Left: Collaborative Team Awarded for Best Employer Branding

 

MAPLE RIDGE, BRITISH COLUMBIA, SEPTEMBER 13, 2019 — LEFT, the parent company of Left Travel and one of Canada’s Top Employers, was presented with the ‘Talent Egg Award for Best Employer Branding’ at the 6th annual Canadian HR Awards, held on September 12 at the Beanfield Centre in Toronto.

The Canadian HR Awards is the biggest awards event of its kind and brought together over 950 attendees for a packed evening celebrating excellence in the HR profession and recognizing the top employers, HR teams and professionals for their outstanding achievements and best practices.

The Talent Egg Award for Best Employer Branding recognizes the company that has developed, implemented, and participated in the most compelling Employer Branding initiative or campaign. Others nominated in the category included CGI CanadaKPMG CanadaLoblaw Companies LimitedMicrosoft CanadaCIRA and Uberflip.

Located in the suburbs of Vancouver, for years Left was one of the best kept ‘secrets’ as a top employer in the Lower Mainland — which created challenges for their recruitment efforts.

“In 2017, we experienced 108% growth while maintaining a 100% voluntary retention rate. Although these numbers were great, it became clear through discussions with our candidates that the most surprising piece of information they discovered about Left was that we simply existed,” said Tracy McDonald, the Director of Talent and Culture at Left. “To address this, in 2018 we increased collaboration between our Employee Experience and Marketing Departments. This award is a reflection of those efforts.”

Some of the campaigns that demonstrated excellence in delivering and communicating the Left employee value proposition include:

  • Inside Canada’s Top Employers: In 2018, Left was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for their HR initiatives and development opportunities. Left was the smallest company recognized, showing that you don’t need expensive programs to create an exceptional place to work. To spread this sentiment, they launched an ‘Inside Canada’s Top Employers’ campaign, a video series showcasing their unique story and programs.
  • Make Your Mark: As a certified B Corporation, Left is committed to using business as a force for good. To measure their global impact, they selected eight United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that as an organization, they could advance. To help their team identify with the SDGs, they had each of them select and discuss the goals that meant the most to them. This turned into the 36-part video series that highlighted the caring and driven nature of the Left team.
  • #LeftyLife: To highlight the Left culture, at the start of 2018, the Marketing and Employee Experience Departments made the decision to change their targeted audience on their social feeds from potential partners to potential hires. All content changed to provide glimpses of #LeftyLife to highlight their unique employee value proposition.

From the collaborative campaigns listed above and more, Left saw a 986% increase in job applicants, maintained a 96% employee engagement score, and were invited to speak at 43 events around the world. The marketing campaigns that led to this success predominantly focused on showcasing Left’s unique company culture.

“Our vibrant employer brand is a reflection of our amazing team that drives our culture,” said Marketing Manager, Amber McLennan. “The campaigns we implemented were a great opportunity to show our community what makes Left such a special place to work.”

The Canadian HR Awards is organized by Key Media, the global publisher of Human Resources Director (HRD) magazine, in partnership with Ultimate Software. Winners were selected by a judging panel of experts who independently reviewed the entries according to each category’s criteria.

HRD Managing Editor Emily Douglas said: “HR professionals are vital to the success of their organizations so it’s wonderful to see their hard work and innovative ideas rewarded on such a special night. I’d like to congratulate this year’s hugely diverse range of winners and nominees whose positive impact reflects the very high standard of HR and leadership right across Canada. It’s always a pleasure to cheer on the winners as they receive their career-defining awards.”

For the full list of winners and finalists and information, visit Canadian HR Awards.


About Left

Left is a B-Corp certified, Canadian multinational media and technology company committed to using technology for positive social impact. One of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, Left has grown into a global team of over 120. Left Travel, a brand of Left, has been using big data, A.I., and predictive analysis to convert high search intent traffic into quality bookings for hotels and short-term stays since 2010. With its mobile mesh networking project powered by blockchain and tokenization, RightMesh, Left is addressing the global challenge of connectivity — particularly in regions where the digital divide is greatest. Headquartered in the Vancouver-based suburb of Maple Ridge, BC, Left has offices, subsidiaries, and employees in Bangladesh, Switzerland, and the United States.

About Human Resources Director (HRD)

Human Resources Director (HRD) is Canada’s only magazine written exclusively for senior human resource professionals and top corporate decision-makers. HRD talks to leading HR practitioners from around the globe to produce an industry-standard magazine that supports both the business and best-practice functional requirements placed on HR leaders in their evolving roles. HRD is complemented by an award-winning website (www.hcamag.com) featuring daily breaking news, an industry forum and exclusive multimedia content, as well as sister publications in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.


