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Pam Chilton

Owner & Principal Designer
Zimba Design
Pam Chilton
Pam Chilton
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

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Pam Chilton is the Owner & Principal Designer of Zimba Design.

About me

I was born/grew up in:  I was Born in North Vancouver, BC. Grew up in Squamish, BC

I now live in:  North Vancouver, BC

I completed my training/education at: I studied General Sciences at Capilano College and Simon Fraser University but did not complete a degree. I completed a Diploma of Building Technology with an Architectural major and then a Certificate in Interior Design, both at British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).

What I do at work

As the principal designer at Zimba Design, I design houses, from the ground up and the outside in. I also do design work for small commercial spaces. Since projects range in size and scope of work, my activities can vary from day to day.  A task can be as simple as writing a report (this uses English, Communications, Reasoning, Language Arts, and Typing skills). At other times, the task can be more complex such as designing an entire house (this uses Math, Problem Solving, Art, Drafting, Communications, Computer skills). I’ve never found a use for chemistry in my job (phew!) but physics comes up every once in a while.

I learned to manually draft and hand draw in school. Using computers to do this came later. Knowing these basics made everything else make sense. For designing, specialized equipment used to mean a drafting table with a T-square. Now a computer with my drafting program is all that I need. I still keep a drawing notebook handy for hand sketching ideas and taking notes on site.

As the owner of the company, I make all the decisions. Occasionally, I have opportunities to get together with peers and we can bounce ideas off one another. Having a sounding board can assist with making decisions.

My career path is

When I left high school, I really was not sure what I was going to do. I felt a pressure to go to post-secondary education, so I started a science degree. In hindsight, I think I should have taken a gap year to travel and mature. That is what I would recommend now. I thought I wanted to go to architecture school but first, I needed a “degree in something” so off I went to college and university.

During my first summer after college, I applied to several architecture firms to see if I could get my foot in the door and test if I actually liked that type of work. I landed a few interviews and finally a job as a “girl Friday” (basically, I was the errand girl). It was such a fun summer, and I never looked back!

Unfortunately, I was not really interested in the courses I was studying in order to get my “bachelor of something” degree. After a couple years of university, I found the BC Institute of Technology and the Building Technology program. It was totally up my alley in that the class sizes were small (not so overwhelming for a small-town girl!) and directed. You were given a list of classes to take and at the end, if you applied yourself, you earned a diploma and then sent forth into the world.

As the first female building inspector on the North Shore, I came across many men who did not feel I should be part of the building industry. It took time to prove myself. However, once they realized I knew what I was talking about, it was smooth sailing. I loved being out on site and interacting with the contractors.  Check out my LinkedIn profile for more information.

I am motivated by

I worked in Municipal Government as Building Inspector for 14 years before forming my design firm. Being a Building Inspector was a very technical job with no use for my creativity. I love being my own boss, having the freedom to create, and meeting so many great clients. I love the creative side of my job! There’s nothing more satisfying than thinking something up in your head, and then seeing it built in real life.

One of our projects, The Urban Longhouse, was awarded the BC Wood Design Award in the category of Western Red Cedar. It was a thrilling achievement. I was also awarded the ASTTBC Professional Leadership Award for Women in Technology.

How I affect peoples’ lives

My job is creativity coming to life. I like to think we make our clients’ lives easier. The goal of any of our projects is to make the client’s living spaces more functional for their everyday living and not stress them out in the process. We design and manage the project so the client can go about their everyday lives without being affected by the construction of their project.

Outside of work I

When not working, I enjoy floating on my paddleboard, as well as putt putting around the province with my family in our 1981 VW van named Filmore. I am a Girl Guide leader and sit as the Vice Chair on the City of North Vancouver Board of Variance.

My advice to others

Ask questions; be curious; be yourself!

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Foods and Nutrition
  • Geography
  • Industrial Arts/Shop Programs
  • Literature and English language arts
  • Math
  • Drafting (in a time when only boys were allowed to take shop classes, I had to have special permission to take this class)
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought people together
  • Always wanted to be outside
  • Organized activities for my friends
  • Played on a sports team
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Liked reading
  • Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
  • Was really creative
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do
  • Learned best "by doing"
  • Liked to design or build things
  • Engaged in activities such as fishing, berry picking and hunting

Related Topics


Advancing Women in Engineering and Technology

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.

ASTTBC Technology ProfessionalsFunding provided by the Government of Canada through the Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement

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