Non-Profits and Charities Can Use Your Tech Skills

Non-Profits and Charities Can Use Your Tech Skills

Check on your favourite charities. They’re not ok.

The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged through the world’s economy. People across the country, maybe even you, have been out of work for months, struggling to make ends meet. The impact that’s having on charities and non-profit organizations is exponential. Not only does the struggling economy mean many of their services are in higher demand than ever, but fewer people have the budget to donate. And, to make matters worse, physical distancing regulations have shut down critical fundraising activities.

Today is giving Tuesday, the first Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday that’s designated for giving back to your community. If you are part of the group who can give extra cash to a cause today, realistically, there’s only so much you have available to give. There’s no way you can help everyone. When you find yourself wanting to do more, the other precious commodity all charities can use is time. And your unique skills are a bonus!

Although limited, most of the large, high-profile charities we hear about have departments of professionals, much like businesses. While they can always use extra help, even more shallow in resources are the small groups, non-profits and charities in your community. Interest groups, service clubs, sports teams, fundraising events, school committees — they’re all run by a few volunteers who are doing their best to keep their heads above water. And as amazing as those volunteers are, they often lack in the tech skills that come naturally to you.

As noted, most of these organizations are looking for innovative ways to fundraise as well as find efficiencies to cut costs. The solution to both of these problems in many cases is technology, but they simply don’t have the means or experience to implement it. They’re in need of a digital transformation, albeit quite minor. Enter the IT professional!

If you’re an IT contractor, we can guarantee there’s a committee of volunteers nearby who are working towards a goal that matches your values and they would love to hear from you. You can bring more to the table than you might realize:

  • Your Core Skills: Clients are willing to pay big bucks for your skills and with good reason. They’re a valuable commodity. They might also be exactly what a non-profit needs to help them launch a fundraising initiative or move their organization to the next level. That said, it’s rare the local mosque is looking for a C# Developer with experience working with network protocols and Rabbit Q.
  • Your Other Tech Abilities: You know how your neighbour assumes you can’t wait to fix his computer because you can work in IT? Charities would love for you to do that as well. Although not your core trade, your background has given you basic skills in setting up networks, upgrading software, troubleshooting email, and maintaining websites. That same neighbour who can’t figure out how to “open up the internet” is the same person running the local hockey club’s database. Please give them a hand.
  • Project Management: You might not have a PMP certification, but if you work in IT, you have an understanding of project management, and that knowledge is extremely transferrable and in-demand. Not just IT projects, but planning events, organizing fundraisers, and renovations all require a strong project leader. Your existing experience will help a community group get to where they need to be (on time, on budget), and, if Project Management is on your career roadmap, the gained experience will help you get there sooner.
  • Business: As an independent contractor you run a business. You know the ins and outs of meetings, contracts, accounting software, invoicing, taxes… or you at least know the right people who can help you. Often, volunteer organizations are packed with individuals who can run the operations but are less experienced on the business side of things.
  • Partnerships: Your contracting career has also resulted in a network of other brilliant people and organizations. After a couple conversations with a charity’s leaders, you’ll quickly realize that another colleague might donate services, a favourite recruiter could help them fill a role, or a past client would love the sponsorship opportunity. You can help the get the organization to better places with just a couple phone calls!

Volunteering comes with so many benefits! It will help build your career, do amazing things for your mental health and, of course, create a stronger community. For an added tax bonus, although charities can’t always give a tax receipt for your donated hours, you can choose to invoice your time, let them pay you, and then donate the earnings back. (Be sure to check with the charity that they can actually issue tax receipts first.)

So, if you have even just a few extra hours in the coming months, talk to a few neighbours and have a look around your community. You might be surprised at how many people would love to have you!