Best for the world

Left recognized as a “Best For The World” B Corp for creating the most positive impact for their workforce

Best for the world

MAPLE RIDGE, BRITISH COLUMBIA, SEPTEMBER 4th, 2019 — LEFT, the parent company of Left Travel and a Certified B Corporation, has been named a Best For The World honoree in recognition of their relationship with their workforce and the significant positive impact they’ve created over the last year. Left ranks in the top 10% of all B Corps in the worker impact area on the B Impact Assessment, thanks to their corporate culture, work environment, worker health and safety practices, and other employee-centric policies and practices.

Best For The World recognition is administered by B Lab, the global nonprofit that certifies and supports Certified B Corporations, which are for-profit companies dedicated to using business as a force for good. Today there are 3,000 Certified B Corporations across 64 countries and 150 industries, unified by one common goal: to redefine success in business.

B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corp Certification doesn’t just evaluate a product or service, it assesses the overall positive impact of the company that stands behind it — like Left. Using the B Impact Assessment, B Lab evaluates how a company’s operations and business model impact its workers, community, environment, and customers. To achieve the B Corp Certification, a company must achieve a score of at least 80 points on the assessment. Left is proud to have scored 101.

“We’re incredibly proud of this year’s Best For The World honorees,” says Anthea Kelsick, Chief Marketing Officer of B Lab. “These inspiring companies represent the kinds of business models and impact-driven business strategies that are building a new economy — one that is inclusive, regenerative, and delivers value to all stakeholders, not just shareholders. To that end, B Corps like Left are redefining capitalism and showing that it actually can work for everyone.”

“We are honoured to be named a B Corp Best For The World honoree for our unique culture and initiatives that support our Lefties (employees).” Said Tracy McDonald, Director of Talent and Culture at Left. Our Lefties are the heart of our organization and this recognition highlights the culture that they’ve helped build over the last nine years. We recertify as a B Corp in early 2020, and we look forward to seeing the progress we have made as a team.”

1,000 B Corps from 44 countries were named to the 2019 Best For The World lists, including Patagonia, Beautycounter, Dr. Bronner’s, TOMS, Seventh Generation, and Greyston Bakery. The 2019 Best For The World honorees are determined based on the verified B Impact Assessments of Certified B Corporations. The full lists are available on https://bcorporation.net/.


About Left

Left is a B-Corp certified, Canadian multinational media and technology company committed to using technology for positive social impact. One of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, Left has grown into a global team of over 120. Left Travel, a brand of Left, has been using big data, A.I., and predictive analysis to convert high search intent traffic into quality bookings for hotels and short-term stays since 2010. With its mobile mesh networking project powered by blockchain and tokenization, RightMesh, Left is addressing the global challenge of connectivity — particularly in regions where the digital divide is greatest. Headquartered in the Vancouver-based suburb of Maple Ridge, BC, Left has offices, subsidiaries, and employees in Bangladesh, Switzerland, and the United States.

Contact: Amber McLennan, Marketing Manager; amber@left.io

About B Lab

B Lab is a nonprofit that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good. B Lab’s initiatives include B Corp Certification, administration of the B Impact Management programs and software, and advocacy for governance structures like the benefit corporation. B Lab’s vision is of an inclusive and sustainable economy that creates a shared prosperity for all. To date, there are 3,000 Certified B Corps in over 150 industries and 64 countries, and over 50,000 companies use the B Impact Assessment. For more information, visit https://bcorporation.net/

B Lab Contact: Hannah Munger; Manager, PR & Communications; hmunger@bcorporation.net; +1 212–608–4150


Introducing TravelMind

A deeper look into what we’ve built at Left Travel

At LEFT TRAVEL, we believe that travel broadens the mind — or rather, travel bookings and intent do.

By this, we simply mean that when you take the input of millions of travel data points and the creativity and experience of our team, we can launch new marketing campaigns and influence the travel intent of millions of travelers annually. We call this the TravelMind platform.

What is TravelMind

TravelMind is a cloud-based platform that captures, stores, and processes millions of points of data about both travelers and accommodation options around the world. With this data, TravelMind influences travel decisions (either a successful booking or lack thereof) and trains our algorithms to improve our performance and our ability to attract future travelers.

In doing so, our platform emulates human decision-making, combining both sides of the brain.

