Interview

Anna Chif on the positive impact of employee engagement in a charity culture

“It’s inspiring to see the dedication of so many of our fellow citizens”

Co-Founder, Chief Product Officer at Dialogue, the leading telehealth company in Canada, Anna Chif shares with us today the highlights of her career and what motivated her to become a TechAide Leader.

What is in your personal journey inspired you to co-found the telehealth company Dialogue with your partner Cherif Habib and Alexis Smirnov?

Like many Canadians, I experienced difficulty accessing the healthcare system. With my cofounders, we wondered why healthcare was the last industry to resist the technological advances that radically improved so many other sectors. We, therefore, felt an urge to provide accessible, affordable and high-quality care to Canadians. Furthermore, we named our company “Dialogue” because we believed that excellent care starts with a positive two-way conversation between a person and a healthcare provider who genuinely cares.

Dialogue started with a simple virtual care app that connected a user to a nurse or a physician. This core idea evolved into an Integrated Health Platform, which now includes primary care, mental health, employee assistance programs (EAP) and occupational health and safety (OHS).

You are a TechAide Leader and have organized a spring charity challenge at Dialogue to support Centraide of Greater Montreal in its fight against poverty and social exclusion. What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow your approach and develop the social responsibility of their company?

It was truly a team effort, and 100% driven by the team, it was not a top-down approach, and I am really proud of this. The team who decided to make Centraide a priority for Dialogue mobilized our entire company. The team got both the buy-in from leadership, but also from the rest of the organization.

Some Dialogue core values are that we deeply care and that we like to have fun. So instead of running a traditional fundraising campaign, the Spring Charity Challenge was launched where Dialogue would sponsor the employees looking to build healthy habits – physical activity being an element employees had been expressing the need to do more.

Since April 5th, more than 125 employees have been competing in 10 multi-disciplinary teams to reach together a distance of 3,000 km by either walking, running, cycling. Today, over 13,000 km have been completed, and most teams are more than halfway to the target.

The leadership team has been tremendously involved not only in the challenge itself, but also in leader donations and finding creative side challenges to keep the motivation up. Their engagement has been key to the success of the high level of employee participation and not focusing on employees having to donate. The employees are connecting with colleagues from different locations and functions as well as connecting with their community by spending more time outside. Centraide awareness is becoming part of every employee’s day to day.

In Montreal, which is the 2nd largest metropolitan area in Canada, 28% of adults had a hard time feeding during the containment period. Do you think we can still make a difference as individuals?

This is obviously a very sad statistic. Canadians are known for their generosity, and it is very encouraging to see so many companies and Canadians volunteering or supporting charity organizations like Centraide. While there is still a lot to accomplish, it’s inspiring to see the dedication of so many of our fellow citizens.

At Dialogue, many employees feel an obligation to give back to our community. The last year has been very difficult for so many of us, and we are proud to have been in a position to provide quality care to so many Canadians. But our duty doesn’t stop there, and we really believe in the impact we can have by working with Centraide to help Canadians in need.

Early in your career, you spent time travelling and living inspiring experiences with people from around the world. What do you see unique about Montreal and Montrealers that makes you optimistic and hopeful for the future of our city?

Montreal is a very vibrant and welcoming city, and I’m very thankful to my parents who chose this city and allowed us to build a better future. As an entrepreneur I personally feel that the tech sector and entrepreneurship is booming in Montreal with Governments encouraging more companies to grow and stay in the city. This benefits the entire city as it creates quality jobs that benefit thousands of people.

As we continue building successful businesses like Dialogue and so many others and as we see so many Montrealers supporting charity organizations like Centraide I’m very hopeful for the future of our city and truly believe it will be more equal for everyone, with many more opportunities for people to thrive.

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