I find an early start enables me to warm up and get into gear before the daily barrage of e-mails and back-to-back meetings begins. My personal goal is to respond to every inquiry before the next day starts, albeit I’m not always successful! Like others, I’m still trying to perfect my multi-tasking: switching between writing letters/reports/memos, marking-up design drawings, coordinating workflows, and welcoming guests at my desk. I also try to look ahead to navigate the forest through the trees.
Although I don’t travel for work as frequently as before, I still try to take advantage of chances to visit new sites and participate in equipment testing as opportunities arise. Otherwise, travelling to warm and sunny destinations is my preference!
2. What has been the most fulfilling part about your role?
I feel a significant component of engineering consulting is akin to working in the customer service industry. As a result, my most fulfilling aspect is to keep clients happy (some harder than others!), such that they’re eager to return with more business. And just like in customer service, there inevitably will come times when issues have to be professionally resolved; it’s extremely gratifying if I can help turn frowns upside down.
As a side note, I’ve definitely tried to apply the experience I’ve gained while serving as the president of my condo strata over the past 15 years, including interfacing with various personalities in the building and team members of the Pattullo Bridge Replacement Project (literally being constructed right outside my bedroom window!).
3. What is something you find challenging about your role?
Planning, organizing, and optimizing productivity. I think my affinity for this challenge formed while growing up on such min-max video games as Civilization and Master of Magic. Since then, I’ve graduated to playing Stellaris and defeating the toughest aliens on XCOM2 (ironmode legend mode).
At work, I enjoy the dynamics of managing my own workload, as well as thinking ahead to overall project deliverables and how that translates to day-to-day activities for the team. At the same time, it’s also important that I recognize that everyone is at a different place in their career, works at a unique pace, and handles stress differently. Additionally, since some staff prefer an early start and some prefer a late finish, I try to be available as much as possible to keep workflows moving, and to fill in any gaps that form.
4. What is your biggest achievement?
I was awarded the Governor General’s Academic Medal (first-in-class) upon graduating high school. Growing up in a traditional Asian household culminated in this focal point. However, it was not long afterward, when I progressed to university and into the working world, that I realized there are many, many other brilliant people more capable than myself, all with distinct talents and working as a team towards common objectives.
5. What advice would you give someone pursuing a career in your field?
Like most things, engineering isn’t as simple as it used to be. Beyond the traditional fields of civil, mechanical, and electrical, there are numerous subfields from which to choose. An education in electrical engineering may center on computers, software/tech, telecommunications, semiconductors, and others, or a combination thereof. Then within those subfields are varying roles in research & development, manufacturing, sales, design integration, and construction. In my case, working in the area of power engineering within consulting and at KCB allows me to maintain exposure to many of these areas, which keeps me on my toes!
Thus as advice, I’d recommend someone interested in engineering to research and speak with a variety of engineers to gain an overall perspective on the types of engineering careers that would best suit their personal situation. During one’s studies, I recommend giving strong consideration to internships (albeit I didn’t have the chance to do so having studied and graduated during the “.COM Bubble” era when co-op opportunities were limited). Finally, since several engineering industries are cyclical, with some industries even at the risk of obsolescence, it’s important to select an engineering field and role based on one’s outlook.
6. What qualities do you think make a good engineer?
I think soft skills are critical. Here are a few that my engineering role models possess:
Honesty – good engineers are true to others and to themselves. The trust of technical judgment goes no further than the trust of character.
Self-improvement – good engineers are humble, open-minded, and learn from their mistakes.
Positive attitude - finally, good engineers are innovative, energetic, and optimistic, with a willingness to tackle all sorts of difficult and unexpected challenges.
7. What is your favourite thing about working at KCB?
Aside from staff and project work, I feel KCB’s unique position within engineering consulting cannot be understated. Specifically, KCB is a mid-size engineering company that has been taking a leading, active role on relatively large projects that are typically only awarded to gargantuan engineering conglomerates nowadays. This has provided the company and staff the ability to be flexible, creative, and responsive to our clients’ needs, presenting rewarding personal and business growth opportunities.