2017 Alberta Global Talent Employer Forum

This year, AGT was excited to host their 2nd annual employer forum on March 8. The forum was well received by those in attendance. Kristen Cumming, a Red Deer favorite gave an enlightened perspective on “Finding Strength in Diversity” and a Panel Discussion with a focus on “Leveraging Your International Talent” provided some great conversations between the panelists and employers in the audience about the value of hiring immigrants in Central Alberta workplaces. New to our forum this year were the four immigrant speakers who engaged the audience as they told their stories of leaving their home countries to build new lives in Central Alberta.

We were also honored to present this year’s Champion Employer Awards to six very deserving organizations in Red Deer and Central Alberta who truly go above and beyond in the creation of a diverse, inclusive and welcoming workplace.

The forum is always a great way to wrap up our funding year, as we look forward to continuing to support Central Alberta employers in the attraction, hiring, onboarding and retention of immigrants in their workplaces.


Stay tuned for news about our 2017 Employer Forum. The planning has begun for another Spring event that will bring employers together from across Central Alberta, to learn, celebrate, share and participate in this 2nd Annual Forum featuring keynote speaker, AGT updates, participatory sessions, Champion Award presentations plus great nourishment and networking. For more information and how to nominate please click here.

Put people first and your business will flourish – Lessons from one of the masters!

Let me tell you about one of the Central Alberta employers we provided with an award this year. His name is Thierry Pregliasco and he owns three McDonalds restaurants in Olds and Innisfail. He started off as a business owner in France, very focused on the productivity piece of generating revenue, but during his experience running a restaurant in Guadaloupe began forming his “people first” philosophy as foundational to his business model. At his restaurants in Central Alberta, Thierry is very much loved by his staff. He knows all 80+ of them by name and takes the time to find out tidbits of their lives and interests which he then acts upon. When I first met him outside one of his restaurants, he was giving toys his children had grown out of to one of his employees, and returning a dish from a staff member who had sent home an ethnic delicacy to Thierry’s family.
He fast tracks employees for leadership and provides high potential staff with numerous opportunities to grow and develop. His support ranges from outside training to salary advances to hug or a handshake after a tough day. As an immigrant himself, Thierry knows what it is like to have to uproot yourself and restart from scratch, and he knows firsthand how difficult it is to negotiate cultural differences when you are running a business in a new country.
That’s why Thierry is so focused on attracting, hiring and supporting immigrants to his restaurants and his diverse staff is reflective of this focus. But Thierry’s people focus doesn’t stop at any one group. He thinks daily about how to support and encourage the teens, single parents and senior employees at his businesses and muses over ways to have people work even more effectively across generational differences. His staff loves to work not only for their great boss, but with their diverse colleagues. They frequently mention how great it is to work in a multicultural environment.
Another aspect of Thierry’s people focus is to be constantly coming up with new ways to better serve his customers. When we were taping Thierry’s video interview he was very excited to share with us a new recognition event he was in the process of planning. The gist is that elderly customers who come regularly to McDonalds for a cup of coffee, meet their friends and get to know the staff should be recognized for their contribution to the business and to the atmosphere of the restaurant. So he invited them all to a McDonalds staff party where he recognized them for excellence along with his staff. At that point we had to stop the interview while the crew regained control of our emotions. I had tears in my eyes.
My father is 86 years old and goes to McDonalds a couple of times a week to meet other seniors in his community outside of Edmonton. I can’t imagine how special he would feel if he were recognized like this at his local McDonalds.
So you may say, what difference does it all make to Thierry’s bottom line? What is the ROI on all these “nice” things Thierry does for his staff and his customers? Firstly let me emphasize that Thierry is a very savvy business owner. He is big on making changes based on metrics in all the production aspects of his enterprise and he obsessively tracks sales and marketing trends. But when it comes to supporting people, Thierry does not measure. He just treats them like valuable human beings and regularly shows his interest in and appreciation of things they do. And it certainly has been paying off. His restaurants have consistently been in the top 10 in sales in all of Canada. When you think how many McDonalds restaurants there are in Canada, that is saying a lot.
So what can you as an employer, take away from Thierry’s success?
• Get to know your staff and show them you are interested in them and in their lives with little gestures that matter to them.
• Hire people from a wide variety of demographics and show your appreciation of them all.
• Ask questions from staff and customers to gain insights into how to serve them both better.
• Reflect and focus on the customer experience in new and innovative ways, targeting different demographics each time until you really know them.
• Fast track employees with potential.
• Measure your efforts towards revenue AND show support to people – the two goals are not mutually exclusive.
• Be a “mensch” – an authentic, real human being who cares about others.

I hope you enjoyed this personal insight into one of the 2016 Alberta Global Talent business owners. I certainly learned a lot from him!
To find out more useful employer strategies from local business stars like Thierry, click on our webtool button!

By Marie Gervais, Shift Management,
Primary Consultant for AGT Project March, 2015- March, 2016


G & G Plumbing and Heating was one of the recipients of the AGT Champion Employer for 2016. Central Alberta Immigrant Women’s Association submitted the nomination. Here are a few words from the nomination: “G&G has created a workplace where employees feel valued based on the work they do, not their country of origin. They have hired several of CAIWA’s clients, and are all proud of their work, their company and their achievements at G&G. Working in the trades requires constant training, skill updating and awareness of industry development. All employees are involved in this process; exclusion is non-existent.” Congratulations G&G on the important work you do to value and welcome newcomers to your workforce!
Johns Manville Innisfail was highlighted in their July, 2016 International Newsletter. Cathy Oullette, HR Manager, Insulation Systems was quoted in that article “ This award is a direct result of the work that each and every one our Innisfail employees do in making this a great place to work– by treating each other as more than coworkers– but as friends and family. The generosity and willingness to work together as a team is evident every day at the plant.” We congratulate Johns Manville on their passion to maintain a workplace that is so diverse, inclusive and welcoming!!