On the left, analytical side, we collect data points from every potential traveler. This happens when a traveler expresses travel intent (e.g., via a search on one of our sites or through one of our search partners), when they reserve a room (or do not), or when they simply click, sort, filter, give feedback, or click off to a partner… all their actions are stored within TravelMind. Our platform uses our proprietary data combined with machine learning algorithms to optimize decision-making and influence travel decisions.

On the Right, creative side, our experienced digital marketing team uses our big data to optimize on trends to increase traffic. Once a trend is identified, the Left Travel team builds and deploys niche segments to better match traveler personas and make it easier for them to find the right accommodation and improve their travel experience. This includes launching websites in local languages, creating localized domains in new markets, or tapping into specific needs like business travel or pet friendly accommodations. Accompanied by the construction of targeted marketing campaigns, the team is always finding new ways to automate traveler acquisition, while also servicing our customers, and the travel sellers, from around the world.

User Flow

  1. First, a traveler expresses consumer intent by searching for a vacation rental or hotel on a major search engine, such as Google or Bing.
  2. After clicking on one of our ads, the traveler passes through to one of our 17 segments or websites. Their experience is unique as the TravelMind platform personalizes it using psychographic, demographic, and behavioural data. This includes all historical visits from the past 5 years; as well as what we know about this particular user at this moment in time. We use this data to tailor their booking experience to help match them to the right property out of our 14M, at the right time.
  3. Once the traveler has made their accommodation choice, influenced by TravelMind, they’re then referred over to our customers (online travel sellers) where they complete their ‘travel decision’ by booking a hotel or vacation rental.
  4. Next, we use big data and machine learning to learn from the traveler’s buyer’s journey, and the data is fed back into TravelMind. Our experienced team then uses this data, alongside millions of other data points, to spot trends and manage campaigns at scale.
  5. Lastly, we automate the process to find more travelers with high travel intent, and the process repeats.

The elements of TravelMind

● Value Accrues with Every Visitor:
The travel accommodation marketplace is over saturated. With our platform we help users by aggregating the options by location, desired travel dates, number of guests, price range, and type of accommodation. We combine over 500 million unique data points, resulting from over 4 million room nights booked, to create a scalable segmentation strategy. For the traveler, our platform helps them navigate the over saturated travel accommodation marketplace by aggregating the options by location, desired dates, number of guests, price range, and accommodation type to make sure they find the right property at the right time.

● Machine Learning and AI:
Every decision a traveler makes provides TravelMind with more data and improves the accuracy of future matches. We use machine learning and predictive to help travel sellers maximize their yield.

● Customer focused:
TravelMind makes travelers happy because they quickly and easily find what they want. TravelMind makes travel sellers happy because we help them sell perishable inventory, increase long-term market share, and attract new travelers into their sales funnels.


About Left Travel

Based in the suburbs of Vancouver, Canada, Left Travel harnesses data-driven intent to match travelers to the right property at the right time. In addition to making travelers happy, we help online travel sellers maximize their yield, ensuring more properties are booked every single night.

Millions of travelers rely on Left Travel monthly to help find the perfect place to stay, easily comparing more than 14M vacation rentals, condos, hotels, and resorts across an ever-growing network of niche travel brands.


Product Prioritization: Stacked Ranking

Using rankings to facilitate discussions

Welcome to ‘Product Prioritization’ — our series of tools, tips, and best practices for the skilled Product Manager to determine priorities and get results. Each month, we will highlight one of the dozens of popular methodologies and explain how to use it.

For our second instalment, we take a look at stacked ranking, first popularized by Jack Welch at GE in the 1980’s.

At Left Travel, we use stacked ranking when our team is looking for a quick and dirty list of priorities. Whether it’s a list of high-level sprint goals or which beer to buy for beer-o-clock, we’ve found this works best if the items in the list aren’t too complex.

What is stacked ranking?

A widely used prioritization technique, stacked ranking is used across multiple industries. At its most basic level, stacked ranking is the act of taking your list of items (ideas, stories, epics, etc.) that needs prioritization and ranking them from the most important (top of the stack) to the least important (bottom of the stack). That’s it — easy right?

The answer is yes and no. While the prioritization technique is simple in practice, it relies on qualitative data and opinions, which may not align with user value.

Tips and Tricks

1. Question the order: Whether you created the list, or you’re reviewing it, it is important to ask questions about the reasoning behind the order of items to avoid bias.

Questions to consider:

  • Why is the top idea the most important?
  • Why is the bottom idea the least important?
  • How much more/ less important is the idea in the middle than the top/bottom idea?