The “ism” That Will Catch Us All… Eventually

The "ism" That Will Catch Us All… Eventually

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Ea

As I work for a company that is considered diverse*, “isms” rankle. We are all familiar with sexism, racism, antisemitism, and ethnocentrism (there are many, many others as well!), but the one that I want to discuss in this post is Ageism — the systemic and systematic discrimination against persons of older age. Maybe it’s the result of my own aging, but I’ve been noticing this issue more and more over the past year or so. It is kind of a strange “ism” as it isn’t like many of the others where people who are not a certain way — and will never be that way — attempt to discriminate against others who are. With Ageism, although a person may not be older now, they will age like everyone else and will become part of this sub-group of society themselves someday. You would think that would give people pause and be a suitable deterrent in itself. Yet it happens… I’ve seen it and I’m sure you, my readers, have witnessed it too.

“1001 Old People Jokes” and tropes that include housecoats and fuzzy-slippers for elderly women and pants with belts riding high for the men. These can be fairly innocuous, and are often perpetrated by elderly people themselves as self-deprecating humor. But ageism turns more serious and, perhaps, even a little threatening when it results in questioning their ability to drive, making their own financial decisions, deciding where and how they want to live, and the sub-par level of care they may receive when it is time that they do need some help. Some of the COVID stories we’ve heard about what happens in retirement homes is shocking, disappointing and, frankly, disgusting.

One other version of age-ism is that older people can’t fathom technology. In our industry — Information Technology — this is particularly troubling. I’ve witnessed perfectly capable technology professionals passed over time and again for no other reason than their age: “they don’t fit into our culture”… “they may be looking to retire soon and we want someone who can commit over a longer period” … “not sure of their ability to keep up with the pace of work here…”.  All these “concerns” are rooted in stereotypes.

Older workers often bring experience that “youthful teams” may lack. They come from the generation where people often DID put down roots and stick with the same company for a longer term. Companies may actually enjoy better retention rates hiring older workers, despite their relative nearness to retirement. And people aren’t retiring as early if they love what they do! Pace of work is less a factor of age and more a result of individual motivation. Experience, as mentioned before, can more than compensate if in fact there is a slowing due to age. And age does not dictate a person’s technological acumen!  When one builds their career in IT, they pretty much have to commit themselves to life-long learning. As long as that commitment is there, people later in their careers are just as able to learn new technology as those in the beginning or in the middle of their careers.

But of course, we all know that.  Intellectually, we understand that this is so. Yet, I am surprised at how often ageism occurs. A US-based study (reviewing 40,000 resumes) stated that “The largest-ever study of age discrimination has found that employers regularly overlook middle-aged and old workers based only on their resumes” – and older women face even more discrimination than do older men. Instead of being actively sought-after, having much more experience than younger applicants is actually a detriment to being selected for a job. Older technical consultants and contractors struggle with this greatly. Despite COVID-19, the world is still supply-constrained when it comes to finding technically savvy workers. Many of these people found consistent contracting opportunities throughout their careers, even during the “slumps” that occurred in 2000 and 2008. Yet now that they are older, they struggle. They’ve never had more or better experience than they do today, they’ve never had a higher level of skills and knowledge, yet it is harder and harder to convince employers of this.

This is true: ageism happens. It is happening now. Here in Canada and around the world, it is a common occurrence.  And we all should be aware of this and actively fighting against it. After all, we’re all going to be there, ourselves, someday and wouldn’t it be nice if ageism was eradicated before we had to face its challenges?

* Eagle is WBE certified as a Women Owned/Managed Business. We have been recognized in “Canada’s Best Places to Work” for women and our workforce is made up of 75% visible minorities… including some of us older people 😉

Predicting Key Trends in Cybersecurity

Predicting Key Trends in Cybersecurity

There is no shortage of tech trends to discuss. Regardless of your role or industry, changes are coming at a fast-pace, and keeping up with them is imperative to your career success. Knowing what’s on the horizon and predicting what clients will want, lets you keep the right skills and certifications up to date, as well as highlight the right sections of your resume to truly sell yourself.

