Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2024), Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2023) and Montreal's Top Employers (2023):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 16, 2023)
Here are some of the reasons why Bell Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2024), Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2023) and Montreal's Top Employers (2023):
- Bell Canada provides resources and services to help employees build financial literacy and publishes a quarterly newsletter on saving and investing for participants of its defined contribution pension plan -- the company also offers an interactive retirement planning webinar series to help employees manage their path to retirement
- Along with paid time off to volunteer, Bell maintains a community leave program, allowing employees to apply for a leave of one to 12 consecutive months to work at a registered non-profit organization that operates in Canada -- during the leave, employees receive 20 per cent of their base salary, provided they work for the non-profit the same average number of hours a week as they do at Bell
- Bell Canada's "Workways" program aims to provide employees greater flexibility to manage work and life commitments -- depending on their role, employees may split their time between home and office, work in-office full-time, or work remotely with occasional work in the office -- additionally, employees may adopt variable start and end times to their workday and eligible employees can choose a reduced work week for up to three months
Bell invests heavily in skills development
In an era of extraordinarily rapid technological innovation, Bell Canada is in the midst of transitioning from a traditional telecommunications company into a tech services and digital media leader. Oksana Vassilieva is on the front lines of that change.
“I like Bell’s vision of using innovation to drive the customer experience,” says Vassilieva, senior manager with the national cyber security testing team. “This transformation is aligned with what’s happening in the world.”
Vassilieva, who joined Bell in 2005 as a security consultant, works in Bell’s business markets division, which serves diverse clients, including federal and provincial governments, manufacturers, retailers, insurance companies and financial institutions among others.
The reliability and security of their systems are of paramount importance for such clients. “Our team performs real-world threat simulation testing where we replicate the tactics, techniques and procedures used by malicious cybercriminal groups,” says Vassilieva. “Our mission is to help customers be secure by identifying weaknesses and vulnerabilities in their networks, web and mobile applications, and cloud services.”
There's a strong focus on technology across all teams, ranging from marketing to finance, legal to operations. It's an incredibly diverse organization. “One of the great things about Bell is the breadth and scope of the company,” says Payal Gabrani-Bahl, senior vice-president, consumer marketing. “There are so many different roles you can move into internally and have completely different careers.”
When she was an economics student at University of Waterloo, Gabrani-Bahl envisioned a career in the financial services industry – until she did a four-month co-op with Bell.
“After I graduated, I tried a couple of different things. Then an executive I worked with during my co-op asked if I’d like to work with him,” says Gabrani-Bahl, “He was a phenomenal leader so I accepted his offer and I’ve been here ever since.”
That was nearly 20 years ago. Her journey has included stints in corporate strategy, product development, sales and distribution, marketing and now the consumer side of the business, which includes residential internet and TV, voice and home security as well as wireless cellphone services.
Bell promotes career mobility through multiple professional development platforms. The company is investing in STEM talent and individual career development through internal resources offered through Bell U (Bell University).
These include university-level programs in business intelligence, cloud computing, cyber security, data science and software development among other subjects. Over the past three years, hundreds of employees have completed one or more of these programs. Employees interested in evolving technological trends have access to the Bell Learning Hub, which is powered by LinkedIn Learning.
Bell also offers mentoring programs designed to build the skills of individual employees and foster a robust high-tech culture. The company supports employees who want to pursue job-relevant outside degrees, certifications and accreditations.
“I’ve had phenomenal leaders who spent time mentoring me and helping me get to where I am today,” says Gabrani-Bahl.
At Bell Canada, the focus is always on the employee
Early in her career, Stacey Hoirch moved from an accounting firm to a major manufacturer and on to a multinational pharmaceutical company before joining Bell Canada. She expected to stay with Bell for five years or so before seeking a new opportunity elsewhere. That was 17 years ago.
“I wasn’t envisioning staying long, but I’m still here and absolutely love it,” says Hoirch, vice-president deputy controller & planning. “Bell is a large, national company, but it’s easy to find your way around, especially when you start, because people are always willing to support you. It’s a very supportive culture.”
Nicolas Carrara, who came to Montréal from his native France to do a master’s degree in business strategy, joined Bell in 2019 and sees the potential for a long and rewarding career with the company.
“When I was doing my master’s, I had the opportunity to discuss Bell Canada with two directors,” says Carrara, lead for the incubator and accelerator program, 5G services innovation team. “They were talking about their jobs and the impactful opportunities Bell would offer me to flourish. So far, it’s been a wonderful journey.”
