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When Stream opened its doors in 2001 in the old Devco mining building, it was a 900-seat call centre.
Now under new management, it still employs many hundreds of people in a community that was once desperate for employment opportunities.
Team leader Betty Jane MacIntyre is an 18-year call centre veteran (19 years in November 2021) at Concentrix, formerly known as Stream, in Glace Bay.
“The best thing about the job is working with people,” she said. “I get to meet new people all the time and help them succeed.”
However, call centre life may not be for everyone. One misconception people have is that anyone can work at a call centre.
“A lot of people look at it as just a job and not a career, but the reality is call centres now are huge and it is no longer a fly-by-night job. It is a good-paying job that has benefits behind it that you are not going to find at many other places.
“Chances are that if you call any company today, you are calling a call centre.”
Surely a testament to Concentrix’s staying power in the community is the importance of call centres to the businesses they represent. If there wasn’t a serious business need Concentrix would have left long ago. Instead, they have been part of the bedrock of the Glace Bay area for approximately 20 years.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, MacIntyre is now working from home. It is the camaraderie with her co-workers that she misses most during these pandemic times.
She has adjusted to the parameters that the virus has placed on everyone with mask wearing, social distancing and handwashing.
Between more than 200 books on her E-reader and celebrating her son’s outdoor high school graduation ceremony last year, MacIntyre believes there is something to be learned from the whole experience of living through 2020.
“My New Year’s resolution is to take a look back at last year and learn something from it … like taking nothing for granted and preparing for everything.”
The first thing she is going to do after COVID restrictions?
“I would like to see everyone for once … at this point you have to try to memorize the faces and post the faces around you to remind you.”
Working from home has become like a sporting event with your teammates surrounding you in the stands — which is usually the wall or Zoom.
“One of the greatest things about working in a call centre is that you are always talking to someone.”
MacIntyre grew up on Wallace’s Road in Glace Bay with her coal miner father Arthur and homemaker mother Ralphina Boutilier. She has one brother and one sister. She attended John Bernard Croak School, St. Mike’s, Glace Bay High School and Nova Scotia Community College, where she studied office administration.
Betty Jane is married to Kenny MacIntyre and they have two children: a son who is studying at NSCC Marconi Campus and a daughter who is in Grade 6 at Oceanview school.
MacIntyre also lived in Brampton, Ont., for a couple of years where her son was born. She mentions that being exposed to the multicultural Ontario city prepared her for life in a call centre.
“I felt like the minority (in Brampton). Living there exposed me to many different cultures.”
She says the many different people she met in Brampton taught her how to become a better manager of a team of support representatives. In a call centre, what you learn is that everybody is different and that everybody has a unique story to tell.
Therese MacAdam is a Glace Bay writer with a deep interest in the community and its people.