Alithya, Tech Partner of Choice
”In 2016, for the first time in Quebec, 51% of IT jobs were not in specialized companies like ours, but in traditional businesses such as insurance companies and banks. In fact, Industrial Alliance told La Presse again this week that one out of every five jobs in their company is in IT. So it’s imperative to react to this phenomenon, which will only accelerate.”
– Paul Raymond, President and CEO, Alithya
Alithya, a Quebec-based digital strategy and technology consulting company, supports its customers in their 4.0 transformation, more precisely by upgrading their systems in order to digitally optimize their activities.
Twilight coloured the view of the river and city in the office of Alithya’s president when I met with him. The company, in contrast, is far from its twilight years, having grown by 500% over the past six years and celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017!
In Canada, France and the United States, Alithya has 1,600 consultants in the areas of strategic planning, technology architecture, performance and organizational transformation, as well as in the implementation of digital solutions. Immigration enables them to hire 23% of their workforce, while 35% of their employees are women, which is higher than the industry average. Alithya clearly places great importance on the principle of equal access to employment. Recognized for their efforts, this award-winning company was named National Grand Prize Champion at the Prix Créateurs d’emplois du Québecgala last month, and its president was nominated for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award by Investissement Québec in 2016.
Bold and creative
At a time when Desjardins was facing decline, the Quebec company offered to help all its employees interested in starting a business by offering them a first contract of two years. Many young IT professionals chose to make the leap. This is what gave birth to Alithya, a small business in Lévis that brought together 10 former Desjardins employees. Today, Desjardins remains a client and is now an institutional investor through Desjardins Venture Capital.
In addition to strong organic growth, Alithya has made five acquisitions over the past five years and they expect to continue this trend, particularly abroad. “We try to find companies that resemble us,” Paul explains. “Companies with superior quality service, excellent reputation, interesting brand, and motivated teams that take on the challenge of growth. As part of the Alithya ‘family,’ these companies can participate in projects that they would not have had access to before.”
This also allows Alithya to remain relevant and strong enough in an environment where, in order to survive, evolving is a necessity. The company plans to become a public corporation over the next two years in order to enable more rapid development in the United States.
“Just six years ago, in our industry, the Canadian market was made up of major players such as CGI and IBM, as well as very small and specialized regional companies,” relates Alithya’s president. “We are now the second largest in the country. And I see that our success and ambition have inspired other local SMEs… which is great! They have a world of possibility at their feet.”
Alithya invests in in-house research to find solutions that meet the needs of their clients, most of whom are engaged in financial services, telecommunications, manufacturing, energy, transportation, health care and government services. “It was by wondering how we could help one of our clients that we created the FintechLab, which we established right across the street,” says Paul. “After presenting a very creative solution, we built the Lab from scratch in six weeks, and now there are almost 300 workstations. It’s the kind of project we love,” he says with a smile that conveys the most genuine enthusiasm.
The quest for talent
“Our biggest challenge, which will undoubtedly be with us for a long time, is workforce availability,” Paul emphasizes. He was, in fact, at a conference with the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec that very morning. “In our baby boom context, the current workforce decline will continue for a few more years in Quebec. With 3,000 new IT graduates per year and 12,000 available jobs, international recruitment is essential, although insufficient.”
Alityha’s president is therefore involved in the CyberCap group, a local NPO that helps troubled youth with projects that focus on digital media. He is lobbying the Quebec Prime Minister to implement this program in all high schools across the province. He proves himself a model in the search for concrete and doubly useful measures to address this problem that affects the tech industry so deeply!
Translation: Jenn Mierau