2. Rank individually, discuss together: To avoid opinions being swayed during your team’s initial stacked ranking process, have each team member rank the list on their own and then compare the results. When there are differences between the lists, encourage a discussion to discover why.

At Left Travel this has led to great collaboration and knowledge sharing, particularly when someone on our team specializes in a certain data set.

By using stacked ranking, team members feel empowered to give their opinions on the ordering. When the team comes together, it makes for an insightful conversation about why there are differences between everyone’s ranks.

3. Get feedback: Due to the opinion based nature of stacked ranking, it is important to solicit feedback from a wider group than your immediate team. Try circulating the list to other internal peers and stakeholders and ask if they feel differently about the ranking. Driving discussion is a quick way to get feedback and help mitigate opinion bias.

4. Individual use: Stack ranking is great for prioritizing individual daily tasks that feed up into your larger company objectives. Online product management tools like Trello and Asana are helpful platforms to share your individual task list with your team.


About Brent

Brent is a SaaS general manager turned-product leader passionate about how interactions with technology can enhance our daily lives. With over 10 years of experience in the B2B and B2C Software Industry, he has assisted in building innovative software technologies by leading Product, UX, and UI teams. Along the way, Brent has helped product and development teams evolve from scrappy start-ups to thriving corporations, driving several M&A deals along the way. At Left, Brent is responsible for both the strategic direction and the tactical execution for Left Travel’s product portfolio with the distributed teams in Canada and Bangladesh.


Left Travel Adds French and German Websites

Leading Travel Metasearch company taps into Europe’s largest travel markets — Germany and France

Left Travel is excited to announce the launch of its two newest websites, Meilleures Locations, and Ferienhauser & Ferienvermietungen, marking its expansion into France and Germany.

Following expansion success in the UK, Australia, Spain and Latin America, Left Travel continues strategic international growth into the continually growing European travel market. In 2019, France is expected to see revenue in the online booking sector of over USD$11B, according to Statistica, who also report that the German sector will realize USD$17 B revenue for the same time period.

The homepage of Meilleures Locations.

The Left Travel network was already seeing over 200,000 users per month in these two regions and was looking to provide French and German users with localized booking experiences. Launching multi-language sites with native domains provides these users access to Left Travel’s AI-driven metasearch experience. This includes providing regional inventory with industry-leading partners including Booking.com, Airbnb, Fe-wo Direkt in Germany, and Abritel and Homelidays in France.

Left Travel’s unique performance marketing techniques, in combination with their robust partnerships with the best known accommodation providers in the regions, contribute to a localized path to purchase for the travel researcher. Whether they are at the start of their travel booking journey or they are searching for a specific property, Meilleures Locations, and Ferienhauser & Ferienvermietungen provide powerful search results from over 14 million properties.

Backed by proven search excellence, an inventory of millions of properties, and predictive data analysis, Left Travel continues to expand its reach in Europe to give localized user value to French and German markets.

Interactive map of Berlin on Ferienhauser & Ferienvermietungen

About Left Travel

Established in 2012, Left Travel is an industry leading metasearch travel company. Our big data marketing engine uses predictive analysis AI to drive $650 million in gross travel booked annually. With access to over 14 million vacation properties in over 150 top travel destinations, we focus on the right data to convert high search intent traffic into quality bookings. Left Travel presently has 16 brands, most recently Meilleures Locations, and Ferienhauser & Ferienvermietungen.

Left Travel is a subsidiary of Left, an award-winning BC Tech Company located in Maple Ridge.

About Left

Left is a B-Corp Certified, Canadian multinational media and technology company committed to using technology for positive social impact. Officially one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, Left has grown to a global team of over 140. Left Travel, a brand of Left, has been using big data, A.I., and predictive analysis to convert high search intent traffic into quality bookings for hotels and short-term stays since 2010. With its project, RightMesh, Left is addressing the global challenge of connectivity — particularly in regions where the digital divide is greatest through their mobile mesh networking platform.

Headquartered in the Vancouver-based suburb of Maple Ridge, BC, Left has offices and employees in Bangladesh, Singapore and the United States. RightMesh AG, a Swiss registered company, contracts the research and development of the RightMesh project to Left.



Product Prioritization: Feature Buckets

Using buckets to plan for future work

Welcome to ‘Product Prioritization’ — our series of tools, tips, and best practices for the skilled Product Manager to determine priorities and get results. Each month, we will highlight one of the dozens of popular methodologies and explain how to use it.

For our first installment, we take a look at Feature Buckets, originally proposed by Adam Nash.

