The announcement of further building closures for the humbled tech giant BlackBerry, comes one month after the $41-million sale of five of its buildings to the University of Waterloo.
As reported by <em>CTV News</em> Jan. 21, BlackBerry’s plan to sell additional buildings around UW’s campus, the Northfield Drive campus, its Cambridge warehouses as well as properties in Mississauga and Ottawa comprise in excess of three million square feet of office space. While the company was vocal in their plans to lease back sold buildings, an additional 85 acres of vacant land remains on the market.
The sale of BlackBerry buildings to UW will be mutually beneficial.
CEO John Chen said earlier last month to <em>CTV News</em> that “[the] initiative will further enhance [BlackBerry’s] financial flexibility and will provide additional resources to support [their] operations as business continues to evolve.”
Acquisition of new space by Waterloo will be beneficial to the university in a number of potential ways.
“Space is probably the biggest constraint we have” Tim Jackson, UW’s vice-president of university relations, told <em>CTV News</em> mid-December at the onset of building closures and sales. “[G]enerally speaking…we have a need for student space…for faculty space…and a need for administration space.”
The acquisition of additional space for UW and of capital flexibility for BlackBerry seems to satisfy needs on both sides of the fence. However, the recent availability of BlackBerry’s real estate has stirred up some student concern that co-op positions may also be on the line.
Olaf Noese, communications specialist within the Co-operative Education and Career Action Centre at UW assures that BlackBerry remains a strong supporter of the co-op program and is unaware of any plans for that to change. BlackBerry was an employer on JobMine in the most recent round of hiring.
Amidst student concern for future co-op opportunities with the once unrivalled technology behemoth comes positive reinforcement from the myriad of opportunities that Waterloo has generated, such as Google, Desire2Learn, OpenText and many other smaller, but promising technology start-ups and hubs.
“I’m not worried,” said Ashley Gallant, a recreation and leisure co-op student. “Working for BlackBerry still holds weight but Waterloo has blown up with so many great job opportunities, which is exciting — BlackBerry or not.”
Posters advertising interview question and answer sessions put on by BlackBerry were pasted through the Mathematics and Computer (MC) and the William G. Davis Computer Research Centre (DC) buildings this past week, showing a continued and strong on-campus presence. These sessions encourage dialogue with former co-op students in order to gain insight on working with BlackBerry and the interview process.
The posters read, “Students at BlackBerry…are an important part of [the] culture and integral in the success of [the] business. BlackBerry provides…the opportunity to be amazing” and encourages students to reach their highest potential with the company, alongside industry experts.
Statistics on the percentage of UW hires by BlackBerry were unavailable as UW Co-op and Career Services are not authorized to release this material and BlackBerry was unavailable on this front to release said stats.
The sale of BlackBerry buildings is an impactful move for students but in a seemingly positive manner. Greater potential for space on campus means capital flexibility for the tech company and does not in so far insinuate a diminished presence in the co-op program at Waterloo.
With students who remain some of the most in-demand for co-operative and post-graduate employment, the choices for employment in Waterloo remains inspiring. What was once an almost exclusive market has become a grouping, a myriad of entrepreneurs, start-ups, technology companies and most certainly of opportunity.