I was born/grew up in: Oakbank, Manitoba
I now live in: Squamish, BC
I completed my training/education at: I completed Civil Engineering Technology Diploma and Project Management Certificate from Red River College, Winnipeg MB. Currently enrolled in Technology Management Bachelor’s Degree program at BCIT and Commercial and Contract Management Program through IACCM. Without the fundamental training as a technologist I wouldn’t have the solid technical foundation to understand building practices, identification procedures and a foundation in geotechnical and concrete materials
What I do at work
I work independently and plan my own day based on the technical, archeological or heritage aspects of each project I have. I can have anywhere between 5 and 20 projects happening at the same time. Some inspections can be done using photos, so a site visit is not always required. Builders do not always follow plans as they should. We review their work to make sure that what has been installed will still meet the building codes. If not, they are required to take it apart and do it again. Safety and reliability are always first and foremost. Sometimes a conversation with Engineering personnel is required. Interaction with colleagues, is by phone, email, or text. If I didn’t have a strong foundation in my field, I wouldn’t be able to apply the appropriate reasoning, risk analysis, and day to day troubleshooting. I also fill out daily reports. I log any deficient items that may need to be addressed.
My career path is
I really didn’t have the confidence in high school that I do now. I didn’t get great grades, so I didn’t really think I would get very far at the time. I didn’t take school seriously. After high school, I started working as a flagger for a concrete crew on a 26 km highway improvement project. Halfway through the summer, I convinced the Foreman to put me on a crew. I was given the crap jobs none of the guys wanted to do. I guess they thought it would eventually force me to quit. So I was determined to do it faster and better than they did. I stuck around for a couple years and loved it. I am still in contact with that foreman. I try to model myself after him because, even when things were going poorly, he was always calm, collected, and respectful towards everyone. His nickname for me is “Smiley”.
Eventually, I decided that I was smart enough to get the education I needed to work in this industry. So when I was 25 I went back to school. I am terrible at math; it was/ is hard for me. I failed courses in college, but this is what I wanted so I worked for it; quitting was not an option.
My uncle was an engineer. I had a conversation with him about the challenges women face working in the industry, (I was already aware of that having worked on concrete crews) and going back to school. I know he had his doubts since he knew my struggle with math. He also knew my determination and drive to succeed was far greater. The industry has changed a great deal in the last 12 years since I started. It is a lot more inclusive and inviting place for women to work and be respected for the knowledge and perspective we bring to the table.
Growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, I never expected for this job to take me to Squamish BC. Best decision I have made yet!
I am motivated by
I get excited when the excavator bucket is in the ground for the first time on a big project and seeing the progress daily. I really enjoy being on site and interacting with different people from across Canada. I get more excited when I come up against an unknown and need to figure out a way to get through it. I enjoy lasting and making my own way in a traditionally male dominated industry. I think the best compliment I have gotten is from a crew member telling me that I have helped make their boss better by slowing them down and asking the right questions to make them think about how they are setting up their worksite, equipment, and how they are planning for the next day to be more efficient and organized.
How I affect peoples’ lives
I help to ensure the safety and reliability of underground electrical infrastructure. My job is to make sure that all underground electrical parts of a project are safe for those who work on it and members of the public who will unknowingly walk, drive or ride their bikes on or past it everyday. I do this by ensuring it is built to meet or exceed the standards that have been set. For example, if a transformer isn’t grounded properly, there is a higher risk of electrocution. If the ducts aren’t smooth, they could damage the cable as its pulled through and cause a fault, which causes the power to go out. If its not buried deep enough, and someone digs into it, they could get an electric shock or worse. I am a representative of the Owner’s Engineer; I help make sure we are in compliance wit the rules of BC Hydro and EGBC.
Outside of work I
I enjoy walking the river trails with my Rhodesian Ridgeback, Henry, reading, cooking, building little tables from wood and epoxy, lounging on the deck with my boyfriend and a cold drink on a hot day. We are fitness focused as well, and having a home gym, we don’t have any excuses.
My advice to others
If you want something bad enough, you will not stop until you achieve it.
- Business & Economics
- Foods & Nutrition
- Industrial Arts / Shop Programs
- Literature & English Language Arts
- Physical Education / Health
- Brought people together
- Liked helping people
- Enjoyed doing things on my own
- Always wanted to be outside
- Enjoyed working with my hands
- Wanted to be in charge
- Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
- Liked reading
- Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
- Never wanted to be in the classroom
- Didn’t really care about grades
- Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do
- Learned best “by doing”
- Liked to design or build things
- Grew up with horses (that was a big focus of my youth)
Let's Talk Science would like to thank the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC) for connecting us with the individual profiled above.
Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC) is leading the Advancing Women in Engineering and Technology Project, a Sector Labour Market Partnership project, funded through the Canada-BC Workforce Development Agreement. The project’s goal is to increase the participation of women in the engineering, geoscience, technology and technician occupations through the implementation of diversity and inclusion strategies to recruit, retain and support career development of women to lead a system level cultural shift within these professions.