How Cyntech engineers a vision of success
Cyntech, the multi-faceted Calgary-based business providing innovative equipment and services to the construction and energy sectors, has become an essential feature across the industry since its inception in 1981. The company started out small and client-focused, and quickly grew to become a major player in North America and the world.
Acquired by Keller Group plc in 2013, Cyntech was boosted by joining the world’s largest ground engineering specialist. This enabled the company to further its innovation, being exposed and gaining access to the newest technologies and resources.
Cyntech’s reputation is particularly strong with regard to its pioneering products: Helical Screw Piles, and Pipeline Anchors for Buoyancy Control. The company’s name is now synonymous with these creations, and they are being utilised worldwide, saving other businesses money and energy.
“Products like their Pipeline Anchor Buoyancy Control system, which is a proven cost-effective solution that’s been used throughout the industry, and has placed Cyntech in a position of trust with a lot of our clients, and therefore we get a lot of return business based on our relationships,” explains Joseph Lobb, General Manager at Cyntech. “Our positive reputation hinges on our high level of experience. A lot of clients write their specifications around precise types of materials and equipment, and we’re very fortunate that they include the Cyntech name on their projects. Our products and materials are respected worldwide, and that means that we have the confidence of our clients. That puts us in a position where they look to us to help provide solutions, particularly when they need buoyancy control in their pipelines.”
Lobb himself is a licensed mechanical engineer, starting out in Idaho designing refrigeration systems for the grocery chain Albertsons. After 13 years, Lobb moved into the construction industry, working in management on the commercial side, before more general contracting roles. Eventually, Lobb ended up in Canada as Construction Manager for the supermarket franchise Safeway, before joining the Cyntech team in 2014. His role is to oversee and guide all aspects of the company, including design, engineering, and operations. To Lobb, all of those elements are equally important, and Cyntech hires only the most appropriately qualified.
“Our project managers are also engineers,” he says. “The engineering and design aspect of what we do is very important. A great deal of our clients look to us to provide solutions even in situations where we might not receive the end commercial opportunity or gain the revenue on a project, but we may still consult with them and help them along the way to get the right design out there. Having the ability to stay current on software that we use, and making sure the engineering designs and tools we put together are up to the standards of what our clients require, is key. We take a look at projects from every angle so that we’re always making the process better as we move forward.”
Health and safety
Health and safety is paramount to Cyntech, given the nature of the industry. It boasts its own safety culture outline, named Thinksafe, which details its practices and shows evidence of Keller Canada’s Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Associates Certificate of Recognition program accreditation. Cyntech stays ahead in this area with regular training and making Safety a part of their culture.
“Training a big part of what we do,” Lobb explains, “both for our people here within the office to make sure that we have the tools and are up-to-date with what’s happening in today’s work environment, and our people in the field to ensure our job sites are safe and that we’re in compliance with all regulations that our clients look at. We have to earn all the necessary credentials to maintain our reputation.”
One reason the training is so effective is the positive working environment and employee culture Cyntech is proud of and known for. According to Lobb, that stems from a sense of equality across the board, allowing all staff to feel valued.
“We look at our business as something we’re in together. We’re a team that looks for opportunities together, and puts in the work together. I think it’s important that you allow your employees to make their own decisions, help them work through the issues of what they’re working on, and be sure they have the guidance they need. They should have the ability to make their own decisions, with the guidance and support of our more experienced team members. In today’s environment, I just don’t think you can get much done when you’re micro-managing people. You’ve got to give them an opportunity to go out, have an understanding of what it is you’re working for in the way of new clients, how existing clients and projects are handled, and coach them along the way.
“The environment we’ve created here is a culture of working as a group and having fun in our business. That attitude will flow down through your organisation to the clients, and create a positive culture. People work better when they feel trusted to manage their own time effectively.”
Lobb is keen to stress that while it seems a daunting task to maintain the kind of content, efficient environment which allows Cyntech to keep such tight control over its operations, it’s worth the effort. “We’re all working to move in the same direction,” he states, “and we all understand why each step of the business process needs to be done. Once those things are lined up, it becomes a natural way of doing business.”
Cyntech’s seamless operations, supported by its impressive employee culture and ground-breaking technological knowhow, will continue to serve it well in the coming years. Lobb and his team are preparing for countless future plans, and he admits that the industry is increasingly positive about projects.
“We’re very optimistic about what 2017 is going to bring us,” Lobb concludes with understated enthusiasm. “We’ll just keep putting things together and seeing how it looks.”
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.