The business of the Canadian National Railway Company (CN) is moving natural resources, manufactured products and consumer goods around North America, making sure they get where they need to go. So perhaps it’s no surprise it has moved Amin Abdulle, too – from Edmonton, where he was first hired on almost 10 years ago as crew dispatcher, to Saskatoon and then most recently to Winnipeg, where he works today as a superintendent. “It’s been a good ride so far,” says Abdulle.
Abdulle left university before finishing his undergraduate degree, feeling that it wasn’t a good fit, but made himself a promise that he’d always keep learning and developing, and that he’d focus on finding a job where he knew he could make a difference.
Montréal-based CN allowed him to fulfill both parts of that promise. Abdulle, whose job involves overseeing the Winnipeg rail yard – an important operations hub for CN, where its eastern, western and United States operations connect – can see the impact of his work firsthand every day, as rail cars arrive in and depart the yard.
And the company has also provided in-house training and development for all of his roles, including crew management supervisor, handling labour relations and transportation manager. CN has multiple in-house career development programs and an online career management platform. Its CN Campus in Winnipeg provides training and recertification to transportation, engineering, mechanical and multi-modal employees in classrooms, labs and on simulators, as well as outdoor training on equipment and tracks.
“One of the best things about CN, as an employer, is they have in-house training and development, from dispatcher training to getting conductor qualified,” he says.
Amelie Pereira, product manager on CN’s information technology team in Montréal, says she appreciates the company’s support for ongoing learning and development. Pereira is part of a team that is managing a major upgrade of CN’s enterprise resource planning software – essentially the engine of the business – and she says the company ensures she and her colleagues have access to training on new functionalities and third-party tools, and encourages them to get the certifications they need to stay current in their roles.
She says the company has an open culture, and management genuinely wants to hear from employees on what can be improved. “They’re really in the mindset of trying to improve all the time and listen to people,” she says. “I can easily talk to my senior manager, my director or my executive vice-president. We’re not afraid to say what we think when something could be done better.”
Pereira, who joined the company in 2017, says the people make the difference at the company. In her previous workplaces, she says, she often saw a sense of competition and one-upmanship among employees, but at CN, teamwork and camaraderie prevail. The company has a philosophy of ‘one team,’ and Pereira says it is more than just words. “People are focused on the whole rather than themselves,” she says. “They push you to do better every day.”
Knowing CN’s business is critical to Canadian society and the economy instills a sense of purpose and commitment, she says. “If something is happening, we know we can count on each other. You reach out and people will answer and try to help. It drives people to give their best.”
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.