One area seeing excessive growth world-wide, and across every industry, is Cybersecurity. It isn’t a secret nor should it come as a surprise to anyone that, although this area has always been growing, the COVID-19 pandemic propelled that growth. Thycotic’s 2020 Global Survey or Cyber Security Leaders, which checked-in with 900 senior IT decision-makers in large companies around the world, backed up this observation, saying it’s due to so many organizations adding technology and moving to cloud solutions. (Interestingly, that same survey showed that an overwhelming number of these companies don’t fully-utilize the security technology they implement, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Gartner is also observing security trends, which they recently highlighted in their Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021. First, they note that privacy-enhancing computation is going to play a big role for IT departments in the coming years. Noting the maturation of global data protection legislation as a main driver, they predict that by 2025, half of large organizations will implement privacy enhancing computation for processing data in trusted environments. Gartner also says that the Cybersecurity Mesh, the idea that anyone can access a digital asset securely, regardless of the location of the person or the data, is going to continue growing. They state that by 2025, half of all requests will be supported by the Cyber Security Mesh.

So, what are the best skills to build up in the coming year to ensure you can take advantage of these trends? This past October, Burning Glass released a report highlighting the fastest-growing Cybersecurity skills, and it’s packed with information for the IT Security professional or tech enthusiast looking to break into the field. They analyzed over a billion historical job records and projected 5-year growth rates for specific jobs. Overall, it shows a trend towards building secure digital infrastructure from the ground up.

The report highlights the top 10 growing skills, which are listed below, showing that Application Development Security and Cloud Security are the place to be. The top one, which includes sub-skills such as DevSecOps, Container Security, Microservices Security, and Application Security Code Review, is expected to see 164% growth over the next 5-years!

  1. Application Development Security (164% growth)
  2. Cloud Security (115% growth)
  3. Risk Management (41% growth)
  4. Threat Intelligence (37% growth)
  5. Incident Response (36% growth)
  6. Compliance and Controls (36% growth)
  7. Data Privacy and Security (32% growth)
  8. Access Management (164% growth)
  9. Security Strategy and Governance (20% growth)
  10. Health Information Security (20% growth)

Technology is connecting our world in incredible ways, but that means more and more sensitive data is flowing and protecting it is key in keeping products trusted and successful. What other Cybersecurity trends are you seeing, or expecting to see, in the coming year?

Quick Poll Results: Your Favourite Tool for Online Business Meetings

The majority of the world has been working from home for more than half a year now, and by this time, everyone is settled in. We know what works, but doesn’t work, what we love and what we hate. Depending how many external clients, recruiters and suppliers you interact with, there’s a good chance you’ve also had the opportunity to test a number of online meeting tools. While Zoom appears to be the popular platform in the news, Microsoft Teams is embraced by many large organizations, Google is competing with their Meetings solution and LogMeIn’s GoToMeeting is a classic.

In last month’s contractor quick poll, we asked our readers which tool they prefer to use when meeting remotely. It appears that Teams and Zoom are neck-in-neck for those who have a preference, but it’s also worth noting that more than a quarter really didn’t care.

Quick Poll Results: Your Favourite Tool for Online Business Meetings

Contractor Quick Poll: Are you an avid podcast listener?

According to, there are over one-and-a-half million podcasts out there, with a combined 34 million+ episodes to choose from. That’s a lot of content! Whether it’s for current news, entertainment, or professional development, if there’s a topic that interests you, there’s almost certainly a podcast available for you.

Like every form of media, we all have our preference. Many people prefer catching up by reading articles or streaming videos, and others stick with traditional TV and radio. More and more, though, professionals we speak with say they love the convenience of a podcast, especially because it can be played in the background while driving or working. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we’re curious to learn if you embrace podcasts and if so, how often?

Project Coaching – Think Like an Athlete

Project Coaching - Think like an Athlete

Guest Post by Gabriele Maussner-Schouten, Project Consultant and Coach
Check out the end of this post for details about Gabriele’s limited Project Coaching offer

I admit it – I am a play-off sports fan. I love watching sports when the best teams battle it out for first prize. Especially this year, watching the play-offs was a welcome distraction from COVID-19. Often, the difference between the high-performance teams is the coach. Without ever questioning it, all of us understand the value of a coach to an individual athlete and a sports team. A coach understands and believes in the strengths of the team, provides perspective and a vision.

