Every month, Jobboom profiles an employer that is a leader in their industry to shed some light on the business cultures, staffing needs and recruitment methods of top organizations. This month we look at 8D Technologies.
Jobboom spoke with Manuel Darveau, Director of software engineering, and Renée Périgny, Director of human resources for 8D Technologies.
Jobboom: Can you give us a brief overview of the history of 8D Technologies and take us up to the present day?
Manuel Darveau: 8D Technologies was founded in Montréal in 1996, initially as a consulting company for open source and Linux technologies, which were really coming into their own at that time.
In 2002, we developed a new parking management system for the city of Montréal, to replace the old coin-operated parking meters with new devices that accept credit cards.
This experience with the city of Montréal established us as an ideal partner when the city decided to roll out a bike-sharing system based on existing European models. The system was launched in 2009 with 500 stations, and was an immediate hit with the public.
In the years that followed, we replicated Montréal’s Bixi system in Toronto, London (UK), Melbourne (AUS), Abu Dhabi (UAE) and several U.S. cities including Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Boston, San Francisco and New York, where we updated an existing system they had in place.
In 2016, 24 million bikes were rented by millions of users through our systems. In the U.S., 80% of the bike rentals completed at self-service stations were handled through the Motivate system.
More recently, in February 2017, 8D Technologies merged with Motivate, a company based in New York. This merger has greatly increased the organization’s workforce, mainly because we now have local offices in each of the cities where we operate with street technicians, call center employees, and sales & marketing and teams.
The Montréal office of 8D Technologies counts around 85 employees, most of whom work in engineering and business development.
Including Motivate’s New York headquarters, our total workforce is around 900 people. Their office counts 200 employees who work primarily in engineering and business development, like in Montréal.
JB: What are the main projects you’ve undertaken in Québec?
MD: Bixi, the self-service bike share system in Montréal, is our main project in Québec.
We’ve also developed a mobile app called Spotcycle that allows users to find available bikes on a self-service basis in 50 cities around the world.
JB: What are some of the values and social causes that 8D Technolgies identifies with?
MD: Our core mission is to improve the mobility of people living in urban areas. At 8D Technologies, we believe that self-service bike sharing systems are one of the keys to providing this mobility, by allowing city residents to easily ‘fill in the gaps’ between public transportation services. Bike sharing is also ideal for short trips close to home.
At 8D Technologies, we also believe strongly in the concept of equity, which is why we provide programs to allow low-income people to access our bike sharing services at a reduced price in all of the cities we operate in.
We believe that programs like these help foster a biking culture that is very inclusive, that provides access to bike share services for people of all ages, origins, or religions. This is a culture that reflects the vibrant nature of our cities.
Ultimately, our first responsibility is to create jobs. The technology that powers our services is mostly developed in Québec, which allows us to create jobs in Montréal and to keep them here.
JB: What types of employment are available with 8D Technologies?
MD: We are hiring a lot of developers. Generally we have varied recruiting needs because we build every aspect of the technology solution we provide, from software to mechanical design – from the bike itself to the mobile app used to access it.
Accordingly, we are always looking for electronic circuit designers, firmware designers, web programmers, mobile developers and back-end programmers.
JB: In terms of recruitment, what are your needs at the present moment?
MD: We’ve been developing and improving our bike sharing system for several years, and at the moment we have several challenges to overcome.
First and foremost, we need our platform to evolve to meet the level of demand for this service. We are continually adding new features and functionality and we face challenges in terms of maintaining the robustness of the platform in order to meet the needs of our users, which are becoming more and more complex.
For example, in New York, we have 12,000 bikes deployed and handle millions of rentals in that city every month. We’re always on the lookout for new talent who can help us improve and modernize our capabilities, particularly people who have the expertise and the interest to build complex systems to handle a large volume of data in our ‘back office’.
JB: What recruitment tools do you use?
Renée Périgny: We use several recruitment tools, but our first task is to write a complete and detailed description of the available position. This is the foundation of all job postings that will be generated from the description, and is the content that will precisely describe the job and the tasks that it involves, which in turn will stimulate the imagination of potential candidates.
We publish traditional job postings on job search sites, but we also publish our availabilities on social media and at universities, depending on the level of experience we require for the position. Some universities that we collaborate with offer job placement assistance for life, which allows us to contact them to find a candidate for an internship – which can lead to employment with our company – or to find a candidate who already has several years of professional experience.
