How a tech HR leader keeps teams motivated through crises | The Sunday Briefing
"Put one foot in front of the other and just keep on going. I mean, that's all you can do at the end of the day." - Hermina Khara, SVP, people and culture, Alida
If you’re not already on Clubhouse (iOS only) but want to be, please get in touch for an invitation. You don’t want to miss our conversation with Lumen5 co-founder and CEO Michael Cheng on Vancouver Tech Morning Coffee this Tuesday at 9am.
Today’s Sunday Briefing is 1,873 words, a 6 1/4-minute read. Enjoy!
📰 Cover Story: “If we want people to act with empathy, we have to show empathy first,” says the senior vice president of people and culture at software firm Alida
Hermina Khara will be the first to tell you she’s not your typical human resources leader. Before HR, she spent a decade working in sales and finance, first in the brokerage industry and then mutual funds.
As a tech industry executive at a firm with 300+ employees and awards for culture and engagement, she’s still harnessing principles from her first career to guide herself now. When you’re selling to someone, she told me, you’re working on the assumption that your product or service will benefit them. It’ll improve their project, business or life.
When it comes to people management, Khara has borrowed from that ethos. She believes it’s her job to leave people better than she’s found them. A previous mentor taught her that notion, and she’s “carried the torch,” she said. “When you use that as your compass, you can’t do anything wrong.”
Vancouver Tech Journal recently spoke to her about the importance of grit and investing in other people’s success, how she leans on a “huge family” inside and outside of her company for support, and, as the pandemic drags on, what leaders must do to keep employees motivated. Read the interview, the second in our Management Memo series where we talk to executives about leading high-performance organizations in a rapidly changing world.
⏩ Quick Takes
A new report from global consultancy Accenture ranks Vancouver 12th of 20 leading and emerging fintech hubs globally.
BBTV founder Shahrzad Rafati co-chairs G20 EMPOWER, which just released a playbook for companies focused on building the female talent pipeline and improving training and development.
Legal software company Clio was named a top ten workplace for women in 2021 by Elpha.
Lululemon doubled its e-commerce business, but is still planning on opening 40 to 50 stories this year.
The Vancouver Economic Commission debuted Project Greenlight, a regional demonstration platform that facilitates connections between public and private enterprises (members) and the local and global innovation community.
🏦 Banknotes: Financial news to know.
Vancouver’s Dapper Labs raised $305 million from Will Smith, Michael Jordan and 40+ others. According to various reports, the funding round values the company at $2.6 billion USD and brings the total capital raised by Dapper Labs to $357 million. The round is also one of the 10 largest venture rounds in crypto and blockchain.
“I cannot confirm or deny any of those rumors.” - Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou when asked by USA Today about the potential for a Michael Jordan Moment coming to the NBA Top Shot marketplace.
Loop Insights, which provides contactless AI-driven solutions to retailers, inked a $2 million deal to acquire German digital wallet operator Passcreator. Loop will vertically integrate Passcreator's wallet pass capabilities and gain access to its clients, which include BMW and Mercedes Benz.
Staffbase, the internal communications company that B.C.’s Bananatag recently merged with, raised $145 million, led by General Atlantic. The company’s customers include organizations such as Adidas, Audi, Ikea, Johns Hopkins University, and McKesson.
Mogo, a local fintech, announced that it has extended its bitcoin cashback rewards program to include MogoMortgage. Under the program, Mogo members who take out a new mortgage or refinance with Mogo can earn up to $3,100 cashback deposited in their Bitcoin and Rewards account.
Version One, an early-stage venture fund, announced their investment in SuperRare, a leading marketplace for blockchain-based digital art/NFTs. “We’re excited to have been part of the SuperRare journey since we invested in the company in their seed round last August with our friends at 1confirmation,” notes Version One partner Boris Wertz.
📈 Pulse check: The health and biotech news keeping hearts racing.
CuePath Innovation announced a partnership with U.S.-based Thrifty White Pharmacy, licensing the use of CuePath's Pharmacy Activation software. The company’s CEO Ken Piaggio also announced a Series A preferred share financing round to provide manufacturing scale-up funding needed to service a growing list of US-based at-home care partners.
Vancouver’s AbCellera closed out a monster year in which it became Canada’s most valuable biotech company by growing year-over-year revenue 1,908% to $233 million USD. The firm has also been in the news for another reason: The company says the treatment it “developed for COVID-19 is sitting on shelves while people continue to die, despite it being approved for use by Health Canada in the fall.
Canada has great academic institutions and entrepreneurs, but when it comes to creating the business environment for companies to grow, we struggle. “Canada, in the last three decades, has really been a pipeline of innovation and creativity for other jurisdictions to pick up… then build, and have the economic benefits,” says Karimah Es Sabar, a partner with Quark Ventures.
