Starting in any new role, especially as a student, there is always so much to learn. As new employees with no prior specialization in or knowledge of supply chain, we felt intimidated walking into a company where that’s all employees do... or so we thought.
Looking back on all that we have learned during our placements, we realize that Kinaxis is so much more than supply chain planning. Everything we do is about making life better for people, from planners to business leaders to IT professionals. That goal isn’t just driving our software. It’s key to our company's values.
As students working on the Kinaxis communications team, we got unique insight into how the company lives its values and how much influence that can have on employees and their communities.
Learning the Culture
People matter here. Seeing firsthand how students are treated as valued and important employees was one of the first signals of the prominence of culture at Kinaxis.
Often in co-op roles, there is a sense that the student will be getting more out of the role than the employer. At Kinaxis, students are valued equally, and a temporary term is still highly beneficial to the team. Students are immediately included as contributors and are trusted to work on impactful projects. We are given space to be creative and come up with our own ideas for improvements. Those ideas are met with the same consideration as full-time employees.
We joined the team in the midst of a pandemic, at a time where it would have been easy to shut down the co-op and intern program, as many other companies did. However, Kinaxis stepped up and we were fortunate enough to be part of the largest cohort of students the company has had so far. Kinaxis welcomed over 50 interns and co-op students, all working remotely, in the summer 2020 term.
Because students were working from all around the world, teams made an effort to meet new members. Time was spent getting to know employees outside of work even if that was only possible virtually. The company also held student-specific events to make the term feel less isolating.
The same is true across the company. During our term, we were part of many initiatives to connect remotely, like the #TakeoutChallenge, which gave employees a stipend to support their favorite local restaurants — and challenge more people to do the same. Our upcoming virtual run is bringing together employees from around the world on a Strava team, where they cheer on one another’s progress as they prepare to run or walk a 3k, 5k or 10k in their hometowns. These activities have helped us feel like one Kinaxis team, even when we’re far apart.
Shaping the Culture
Our culture has become even more important to define as we continue to expand in numbers and locations around the globe. As communications interns, we were trusted to create and share examples of stories from around the company. We had opportunities to see all parts of the business through our work for our internal communications platform, where we announce achievements, show off the inspiring actions of employees and keep everyone connected during this socially distant time.
We regularly saw the best of what our employees had to offer, but we were also often the first to hear their concerns. The content we created and shared had to show that Kinaxis cares about employees' challenges and well-being. There have been many internal initiatives to support employees, especially since we’ve started remote work, such as online yoga and meditation classes, a Hatch Coding camp for employees’ kids, healthy snack deliveries and more. We have taken these opportunities to communicate how our people are at the core of the business and everything we do.
Why culture matters more than ever
With our summer terms ending, we have taken away the important role culture plays in any business. As more workplaces go remote, culture isn’t just what happens around the water cooler. Values have to be lived and communicated more consciously than before.
In our role as communications interns, we not only were able to learn about our culture, but we were also able to lead by example. When looking for new jobs, it is always intimidating to apply for positions in an unfamiliar industry but in the right culture, it’s possible to step out of your comfort zone and contribute something meaningful.
Marin Guy was a Communications Intern at Kinaxis in the 2020 summer term. This was her second term with Kinaxis, starting off in Sales but making her way onto a team that fits better with her studies. She is heading into her third year at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Communications studies program in Waterloo, Ontario.
Mackenzie Fraser has been with Kinaxis since January as part of the Communications team and is continuing part-time through the fall as she completes her studies. She is going into her fourth year of Communications and Media Studies with a minor in Political Science at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.