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Category: People & Culture

Team Member Spotlight – Noel John, VP of Client Engagement and Delivery

Financial Services | IT Management | Leadership

Team Member Spotlight – Noel John, VP of Client Engagement and Delivery

October 30, 2023

Blanc Labs’ recently appointed Noel John as VP of Client Engagement and Delivery.  We are thrilled that Noel has joined the team and brings with him a strong background in client engagement leadership.

Noel joins Blanc Labs from a fortune 500 publicly traded global technology and consulting company, where he spent close to 20 years on various leadership roles including leading a specialized QEA practice for Canadian BFSI customers. As a trusted partner for clients, he aids them in achieving their business objectives. His approach is rooted in the belief that true transformation requires active listening and a partnering approach through all phases of the journey.

Noel John
VP Client Engagement & Delivery, Blanc Labs

My focus is on building a One-Team culture in the customer-partner ecosystem, encouraging cross-functional cooperation, building high performance teams, and growth strategies that lead to driving successful outcomes.

5 Questions with Noel John

Get to know our amazing team members.

Q: Noel, you have an extensive background in client engagement and delivery, what do you think are the biggest drivers of success?

I have found that bringing a client centric approach to everything you do has proven to be a tried and trusted driver for success. You need to understand the client’s business, their future plans and the industry trends. You need to be their trusted partner to drive the required change.

 Q: Technology is always evolving, and it seems like we are in a period of rapid acceleration. What technology trends are you watching closely and/or building capability to serve clients?   

Artificial Intelligence has become de-facto topic in a huge number of client conversations. AI is not just a technological advancement but it’s poised to transform the whole business i.e it’s transforming how clients conduct their business.

We are still in the very early stages of this evolution but we now have all the ingredients like data, compute power, storage etc. Human creativity combined with the AI capabilities will unleash enormous opportunities for consumers and businesses.

These are some of the most exciting spaces to be working with clients because enabling this transformative technology will require a highly collaborative approach between business and technology teams, as well as partner support.

Q: What attracted you to Blanc Labs? Why did you decide to join this organization at this point in your career?

While I spent most of my career so far with large fortune 500 company, I was hungry to have new experiences, learn new skills and contribute along the way.

Blanc Labs provided this opportunity to run your portfolio like a start-up. I am looking forward to making a meaningful impact leveraging Blanc Labs’ entrepreneurial and innovative culture.

Q: Noel, thanks for the thoughtful responses.  We are super excited to have you join the team and work with you.  Last question, tell us something about yourself that folks in your professional network might not know about you.

I love to be outdoors during all four seasons, hiking in summer and skiing in winter.   

I also own a motorcycle and love to take weekend trips to cruise the backroads of Ontario.  This time of year is particularly special as you get to see the amazing fall colors on the trees.  Safe motoring and see you on the road! 


You can reach Noel John at or LinkedIn.

Blanc Labs Noel John

People, Processes & Business Practices

Insight | Leadership

People, Processes & Business Practices

April 22, 2022
Samira Akbari

By Samira Akbari

I’m a jack (or jill really) of all trades, an enabler of teams, the governance that limits risk exposure, the financial counsellor who ensures that goals are met, and the process and systems authority who enables agility and efficiency. It takes very specific skills to build to who I am today, and I am grateful for the journey and the lessons learned. I am Samira Akbari, Senior Director of Operations and Corporate Services at Blanc Labs, and this is my story.

The beginning

I was born and grew up in the city of Mashhad, in Iran and was fortunate with an enriching childhood and education. Mathematics was always a favourite subject for me. To me, it has always felt like a universal language that has very little complexity in it. Anyone can speak math!

My education path led me to my first move to Tehran to complete an undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics and then immigrate to Canada in 2010 to pursue a master’s degree with the same major at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. Canada was a new start, a rebirth in my mid-twenties. Though the place was new, with a language that wasn’t my own and culture that was different, it excited me.

