The Proof is in the Poutine: My First Quarter at Cority

October 25, 2019 Tjeerd Hendel-Blackford

It can be quite daunting changing companies after having worked in one place for a long time. You build up knowledge and expertise over the years and make yourself part of the furniture. However, furniture can gather dust. You can become (too) used to doing things a particular way; your world can become (too) small, and you can become (almost) institutionalised. So, I needed a change of scene.  After working in a relatively niche sector of the environment, health and safety (EHS) industry for 18 years I wanted to broaden my horizons. So, I set about looking for my next challenge.

My job search was based on three main red-lines:

  1. I wanted to stay in the EHS sphere as protecting the environment and people has always been a motivation to me
  2. I wanted to work for a company that had a strong employee and team culture
  3. I wanted to join a winning team

Now, I would like to think that my Dutch heritage, and my resulting love of the colour orange, had played a sub-conscious part in me crossing paths with Cority. However, the truth is, I had already been impressed by Cority through professional interactions with them over the years. They were a company with unparalleled momentum in the industry.

The hiring process at Cority and the information and communication I received from the moment I signed on the dotted line maintained the impression I already had. In fact, this was re-emphasized to me even before my first day. 

In the weeks between me signing my new employment contract, and my first day on the job, Cority received a significant strategic investment from Thoma Bravo: private equity investors with a proven track record in growing software companies. This could have worried me had I heard it indirectly. As we all know, new owners can bring with them a lot of change. However, my soon-to-be-boss called me before the news became public to explain and reassure. This was a nice touch, and it was further backed up by my being provided, in advance, with a very clearly detailed and structured two-week intense onboarding program, which involved meetings with all key people in all departments across the company and ample time and resources for learning and networking. This level of support was a whole new world for me!

My first day and my onboarding would take place at the Cority head office in Toronto. 

Day One: A Three-Pointer

On 17 June I joined Cority as a Strategic Account Manager for the EMEA region. In many ways, it felt like my first day at University (which was nearly only twenty five years ago). You meet so many people, you want to make a good impression and you want to learn. Well, day one at Cority for me was quite the experience. It was not your typical first day. 

I was barely inside the door when I was welcomed by my new boss, wearing an oversized basketball shirt: “Tjeerd put your bag down, we’re going to the parade!”

I looked around and everyone else in the office was also in sports gear. Now, I was a little jetlagged, I’ll be honest, but this was very far from how I pictured this was going to go. 

“Don’t worry, we’ll back to the office for Poutine and Pizza!” And with that, I was whisked back out the door and on the metro to downtown Toronto. On the journey I was swiftly educated about the Toronto Raptors’ historic NBA finals win, and how the whole city was coming out to celebrate their victory.

So, my first day at Cority involved me being introduced to a great many new colleagues shouting, “Let’s Go Raptors!” surrounded by a couple of million other Torontonians. I am pretty sure I introduced myself to some people who were not new colleagues of mine. 

When we got back to the office, I was further inducted into Canadian life and fed on Poutine. “Are they trying to give me a heart attack on my first day as well?!” I thought as I looked at the fries, cheese curds and gelatinous gravy in front of me. This thought swiftly dissipated as I discovered that poutine may in fact be one of the most delicious delicacies on earth, especially when you are footsore from a once in a lifetime victory parade. It was a pretty memorable first day. And I am now undoubtedly a lifelong Raptors fan.

Day One Hundred: A Five-Pointer

Presidents and Prime Ministers are often judged on what they achieve in their first 100 days in office. Have their campaign pledges been met? Have they built the best team around them?

If I reflect upon my first “semester” at Cority, there are five clear stand-out points for me:

1. Excellence
There is a culture of excellence at Cority that I find inspirational. There are some very clever people at Cority and every day I find out that my colleagues across Sales, Marketing, Professional Services, Product, Presales and Product Marketing (I hope I didn’t miss out anyone!) are actually even smarter than I already thought they were.

2. Teamwork
In the sport of rugby, there is something called a driving maul. One player has the ball and is protected, supported and pushed forwards, en masse, by his team. This is the closest analogy I can come up with when a client issue comes up – there is a concerted and relentless effort to support others and drive each other forwards.

3. Support
Teamwork is one kind of support, but the support I am referring to here is all the logistical, practical and resource support that we receive in our day to day work. There is always something to read, something or someone to learn from, and something to help you do your job.

4. People
Everyone I have met so far has been welcoming, helpful, extremely professional and above all, friendly.

5. Customer Centricity
I can honestly say that I have never seen a company where the phrase “the customer is king” holds more sway. There is a constant drive from everyone to deliver, perform and improve what Cority does to deliver the best customer experience possible.

 “Look after your people and business will follow” was a proverb I kept coming across when I researched Cority before my interview process. It turns out that that phrase emanates from the very top of the organisation. I had read it cautiously and wondered if it was just marketing bumpf. However, I guess the proof, as the saying now goes, is in the poutine. 
 

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About the Author

Tjeerd Hendel-Blackford

Tjeerd Hendel-Blackford has over 18 years of experience working in the environment, health, and safety (EHS) field. Drawing on his legal background, Tjeerd has extensive experience in advising global companies on EHS laws and best practice approaches to managing compliance with those laws around the world. In his current role as a Strategic Account Manager at Cority, Tjeerd works to build long-term strategic partnerships with clients to help them reach and exceed their EHSQ goals through the application of enterprise-wide market-leading software solutions.

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