At Left Travel, we use Feature Buckets to ensure our roadmap is balanced between:

  • generating revenue
  • ensuring our users are delighted
  • fitting in longer-term strategic projects.

What are Feature Buckets?

Feature buckets are the classification framework of creating different groups, or ‘buckets’, that product features or ideas fit into. It is beneficial as in the way of roadmapping, and by having several buckets, it allows for a well-rounded and balanced product which satisfies more stakeholders.

The four categories of feature buckets

There are four commonly used categories used to provide balanced software. They are:

  1. Metric Movers
  2. Customer Requests
  3. Customer Delight
  4. Strategic

Metrics Movers

This bucket includes the features needed to move the needle on key metrics that matter to your business around growth, engagement and revenue. This can be anything from ARRChurnARPUMAULTVATV, etc.). For example, at Left Travel, we use metrics that focus on the traffic we send over to our partners and the quality of that traffic. For this, we use Qualified Referral Rate (QRR), Revenue Per Qualified Referral (RPQR), and our partner’s Conversion Rate.

If there is alignment on what the key metrics are that your business follows, it helps narrow the scope of this feature bucket.

Customer Requests

The Customer Requests bucket is filled with requests your organization receives from users and is important to carve out your roadmap. While having this bucket doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll address all, or even a large portion, of the requests that come in it, it does help ground the company to identify current pain points that users are having and decide when, how, or even if, you will address them.

Customer Delight

Remember the time you showed a user something, and they LOVED it? Features in this bucket may not be coming from users directly, but they spark joy in the customer when they see it. Here’s the best recipe to craft these features into delicious user treats:

  1. Listen to users and understand their pain points.
  2. Leverage technology to test and try.
  3. Innovate on UX to deliver and delight.

Strategic

Data projects and new markets or opportunities are types of projects that can be hard to fit into the three previous buckets but are still important. That is why there is the ‘Strategic’ bucket for features that help keep the software looking forward and past some minutiae. Use this bucket to think big and be aligned with the business’s values and goals.


Balancing Buckets

Having not enough buckets

Having too few, or too many, buckets can cause problems.

If you have too few buckets, you may be putting all your eggs in one or two baskets. For example, if you only worked on features that fit into the Metric Movers and Customer Requests buckets, it is easy for your roadmap to lose sight of the bigger picture. If this happens, your software may become bloated with customer requests. This often leads to making segments of your customers happy for the short term while making the software more complex for the rest of your users. If you don’t have work filling up each of the four buckets, you’re missing important feedback opportunities from either internal or external stakeholders; or simply put, there’s a blind spot in your software.

How to find your Feature Bucket blind spots

  1. Brainstorm what features fit into the empty bucket(s).
  2. Imagine a competitor. How would their product stack up against yours? Focus on that.
  3. Take the list of features you’re not building and run them by your stakeholders (users, developers, dev ops, support, executives, sales, marketing, etc.,). What is their reaction?

Having Too Many Buckets

Simplicity is important when you need to be constantly communicating the roadmap to stakeholders. With too many buckets, it can get confusing. If you have lots of feature buckets, it’s time to think long and hard about why the extra buckets exist. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Was it created to get a stakeholder’s work on the roadmap?
  • Could the buckets be rolled up into fewer ones?
  • Are the buckets too granular?

An important part of a roadmap is to be able to effectively communicate what’s happening now and what will be happening soon. If you have 8 buckets, it’s hard to have your team understand and support all of them. Best practices show that people can hold between 3 to 5 buckets effectively.

Ok… where does prioritization come in?

The feature bucket technique is aimed at exposing and categorizing ideas or product features into groupings. When I started at Left Travel, I found that the customer request and customer delight categories were underserviced. By ensuring that we keep our focus on those areas, we’ve been able to further close the gap between our competition’s user experience. Using feature buckets, it should help to:

  1. expose which buckets have too many or too few projects — helps to identify blind spots
  2. identify which features or ideas don’t fit into your roadmap and can be removed
  3. enable a meaningful conversation about the capacity assignment for each bucket and your team.

NOTE: This technique is not helpful to determine which feature is more valuable to do first.

Roadmap Example

Below is an example roadmap which visually resembles buckets (rows) and their status (columns). This can be easily changed to show dates in the rows if that’s the type of roadmap your team prefers.


Thanks to Folding Burritos for creating the Periodic Table of Product Prioritization Techniques and to Feature Buckets12 technique by Adam Nash.