Building on the career path

When I graduated, it took me some time to explore opportunities and find a career path that I cared for and that matched my core competencies. I always liked and enjoyed mathematics, however, I noticed, as universal a language as it is, it is not easily transmissible to the job market.

I started my career search with roles such as ‘Financial Analyst’ or ‘Risk Modeler’. However, my search was not successful. Unsurprising ‘Operations’ wasn’t even on my initial list! A very good friend who knows me and my skills very well introduced me to that career path. As the author, Simon Sinek says “If you want to find your ‘WHY’, ask your friends what it is they think you should do.” I listened to my friend and got my first job in operations.

For three years, I worked at a London-based retail company as an operations analyst and manager. It was my first job opportunity in Canada, and I worked hard at trying to prove myself. It was only after I joined that I understood why my friend suggested I take this career path. Operations was all about people, processes, and structure. I like working with people, am very process oriented with a structured mind! It was a great fit for me. I will always remember those years where I had the opportunity to bond with an amazing team and be mentored by the company’s general manager.

The general manager was a woman, and she was mindful in how she developed the culture of the company. She made it a point to have one on one bonds with every single employee (and there were more than a 100 people at the company). She created an environment that felt very collaborative and family oriented. It was so inspiring to see a women lead in such a mature and powerful way.

Looking back, a big lesson that I learned from her was that to succeed at operations, you need to be fierce and kind at the same time. These two words are not antonyms but people sometimes feel that you can only be one or the other.

In 2015, Blanc Labs’ CEO, reached out to me about an opportunity at Blanc Labs associated with operations management. I was apprehensive at first: I had never worked in tech before and Blanc Labs was a young company. But I was inspired by the mission of the company and the opportunity to work in a fast-growing business. 7 years later, I am thoroughly enjoying the dynamism and entrepreneurial nature of the corporate culture and the tech sector.

What does it take to lead operations?

I think the most rewarding aspect of being part of operations, is to see the entire cycle of the business end to end and work cross functionally with all the departments. Not every role gives you that opportunity. When I think about operations in a dynamic environment such as the one at Blanc Labs, I attribute the following things to my success:

  • Be a problem solver. Operations are the wheels of the company, and a business cannot be paused by unsolved problems!
  • The ability to adopt and learn the important factors of any new topic in a short amount of time is an invaluable skill. In this role, you will get exposed to a lot of areas from finance to HR, to Legal and even Tech – some of which may be foreign to you. You will not have the luxury of time to be an expert in everyone or even one of those functional areas. Be adaptable and learn how to navigate your way through all of it without being an expert in any of them.
  • Be a good listener and able to see beyond the words and ask the right questions to find the root cause of the issues. This is where the opportunity of improvement lies.
  • Be prepared to say no and risk being unpopular. As a business operations leader, you will deal with change management everyday. The fact of the matter is that not every decision is made by consensus and there may not even be enough time to get buy in. There will always be team members who don’t approve of your decisions or are unhappy with the change. You need to be decisive and willing to own it.
  • Be adaptive, open to feedback and always open to improvement. Operations is all about efficiency and improvement. It is like changing an old wooden wheel to a new automated one.
  • Connect the dots. As an operations executive, you need to know exactly how every function in the company builds synergies with each other and help enable them.
  • To be successful at this role or any other role I believe you need to have a sense of ownership. I usually say if it is there and no one is doing it, then it belongs the business operations to push it through.

Women in Leadership

Being a woman and an immigrant, you may have more self-doubt, as I did. But if you want something, just go for it! My exploration of my identity hasn’t always been smooth. Have I been told that I am too direct and come across too strong and that I need to soften up in the past? Sadly, yes. I remember trying to change myself when I was younger to be the “softer” woman that resonated with people. Today, I see my directness as a strength that helps me be successful at what I do and it helps me add the most value to my team. I have also learned that if your intentions are good and you don’t make things personal, people see through to the heart of what you are working towards. I’m unafraid to take the bull by its horns, address the gap, learn everything I can about the challenge and help the team conquer the goal.