It is a close relationship, and it goes far beyond developing a training schedule and fine-tuning each athlete’s performance. The coach understands how to leverage the inherent strengths of the team to overcome their challenges. There is great respect for the work of a coach AND, we would consider it a significant risk to an athlete’s performance if he or she decided that a coach is no longer needed.

So, why are we so hesitant to apply the same logic when it comes to projects and project managers? We move our organizations forward through project work. Often, the company future is at stake. Yet, I hear far too often “I just want to get the job done and I have no interest in paying for a project coach.” Every cost-conscious person can relate to this statement. However, the rate of IT project success has hardly improved over the last 10 years and studies show the same pitfalls over and over.

  • Lack of executive sponsorship and accountability,
  • Vaguely defined goals and insufficient communication,
  • Scope creep and lack of risk management,
  • Skill re-allocation and skill deficiency.

Since so many of the pitfalls are related to soft skills, there is a good chance that the right coach can be the difference between a successful and a failed project. Projects are tough, project managers need to work across the departmental silos, have great persuasion skills as well as stay patient and calm when conflict arises or a project team member misses an important deadline.

A project coach can help to provide a different perspective, build self confidence by highlighting the unique strengths of the project manager. Complete trust and mutual respect are essential for a supportive coaching relationship. To be effective as a project coach, the coach needs to be able to listen to the project manager, able to relate and help the project manager to weigh all options. Often, by just talking through the options the best possible path becomes clearer.

Like in professional sports, a coach can be extremely successful with one team and sports organization, but not achieve the same success with a different team. Here are some tips to find the right project coach for you:

  • A great sense of mutual trust
  • Excitement to work with one another
  • Confidence that the project coach will add value and can make a difference

A project coach provides perspective, insights and most of all a safe space to discuss project challenges freely. Like a sports coach, the project coach understands the strengths of the project manager and knows how to enhance the skill set and confidence of the project manager.

“Athletes don’t only use a coach when there is a problem with their technique; they understand that no matter how good their technique is, there is always room for improvement.” – John Perry, Sport Psychology

Project Coaching for Charity

I have a few Project Coaching spaces available right now, and I’d love to help you with your project for just a charitable donation!

As a seasoned project professional, I am very much aware of the challenges that project managers face on a day to day basis. We, as project managers, lead cross-functional teams and need to continuously problem solve and engage our project sponsors in a meaningful way.

Have you experienced one or more of these challenges?

  • You have a disengaged project sponsor and critical project decisions are made late
  • Project scope is bigger than expected and your sponsor is demanding to meet it within the initial set timeline and resources
  • Some project team members are consistently late on their tasks without a good explanation
  • There seems to be a project grapewine and you are not part of it
  • Not sure on how to communicate ‘bad news’ to your project sponsor?

Being a project manager is a very demanding role. The objective of project coaching is to become a trusted partner as well as a sounding board for ideas and a safe space to talk through project challenges.

How do we do it?

  • Set-up of 6 coaching sessions
  • Each session is between 45 and 60 min long
  • First Meeting: set coaching objectives and manage expectations
  • Discuss potential coaching themes
  • What worries you most on your projects?
  • Do you have specific coaching situations that you would like to discuss?
  • Is there a specific skill that you like to develop?
  • Agree on meeting logistics
  • Second, third, fourth and fifth meeting: Coaching sessions on agreed upon topics or on a specific situation that has arisen in the previous week
  • Sixth session: Coaching, recap and conclusion

Learning about project management in a classroom setting is very different than applying them in real life work scenarios. Coaching provides “on the job” support and skill enhancement in a safe and positive way.

What are the Options?