About Brent

Brent is a SaaS general manager turned-product leader passionate about how interactions with technology can enhance our daily lives. With over 10 years of experience in the B2B and B2C Software Industry, he has assisted in building innovative software technologies by leading Product, UX, and UI teams. Along the way, Brent has helped product and development teams evolve from scrappy start-ups to thriving corporations, driving several M&A deals along the way. At Left, Brent is responsible for both the strategic direction and the tactical execution for Left Travel’s product portfolio with the distributed teams in Canada and Bangladesh.


Left Travel and getaroom Announce Partnership

Maple Ridge, Canada, April 18, 2019 — Left Travel, an industry leading travel tech company, is excited to announce a new partnership with getaroom, rated the “Best Hotel Booking Site” by Frommer’s. The partnership will add getaroom’s inventory of over 140,000 hotels to Left Travel’s 16 brands as well as provide phone and booking support.

“Both Left Travel and getaroom believe in continuously working to improve the overall booking experience for travelers,” said Business Director of Left Travel, Ashley Joslin, “We’re looking forward to working alongside them to offer travelers more inventory, competitive pricing, and easier mobile booking options, including phone support.”

About Left Travel

Left Travel is a data-driven travel tech company that specializes in matching the right traveler to the right destination at the right property, at the right time. Our big data marketing engine uses predictive analysis to personalize digital experiences for the traveler.

“We want to create better travel experiences because travel brings people closer together, breaks down barriers, and shows us new possibilities”

Left Travel presently has 16 brands with access to over 14 million vacation properties around the world and has recently expanded internationally with local brands in Australia, Germany, and the UK.

The full list of Left Travel brands are:

Left Travel is a subsidiary of Left, an award-winning BC Tech Company located in Maple Ridge.

About getaroom

getaroom.com provides travelers a state-of-the-art lodging website (www.getaroom.com) which offers travelers the lowest hotel rates on the Internet. Clients calling its toll-free call center at 800-HOTELS-8 (800–468–3578) can also receive the benefits of unpublished pricing, with rates typically 10 to 25 percent less than published rates on its site and other internet sites and as much as 50 percent less. There is full disclosure about the property at time of booking including the hotel name and exact location. getaroom.com offers accommodations at national chain and independent boutique properties in major destinations in the U.S. and Europe.



Introducing Our New Data Scientist, Shariful Islam

Left Travel welcomes new data and machine learning scientist to global team

With recent global growth, including the launch of our four new international brands, Left Travel is growing our Data team to power our predictive analytics. Left Travel uses Machine Learning models to match the right traveler to the right destination, at the right property, at the right time.

We’re thrilled to announce the newest addition to our data team, Shariful Islam, as our Data Scientist. Although he only joined the team a short while ago, he has already started to make his mark on our organization.

About Shariful

Shariful holds a Master’s degree in Computing Science from Simon Fraser University (SFU), a Masters of Applied Science in Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering from the University of British Columbia (UBC), and a Bachelor of Science from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. In addition to his degrees, Shariful has eight technical certifications, ranging from deep learning to sequence models. Over the past ten years he has worked at AIUB, UBC, North South University, the Art Institutes, and SFU, sharing his passion for data as both a lecturer and researcher.

A chat with Shariful Islam

Amber: Shariful, what made you look to transition from the education to private sector?

Shariful: After being in the education sector for nearly ten years, I was looking for a change. I took on technical contract roles in 2016 and 2018 which ignited my desire to work in a fast paced environment. I began looking for a role that would both challenge me and allow me create value within the industry.

Amber: Was there a particular reason that you pursued a career in the travel industry?

Shariful: It was a bit of a surprise actually. I was looking for a career in the tech industry, but it was the job description that was most important to me. I wanted a data science role that used machine learning and had growth opportunities. When I first saw the job posting from Left Travel, it immediately seemed like a good match for my career ambitions. As I learned more about the company, I saw that it was also a good culture fit. I really lucked out!

Amber: What made you want to work at Left Travel?

Shariful: In addition to the role itself, the team was a determining factor. They’re an incredibly driven group that is constantly innovating… I wanted to be a part of it.

Amber: What excites you the most about the year ahead?

Shariful: Left Travel has experienced consistent growth since its founding, and we’re on the path to have a record-breaking year. There is huge potential for me to use my skills as a data scientist to help increase that growth. Seeing the results of what we will do as a team is what really excites me.



Left announced as one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers

Maple Ridge Tech Company chosen as one of Canada’s Top SMEs for exemplary HR practices

MAPLE RIDGE, BC — April 12, 2019 — Left, the parent company of Left Travel and one of BC’s Top Employers, has been selected as one of Canada’s Top Small and Medium Employers by Mediacorp Inc. today.