I think about my journey, the people who have added color, wisdom, growth, compassion and so much more to it, and I am grateful for the person I am today. I am thankful of being able to embrace my true self. To quote a woman I truly admire, Brené Brown, “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” This is where I am, and this is how I choose to grow.

Learn more about our company values or explore Sary Tolosa’s story of growth at Blanc Labs to learn more about how people are central to what we do every day.

Blanc Labs launches Digital Academy in Colombia    

Insight | Leadership | STEM

Blanc Labs launches Digital Academy in Colombia    

April 19, 2022
Digital Academy

Toronto, ON – April 19, 2022. Blanc Labs Inc. launches Digital Academy, a unique program designed to empower university students with learning of emerging technologies while still in their education journey. Students enrolled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics university degree programs, will have the opportunity to join Bootcamp-style hands-on learning that prepares them for a forward-looking career in a global innovative technology landscape.

With operations in Canada, US, Colombia, and Argentina, Blanc Labs plans to open the door to new entrepreneurial minds and build communities of practice in emerging technologies, FinTech and HealthTech. Blanc Labs has chosen Bogota, Colombia to launch its first training and development community and plans to expand the Digital Academy initiative into other countries in the LATAM region.

” We are excited about the launch of Digital Academy. Our Digital Academy team works closely with our Innovation Studios to ensure associates in the academy program will get world-class training and hands-on experience in the latest emerging tech. Bogota is a globally recognized hub for exceptional technical talent and expertise. We are committed to investing in the growth of our future talent in South America.”  said Hamid Akbari, CEO & President of Blanc Labs.

In alignment with Blanc Lab’s vision of accelerating digital innovation and creating a global force of innovative change, the Digital Academy program offers a distinctive approach to developing talents and creating a gateway to the global digital economy.

“Learning a variety of emerging technologies, combined with exposure to the real-life industry challenges, will enable Digital Academy Associates to thrive in their hands-on learning journey and professional career development. In alignment with Innovation Studios objectives, Digital Academy will revolutionize early-stage talent development at Blanc Labs and will strengthen our talent base globally” said Peyman Parsi, Chief Technology Officer at Blanc Labs.

After completion of the program, Associates will receive the Digital Academy certification and a select group of the graduates will have an opportunity to join the Blanc Labs international team.

Digital Academy showcases Blanc Labs’ commitment to social responsibility, education, and empowerment in Latin America. The program inspires students to develop their skillsets, advance in their careers, and prepare for the dynamic and constantly evolving technology landscape.

About Blanc Labs

Blanc Labs is a preferred partner for enterprises looking to digitize and build the next generation of technology products and services. To help companies rapidly deliver on their digital initiatives, Blanc Labs has developed expertise and bespoke solutions in a wide variety of applications in the financial services, healthcare, enterprise productivity and customer experience. Headquartered in Toronto, Blanc Labs serves the Americas through operations in Toronto, New York, Bogota and Buenos Aires. For more information on how Blanc Labs is building a better future, visit


Blanc Labs lanza Digital Academy en Colombia

Toronto, ON – Abril 19, 2022. Blanc Labs Inc. lanza Digital Academy, un programa único diseñado para estudiantes universitarios donde podrán fortalecer el aprendizaje de tecnologías emergentes a medida que avanzan en su carrera profesional. Los estudiantes inscritos en programas universitarios relacionados con ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas tendrán la oportunidad de unirse a entrenamientos y talleres prácticos que los prepararán para una carrera exitosa en el actual panorama de innovación y tecnología a nivel global.