  • A coaching contract to sign up for 6 virtual coaching sessions (45-60 min each) in exchange for a $150 donation for your local Foodbank or United Way.
  • One on one virtual coaching sessions (60 min) in exchange for a $20 donation to your local Foodbank or United Way

How to Get in Touch

For more information, please contact me through LinkedIn or email me at

About Gabriele Maussner-Schouten

Gabriele Maussner-Schouten is a respected project consultant and coach with more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing practical solutions for project management success. Her expertise ranges from managing large IT projects for both private and public-sector organizations, ranging from mission- critical ERP implementations and content management solutions to providing leadership for major special events and support for enterprise-wide communication strategies.

Canadian Job Market Update for November 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

One of the ways Eagle adds value is to provide regular job market information.  Sometimes it is a look at Canada as a whole and other times we focus more in-depth on specific markets.  This update is a high-level look at the Canadian job market, and the factors influencing it.  In previous months we have provided market updates, specific to different markets, which you can find through the links here:

Canadian Job Market Quarterly Update Across CanadaThere are a number of indicators that I have used over the years to give an idea of how things are going.  One such indicator is the markets, and for this purpose I have focused on the TSX.  When the pandemic hit back in March, the TSX dropped to 11,350, and here in mid-November it is sitting at 16,800.  In the last five years it has rarely been above this level, except for a few months just before the pandemic hit.  Generally, the markets have performed well even during a pandemic!

The unemployment rate is an obvious indicator for the job market, and as I write this the unemployment rate is at 8.5%.  Employment is coming back with employment numbers improving on average by 2.7% every month since May.  The recovery of course is very uneven with some professions taking a real hammering.  In April there were about 5.5 million Canadians whose jobs were affected due to the pandemic, and currently that number is about 1.1 million. So improvement, but if you are unemployed, that doesn’t pay the bills.  Surprisingly, according to Statistics Canada, the professional, scientific and tech professions are in a better position today than pre-COVID.  Another indicator saw October as the first month where the self-employed numbers improved since March, which is perhaps the start of good news for our independent contractor community.  In April, Eagle experienced a 70% drop in orders from our clients but have experienced a steady recovery since then, such that order levels are about 80% of the pre-COVID demand.  This of course can change as lockdowns and outbreaks occur, but we are optimistic that we will not go back to the April levels of unemployment.

Job seekers willing to “go where the jobs are” will always fare better than those unwilling to relocate.  In Canada, the four largest provinces represent close to 90% of the jobs, with Ontario being the largest (close to 40%); Quebec (approx. 23%); BC (13.5%) and Alberta (12.5%).  So, when considering where to look for jobs, a province that employs a lot of people and has a relatively low unemployment rate is a good place to look — BC, Quebec and Ontario all fit that bill.  Alberta is still struggling because of the hit on the oil and gas sector.

One of the big factors affecting the Alberta market is the price of oil.   The price of a barrel in Canada is just under $30 and between $13 and $15 less than world prices.  One factor for this price differential is Canada’s reliance on just one client, the United States.  Unless this changes that will likely remain a factor in Alberta’s economy.   There are however still opportunities in Alberta, just not the booming demand we saw in the past.

The US is Canada’s largest trading partner and represents both opportunity and risk.  A Democratic government is not likely to be a friend to the oil and gas sector, which will continue to hurt Alberta.  Pre-COVID, the US enjoyed record levels of employment, with significant skill shortages.  There has been a significant dampening on the jobs front during the pandemic.   We have seen significant investment in Canada by large US companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google etc. all adding to their Canadian presence to tap into the talent up here, and I expect that to continue, but likely after the recovery.  Canada is also currently able to attract skilled immigrant talent easier than in the US, whose immigration laws are more prohibitive, but a change in government in the US is likely to ease that issue.  We will know more as the new administration rolls out its plans.

Tech job activity was very strong pre-COVID and while we have not recovered to the same levels yet, there is still good opportunity for in-demand skills across Canada, and that demand is increasing.  Technology has played a huge part in allowing companies to operate during the pandemic, with Digital Transformation allowing work from home strategies and websites, security and payments systems playing a significant role in the proliferation of online buying.  We typically suggest the tech unemployment rate as being about half of the general unemployment rate, but in COVID times, I would suggest an even wider gap.  The general unemployment rate of 8.5% includes the huge impact on the hospitality, travel and retail world while many tech professionals have been able to continue to work from home.  It would surprise me if the tech unemployment rate is more than 4%, which is not far off full employment.

