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Snowflake Makes The Cloud Better with Canada’s Tech Talent

Toronto Global sat down with Qaiser Habib, Head of Engineering, and Shannon Katschilo, Country Manager at Snowflake to talk about Canadian talent and growth since opening the Toronto headquarters in 2023. 

Snowflake enables every organization to mobilize their data with Snowflake’s Data Cloud.  Customers use the Data Cloud to unite siloed data, discover and securely share data, power data applications, and execute diverse AI/ML and analytic workloads. Wherever data or users live, Snowflake delivers a single data experience that spans multiple clouds and geographies. Thousands of customers across many industries, including 691 of the 2023 Forbes Global 2000 (G2K) as of January 31, 2024, use Snowflake Data Cloud to power their businesses.

Snowflake's Head of Canada Engineering at Snowflake, Qaiser Habib.
Qaiser Habib, Head of Canada Engineering, Snowflake.

Qaiser Habib currently serves as the Head of Canada Engineering at Snowflake. Habib is a veteran engineering leader and a well-recognized expert in the Canadian market, currently focused on building and leading the Canadian engineering presence for Snowflake. Habib is a champion for community engagement and is committed to cultivating the leaders of tomorrow through university relations and hands-on mentorship.

Snowflake's Country Manager of Canada, Shannon Katschilo.
Shannon Katschilo, Country Manager of Canada, Snowflake.

Shannon Katschilo currently serves as the Country Manager of Canada at Snowflake. Katschilo brings over 15 years of client connection-building and employee stewardship to her role, scaling Snowflake’s presence in the market and taking a data-first approach to improving experiences at all levels of operation. Katschilo is passionate about female mentorship and sponsorship and prioritizes bringing an equitable lens to data-driven decisions by creating opportunities for women and underrepresented groups to take on leadership positions within the field.

SK: Can you give us the backstory on your career and how you landed at Snowflake?

When I made the decision to join Snowflake in 2022, I saw an opportunity to bring my 15 years of client connection-building experience and employee stewardship to a leadership role and be at the forefront of the rapidly evolving data and AI landscape.

I’m laser-focused on expanding the company’s customer base and partnering with Canada’s most iconic brands to strengthen their data foundations to accelerate AI adoption. Since landing in Canada, Snowflake’s achieved significant revenue growth, making Snowflake Canada one of the fastest-growing markets globally for the company.

Throughout my career, I’ve always been committed to knowledge-sharing in the industry by devising and chairing meetings, hosting client events, and regularly presenting at conferences and webinars. I’m also passionate about female mentorship and sponsorship and prioritize bringing an equitable lens to data-driven decisions by creating opportunities for women and underrepresented groups to take on leadership positions within the field.

QH: What has the engineering team been up to since you opened the Toronto office in 2022?

Since first opening our Canadian headquarters in 2022, making Toronto home to one of Snowflake’s five global Engineering Hubs, we’ve grown our headcount and footprint significantly. To support our strategic growth in the Canadian market, we’re on track to double our engineering team in 2024 and we opened a newly expanded headquarters in April 2024, which is more than double the size of our original office space and reflects the evolving needs of our team. 

Snowflake Canada’s Toronto Engineering Hub is powering ground-breaking innovations including the Snowflake Native App Framework and the transformation of how customers globally are building applications. This technology eliminates the need for organizations to move or copy their data during application development, which increases security and helps maintain governance controls.

We’ve seen incredible momentum around Snowflake Native Apps, which we are proud to announce is generally available on AWS and Azure. More than 90 Snowflake Native Apps (as of January 2024) are currently available in Snowflake Marketplace, which opens up opportunities for businesses to create entirely new revenue streams.

SK: What Canadian relationships or partnerships have been instrumental to Snowflake’s growth?

There are a myriad of factors and partnerships that have come together to promote Snowflake’s success and growth in the Canadian market. 

Internally, hiring the right talent and fostering a strong culture has been paramount. It’s imperative to hire from diverse backgrounds and expertise to have people who think differently and can identify problems to create solutions that train AI with an inclusive and broader lens. I also prioritize recognition and spotlighting talent within the workplace to boost visibility and retention.

Externally, building strong relationships with our customers and practicing a customer-first approach has been instrumental. I’ve dedicated my efforts to expanding the company’s customer base and collaborating with some of Canada’s most renowned brands to fortify their data infrastructure and facilitate AI adoption.

