For this Canadian technology giant, the future is friendly, exciting – and hyper local.

Q+A with TELUS

TELUS is a world-leading communications technology company with 17 million customer connections spanning wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video, and security.

Also British Columbia’s largest private sector employer, the company is a strong advocate for leveraging next-generation technology and compassion to drive social change and enable remarkable human outcomes.

A member of SIPP since 2018, TELUS is known for its commitment to community-level support. The TELUS Vancouver Island Community Board has given more than $5 million to grassroots charities, including $350,000 in 2021 for emergency relief efforts throughout the pandemic. 

Since 2000, TELUS, its team members and retirees have contributed more than $10.5 million and volunteered more than 360,000 hours in support of charities and community organizations in Greater Victoria.

The company also recently announced the construction of TELUS Ocean, its new headquarters, now under development on Douglas Street in downtown Victoria. 

Marshall Berkin, Vice-President of Industry Solutions with TELUS Business Solutions, shares the work TELUS does to drive economic growth in Greater Victoria, and why that local focus is so important.

Marshall Berkin, Vice-President of Industry Solutions with TELUS Business Solutions
Marshall Berkin, Vice-President of Industry Solutions, TELUS Business.

Why did TELUS join the South Island Prosperity Partnership?

TELUS is making generational investments in Greater Victoria through our technology, and is a proud supporter of our communities – something I personally appreciate as a long time resident of Vancouver Island.

SIPP’s unique approach to economic development –  forming an alliance of municipal governments, First Nations governments, industry and business associations, institutional partners, nonprofits, and private businesses – provides a comprehensive view into the needs of the community. This partnership opens the door to better collaboration and collective focus on our shared goal to increase prosperity throughout Greater Victoria.

What do you see as key to growing a resilient, robust economic future for our region?

In my view, we are doing a great job with our focus on education, technology innovation and sustainability. And creating a successful, healthy economy for the future is tied to innovation and strong partnerships between public and private sectors. 

Organizations like SIPP and TELUS, that collaborate together and encourage the exchange of perspectives, create an inclusive and diverse environment for driving positive changes and outcomes in our society and community.

For example, the proposed TELUS Ocean building in downtown Victoria will be a key economic hub in Victoria’s growing tech and innovation ecosystem, contributing to the region’s economic strength, culture, and social vitality.

What is our region’s secret sauce when it comes to competing internationally to attract quality talent, businesses with household sustaining jobs, and investment?

The West Coast lifestyle of South Vancouver Island offers an unparalleled blend of opportunities to enjoy nature while working in evolving sectors like technology and business.

As someone who is lucky to call this area home, I think there are many reasons to put roots down here. We have solid infrastructure, an established university and an international airport, a climate that allows people to enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle, and some of the friendliest folks around. The location is ideal – we are next to the ocean for water sports, and in close proximity to major hubs like Vancouver and Seattle.

What are you most excited about in terms of your own organization’s plans and potential?

What I love about TELUS is that everything we do is driven by our social purpose to use our technology for good, drive meaningful change in our society and give back to our communities.

Last year, TELUS announced an investment of $63 million across Greater Victoria in infrastructure and operations so we can keep communities connected.

As a tech guy, I am particularly excited because this translates into enabling residents and businesses to access the fastest 5G network in Canada, which already reaches 70 per cent of the Canadian population and connects  customers in 744 urban and rural communities – something we are very proud of.

This investment is really important for helping to improve health and educational outcomes, support environmental sustainability, and enhance the entrepreneurial spirit in our community.

What’s one thing about your organization you really want people to know that they probably don’t know?

Great question! And it’s hard to narrow it down to just one thing.

I could give you a list of impressive recognitions TELUS has received over the years as a best employer. However, as a 17-year TELUS veteran, I can attest to the amazing career journey and experiences TELUS offers.

Whether your expertise is in technology, business strategy, digital, product development, or in verticals like health and agriculture, if you are passionate about what you do and want to make a difference in the world, there’s a place for you to grow and thrive here.

One of the other reasons why TELUS is a great place to work is how they make well-being a priority for team members. During the pandemic we did a number of things: we trained 2,000 leaders to support the mental health of their teams, and provided centralized access to specialty mental health services, as well as a meditation and sleep app, Calm. Our Work Styles program has also made it easier for team members to maintain flexibility and gives everyone the freedom to work in a way that makes the most sense for them.

And although the pandemic upended the way many of us work and connect, TELUS achieved our highest engagement level ever and advanced our status within the top 10 percent of all large employers, globally. I am very proud of our team.

What challenges are you most invested in helping our community overcome and why?

The pandemic highlighted an urgent need for us to find ways for everyone, regardless of socio-economic status, to access healthcare.

Recently, through our partnership with the Victoria Cool Aid Society, we launched the Cool Aid Mobile Health Clinic, powered by TELUS Health. It’s a specially-equipped clinic on wheels that provides trauma-informed, primary medical treatments, mental health services, addiction support as well as COVID-19 assessments and testing directly to people who need it most.

What lessons have most profoundly impacted you since the pandemic sent shockwaves through our community and economy?

Although the focus of COVID-19 was initially on physical health, the pandemic also brought mental wellness to the forefront. The twists and turns of the pandemic constantly pushed us to find ways to manage emotions and cope with distress.

More than ever, I appreciate having access to wireless connectivity so we can keep in touch with our family, friends and colleagues.

Connectivity is critical to any region’s economic development and, looking ahead, TELUS is making generational investments across Canada, including Victoria, to build new wireless infrastructure that will be the technological backbone for our economic recovery and strength well into the future.

When you envision the South Island region in 2040, what will have changed? What does our future look like?

These days it’s hard to imagine a future without recognizing the impact the pandemic has had on our society and the world.

With the incredible development in Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, smart homes, smart cities, connected healthcare and connected cars, just to name a few, the enhanced connectivity we’d experience by 2040 will enrich every aspect of our lives. With such an amazing lifestyle on the Island, nothing is stopping us from having an even more vibrant and robust economy and technology-driven future.