For a more detailed look at the specific markets across Canada I suggest you read the linked writeups from Eagle’s Executive team across the country, referenced earlier.

Eagle’s focus is technology professionals and the most in demand areas/skills recently have included: Cloud, Government, Telecom, Security, Payments, CRM, Digital, Big Data, BI and AI; Agile BAs, Change Management, Quality Assurance, Architects, Solution Architects, Front & Back end developers, Full Stack developers, DevOps engineers; and even mainframe is making a comeback!

In summary, people with those in-demand tech skills and experience should have little difficulty in finding employment, either contract or perm if not immediately, then very soon!  A willingness to relocate to the bigger centers will only increase marketability.

It remains to be seen when things will return to something “more normal”, but life needs to go on and people in tech are in demand, many can work from home and that demand is only going to increase.

For employers our advice is this:

If you see great talent that will be a fit in your organization then act now, because their availability will not last long.  We will return to skills shortages sooner rather than later.

Now is a great time to refine and speed up that hiring process!  Finding, screening, hiring and onboarding can all be done remotely and efficiently, and will become an absolute necessity very soon.  We are still seeing our candidates receive multiple job offers and clients losing talent because they are too slow to make a decision, even now!

L’importance du réseautage social

L'importance du réseautage social

Justin Ryans Par : Justin Ryans,
Conseiller en recrutement chez Eagle

Avec moins d’emplois et plus de concurrence sur le marché mondial, en raison de la pandémie, c’est plus important que jamais de se distinguer des autres.

L’un des moyens les plus efficaces et même les plus simples consiste à utiliser les réseaux sociaux.

Je ne dis pas nécessairement d’aller passer plus de temps sur votre téléphone ou votre ordinateur, mais vous devez trouver un équilibre. Ceci est d’autant plus important si vous êtes actuellement à la recherche d’une nouvelle opportunité de travail ou envisagez un changement de carrière.

Il est tout aussi important d’actualiser régulièrement votre réseau et profils en ligne que de garder votre CV à jour – peut-être encore plus en raison de la tangente numérique que prends le marché du travail en ce moment. Fini le temps où vous pouvez trouver facilement un emploi dans un journal ou sur le panneau d’affichage de votre restaurant local. L’heure est désormais au réseautage sur les médias sociaux. Il faut y passer quelques heures par semaine pour augmenter vos chances de réussite. Assurez-vous simplement de n’être pas dérouté de votre objectif à cause de vidéos de chat sans fin, ou de photos de repas alléchants de votre tante.

Alors, qu’est-ce qui compte comme réseautage social ?

Il s’agit de rencontrer des gens de toutes les manières possibles. Envoyez des e-mails, passez des appels téléphoniques, contactez des personnes sur des applications de messagerie, aimez ou partagez des messages que vous trouvez intéressants, rejoignez des webinaires, des réunions ou même des cours en ligne. Vous ne saurez jamais qui vous rencontrerez et ce qui peut résulter de cette relation.

Et si vous ne l’avez pas encore fait, créez un profil LinkedIn et un compte GitHub. Ce sont d’excellents outils pour montrer vos talents, se faire remarquer et se tenir au courant des tendances actuelles. Ces sites ouvrent également une banque d’offres d’emploi, de nouvelles entreprises et même des recruteurs qui, comme vous, souhaitent avoir plus de personnes dans leurs réseaux. Le travail d’un recruteur n’est pas seulement de trouver des talents pour un poste spécifique, mais aussi de nouer des relations avec les chercheurs d’emploi et les chercheurs de talents pour rendre la vie de chacun plus facile et plus efficace. Alors n’hésitez pas à contacter un recruteur afin de discuter de votre profil et de vos intérêts. Être persévérant ne peut pas faire de mal.

