Contendo is an online learning training solutions company based in Belledune, New Brunswick, but who is the man running the show? Mischka caught up with the Operations Manager and Village Councilor, Sandenn Killoran:
When did you start your business?
Contendo was founded in 2008, but really it started in 2007 when our parent company, Sancon, realized that Oil Sands Operations Training is a niche market that we could really tap into. My dad, Dennis, and his business partner would often be commissioning on large billion-dollar facilities. This work was for companies like Devon Energy, Encana, Conoco Philips among many more fortune 500’s. The companies would always ask them if they could stick around and train their incoming operations staff.
My dad has always been interested in tech and training, and it looked like a way to become more agile so that they weren’t stuck in one place. My dad has always been interested in tech, innovation and training, and he was looking for a way to satisfy their clients’ request without having their leadership team stuck in one place for too long. This is how Contendo was born – the idea of online site-specific training packages developed fast after that. For the next 9 years, we almost exclusively built packages with the goal of helping those companies’ operations teams become experts in their industry and their facility. As a by-product we became adept at developing customized software solutions that continue to help our clients become better and faster.
How did you get involved, and how do you manage the family dynamic?
I took over at Contendo in 2015. Working with my father makes for an interesting dynamic. We sometimes take frustrations out on each other because we’re family, but for the most part there’s a lot of respect for each other. I also call him “Dennis” at work to differentiate our personal relationship from our professional one, and this makes things easier. It helps keep a professional decorum at work. Although, it does bleed over and make people feel like we have an adversarial relationship and we do routinely challenge each other, I believe that we have developed the trust that each of us is doing what we think is best for the business. Once you have that, things get a lot easier.
“Working for family can certainly be a challenging dynamic to add to the already stressful nature of business, so it is really important that you’re doing it for the right reasons and believe in the company and the products, and I am super fortunate that at Contendo that is the case for myself and Dennis.”
Where are you from?
I was originally born in Grande Prairie, Alberta, but I bounced around the country. My parents are both from Belledune. Through my childhood, my Dad would get sent to different oil projects for work. He played a significant role in most of the large scale offshore projects of Newfoundland. I eventually finished high school in Bathurst moving to Belledune shortly after my 16th birthday.
What did you study?
I went to Mount Allison University and I actually got a Bachelor of Arts in History. It was the right move for me personally. Afterwards, I moved to Edmonton Alberta and worked at a design firm as a Digital Strategist. At the same time, I developed skills and expertise in analytics, online marketing, business development, fundamental programming languages and UX design.
Does your background help or hinder you?
My degree taught me how to learn and how to communicate my knowledge. And that’s something important: knowing what you don’t know and being able to teach yourself. The cool thing about the tech industry is that you don’t have to go to Harvard, even the best tech geniuses that did go to Harvard, dropped out. I believe you should never stop learning – always try to fit it in where you can. This is an area where I’d like to see the province and the Maritimes grow into and Contendo could play a part in that: helping more and more people, especially Atlantic Canadians, continue to learn and improve their skills, and lives.
Contendo offers various programs and platforms and their mission is to help their clients be more effective, faster and better through innovation. To find out more about Contendo, visit their website at https://contendo.ca/. Did you enjoy this article and would like to read more? Click Contendo Part I.