Year founded: 1996
Number of employees: 450-500
What they do: Talent Management
Shopify’s IPO of upward of $131 million gained a lot of media attention in the Ottawa tech community. With new companies taking flight, it is important to reflect upon successful companies who paved the way and to realize that Ottawa’s tech sector has been up and coming for some time now.
Locally-based Halogen Software, a leading provider of cloud-based talent management solutions, launched its IPO in 2013 with great success. The initial offering came in at over $50 million and the company has been on the rise with its global expansion ever since. President and CEO Paul Loucks talks about the company’s goals and Ottawa’s supportive ecosystem as a home base.
Tell me a little about your journey to Halogen
I was there as we spun Halogen out of a consulting company in 2001, and I have been leading the Halogen team for the last 14 years. We built it from what was a very small start-up into a company that now has over 2,100 customers on a worldwide basis, with about $60 million US in revenue each year and are publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Explain Halogen’s role in helping organizations to someone who is unfamiliar with the HR sector.
We’re focused on helping our customers accomplish three things: build their world-class workforces; get better results though a high-performing, aligned and engaged workforce; and help them establish talent as a lasting competitive advantage.
To do this we offer cloud-based software and a comprehensive set of services that support organizations in creating best-practice talent programs: performance management (annual performance appraisal, performance improvement plan, goal setting, and competency management), compensation, learning and development, etc. It’s really about providing the tools, services and resources our customers need to not only attract better talent, but to retain and develop that talent.
Clearly you guys are very customer-oriented, but what sets you apart from the other HR companies?
That goes back to the DNA of our company: the world-class customer experience we deliver really isn’t something that just happens by accident, it’s something that is designed into the way our organization operates.
When you build a company, you have to have a path to market leadership, and there are three choices for that path. You can use customer intimacy, product leadership or operational excellence. We have chosen customer intimacy. That choice has absolutely separated us from all of our competitors, and the industry recognition we’ve garnered reflects this. But no software company is successful without a fantastic product, and we have that too.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about Shopify’s IPO. I want to talk a little bit about your IPO in 2013 and how you felt that changed your company.
I think one of the interesting things about going public is that it really improves your company profile — not only from a community perspective (being able to attract employees), but also from a customer perspective. People have visibility into the stability of your company, and it really ensures that no one has concerns about viability of the business.
When a company is private, no one really knows what the financial statements say because they’re not made public, whereas when you’re public there’s a rigor around it and it allows people to have confidence in trusting their business needs with you. The data about the viability of your business is there if they want to look up.
As Halogen continues to expand globally and more offices open up around the world, do you think that Ottawa will remain the main headquarters?
What we’ve got in Ottawa works very well. We’ve got a solid talent pool of employees and potential employees, and we’ve got a strong higher education community with the city’s universities and colleges.
I think one of the real advantages of Ottawa is the loyalty of employees. The fact is, we’ve got a great environment in Ottawa and it has really helped our success today.
How would you feel that the Ottawa ecosystem has helped grow the organization?
The success of business is based on having great people and being able to feed those great people into a company like Halogen. This is what Ottawa’s been able to do because of its Silicon Valley North appeal and the ability to grow that over time.
One thing never to underestimate?
Figure out what the success of the business looks like. Other people might have a different vision, but it’s important to understand what you want success to look like over a ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five year period.
Paul Loucks, CEO of Halogen
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