Con operaciones en Canadá, Estados Unidos, Colombia y Argentina, Blanc Labs planea abrir la puerta a nuevos emprendedores y construir comunidades de práctica en tecnologías emergentes, FinTech y HealthTech. Blanc Labs eligió a Bogotá, Colombia, para lanzar su primera comunidad de capacitación y desarrollo y planea expandir la iniciativa de Digital Academy a otros países de América Latina y el Caribe.

“Estamos entusiasmados con el lanzamiento de Digital Academy. Nuestro equipo trabaja de la mano con los Innovation Studios de Blanc Labs para garantizar que los estudiantes reciban una formación de primer nivel, así como experiencia práctica en tecnologías emergentes. Bogotá es mundialmente reconocido como un centro de experiencia y talento técnico excepcional. Estamos comprometidos con el crecimiento de los futuros talentos en América del Sur”. dijo Hamid Akbari, CEO y presidente de Blanc Labs.

Como parte de la visión de Blanc Labs de acelerar la innovación digital y crear una fuerza global de cambio innovador, el programa Digital Academy ofrece un enfoque único para desarrollar talentos y crear una puerta de entrada a la economía digital global.

“El aprendizaje de una variedad de tecnologías emergentes, combinado con la exposición a los desafíos actuales en la industria, permitirá a los Associates de Digital Academy avanzar en una travesía de aprendizaje que fortalece el desarrollo de su carrera profesional. Siguiendo los objetivos de nuestros Innovation Studios, Digital Academy revolucionará el desarrollo de talento en Blanc Labs y fortalecerá nuestra comunidad a nivel mundial”, dijo Peyman Parsi, director de tecnología de Blanc Labs.

Después de completar el programa, los estudiantes recibirán certificaciones de Digital Academy y un grupo selecto de participantes tendrá la oportunidad de unirse al equipo internacional de Blanc Labs.

Digital Academy representa el compromiso de Blanc Labs con la responsabilidad social, la educación y el empoderamiento en América Latina. El programa inspira a los estudiantes a desarrollar sus habilidades, avanzar en sus carreras y prepararse para el panorama dinámico y en constante evolución en la industria de la tecnología.

Acerca de Blanc Labs

Blanc Labs es un aliado de negocios para las empresas que buscan digitalizarse y construir la próxima generación de productos y servicios tecnológicos. Para ayudar a las empresas a cumplir rápidamente con sus iniciativas digitales, Blanc Labs ofrece su experiencia y un amplio portafolio de soluciones y aplicaciones en servicios financieros, atención médica, productividad empresarial y experiencia del cliente. Con sede en Toronto, Canadá, Blanc Labs ofrece hoy sus servicios para el continente americano desde sus oficinas en Toronto, Nueva York, Bogotá y Buenos Aires. Para obtener más información sobre cómo Blanc Labs está construyendo un mejor futuro, visite

Mastering Quality Assurance

People & Culture | Leadership | Software Development

Mastering Quality Assurance

March 22, 2022
Quality Assurance

I grew up in a small town in the Southern part of India, called Udupi. Today, Udupi is a thriving metropolis known for its trademark cuisine, educational institutions and historical sites. When I was growing up, it still had the charm of a small town and provided the perfect environment for my childhood.

The focus at our home was heavily on academics. My father would tell me to study, get a degree and then chase my goals. I realized very early on that I wanted to be an engineer one day. The action of putting together various elements to create a complete entity was fascinating to me.

My introduction to Quality Assurance

After graduating with a degree in computer science engineering at PES University, an institution on the forefront of technology education and research, I worked as a Quality Assurance (QA) Specialist for a company in India. The role of a QA specialist is to ensure that the product, at every stage of its development and presentation to the client complies with the company’s quality standards. I found myself adept at finding as many issues in the product as possible and it gave me tremendous satisfaction in knowing that my review helped my team succeed in delivering the best viable product to the client.

