Welcome to Invest Ottawa’s Taking Root segment. Each month, this reoccurring article will highlight a driven tech or business professional who took advantage of Invest Ottawa’s talent program and successfully landed a role at a star technology company in Canada’s capital city!
Through Taking Root, you’ll learn the ins and outs of their new position and hear firsthand what it’s like to relocate to Ottawa.
1081 words | 6 minutes
By: Jessica Murphy
When Onat Baş and his wife arrived in Ottawa from Turkey last fall, they quickly faced what is for many newcomers one of the most daunting aspects of the transition to life in Canada: the notorious winter.
But Ottawans have their own style of seasonal coping, and Onat and his wife were quick studies. The trick is to embrace the season in all its cold, frosty glory. Every year, residents and visitors excitedly await the freezing of the Rideau Canal — A UNESCO World Heritage Site that becomes the world’s longest skating rink for two months every winter — and the opening of nearby ski hills, plus winter markets and festivals like Winterlude, an annual ode to the season that transforms downtown into a giant, snowy playground.
“One of the things that surprised me is how many amenities there are in winter,” Onat says, “how many ways there are to make it enjoyable. The first thing we did was try out the canal — it turns out we’re good skaters.”
Working at the forefront of tech innovation
A technical product manager with degrees in mechanical engineering and software engineering, Onat is part of a very welcome wave of skilled immigrants helping to secure Ottawa’s reputation as an international hub of tech research and innovation.
He transitioned from Istanbul to work as a technical product manager at Ross Video, a Canadian company that designs and manufactures live broadcasting equipment.
With its principal R&D facility in Ottawa and offices around the world, Ross Video is one of a growing cohort of Canadian tech companies with a strong Ottawa presence that are global leaders in their industries. Ross’s products are used every day by major broadcast networks like NBC, SKY, CBC, ABC, CTV and ESPN, and their systems and equipment have been used in some of the world’s most recognizable events, including the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards and the Olympics.
For Onat, one of the keys to the company’s long-running success is a supportive culture that invests in people’s potential.
“I think Ross Video is an amazing company to work with,” he says. “We have amazing talent — industry veterans but also new grads. Ross really embraces a culture of mentorship and nurturing.”
Having an open recruitment policy that encourages diversity certainly helps.
“Once we open our horizons, we get access to so many diverse people from across the world,” he adds. “We have customers all across the globe, and we have employees all across the globe. It’s important for us to be a global company.”
Ross is a local international success story — like e-commerce giant Shopify, they started in the area and expanded outward. But the opposite is also increasingly the case as more and more top global companies choose the city as their expansion home.
Recently, amid the second wave of the pandemic, Silicon Valley IT giant Gigamon, Dutch telecom equipment design house AimValley and New York-based SaaS company Catalyst have joined Ottawa’s vibrant tech scene, drawn by the city’s diverse talent pool, broad research capabilities, business friendliness and high quality of life.
The world is taking notice. In the 2021 CBRE Scoring Tech Talent report, Ottawa ranked as the top momentum market in North America, with the largest jump in positions, and edged out even Silicon Valley tech talent concentration, which calculates tech sector workers as a percentage of total industry occupations. Today, the sector represents 11% of employment in the city, a rate three times the national average.
As the city’s tech scene booms, opportunities abound. When Onat began planning his move to Canada, he knew he wanted to live in Ontario. He zeroed in on Ottawa because of the number of good jobs available in the city. “I felt drawn to Ottawa because there were so many opportunities in tech and in my area, with software and hardware and things like that,” he says. “There are tons of opportunities in the city, and I’m pretty thankful for that.”
Planting roots — and finding work-life balance — in Ottawa
Another pleasant surprise was the freedom Onat’s job offered him to settle in and enjoy the city. “I saw an article the other day that Ottawa is the number one city to find work-life balance,” Onat says, referring to a recent survey by American access control system developer Kisi that compared 50 cities around the world on measures like work intensity, institutional support, legislation and livability. Ottawa placed first in Canada and sixth overall, thanks in large part to its high scores for city livability, including outdoor spaces, air quality, and health and wellness.
“I’m an example of work-life balance,” Onat says. “Working at Ross Video, we have flexible work hours, and we actually encourage people to spend time with their families. It’s important to recharge your batteries before going to work again.”
He’ll also vouch for the city’s natural beauty and general outdoorsiness. “We arrived in the fall, and the city greeted us with so many colours. Ottawa in the fall is quite scenic, and it was warmer than I anticipated, so that was a nice surprise.”
Another bonus? Ottawa has over 980 kilometres of multi-use pathways, bike lanes, off-road trails and paved shoulders, which make for an easy, scenic commute. “My favourite way to get to the office is actually cycling. Even during winter, it’s not much of a problem,” he says. “We’re big fans of cycling, and I get to enjoy the scenic views when I go to the office or commute around the city.”
For Onat, the move to Ottawa was a smart one, and he encourages other talented tech people abroad to follow his lead. “For those considering a move to Ottawa, I’d definitely say check out the opportunities — there are tons of opportunities for talent in the city, whether you’re working in software, hardware, product verification — all sorts of tech areas. You’ll be glad you did.”