Additionally, our strategic partnerships with established industry cloud providers like AWS, Microsoft, and Google have played a crucial role in our growth trajectory. These key relationships continue to fuel our innovation and drive our success in the Canadian tech landscape, with the Snowflake platform being multi-cloud and cross-cloud across all three.

QH: Toronto continues to be one of the world’s top tech talent hubs. Tell us about your hiring efforts and what you look for when selecting a candidate. 

At Snowflake, our hiring efforts are focused on attracting top-tier candidates who align with our values and our dynamic team culture. We prioritize diversity, experience, empathy, and a genuine commitment to serving our customers and collaborating effectively with colleagues. 

From a hiring standpoint, we believe in being ‘engaged employers’ and focusing on the candidate experience.  This involves getting to know each candidate, understanding their potential fit within our team, assessing their unique strengths and assets, and ensuring alignment with our corporate culture.

We encourage and engage in open and honest conversations with candidates. This approach allows us to cover key topics such as soft skills, hard skills, and culture fit comprehensively. We understand that assessing these aspects requires depth and exploration beyond a single conversation, which is why we encourage our team to delve deep into different aspects of a candidate’s profile to assess the overall fit.

Snowflake’s Toronto office is continuing to hire for positions across engineering, sales, and more as the organization scales to meet increasing demand from customers. The region has a rich tech talent pool and top universities including the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo, which we have deep relationships with. Our ultimate goal is to create a workforce and workplace where every team member thrives, and our hiring process reflects that commitment.

SK: Goldman Sachs, Kash Rangan, compared Snowflake to a Ferrari- bigger, better faster, analyzing data. How has the Snowflake platform evolved to deliver more value to customers? 

Snowflake is pioneering the next wave of AI innovation by providing enterprises with the data foundation and cutting-edge AI building blocks they need to fuel powerful AI and machine learning apps while keeping their data safe and governed.

An example of a recent innovation that I’m very excited about is Snowflake Cortex, which empowers all users to securely tap into the power of generative AI with their enterprise data — regardless of their technical expertise.

Snowflake Cortex is Snowflake’s new fully managed service that enables organizations to discover, analyze, and build AI apps in the Data Cloud more easily. With Snowflake Cortex, businesses can now build custom LLM-powered apps within minutes and maintain flexibility and control over their data. This also supports the democratization of generative AI, a key development in making AI accessible so every organization can harness it to drive value. 

QH: What industry trends are you currently seeing in data and AI, and how will these trends impact Canadian organizations [OR] the country’s tech talent? 

Several key trends in the data and AI landscape are impacting Canadian organizations and businesses in 2024, and beyond. 

We are seeing an explosion of large language model (LLM) apps, with the biggest surge in apps that put a natural language conversational layer on top of business problems, making it dramatically easier to talk to your data, generate insights, and even talk to your customers with intelligent chatbots. LLMs are growing exponentially as businesses leverage them to bring customer engagement and operational efficiency to a new standard. 

Additionally, we are seeing organizations get finer-grained about their data governance. There is a shift in focus from stringent data lockdowns to more nuanced data governance approaches. Businesses are exploring ways to make data accessible for authorized uses that align with their values and policies, reflecting an evolving approach to data management.

Lastly, the rise of the unified data platform is reshaping how enterprises are managing and utilizing data. Modern organizations are seeking centralized platforms that break down silos, facilitate integrations, ensure governance and security, and promote collaboration across departments. The growth of Snowflake Native Apps reflects this demand for unified data platforms, offering advantages in efficiency and collaboration.

SK: How do you keep an edge in a competitive tech environment? What are you reading now? Podcasts? Workouts? 

To stay competitive, I maintain open lines of communication with customers, as their feedback is crucial for product development to ensure we meet their needs and bolster their data and AI initiatives. 

Upskilling is another area of emphasis to maintain a competitive edge for my professional growth, alongside the professional growth of my teams. The evolving tech landscape demands continuous skill enhancement for everyone. From my perspective, as AI becomes more prevalent, employer-led upskilling programs will be critical for improved productivity. 

Physical well-being and community involvement have also been priorities throughout my career – from cold plunging to delivering presentations at local schools and forming partnerships with organizations like Toronto Womxn in Data Science. These experiences continue to be valuable for learning best practices, sharing experiences, and making meaningful contributions.

For more information about Snowflake Inc. visit

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