotive assistant products."
These technologies advance rapidly, challenging Nuance every day to stay ahead of the curve.
"In my research group," says Greenspan, "a volunteer learns a new machine learning technique by reading the latest research papers and trying things out in a hands-on way. He or she then presents to the group, so we can all learn about a field that's evolving faster than the time it takes to organize something formal."
With such a dynamic environment, Nuance attracts outstanding university graduates primarily from engineering, computer science and linguistics programs. Ardman and Greenspan graduated from McGill University, while Radtke attended Ecole de technologie supérieure (ETS), both a short walk from Nuance. This year, the company aims to attract 150 interns along with many new grad hires.
"The benefits are great, but it's the work that keeps you coming back every day," says Greenspan.
"I get to do math and artificial intelligence development for a living. It's a privilege and a real thrill to know that something you created will be used by people all over the world."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2018)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Nuance Communications Canada Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2018):
- Nuance Communications provides students with unique development opportunities through an internship program and hosts executive lunch and learns specifically to allow interns to meet the company's senior executive team
- 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 skills development recommendations to support technical learning
- Nuance Communications encourages employees to cultivate creativity through innovation challenges -- employees work in teams to address a known challenge or opportunity and present their final product, solution or improvement (with winners chosen by a panel and by popular vote)