For one thing, he’s been given responsibility for developing a cutting-edge innovation lab, which he and his team are scaling up to an innovation centre with locations in Montréal and Toronto.
“Every time I’ve needed a leader to help me discuss some challenges or simply answer some questions, I’ve never received a negative response,” he says. “It’s ‘let’s book time,’ ‘let’s talk about it’ and ‘how I can help you.’ I’ve gone all the way up to discussing financial structure and innovation culture with two senior vice-presidents. That’s incredibly motivating.”
As a senior leader, Hoirch says an essential part of her role involves listening and being accessible. Both are critical to retaining and developing talent. “I have weekly discussions with my direct reports,” she says. “There’s always an opportunity to talk about what’s going on with their teams and mapping out what they want to do next year.
“There are formal mid-year and year-end evaluations with employees, but that is not where the conversations end,” Hoirch says. “It’s a 12-month, 52-week discussion,” she adds. “It’s just having the conversations with them and supporting them if they want to try something different. The focus is always on the employee. That’s one of the stronger parts of the culture at Bell.”
Career growth is another huge priority at Bell, she says. The company offers a wide array of internal training materials that employees can access through the career zone suite of online resources. Among other things, there are courses available on how to communicate effectively, either verbally or written, and how to read an audience. “I’ve absolutely used these resources,” says Hoirch.
Bell also provides other training for the overall well-being of its employees including topics related to truth and reconciliation; mental health; diversity, inclusion and belonging; unconscious bias and much more.
The company also supports employee growth through the Bell Mentoring program. The program fosters an environment for employees to participate in a knowledge exchange, challenge their beliefs and promote a growth mindset. Hoirch herself has participated in the program throughout her career, as both a mentor and mentee. Hoirch says she “appreciates the relationships that are created through connections you would not necessarily have the chance to form through day-to-day interactions.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2023):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 23, 2023)
Here are some of the reasons why Bell Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2023):
- Bell Canada manages a number of graduate leadership programs to help cultivate the next generation of leaders -- participants work in a variety of different departments for periods ranging from 18 months to three years, and also attend the company's annual Grad Leadership Summit
- Bell Canada's summer internship provides an early introduction and fast-track opportunity for students to join the company's Graduate Leadership Program -- over the course of the internship, students are assigned a buddy and participate in a variety of unique events including virtual networking sessions with Bell executives, managers, and other grads, and volunteer opportunities at CAMH and North York Harvest Food Bank
- For 23 years, Bell Canada has partnered with Career Edge to provide work-term placements to candidates, offering over 1,200 placements to date and hiring approximately 300 interns into full-time roles -- Bell Canada also works with Lime Connect to recruit students and new graduates with disabilities
Bell Canada has a clear connection to career paths
Babette Smith completed her undergraduate degree in software engineering at McGill University in the spring of 2020 at the height of the pandemic – not exactly an ideal time to be launching her career. Fortunately for her, the new grad program at Bell Canada provided a smooth start.
“The new grad program was really beneficial,” says Smith, a software developer in Bell’s network and technology services division. “You’re paired up with a mentor who is not necessarily in the same division. You also receive training to help you make presentations and to improve your communications skills.”
Smith also did an internship at Bell while she was a student, which gave her an appreciation for Bell’s culture and the career possibilities.
For her part, Michelle McCoubrey worked at Bell for several summers while she was a student, then joined full time 22 years ago after completing an undergraduate degree.
She started as a manager in dispatch operations. Currently, she is vice-president, field operations, and responsible for Bell technicians who install and repair phone, internet and TV services in homes and businesses across the country.
“As managers, we’re always watching for people who would be good in supervisory roles,” says McCoubrey. “We look for ways to help people see opportunities they could be exploring.”
And there are many career paths to follow in a national company with multiple business units, divisions and enterprises. “I’ve moved around a lot in my career,” says McCoubrey. “A lot of it has been managing operations teams, but I’ve also worked in project delivery, process improvement and business transformation.”
Early in her career, she was paired with a mentor and has benefited from her mentor’s years of personal advice. She has also derived considerable benefit from Bell’s leadership development program.
Bell Canada offers a broad array of learning and development opportunities for those who are just embarking on their careers as well as those who have advanced to managerial or leadership positions.
“I’ve gone through several different versions of the program,” says McCoubrey. “At ground level, front-line management, you learn how to manage people and how to deal with conflict, among other things. As you move into different roles, it becomes more about business transformation, influencing change or implementing Bell’s strategic imperatives.”
