Directwest May 2020
Features

Training for the Future: ISM Canada Earns Major Microsoft Award

ISM Canada Training - Class 1
ISM Canada Training - Class 1

ISM Canada values building knowledge and staying ahead of the curve when it comes to continuous learning. Earlier this year, the company set a strategic goal to increase training and certifications within their team. ISM—a Microsoft Centre of Expertise—saw the advantage in strong numbers in capable, certified staff and committed to increasing their already stellar numbers in 2020. Little did they know that their commitment was going to catch the attention of Microsoft Canada.

“We got started earlier this year, offering Microsoft training to all ISM staff regardless of their role in the company,” says Darin Degenstein, ISM product manager. “We started with classroom-style learning in Regina, flying in Microsoft instructors to deliver the courses.” The COVID-19 pandemic would derail the traditional delivery in March, but ISM pivoted quickly to an online format. “Luckily, our technology allowed us to go online, and that increased our training participation.”

A massive swath of staff signed up for training, with the company actively supporting and encouraging their success. Training included topics in everything from Microsoft architecture to administration to data engineering, and more. Courses run from one to 10 days and end with certification exams when the participant is ready to test their skills and knowledge.

As ISM embarked on their learning journey, Microsoft Canada was watching. Microsoft holds an annual conference in Las Vegas—Microsoft INSPIRE—for its partner community and celebrates partner achievements with a series of awards. ISM Canada was stunned to be nominated for the Tech Intensity IMPACT Award along with Compugen and Accenture. On July 22, 2020, ISM Canada won the award, which is metrics-based and recognizes commitment to investing in people. Microsoft saw how ISM invested aggressively in increasing certifications, noting that ISM had to “drive innovation, develop compelling cloud offerings, and positioning themselves for strong growth.”

“We were thrilled to be nominated and to win was amazing,” says Diana Domm Smythe, director of customer experience. “We had no idea when we started this journey that it would lead to this type of national recognition.” The company received a trophy from Microsoft Canada, which is now displayed at ISM Canada’s Regina campus. “It came in a box with a tablet that played a personalized message from the president of Microsoft Canada,” says Degenstein. “It was pretty neat.”

ISM Canada’s training commitment is still going strong today. 434 staff members have taken courses, and that has led to 219 certifications so far. This commitment has also attracted more than just Microsoft’s attention. “We’re seeing more interest from IT talent, wanting to join our team,” says Degenstein. ISM Canada is one more example of Saskatchewan’s growing leadership in tech, with a presence here that dates back 47 years.

“We’re just getting started with our training plans,” says Degenstein. “This award made us even more excited for the future, and it shows that while we’re in Saskatchewan, we’re a nationally recognized IT service provider.”

Based in Regina with staff across the country, ISM Canada offers innovative technology solutions helping businesses increase flexibility, improve collaboration, and reduce costs.