“We are incredibly proud of this national recognition of our unique company culture and initiatives,” said Tracy McDonald, Director of Talent and Culture at Left. “We build our culture by hiring people who express the same core values as we hold. Our Lefties (employees) are the heart of our organization, and this award reflects what they’ve helped build over the last nine years. We’re proud of our culture, our Lefties and our collaborative team dynamic across our brands.”

Now in its 6th year, Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers is an editorial competition that recognizes the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that offer the nation’s best workplaces and forward-thinking human resources policies. Employers are compared to other organizations in their industry to determine which offers the most progressive and forward- thinking programs. The annual competition is open to any employer with its head office or principal place of business in Canada. Employers must have less than 500 employees worldwide, including employees at affiliated companies and be a commercial, for-profit business.

“The SME competition is very much the laboratory of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project,” says Anthony Meehan, Publisher at Mediacorp. “It’s the place where we often see new kinds of HR initiatives and workplace policies being tested — before they are adopted at larger employers. Many of this year’s winners offer the kind of benefits once found only at big companies, but they have the flexibility to go beyond these and offer unique HR initiatives for their employees.”

Left does exactly that and was highlighted for its outstanding HR practices including unlimited paid time off to volunteer, professional and personal development programs, and robust parental benefits. Detailed reasons for Left’s selection were released this morning and are accessible via the competition homepage.

This award adds to a number of awards received by Left in the past year in recognition of their HR practices and corporate culture, including being named as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.

The full list of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers was announced in a special magazine published nationally in The Globe and Mail this morning.

About Left

Left is a B-Corp Certified, Canadian multinational media and technology company committed to using technology for positive social impact. Officially one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, Left has grown to a global team of over 160. Left Travel, a brand of Left, has been using big data, A.I., and predictive analysis to convert high search intent traffic into quality bookings for hotels and short-term stays since 2010. With its mobile mesh networking project powered by blockchain and tokenization, RightMesh, Left is addressing the global challenge of connectivity — particularly in regions where the digital divide is greatest. Headquartered in the Vancouver-based suburb of Maple Ridge, BC, Left has offices and employees in Bangladesh, Singapore and the United States.

About Mediacorp Canada Inc

Founded in 1992, Mediacorp Canada Inc. is the nation’s largest publisher of employment periodicals. Since 1999, the Toronto-based publisher has managed the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project, which includes 18 regional and special-interest editorial competitions that reach over 15 million Canadians annually through a variety of magazine and newspaper partners. Mediacorp also operates Eluta.ca, a large job search engine that includes editorial reviews from the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project and is used by almost 8 million users in Canada each year. Mediacorp also hosts the Top Employer Summit, Canada’s largest conference for senior- level HR professionals.

For more information, visit www.left.io.

Press Contact:

Dana Harvey, CCO

1–778–929–3262

dana@left.io


Women in Technology: Insights into the Gender Gap

Joanne Lott, Manager, Operations & Business Development for our Left Travel brand, shares her reflections on women in technology.

International Women’s Day provides a timely opportunity to reflect on the progress of female representation in the Technology industry today. According to Statistica, the percentage of women in the US workforce has grown to 46.8% overall. The Technology industry, however, continues to lag behind with female participation at less than 20%, and women’s wages are an average $16,000 less than their male counterparts. In an industry whose survival depends on innovation, this lack of diversity and persistent gender gap remains a problem.

My career in the Technology industry began 20 years ago, and I have witnessed some great strides in making the tech workforce better for women, but have also experienced some of the historical and institutional reasons why Tech remains a man’s world.

Challenges for women

Getting a job in technology remains unfairly weighted towards men. An overall cultural bias persists that women are not as competent at, or passionate about, technology as men. At times in my career, there were assumptions made that my knowledge and passion for innovative technologies came from the males in my life, and not from my own technical competencies. This bias limits the hiring of women and incorrectly posits computers and Tech as exclusively male domains.

Some misconceptions about gender roles also continue, such as the idea that caregiver responsibilities might interfere with women’s ability to do a good job. For example, while interviewing for a role at a mid-level internet company, the recruiter asked me who would be watching my children upon my return to work. Despite being highly qualified, the fact that I was a mother was perceived as a strike against my candidacy for the role.

