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At CPKC, employees have opportunities to take courses and gain hands-on experience that work toward their development plans.Provided

James Clements is proud of his part in creating Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC), which combined Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. with Kansas City Southern Railway Co. to create the only railway stretching from Canada to the United States and Mexico.

“It was an honour and a challenge and super exciting to have the opportunity to be involved in transforming the company and taking it to the next level,” says Clements, executive vice-president, strategic planning and technology transformation. He was involved in planning for the merger, which became official in April 2023, and also leads the integration management office.

Clements is amazed at the magnitude of the new organization. “When you look at a map, it really hits home that this infrastructure literally connects the continent,” he says. “It will also help meet the challenges created by uncertainty and changes to the global supply chain. We are going to be fundamental to the reorientation of North American supply chains.”

Employees were also impressed with how CPKC kept them informed throughout this massive change. “Our senior leaders did a really great job of making sure that there was open communication,” says Collette Gagne, senior manager, payroll processing. “They made sure everyone was aware of what was happening, and there was always room for feedback and asking questions.”

This included meetings with senior leaders and an online ‘Integration Station,’ which was constantly updated with news. Gagne’s department continues to have weekly meetings with team members from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to keep everyone informed of any changes and next steps.

“We have an amazing leadership team, and it’s one of the rare employers I’ve worked with where you can feel the true investment from the leadership team in each person’s success,” Gagne says. “When you get that support and you’re provided the tools to be able to succeed, you want to give that back to your team as well.”

These tools include a mentorship program, online learning programs and reimbursement for part-time studies for courses related to an employee’s development plan. For the development plans, employees have regular meetings with their leaders to get feedback and plan ways to grow in their career. In the operation management trainee program, non-engineers train as conductors and get hands-on experience. They take what they have learned to help prepare them for being successful leaders and managers, as well as getting exposure to the operations aspect of the organization.

“You’re given the opportunity to take your career as far as you want to go,” says Clements. “I call it a company where you can choose your own adventure. We have areas such as engineering, finance, operations. Whatever excites you, we probably do, and we give you the chance to grow and develop.”

CPKC subscribes to the 70-20-10 philosophy, which means 70 per cent of career development occurs on the job, 20 per cent through mentorship and 10 per cent in formal training. “No matter what level you are at, everyone at CPKC is considered a leader, and therefore given the autonomy to make whatever space you are in better,” Gagne says. “The company really supports us and provides us with what we need, and I am proud to be a part of that. If you put in the effort, the sky’s the limit.”

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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.

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