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Toronto tops Montreal for global career? Not really

KARL MOORE AND DANIEL NOVAK

From Friday's Globe and Mail

Published Friday, Aug. 13, 2010 6:00AM EDT

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/career-advice/on-the-job/article1671292.ece

 

Many students fall in love with Montreal during their years at McGill, yet feel they must move to Toronto if they want a career with an international firm. However, our analysis of the largest companies in Canada suggests that Montreal and Toronto offer about the same level of opportunity for a global career.

 

Toronto is home to the national headquarters of most foreign multinationals with subsidiaries in Canada. However, it is important to note that these Canadian headquarters are satellites of their foreign parents and usually not engaged in international management. Worldwide headquarters, on the other hand, are centres for global strategic decision making. They not only maintain an international outlook in their day-to-day operations, but also open doors for people seeking global careers. The global head office of a firm is simply the more important node in the network of a multinational.

 

So how do Montreal and Toronto stack up on being home to global multinational enterprises? To determine the attractiveness of each city, we first selected the top 150 companies in Canada in terms of revenues earned in 2009. We then kept only those publicly listed firms with substantial foreign revenues (at least 20 per cent) and international headquarters in either the Toronto or Montreal regions. We put to the side privately held companies because it is very difficult to find accurate data on them. We ended up with a dozen Canadian multinationals in each of the two cities.

 

Among those firms in Toronto, three quarters are in the financial industry. They include major banks like RBC, Scotiabank and TD, and other financial services giants like Manulife, Sun Life, Brookfield Asset Management and Fairfax Financial Holdings. So it’s clear that Canada’s largest city is also its financial capital. In fact, the Greater Toronto Area’s financial and investment services sector employs more than 230,000 people, making it the third largest in North America after New York and Chicago. And you will often hear finance students in the halls of McGill refer to Toronto as “where the action is” when discussing their future careers. In the financial sector, Montreal is well positioned as a low-cost number two city with some 100,000 jobs – no slouch, but Toronto is clearly the winner here.

 

Though Montreal’s portfolio of Canadian multinationals is slightly more modest in terms of total revenues, it is more diversified.

 

Montreal’s major international headquarters include those of Power Corp., Bombardier, CN, SNC-Lavalin, CGI and Molson Coors (headquarters split between Montreal and Denver). Altogether these firms offer strategic access to a wide range of industries and many of them have emerged as leaders on the international stage.

 

Bombardier has more than 70,000 employees in over 60 countries. Its aerospace division is the world’s third largest civil aircraft manufacturer and its transportation division is a major player in the thriving rail equipment manufacturing and servicing industry.

 

SNC Lavalin also stands out from Montreal’s list as one of the world’s engineering and construction giants, with over 21,000 permanent employees running projects in over 100 countries. Half of the company’s business takes place outside North America, with projects throughout five continents.

 

CGI group, an expert in IT services, is also worthy of mention. It has gone from being purely local two decades ago to successfully venturing into the U.S., establishing a widespread presence in Europe, and positioning itself in the booming Indian IT market. Hey, even Barack Obama praised the company during one of his campaign speeches.

 

So Montreal offers some interesting opportunities in a number of industries, but one issue students raise is that you really should speak a reasonable amount of French to work in Montreal. It’s a fair enough point, but if you want to have a global career, doesn’t it make sense to pick up a second language? In fact, how could you have an international career with just one language? If you want to learn French it is much easier to learn in Montreal, where the two languages flow naturally. Besides, most students from across the country who come to McGill already have a steady base of French to work with, so it’s just a matter of improving it.

 

In our experience, our French-speaking colleagues are delighted to help their peers with their French. So when you look at the stats, Toronto is the crown city of Canadian business, but when it comes to a global career Montreal is not far behind.

 

Karl Moore is an associate professor and Daniel Novak is a BCom student, both at the Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University.

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L'article est peut-etre vieux mais c'est quand meme intéressant de se remémorer le fait que Montréal est un joueur important et que Montéal n'a rien à envier à Toronto coté ''global career''. De plus, cet article provient du Globe and Mail, ça c'est surprenant.

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