After four years of being a QA Specialist in India, I made the bold and exciting move of immigrating to Canada. This transition was not entirely seamless. Navigating the job market was challenging for a new entrant such as myself – the cultural nuances through the interview process in itself was a factor. But in November 2019, I found Blanc Labs and joined the team. I was drawn to the sector and the tech mindset, which was very forward thinking. I had never been in such an agile company going through a rapid scale up before. The entrepreneurial culture imparted a growth mindset in me, and I was excited to explore that, and the ability to create more impact on the overall performance of the company.

Exciting new challenges

Taking a deeper dive into my responsibilities as QA Specialist, I had to check the application (built by the developers) against the client’s requirements (provided to me by the business analyst), ensuring there are no gaps/issues with functionality built. Though this seems straight forward, at the time, the developer to QA ratio was 10:1 (a more normalized number being 3:1). In addition, I had to learn the commercial lending process and delivery quality very quickly.

Always the eager student, I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about the requirements, the stories, the questions, and the testing at very sprint. I am proud to say we saw no delays on any projects or deliveries.

The other challenge that I faced was my perception of the client. I’d always been taught to see the client as an entity that is superior to the company I represented. Their word was law and their needs and wants superseded my opinions. At Blanc Labs, we are completely collaborative with our clients in every project. My manager and mentor taught me that hierarchy should never get in the way of project delivery and success. Our clients are open and receptive to our insights and with that, I have been able to partner with them more effectively.

What does it take to succeed?

Today, I am proud to share I have grown to lead a team of QA Specialists. When I think about what it takes to be effective at what I do, it boils down to these things:

  • Become an eternal student: You have to understand the goal and recognize the outcome. You have to know the application in and which helps the process easier.
  • Stay focused: The quality of an application depends on you and so you need to be attentive to find every issue/ gap and ensure that the product is functioning and delivering in the way the client requires.
  • Agile delivery: With agile, QA is brought in early in the process to uncover any gaps, adding more focus to more effective delivery.
  • Demonstrate leadership: Irrespective of whether I was an individual contributor, or now, where I lead a team of QA specialists, I always take a leadership approach by establishing a foundation of standard practices across all projects, and encouraging those around me to learn and adapt to new tools, for example, to focus more on automation testing, which helps to improve test coverage.


I feel at home at Blanc Labs. Here, I am encouraged to learn, grow, and pursue new levels of excellence every day. Leadership has been instrumental as they have nurtured me to rise to new heights and for that, I am grateful. When I think about the success in my career, I go back to the three values that I admired in my father: dedication, responsibility, and focus. I realize that life has come full circle and I carry on the legacy of his work in everything I do and every frontier I choose to explore.

To learn more about the values with which we are growing our team, please explore our mission and vision.

The Evolution of Leadership & Empowerment

Insight | Leadership

The Evolution of Leadership & Empowerment

March 7, 2022

Breaking barriers and finding my voice through opportunity

Insight | Leadership | STEM

Breaking barriers and finding my voice through opportunity

January 7, 2022
Business woman

I grew up in Charallave, Venezuela, a city in the outskirts of Caracas. My mother was determined that I received the very best education and moved the family to Caracas to make it possible for me to attend university. It was after our move and when I was in university in a computer science program that I made the first promising steps towards building my career.

The first meeting

I had heard of Blanc Labs through friends. They recommended the company to me and spoke about the culture and the prospects of learning more and growing my career. I decided to take the cautious route of connecting with the head-hunter hiring for the company on LinkedIn in the hopes that it may lead to something positive. My instincts rang true, and I very soon received an invitation to interview with the company.

For someone who was still seeking my voice, my source of confidence, I walked into the interview gripped with insecurity and apprehension, hoping my abilities matched up in this corporate world yet excited at the prospects of working for a Canadian company with the opportunity to grow and of course, practice my English! My interviewer immediately set me at ease and I was able to sail through the technically focused assessment. This felt right. It seemed like Blanc Labs was going to be a good fit for me. Two interviews later, in August 2017, I joined the team as a junior software engineer.

