AIMCo Exchange Platform Supports Networking During Pandemic
After more than two years of pandemic induced remote work, you’d expect networking skills for some professionals to be a little dull. But hundreds of engaged employees at Alberta Investment Management Corporation, will be returning to the office with new connections, thanks to a unique platform called the AIMCo Exchange. Through its Ten Thousand Coffees program, employees are paired up based on interests and encouraged to connect with one another.
Ashton Rudanec and Judy Hy are two employees who have formed a strong bond. Despite both having worked for AIMCo for several years, their paths had never crossed until they were matched on the AIMCo Exchange in the fall of 2020.
“We clicked right away,” said Hy, a Senior Business Analyst on the Business Technology team. When the pair met, Rudanec was just a few weeks into her first maternity leave, eager to stay close to the AIMCo community and culture. Hy had returned to work after her maternity leave the previous spring.
“We immediately bonded on parenting, sharing our experiences on being a new parent. Ashton made me realize, you know what, I’m not alone on this,” recalls Hy.
For Rudanec, Hy’s support was paramount.
“I really appreciated Judy always being honest and so caring. To have someone who really was interested in making sure that I was OK, during and after, my maternity leave made all the difference,” said Rudanec. Since that first conversation, the pair has continued with regular virtual coffee dates and keeps in touch via text in between meetings.
For Jill Urbanoski, who headed up AIMCo’s employee engagement initiatives when the program launched, that level of connection is exactly what she envisioned.
“There are dozens of other stories through the company just like this,” she said.
“Sometimes I notice colleagues have these great ties with one another and they’re not folks with work that would normally intersect. I’m always thrilled when I find out they were Ten Thousand Coffee connections.”
The AIMCo Exchange was born out of the need to ensure team members continued to connect with one another while working remotely. Without those everyday office interactions, Urbanoski worried the culture would suffer.
The numbers from the program are impressive. Nearly 500 new connections have been made over a year and half. As a result, more than 95% of participants feel more connected to AIMCo’s people and culture and 88% consider their introduction a valuable addition to their professional network. While Hy and Rudanec initially connected over parenting, they had plenty to learn from one another professionally. Hy shared her insights on working on a significant project for the organization — onboarding more than $30 billion in new client assets. As Manager of Corporate Services, Rudanec played a critical role in AIMCo’s internal communications, often related to that project.
“It's always interesting to hear someone's perspective and to understand their role and what they do,” said Rudanec. There is still one significant piece of outstanding business for the two — meeting for coffee in person. They expect that will happen in the coming months, perhaps at the office, but there are three little voices that would probably vote for a playground instead.