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In 1998, Sindy Catigay was studying accounting at the University of Manitoba when a friend told her about a temporary position at Winnipeg-based Pollard Banknote Limited, which designs and markets high-performing instant games and solutions and is the world’s second largest producer of instant-win lottery tickets. She took the job, even though it meant taking a break from her studies, but it proved to be a career-altering decision.
“I loved it immediately,” says Catigay, director of game management. “I took a leave from Pollard to finish my accounting degree, and came back because I missed being surrounded by creative people every day.”
Pollard was founded in 1907 as a small print shop affiliated with one of Winnipeg’s newspapers. The company printed a wide array of products, including business cards, letterhead and wedding invitations. It continued as a general printer until the early 1980s when that business went into decline and a new type of lottery, namely pull-tab and scratch-and-win tickets, began to take off.
“Instant tickets used to be an almost forgotten part of the portfolio for lotteries,” says Doug Pollard, co-CEO and the fourth-generation member of the Pollard family to lead the company. “Over the last 20 years, instant-ticket sales have grown on average eight to 10 per cent annually.”
In addition to instant tickets, the company now produces 100 to 125 games monthly, as well as providing digital offerings and solutions to a customer base exceeding 60 lotteries worldwide. In order to generate that much content, Pollard requires employees with a wide array of skills and talents.
That includes designers who understand what will sell, statisticians who study factors that contribute to sales, press operators, and their assistants. There are also roles in digital solutions, information technology, engineering and manufacturing, sales and marketing, business development, human resources, business management, finance, legal and security.
“We don’t often hire for specific backgrounds,” says Pollard. “The ideal person we hire is somebody who comes in with a certain skill set and an attitude that they want to learn. If they’re smart and keen to learn, we’ll find opportunities for them.”
Catigay fits that mold. She started as a junior assistant supporting the game planning team and was promoted to a senior assistant. Later, she took on a supervisory role on a team of eight to 10 planners before becoming manager of a larger group of game planners and technical artists and most recently was promoted to director of game management.
“I just basically showed an interest in learning and in wanting to move up,” she says. “I had great mentors who were very supportive and provided opportunities along the way.”
Pollard adds that the company has such a plethora of different roles and opportunities that employees can enjoy a considerable amount of mobility within the organization. In fact, moving from role to role is something he encourages.
“We’re always trying to match the interests of our people with opportunities in the company,” says Pollard. “When we do performance reviews, we try to explore an employee’s interests. If they’ve got a specific interest, we say: let’s get you some exposure.”
That, he says, is embedded in the corporate culture and it has paid off in terms of employee loyalty and longevity. “One of my favourite days of the year is our 25-year club lunch,” says Pollard. “When we started, the club could sit at one table. Now we have 143 in the club, 125 of whom are active employees.”
This article is produced by the Advertising Department of the Winnipeg Free Press, in collaboration with Pollard Banknote Limited