When I think about the experience of being interviewed at the company, there were 5 things that I would recommend to anyone looking to begin their career in technology:

  1. If you’re still in university, apply for internships and get real world experience
  2. Focus on courses where you can enhance your technical skills
  3. Research the company, the industry and the basics in technology
  4. Work on your communication skills – there’s no point knowing things if you can’t effectively communicate them
  5. Develop an openness to learn and a curiosity about those things that you don’t already know

Hello Blanc Labs!

From almost the very beginning, I was given opportunities to execute on projects and to present the results to members of the leadership team of the company, which I admit, was nerve wrecking. Breaking those barriers was important. I was not sure of anything but I was learning a lot and that truly built my confidence. Blanc Labs has been so empowering for me: the learning, the certifications, the opportunity to work with clients, the teamwork – my work family really.

As my projects progressed, I found that I enjoyed being more involved – playing a role in the decision-making process in the architectural discussions with the client. I am usually a shy person, but when I am at work, I am someone else entirely. I have the urge to communicate my thoughts and to debate them with my team. It is this empowerment that inspires me to grow further.

The reason for my drive

The pride for my work is marked by my ability to make a difference. I think what we do is useful for the world, and we are changing how people do things. That is very powerful, and I appreciate that I am a part of it – that I am contributing to it.

My core values span responsibility and respect and that translates in everything I do and the goals that I set out to accomplish. My inspiration? Family. My mother is the person I admire the most in this world. Working to make a beautiful life for her is what drives me. When I work and when I speak to my clients about solutions, the feeling that I can do more pushes me to grow further – that is how it all comes together.

My growth at Blanc Labs is attributed to the very same things that made me successful in my interview: communication skills, curiosity and the willingness to learn and apply that knowledge.

Adventures in travel

My journey at Blanc Labs led to a visit to the Canadian office, which had very memorable moments. I always thought I was fairly soft spoken. I think in LATAM, we speak in much louder tones compared to my fellow Canadian team members. I walked into the office and went around saying ‘Hi!’, in what I thought was a regular tone, but everyone seemed to almost whisper back. It was at that moment that I realized – maybe I had a loud voice! I’m not sure if everyone noticed, but it was really funny!

In LATAM, we greet each other with hugs (pre pandemic of course), but in Toronto, I had no idea what protocol was, so I started to do this awkward wave versus reaching over for a hug because I didn’t know how people said “hi” in Canada. I still chuckle at the vision of myself emphatically waving ‘the Canadian wave’.

Canada would not be the only place I would travel to with Blanc Labs. As the company evolved, I found myself to be the sole team member in Venezuela. I remember an eventful meeting where the question of relocation was brought up. My manager asked me if I would like to go to Colombia and I responded, “Yeah, okay!” Two days later the leadership team asked me that question again and one week after that, I was on a flight, moving to Bogota, Colombia! It was done so quickly!
What helped through the transition? People at the office. It was so much easier knowing that there were people who cared about my wellbeing and who helped me transition to this new environment. We consider ourselves a work family and that made settling into the new city more enjoyable.

Expanding my horizons

Today, I lead a thriving life in Bogota, spending my time with friends, playing ping pong, and now, truly finding my voice through my new hobby, music! I was looking for a new interest and a friend told me that she thought I’d be able to sing so I tried it out and now I am enrolled in singing classes. My passion for learning and the urge to attempt new things seeps into every aspect of my life.

As I progress through this eventful and joyful path, I can’t help but think back on the journey I’ve taken from that small city on the outskirts of Caracas, to the bustling virtual life of navigating and leading digital transformations that have global implications. I feel that I have truly found my voice, through my work and my artistic (musical) expression. I am determined to channel this energy to reach new frontiers in our collective growth and success.

Discover more about the people and culture at Blanc Labs!

Nadia Bastidas
Sr Software Developer

Nadia is a Sr Software Developer with Blanc Labs in Colombia.