After gaining entry in the technology workforce, women also face challenges in the content they work on and in the workplace culture. In many companies where the technology and entertainment industries intersect, for example, the content can be strongly gendered and sexist. I have also worked in environments that were more akin to fraternity houses — where posters of scantily-clad women hung on office walls. This environment made it challenging to lead with authority or feel empowered to facilitate or manage innovation within my team.

This ‘bro’ culture also has a negative impact on the important informal networks so critical to women’s career progression. Many raises and promotions occur because someone in the Executive layer advocates for the progression of a particular individual. Studies have shown that women, especially women of colour, have less access to these critical informal social networks, limiting the speed of their career trajectory compared to men.

Some technology companies also have corporate cultures or management processes that require long or unpredictable in-office working hours. Many start-ups, for example, expect a 12-hour daily grind and push employees to the point of burnout. Because many women are also responsible for childcare or care of elderly parents, these types of demanding work conditions limit women’s career choices. Some companies make untenable work hours a requirement, making women choose between time with their children versus continuing on their career path.

The challenges described above can provide some historical context into why gender diversity in Tech still remains a problem. These are just a small number of challenges that can detract women and girls from entering STEM fields of study, in order to enter the tech workforce in the first place. Some of these challenges might also contribute to women leaving the technology industry altogether.

Why does it matter?

Diversity is critically important in driving innovation. Having different perspectives and experiences is a key force in coming up with new ideas. Studies have shown that being with similar others leads us to think that we all hold the same information and share the same perspective, thus coming up with flat and shallow solutions. Research also shows that when we hear dissent from someone who is different from us, it provokes more thought than when it comes from someone who looks like us. Data and studies show that effective collaboration and creativity require a degree of agitation in order to be truly innovative; this is how diversity can contribute to new ideas.

Diversity is good for business. A uniform or homogeneous workforce can also limit the identification of market opportunities. Understanding consumer behaviour and design thinking are driving how products are made. Without diversity, many firms risk ignoring women’s perspectives when designing new software, online experiences, and products. For example, in the gaming industry in particular, a recent study shows that while only 22% of the video game industry is female, the gender split in playing video games is 45% female.

Additionally, according to the Anita Borg Institute, high performing companies have women in senior leadership positions. “Fortune 500 companies with at least three female directors have seen their return on invested capital increase by at least 66%, return on sales increase by 42%, and return on equity increase by at least 53%.”

What can we do?

Women have been trying for decades to give voice and address some of the challenges described above. Many technology companies continue to address these concerns and put into place policies that attempt to eliminate biases in hiring, salary, and workplace harassment.

Here are some things the tech industry could do more of:

Address the knowledge gap early

Companies like Left sponsor STEM coding camps and Girls Tech Hour of Code events to introduce coding and technology to girls early in life. This type of event can help girls by dispelling gender biases about technology and providing a level of comfort around innovative tools such as Virtual Reality headsets, open source code, and 3D printers.

Commitment by those in Leadership

Corporate Leaders can commit to gender equality and representation on all levels of their businesses. By setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as part of their formal objectives and planning, company leaders can set hiring targets to ensure women are equally represented in all areas — the Board of Advisors, Board of Directors, Engineering, Project Management, Product Design, QA, etc. Once onboard, companies can also invest in growing future diverse managers and leads by providing coaching, training programs, and promoting from within.

Executives should ensure their companies remove gender bias from their recruiting and hiring practices and pay scales. They can learn how to hire more women by understanding how other firms have done it. An example is “How Slack Got Ahead in Diversity”.

In order to retain talent, Managers should also ask women directly about what types of support they need in the form of policies or networks. For example, provide opportunities for women to build mentorship relationships with members of the Executive layer, which can help with women’s career advocacy. They can also create policies around remote and flexible work hours in order to empower women with challenging and unpredictable schedules.

The technology industry must embrace the concept that diversity enables innovation, and take concrete steps to hire more women, or they will fall behind in the business of new ideas.

Learn how to participate and support Women in Tech communities here:

https://www.techgirls.ca/

https://wearebctech.com/community/women-in-tech/

https://medium.com/women-who-code-community/find-your-tribe-women-in-tech-communities-1627d684d7ea

https://girlknowstech.com/women-in-tech-communities/

https://vanwit.ca/


About Joanne Lott:

Joanne’s career started in the Technology industry in 1998. Since then, she has worked for small internet start-ups, one large publicly traded corporation, and a couple medium-sized technology companies. In 2012, she put her career on pause to raise her children, and completed her MBA part-time. After a 5 year absence from the workforce, she is now the Manager of Operations and Business Development at Left Travel. She has two daughters.