Victoria Buffam, DIALOG

Tell us about your job. What do you do?

I am a Structural Engineer-in-Training! My role is to design the structural elements of a building and ensure that they are constructed correctly on site. The job is very technical; I spend a lot of time doing calculations, building analysis models and using spreadsheets. I am involved in coordination discussions with other engineering disciplines and architects as well as contract administration once a project is in construction.

What’s an exciting project that you’re working on?

I am currently working on a renovation and addition of the IF Morrison Structures Lab at the University of Alberta. This project is really special to me as I spent a lot of time in the lab testing specimens for my MSc and am still involved with the University. The lab is expanding to be able to accommodate more tests and tests of a larger scale. The specific use of the space requires unique elements and solutions as compared to a typical building. It has been an awesome experience to be involved in the design of a space that will both further my profession and is so close to my heart.

What’s your favourite thing about working in consulting?

The variety! Consulting gives me the opportunity to gain experience and skills in so many areas of the engineering profession. I love how no two days are the same; some days are filled with design, some with reports and meetings; whereas, others I am out of the office at construction sites. There is also variety in the projects that we work on so there is no risk of being bored.

What motivates you the most in your job?

I am motivated in my job by a few things. First by the projects and the type of work I do. Every day I get to build our city and that is just so cool. Buildings have the potential to be so much more than just a place. We create spaces for people to call home and where they make memories and this potential motivates me to do my best everyday.

I’m also motivated by my coworkers. I’m part of a great team of people who are kind and accommodating and so smart. They make me want to be a better person and a better engineer every day.

What skills and personal qualities have been instrumental in the success you have achieved in consulting?

I would say that soft skills are the most instrumental to success in consulting. All engineers are technically competent and so much of our day is dedicated to furthering this skill. Soft skills like communication, leadership and adaptability are what sets successful consulting engineers apart. My involvement in the CEA Young Professinal Group has helped me grow and refine these skills through networking events, conferences and event planning.


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