Aneela Zaib

2018 Catalyst Canada Honours Company/Firm Leader Champion

Founder & CEO, emergiTEL

Aneela Zaib is the Founder and CEO of emergiTEL, an Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunications recruitment company that seeks to bridge the gap between IT employers and professionals through an innovative recruitment methodology. Founded in 2006, emergiTEL is a niche staffing vendor to large corporate clients in Canada including management, consulting, and banking organizations.

Aneela epitomizes the immigrant’s resilience and ability to overcome adversity and achieve success. She began her career in a Canadian telecommunications company as a Process Engineer. After working on cross-functional teams, she identified the challenges in the recruitment process, noting the opportunity loss inherent in an approach that relies upon general-purpose recruiters to qualify and screen technical candidates. She saw a crack in the system: skilled immigrant workers, especially women, were overlooked because they hadn’t had the requisite “Canadian experience” to support their key qualifications and assignments in the country. She challenged this status quo and took action by creating a 3D model that could screen and filter candidates comprehensively from a diverse pool of applicants, including local immigrants, youth, and women to connect and position the right talent with employers by launching emergiTEL as a bootstrap operation from her basement in 2006.

When Aneela founded emergiTEL, she lacked funding, an established network, and a formal business education. However, she was determined to ensure that no talent faces the shackles of boundaries. Her philosophy is that talent should not be restricted by gender, race, age, creed, or color.

How She Made Change

Under Aneela’s leadership, emergiTEL has reinvented the way traditional recruiting occurs in the IT and telecom sectors through the in-depth 3D qualification system she developed. This method screens candidates for technical competencies, soft skills, and cultural fit. emergiTEL makes a comprehensive study of a client’s culture, then proactively uses this knowledge while screening candidates, leading to long-term employee success and retention. The three components allow emergiTEL to identify the best match between job requirements and candidates, resulting in a more efficient and effective process for both employees and employers.

Aneela targeted the telecommunications and IT sectors owing to her personal experience working in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Management (STEM) field. She understands the challenges faced by her target candidates—new immigrants and women—while trying to find jobs for which they qualify. She works from the bottom up to increase diversity in the pipeline. She believes that the 3D model’s in-depth screening and balanced approach helps more skilled immigrants and women attain jobs and encourages companies to hire people from a more diverse pool. She has attempted to balance the ratio of women to men IT recruits, placing women in 40% of technical positions filled by emergiTEL over the past two years.

Aneela not only focuses on recruiting qualified, diverse talent in the IT space. She also pays attention to her internal staffing representation. She has developed several women employees for leadership positions. Currently, her senior leadership team includes approximately 75% women, two of whom were mentored by Aneela and promoted to leadership positions within the company. emergiTEL’s internal squad comprises 55% women overall.

Inclusive Leadership: Empowerment, Accountability, Courage, and Humility 

Aneela demonstrates courage as an inclusive leader. To start and sustain a business in the competitive staff recruitment industry with few resources is an impressive accomplishment. Thanks to her persistence, she has gained a strong reputation, attracting industry-leading businesses as clients.

As an immigrant, herself, Aneela is also a role model for immigrant professionals and business leaders. She empowers immigrants by supporting their efforts to find rewarding careers in the telecommunications and IT sectors and enables Canadian businesses to attract diverse talent. She also empowers the dynamic team of professionals who work for emergiTEL.

About Aneela Zaib

Aneela holds a master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Toronto. Under her leadership, emergiTEL, as a company has won numerous industry recognitions and awards, including multi-year recognition as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies conferred by Deloitte, and as a PROFIT 500 Fastest Growing Company. Aneela has also personally received many awards and recognitions including Profit Magazine’s Canada’s Top 100 Female Entrepreneurs across Canada, Toronto Region Immigration Employment Council (TRIEC) and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)’s Champion of Immigrant Success, WBE’s (Women Based Entrepreneurs) Winning Women Doing Business Award, and Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ Award.

Aneela is an active community member and supports many organizations. She provides support for résumé writing, interview skills, and mentoring; hosts workshops; and is a frequent speaker on diversity and inclusion panels. She has also served on the Richmond Hill Board of Trade and is a Board Member of the Toronto chapter of Young President Organization’s (YPO) Family/ Spouse/ Partner Officer and a Rogers Small Business Advisory Board member. She has served as a mentor to young women entrepreneurs through the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE) and TRIEC and was a Board Advisor for Humber College.

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