Pour finir, assurez-vous de vous connecter avec des personnes qui ont un ensemble de compétences ou un profil similaire. Bien qu’ils puissent être vos concurrents maintenant, ils peuvent être ceux qui vous recommandent pour un emploi plus tard.

IT Industry News for October 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on November 10th, 2020

This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for October 2020. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of previous year’s Octobers

 Five years ago, in October 2015, Dell paid $26 billion to buy storage company EMC. Interestingly, EMC subsidiary VMWare was also out shopping, picking up a small email startup, Boxer. In another deal involving “big bucks”, Western Digital paid $19 billion for storage competitor Sandisk. IBM were also writing a big cheque, paying $2 billion in a big data/internet of things play for The Weather Network (minus the TV operations), and IBM also picked up a storage company, Cleversafe. Cisco paid $522.5 million for cybersecurity firm Lancope; LogMeIn paid $110 million for LastPass; Trend Micro paid $350 million for next generation intrusion prevention systems company HP Tippingpoint; Red Hat picked up deployment task execution and automation company Ansible; Vasco Data Security paid $85 million for solution provider Silanis; and Apple bought a speech processing startup, VocalIQ. As industries converged, it was interesting to see Securitas pay $350 million for Diebold’s US Electronic Security business.

October 2016 did not see a lot of M&A action, but Qualcomm paid $47 billion for NXP Semiconductor. The only other sizable deal saw Wipro pay $500 million for IT cloud consulting company Appirio. Google picked up Toronto-based video marketing startup FameBit and Pivot Technology Solutions picked up Ottawa-based Teramach.

Three years ago, in October 2017, Cisco paid $1.9 billion for Broadsoft to improve Cisco’s software capabilities. The only other significant deal saw Telus beef up its service provider capability with a $250 million purchase of Xavient.

October 2018 was an interesting month, with some significant M&A activity and the sad passing of yet another tech pioneer, Paul Allen who cofounded Microsoft with Bill Gates. On the M&A front, IBM paid $34 billion for Red Hat to increase its game in the cloud systems arena. In the red-hot cybersecurity space, PE company Thoma Bravo paid $2.1 billion for Imperva. Twillio also shelled out $2 billion to acquire email company SendGrid, rounding out their API offerings. Other deals saw Honeywell bolster its IoT offerings, paying $493 million for Transnorm; Palo Alto Networks paid $173 million for security startup Redlock; Computacentre paid $70 million for FusionStorm to grow its consulting business in North America; GTT Communications paid $40 million for Access Point to add to its network; and Fortinet paid $18 million for ZoneFox to improve its threat analytics capability. There was plenty more M&A activity with big names involved. Some of them included: Google (chatbot company Onwards); Accenture (DAZ systems); DXC (agodesign); Samsung (Zhilabs); CapGemini (June 21); and NTT Data (Sierra Systems).

Last year, in October 2019, the largest deal was in the data center space, with Digital Realty paying $8.4 billion for Interxion; there was a smaller data centre deal that saw Equinix pay $175 million for 3 data centres from Axtel; and a third datacenter deal involved ServerFarm buying SNINES. Another big dollar deal saw private equity company Thoma Bravo offer $3.4 billion for security platform company Sophos. Big name companies out shopping included Intel buying Pivotal’s Edge Computing platform; Accenture bought Bow & Arrow, a company that helps its clients find new markets; Microsoft bought Mover, a company that helps clients move to the cloud; and Telus paid $700 million for ADT’s Canadian Security Services business. Some other deals included network company Cienna buying performance and analytics firm Centina; Sailpoint paid $37.5 million for two cloud security startups: Tech Data bought DLT Systems; and Trend Micro picked up security company Cloud Conformity.

Which brings us back to the present

 There was plenty of activity in October 2020. The world is still in recession but there are indicators that things are improving. Employment numbers around the world are getting better, although they still have “a ways to go”. The prospect of a vaccine brings some optimism and the US election has resulted in some positive sentiments around the world, although the US is still a divided entity and we will see what comes next.