💲Bought/sold: Exits and acquisitions.
Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red has acquired Vancouver-based Digital Scapes to create its first Canadian studio for games development. “We believe that the hugely talented Digital Scapes crew is the perfect foundation upon which to build a wider CD Projekt Red Vancouver team," Paweł Zawodny, head of production and CTO at the Polish company said in a statement.
Vancouver’s PDFTron Systems Inc., a leader in document technology solutions for software developers, announced the acquisition of PDF3D, UK-based leader in 3D PDF technologies. Earlier in the year, the company reported growth of 3x in revenues since receiving a US $71 million strategic growth investment in May 2019 from Silversmith Capital Partners.
📝 Views from the 604: The week’s sharpest ideas and opinions.
Scott Lear, a professor in the faculty of health sciences at Simon Fraser University, argues that the B.C. government should focus on good public health messaging, not on blaming young adults. “While B.C.’s elected leaders may think those 20 to 39 years old are failing the province, these young adults feel the province is failing them — failing to recognize the importance they have to the economy and society,” he writes.
Thinkific CEO Greg Smith argues Why You Should Learn To Love Your Employees’ Side Hustles in Forbes. “Side hustlers sharpen a set of entrepreneurial skills that pay dividends in their current role, including initiative, customer empathy and self-management,” he writes.
Annika Lewis, an investor with Vanedge Capital, says if we want to create data-centric cultures within our companies, we should be blurring the lines between data people and ‘non-date people.’ “With data becoming such a critical input to, like every aspect of business in this day and age, isn’t it kind of concerning that we draw such a clear line in the sand?” she asks.
Wal van Lierop, the founder of Chrysalix Venture Capital, argues in Forbes that Accusations Of ESG Greenwashing Miss The Point. “Even if the world’s biggest polluters wanted to go green – and even if the BlackRocks of the world supported them – they don’t have the technology to do it,” he writes.
💼 Pole positions: Tech jobs that matter at Kit and Ace.
🔗 Director of E-commerce. Learn more.
🔗 Digital Project Manager. Learn more.
🔗 UX/UI Designer. Learn more.
Want to see your postings here? Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
👨💼 Personnel issues: People going places.
Former Gartner Chief of Research Jake Sorofman joined local workforce analytics provider Visier as chief marketing officer. Jake was also previously CMO at Pendo, where he supported the company through its Series D and E funding rounds, reaching a $1B valuation.
Telus CEO Darren Entwistle was the highest paid CEO of the big three telecom companies by a large margin, earning $16.04-milion in 2020, a 24-per-cent increase from 2019. Rogers CEO Joe Natale made $11.22-million and new BCE Inc. CEO Mirko Bibic took hom $9.48-million.
📡 Radar: Companies to watch out for.
Faber, Snack and Penny are the three B.C.-based tech companies selected for the C100 Fellowship program, a program that aims to connect promising early-stage entrepreneurs to leaders in tech globally. Hailing from Vancouver and Squamish, the three selected companies span the construction, dating, and customer and data management sectors.
Seattle-based GeekWire announced their latest GeekWire 200, a ranked index of Pacific Northwest startups, and it features B.C. startups including Unbounce, Clio, Thinkific, LonginRadius, General Fusion, Trulioo, CTO.ai, ThoughtExchange, Eventbase, and many others. The list is built using publicly available data to identify the tech companies most popular and trending among key online communities. The ranking is generated each month from GeekWire’s Startup List, a comprehensive directory of the region’s tech startups.
Messaging app Quantum Pigeon was built to help lifestyle influencers and content creators engage with audiences and monetize their brands. The company was started by Alex Clark, who built and sold Bit Stew Systems to GE Digital for more than $200 million.
😎 Pretty cool: What else is new and novel.
Light AI is testing tech with the Western Hockey League that uses a smartphone camera to determine if someone has signs of being infected with COVID-19. Players on teams including the Vancouver Giants are being tested for COVID-19 once a week as part of the hockey league’s return-to-play protocols.
About 60% of seniors surveyed say they've learned to use video conferencing tools since the start of the pandemic, but still lack the confidence to use online apps for things like groceries, appointments, prescriptions, and paying and managing bills, according to BC Hydro’s Digital Divide report.
On Clubhouse: April 6, 2021 at 9am PST: Michael Cheng, Co-Founder & CEO, Lumen5 on Vancouver Tech Morning Coffee.
(If you’re on iOS, get in touch for an invite.)
Civic Tech YVR #21 | Procurement Breakthroughs: BC's Digital Marketplace with Zachary Woodward, Senior Director, Procurement and Product at the BC Public Service and others.
Check out our full events schedule here.
‼️ Double take: In case you missed these stories.
⌛ That’s it. Until next week…
🙏 If you enjoyed this newsletter, we’d really appreciate it if you sent it to all your colleagues and clients.