We also organize and participate in events such as open houses and employment salons for one or more of the sectors that we work in, allowing us to meet and connect with potential candidates whether they are passive or active. Today, we find this approach to be more effective than focusing on traditional job postings.
After that, the interview is a very important step in our recruitment process. We use structured questionnaires so that we can compare the answers provided by candidates who have applied for the same job. Our criteria focus on both technical skills and personality; our goal is to hire people who have the skills required for the job, but who will also adapt well to their teammates and the culture of the workplace. We’re not hiring for 3-month positions. We want to engage people who will stay with us and evolve over the long-term.
JB: What are some essential qualities you look for in your employees?
MD: At 8D Technologies, we’re looking for peple who are passionate about their work but who also have a strong sense of ownership. Our company culture values people who can make decisions, test hypotheses, make mistakes, learn from these mistakes, correct them and move forward. We believe in small teams who are given a lot of autonomy and who have a high level of responsibility. This facilitates innovation, the ability to innovate quickly, and to develop complex solutions that will be useful for our users.
It’s essential that we hire people who have strong communication skills and who can work well with others, because these qualities ensure that they will work well with their teams and contribute to an enjoyable working environment.
RP: In addition to people who have a natural passion and curiosity for the work we do, we’re looking for winners – people who are engaged and who strive to advance their projects, their team and the organization as a whole. We want people who are invigorated by their work and who are motivated to see through their projects to the very end, to see their work enter the public domain and deliver benefits to people.
8D Technologies has enjoyed consistent growth since its founding and ultimately we need people who are interested in coming aboard a train that’s moving forward very quickly.
JB: What are your qualities as an employer? What differentiates 8D Technologies from the competition?
RP: At 8D Technologies, we always give our employees the opportunity to tell us what they think. We pay close attention to our users’ requests to better understand their needs, but we also listen to our collaborators. In the end, it’s them and our users who make our products what they are today, and inspire what they will become in the future.
From the perspective of work-life balance, we offer our employees a flexible schedule and the opportunity to work from home.
We promote a healthy lifestyle at work. We want our employees to feel happy and healthy and we support this by offering, among other things, a variety of social and recreational activities. Through these initiatives we can support the well-being of our collaborators, which in turn creates and maintains a familial atmosphere at work.
JB: How do you attract and retain talent?
RP: Some of our collaborators have been with us since our founding in 1996! To inspire and attract talent we offer great working conditions, including flexible working schedules and the possibility to work from home. Above all else, however, we believe that it’s the human aspect of our management practices that allows us to attract and retain talented people. The positive dynamic and cohesion of our teams are very strong.
JB: Are there opportunities for advancement at 8D Technologies?
RP: The greatest opportunity for our employees is that they can grow with the company and expand their role and responsibilities over time. Some of our employees joined us as interns while they were finishing university, and then were hired as permanent employees to keep working on the project that they were working on during their internship.
We also offer the opportunity for employees to transition into a different role. For example, an individual who is hired as a developer but shows very strong management traits could go on to manage a team of employees if they wish, or alternatively become a “development lead”, a position that doesn’t involve personnel management. In this role the person would manage the progress of projects, but also identify goals for the team, evaluate the results of work done by team members, supervise work and delegate certain tasks. Managers also contribute to the high-level strategies of teams and the organization as a whole.
There is no defined path for career development within the company, but there are many opportunities for employees to pursue their individual evolution. This can happen in many different ways, including by taking on more responsibilities, what you’d call a ‘horizontal’ evolution. Since we can adapt the scope of our positions to the skills and desires of the employee, why wouldn’t we give them the opportunity to grow?
JB: 8D Technologies has a presence in several different countries. Do you have an internal transfer program for employees?
RP: We already do regular exchanges of employees between different teams. For example, employees from our New York office often come to visit us in Montreal and vice versa.
Because our merger with Motivate happened very recently, we haven’t yet arranged a proper transfer program. That being said, we circulate open positions in the company in both the U.S. and Canada.
On September 21, 8D Technologies will be hosting a 4@7 recruitment event and open house at the company’s Montreal office.
Learn more about their bike-sharing technology that powers systems around the world and speak with members of their engineering, production, mobile and web teams. Places are limited! Register for the event here: https://lnkd.in/dAdHed4