In a pandemic it may be surprising to some, but the acquisition space has been quite active as companies continued their strategic initiatives or took advantage of struggling assets. This month there were some big deals, with AMD’s $35 billion purchase of semiconductor company Xilinx being the biggest deal of the month. Another semiconductor deal saw South Korea’s SK Hynix pay $9 billion for Intel’s NAND flash memory division; and Juniper shelled out almost half a billion dollars ($450 million) for an AI startup, 128 Technology.

Other deals saw Veeam pay $150 million for backup and security company Kasten; and Cisco paid $100 million for application security company Portshift. Accenture continued its 2020 acquisition blitz with several buys: Houston-based Myrtle Consulting Group, AWS consulting company Enimbos; old Ottawa consulting friends Avenai; and New Zealand cloud migration company Zag. Cognizant bought AWS & IoT company Bright Wolf; Ping Identity bought block-chain security startup ShoCard; and ride sharing company Via bought Fleetonomy, a fleet management software company.

That is what caught my attention in tech news for October 2020 … until next month, walk fast and smile … wash your hands and MASK UP!

5 Signs You’re a Difficult Person and Don’t Even Know It (and what to do about it)

5 Signs You're a Difficult Person and Don't Even Know It (and what to do about it)

We’ve all encountered difficult or toxic people throughout our professional lives. Whether it’s the difficult contractor you have to work with on a software project, the short-tempered client you have to meet with every day, or the arrogant recruiter standing between you and an IT contract. Difficult people suck… but have you considered that you might be that person in someone else’s story?

Eagle’s has no shortage of stories where extremely skilled IT professionals, while talented, have been difficult to work with or have caused extra trouble for the client. Although these contractors did exceptional work, we received feedback that the person had trouble getting along with others or caused too much conflict within the team. In other cases, the client was thrilled but the recruiter spent hours fielding complaints about previously agreed-upon rates and contract terms.

We all have our bad days, and certainly you need to stand up for yourself and engage in some debate throughout your career. But there are a few signs to watch for that might signify people see you as a chronically difficult person:

  1. You make few, if any, personal connections at work and only speak with colleagues about work-related items
  2. Every time there’s conflict, you tend to blame others without considering if you might be part of the problem
  3. You find yourself complaining to your manager more often than saying anything positive
  4. You’re often engaged in debate and fighting to be right
  5. You aren’t happy with the project and disengaged from the team, relaying a perception that you’re being difficult

If you’re reading this and immediately dismissing all five items, believing that is never you, you’re either really awesome or you’d probably better keep reading. We all have some difficultness within us and there is always room to improve. Here are a few tips for solving the problem:

  • Improve Your Self-Awareness: Ask yourself difficult questions, as well as gather feedback from others to learn more about your behaviour and how you can improve.
  • Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: Perfectionism and attention to detail are traits that can help you stand out as a quality contractor, but they can also hinder you. Pick your battles and decide what’s actually worth nitpicking.
  • Find the Things That Make You Happy: In case you’re falling into the trap of being too negative, force yourself to see the positive actions your colleagues are taking and the great results that are happening on your project.
  • Watch Your Body Language: It might not be the things you say, but that way you look in-person or on video calls. Look interested and smile, showing that you do care about what others are saying and that you are considering their opinions.
  • Work on How You Criticize: Delivering criticism is a natural part of working on a team or being a in a leadership position. The way you deliver it can make the difference between being perceived as a difficult complainer or a person who gives constructive feedback. Don’t forget to include some praise!
  • Find a New Job: We’re not advocating breaking a contract, but if you’re not happy in your current gig, you won’t be able to hide those feelings for long. That will reflect negatively in your behaviour and harm your reputation for future jobs. Discuss issues with your recruiter to see if you can find a solution together. At the very least, don’t accept a contract extension.

Being a difficult person is a vicious cycle that’s hard to escape. Others start to dislike you and treat you coldly, causing you to get more negative. The good news is, it’s never too late to improve yourself! If these points have raised a few flags, we strongly encourage you to look into this deeper and see where you can improve. Fixing issues now will prevent you from closing doors later.