Why He’s Top 40: He’s making Edmonton a destination for IT professionals, with about 17 countries represented among 59 staff that enjoy the company’s generous benefits and perks.
Key To Success: “There’s no shortcut to success – you have to get up early and work hard.”
When he set out to start his own IT consulting company, Christians Izquierdo knew what he didn’t want in a workplace. Drab “cubicle farms” were pretty much all the average consultant could expect, he says. That, and being treated like a number.
“Have you ever worked in a cubicle? The walls are about this high,” says Izquierdo, gesturing somewhere between his chest and his nose. “There’s no natural light and you hear little snatches of conversation.”
He turns his head and glances out at the spectacular view of Edmonton’s river valley from his corner office on the 22nd floor of Scotia Place. Almost all of the 66 IT consultants at his company, DevFacto Technologies, have similar views.
Izquierdo and business partner, David Cronin, started DevFacto in 2007 with a goal of creating an environment where highly intellectual and artistic IT minds could flourish instead of simply enduring with workplace doldrums. “Every time you write a program there’s an artistic element to it, a possibility of personal expression,” says the 37-year-old, who immigrated to Edmonton from Cuba in 1997.
He wears his shirtsleeves rolled up to the elbows and fiddles constantly with his iPhone, his brain undoubtedly working at a CEO’s breakneck speed behind his blue eyes. “In this way I can express myself, but I couldn’t draw you a pony if I tried.”
In DevFacto’s 8,600-square foot digs, glass-walled offices line the outside of corridors, with meeting rooms on the inside, giving the best real estate to the employees. There’s a beer fridge for use on Fridays after 4 p.m. To celebrate its five-year anniversary, the company is taking its employees and their spouses to Las Vegas.
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It’s less of a surprise, then, when Izquierdo says no employee has ever quit. “Turnover is a huge problem in our industry. We’ve been able to keep the team together.” Revenue is expected to close at more than $7 million in 2012, having grown from the $29,000 posted in DevFacto’s first year. DevFacto has offices in Edmonton, Regina and Calgary, and has done business across North America, in the Middle East and Europe. The company’s clients include Enbridge, PCL and the Edmonton Oilers. Alberta Venture named it the province’s fastest growing company in 2011, and the best workplace under 100 employees in 2012.Cubicle farms, take note.