When EPAM Systems came to Waterloo in 2021, they didn’t want to just land here and use it as a location to bring their employees and hire new candidates from the local talent market. They saw the strength of the Waterloo ecosystem and community, and they wanted to be a part of it. “Not just to take from it, but to give back,” in Mark Samson’s words.
Mark is the VP of Delivery Management, at EPAM Systems, a leading digital transformation services and product engineering company that partners with some of the world’s largest companies – including Microsoft, Google, SAP and Adobe. The company has 59,250+ employees, operates in 50+ countries and works in almost every industry.
We recently sat down with Mark to discuss EPAM’s presence in Canada, why they chose the Waterloo region, specifically, and how they’re already integrating into the community – including opening a new office in downtown Kitchener.
Here are the highlights from our conversation.
Knowing a Canadian business expansion could provide significant advantages for EPAM and new growth opportunities, it made good business sense to start exploring possible locations. So, what drew them to Waterloo?
It was the perfect location for EPAM to expand because “it fits with EPAM’s DNA,” Mark shared. The tech ecosystem, the breadth of up-and-coming engineering, math and computer science talent from the University of Waterloo and the existing tech talent pool and the startup vibe made it a compelling choice.
" We looked across Canada and Waterloo just felt right. "
VP of Delivery Management at EPAM Systems, Inc.
EPAM arrived with aggressive goals. One of which was growing the local team to 200 people by the end of 2022. Mark was happy to share that they reached this goal through a mix of local recruiting and the relocation of employees from around the world, including Ukraine.
“The Canadian immigration system and the global talent stream that we’re a part of have helped significantly. Doing it this way, we get a really interesting mix of talent profiles and cultures, which is what Canada is in a nutshell.”
This led them to their next big goal: opening a new office in downtown Kitchener by early 2023.
Welcoming EPAM to our community
On March 10, EPAM officially opened the doors to its new office in Canada. Located in downtown Kitchener, the core of one of Waterloo’s three urban communities, the office is at the centre of the region’s vibrant tech ecosystem.
“We are very excited to welcome EPAM Systems into their new home in downtown Kitchener,” says Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “Over the last 20 years our downtown core has become a hub for some of the world’s most innovative tech brands. EPAM, with its global presence and focus on its people and the communities where they operate, is joining a flourishing community that includes the Communitech Hub, Velocity incubator, global giants like Google and homegrown success stories like ApplyBoard and Vidyard.”
The excitement among EPAM employees (called EPAMers) is palpable as they settle into their new space and start to envision how they’ll make the most of it in a post-COVID world.
The new office location will serve two important purposes:
It will be a space where EPAMers can come together – in person – to meet, share ideas and collaborate. “Even though we’ve been able to work remotely, it’s still important to have a space where people can meet face to face,” said Mark. “That’s why we’ve designed the office to facilitate interaction. It’s open, collaborative and flexible – so people can open their laptop and start working, no matter who’s sitting beside them.”
It will also be the central hub for EPAM’s community involvement activities, to which they’ve been wholly committed since stepping foot in Waterloo. Having a presence and making a positive impact on the community will be just as important as the work they intend to do here.
“Since we’re a software engineering and digital transformation company, our community involvement naturally gravitates toward tech,” said Mark. “We’re excited to bring educational programming to adults and children in the community who haven’t had the opportunity to learn about technology – what it is and how it works.”
EPAM’s eagerness to support the community as one of its first orders of business in Canada hasn’t gone unnoticed. “When new companies join an ecosystem, we often think of the benefit in terms of investment value and new jobs,” says Waterloo EDC President and CEO Tony LaMantia.
“Those are important, of course, but great companies make a community impact and EPAM is no different. In addition to supporting initiatives tied to Earth Day and Terry Fox Runs, they’re committed to moving the needle on primary-level technology education and women in tech.”
Building a case for business expansion in Waterloo
Prior to connecting with the team at Waterloo EDC, EPAM had been considering four or five different locations across Canada. The difference-maker for Mark was how Waterloo EDC helped them build a business case to answer the question: Why Waterloo?
“Waterloo EDC helped us create a full vision of what we could do here and why Waterloo is uniquely suited for what EPAM does. It was an easy business decision to make, and we’ve spent the last two years implementing that decision,” Mark shared.
Several other partners and organizations have been instrumental in EPAM’s expansion to our community, including the City of Kitchener for their help with moving EPAM employees and their families here from different geographies around the world and LAUNCH Waterloo for their partnership in developing STEM, robotics and coding courses for children in the community.
Connect with us to get all the information and resources you need to start building a case for Canada.