Learning and development programs provide other, less targeted benefits. “It gets you networking with other business units, meeting other people and really seeing how this big company works and how it all interconnects,” McCoubrey says.
Similarly, learning opportunities for employees in the new grad program are designed both to teach specific skills and to introduce youthful newcomers to the broader company. “A lot of the courses are focused on soft skills, like communicating in a corporate setting, which are not taught in a technical program like software engineering,” says Smith. “At the end of our first year, we got to make a presentation to a group of five or six other new grads, as well as our director and vice-president.”
Smith also participated in a new grad summit along with some 180 other participants in the program. “I met people who have different educational backgrounds and work in different parts of the company,” she says. “The program is designed to help you meet people outside your own bubble.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2023):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 17, 2023)
Here are some of the reasons why Bell Canada was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2023):
- Bell Canada donates the residual value of returned and recycled mobile devices to World Wildlife Fund Canada's ambitious decade-long Regenerate Canada program that seeks to restore one million hectares of vital ecosystems across the country
- Bell Canada also manages a long-standing e-waste collection program that covers everything that goes out, including mobile phones, television receivers and modems -- in 2021, more than 2,900 tonnes of electronics were diverted from landfill through these programs
- Bell Canada operates diesel hybrid and solar systems at nine remote work sites in the Northwest Territories -- and the Whitehorse, Yukon solar power system generates 130,000 kWh of renewable energy every year (or the equivalent of saving over 300 tonnes of CO2 annually)
Bell Canada pursues a carbon-neutral future
After earning a degree in sustainability in business from McGill University in 2016, Monika Potocki knew Bell Canada was where she wanted to launch her career.
“When I was a student, we had someone from Bell’s corporate responsibility team make a presentation about the company’s strategy and I told myself I need to be on that team,” says Potocki, a specialist in environmental, social and governance (ESG).
That was her goal, but it took her a while to land that dream job. Potocki joined the graduate leadership program and spent her first three years in Bell’s operational divisions, Bell Technical Solutions and Bell’s Field Services, which are responsible for several thousand technicians who connect Bell residential customers in Ontario and Québec with television, internet and home phone services.
“I was a cheerleader encouraging our technicians to recycle modem and receiver boxes and to do other things for the environment,” says Potocki.
When it comes to sustainability, every little bit helps. But more broadly, Bell has launched a number of big programs and initiatives to reduce the company’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and carbon footprint. “We have a goal to be carbon neutral for our operational GHG emissions starting in 2025,” she says. “And we have set science-based GHG reduction targets to ensure that we are verifiably doing our fair share to meet Canada’s Paris Agreement commitment.”
Among the more ambitious measures was a three-year program launched on January 1, 2021. By the end of 2023, Bell hopes to recycle seven million electronic devices, including mobile phones, television receivers, modems and Wi-Fi pods, which Bell customers return via their Bell Blue Box e-waste recycling program.
“We refurbish modems to give them a second, third or fourth life,” says Potocki. “We recycle and resell cell phones whenever possible. If a phone is defective, we send it to a certified recycler who dismantles it and removes anything of value, like gold and copper.”
The company donates the annual net proceeds to WWF Canada to support the organization’s campaigns to fight biodiversity loss and preserve ecosystems.
Bell is in the early stages of a multi-year program to convert thousands of its fleet of 11,000 vehicles from internal combustion to battery electric by 2027. “A big challenge for us these days is electric vehicles,” says Andrew Savage, senior manager, real estate and environment with Bell. “But the pace of conversion is impacted by supply chain issues as well as the capital cost of the vehicles and the charging networks.”
His division will be operating some 5,500 vehicles at 2023 peak, comprising a mix of cars used by managers and vans for technicians. In 2021, Bell introduced 30 battery electric cars. Last year, the division acquired 50 electrically powered vans and plans to convert 157 vans this year.
To date, Savage’s division has been able to keep the first 80 electric vehicles on the road with only 30 charging stations. Company-wide, BCE had installed 200 chargers by the end of 2022 and had replaced 274 vehicles with more fuel-efficient models.
The company’s environmental programs extend to reducing the carbon footprint in hundreds of offices. Whenever possible, Bell converts from fluorescent to LED lighting, installs low-flow plumbing in washrooms, and has motion sensors that turn lights on or off depending on occupancy.
“When you look at the full scale of our programs and initiatives, you see how sustainability trickles down to the day-to-day work of every employee,” says Potocki.