While visiting Australia in 2018, Claire Pourbaix saw a construction site on the side of a highway with a trailer bearing a familiar name – ATCO, which is headquartered in her hometown of Calgary. “ATCO has such strong roots in Alberta, and you see the brand everywhere there, but this solidified how global they are,” she says.
ATCO is a diversified global corporation with investments in the essential services of structures and logistics, utilities, energy infrastructure, retail energy and commercial real estate. Pourbaix joined ATCO in 2019 as a compensation advisor. “I admired the international presence and diversity of opportunities, and I knew there’d be lots of places to go in my career,” she says.
Although Pourbaix had earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce in 2018, she was interested in moving into human resources. “My first manager supported me expanding my knowledge and put my name forward with an HR manager,” she says. “I really credit him, and the HR manager who took me on, for allowing me to share my role and for my career growth.”
In 2020, Pourbaix was promoted to HR and compensation advisor, and in April 2022 she became a platform specialist with ATCO’s SpaceLab. In this role, she’s helping develop a learning series and platform called Community of Action for employees to develop new projects and skills. “The people are what make ATCO truly great – they’re diverse and intelligent, and you can learn so much from them,” she says.
Employee wellness is a priority, with head office housing a gym and yoga studio. Pourbaix appreciates the discounted, on-site, half-hour massages she sometimes gets before starting her workday. “There’s a big focus on wellness – mental, emotional, physical and financial, with webinars on budgeting and pension plans,” she says.
ATCO also invests in its young people by supporting professional development. Pourbaix’s first manager encouraged her to pursue a Chartered Professional in Human Resources designation and reimbursed its fee. “We support our young employees however we can because we want them to progress in their careers here,” says Deanna Girard, vice-president of human resources. “And it isn’t always about moving upward, it can be a lateral move to increase skills.”
Many young employees get their first ATCO experience before they graduate. ATCO supports co-op programs for finance, human resources and engineering students in their first year of post-secondary education. “We see these programs as a feeder to hire young people, but it isn’t the only way in,” says Girard.
ATCO visits university and college campuses to recruit, whether at job fairs or by speaking to students in classrooms. There’s a focus on diversity and increasing the number of Indigenous students – in 2022, 15 per cent of summer students in Alberta’s ATCO offices were Indigenous. “Building lasting relationships with Indigenous communities has long been a hallmark of our company everywhere we operate,” says Girard.
Summer students will be assigned a “buddy” – a mentor who can answer questions. They’ll get meaningful work aligned with their programs, and often it’s fun. For example, one group of students gave presentations as avatars to showcase their technical and creative skills.
Girard looks forward to the influx of students every May to August. “Our young people bring a wonderful energy, engagement and curiosity,” she says. “We support them fully with the hope that they’ll have long careers here.”
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Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.