'Loved what I did': Google layoffs impact Waterloo region employees
Some Waterloo region Google employees are now jobless after the tech company announced cuts.
An email to CTV News Kitchener attributed to Google Canada spokesperson Lauren Skelly said: “We can confirm that notifications were sent to impacted Canadian Googlers today as part of Google’s announcement made on January 20, to reduce our workforce.”
Skelly would not comment on specifics Monday, such as which offices would see layoffs and how many people at each location would be impacted.
Jessica Halma-Reed, who worked out of the Kitchener office, says she went to log into work one morning, wasn't able to, and was told three hours later she was laid off.
"It was kind of devastating and a bit of a let down because I loved what I did with Google," said Halma-Reed. "I loved the company and making an impact, knowing that was just cut off without being able to say bye to my team, or really having any contact from them was a bit of a blow."
Halma-Reed said the most frustrating part of the process is just knowing that there was no communication.
Jessica Halma-Reed was recently laid off from the Human Resources department at Google after her one-year contract was terminated two months early. (Stephanie Villella/CTV News Kitchener)
Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google and parent company Alphabet, told staff in mid-January that his company would be laying off 12,000 workers.
“We’ve decided to reduce our workforce by approximately 12,000 roles. We’ve already sent a separate email to employees in the US who are affected. In other countries, this process will take longer due to local laws and practices,” a blog post from Pichai on Jan. 20 said.
Google would not confirm if any impacted employees worked at Google Waterloo.
According to Google, the office in Kitchener is home to Google’s biggest research and development office in Canada.
A LinkedIn post from Michael Landry, a software engineer at Google since 2012, says layoffs at Google Waterloo did occur – including Landry himself.
“After an extended period of limbo, I woke up to the sad reality this morning that my time at Google has come to an end, along with many of my Canadian colleagues. After 9 amazing years on Gmail, I made the switch over to Stadia last April to try something new in an area I was passionate about. Though the product was tumultuous, the team and the technology were amazing. It was a short-lived adventure, but I have no regrets,” the post said.
Another Waterloo Region-based Google employee claimed on their LinkedIn they had also been laid off.
“Today I was among those impacted by the Google Canada layoffs,” a post from Bryan Coutch said. “It's been a wild ride over the last 5 years, and I have had the privilege of working with so many talented people on some truly amazing tech.”
Another LinkedIn user who said they were a part of the Google Canada layoffs today said they were proud of the opportunities to work as a software engineer.
“Today I am among the 12K employees impacted by layoffs at Google Canada. This change marks a difficult moment in my career journey, but I am proud to have had the opportunity to work as a software engineer at Stadia and later at Core, where I was able to collaborate with a talented team of professionals and make meaningful contributions to the company,” reads a LinkedIn post from Sara Gholami.
Late Monday night, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic commented on the layoffs.
"I have been assured that Google remains committed to the incredible talent they know exists here in our community and to their engineering operations here in Kitchener and Waterloo region as a whole," said Vrbanovic. "We will be meeting with Google officials in the near future, as we have done with other businesses in similiar circumstances. We will explore how together, with community partners, we can best assist them and their employees through this period of transition."
Region of Waterloo Chair Karen Redman said: "I feel that Waterloo region remains well positioned to host leading and innovative companies in both the near and long term.”
“THERE WILL BE OTHER COMPANIES THAT ARE LOOKING FOR TALENT”
Technology analyst Carmi Levy said despite the layoffs, those working in Kitchener-Waterloo are situated in an area that offers a wide array of opportunities in the tech sector.
“Clearly, if a layoff hits you on a day like today, this is not a good day for you, but there is no better place in the country to be if you are laid off because this is Silicon Valley North, this is Canada’s epicentre of technology and innovation and investment so from the wreckage of today there will be other companies that are looking for talent, and now suddenly a lot of talent is on the market, and there will be a lot of new seeds planted for start-up companies in the wake of this,” Levy said.
He added: “It’s a vacuum, but in this kind of environment, especially in K-W, these kinds of vacuums don’t last very long. And those who’ve been affected tend to redirect themselves very, very quickly and quite frankly this is the geography where you really want to be when something like this happens."
Although Google did not provide any data on the number of layoffs, Levy said a number in the hundreds would not be surprising.
“A number in the hundreds would obviously disappoint me as it would disappoint many others, but it wouldn’t surprise me. What it means is that Google is engaged in a global reflection process where it’s looking at major projects, major deliverables, major platforms and deciding where it wants to be in business and where it doesn’t want to be in business.
Levy said he believes this is not a process of picking people off, but rather a process of shutting down major parts of the company.
Michael French, the national director at the employment agency Robert Half, said the layoffs aren't a surprise.
“Tech really grew a lot during COVID as we were all working from home or remotely,” French said. “Tech was an area where there was a lot of investment. Some of these tech firms really brought on a significant number of hires to deal with that. Unfortunately, now we're dealing with the fact that they may have too many heads in the organization.”
French said there are a lot of firms out there that can now pick up the talent cut from Google.
“The unfortunate thing is there’s going to be temporary people who may be disappointed, upset, concerned, but when you look at the entire sector, this is going to bounce back really quickly,” he said.
With files from The Canadian Press
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