Why did you choose to go into consulting?
I started out my career as an electrician and was always interested in the engineered drawings that I was responsible for building off of. I thought it would be really neat to be involved in the more complex power systems design work instead of being on the side of building it. After 5 years as a tradesman, I decided to take the plunge and get my degree to allow me to switch to the consulting side of the industry. I don't regret taking the time off to pursue school and I wake up every day excited to get to work.
Tell us about your job. What do you do?
I'm a project manager at SMP and currently working towards my P.Eng. designation. I work mostly on commercial buildings in Alberta and I am responsible for taking a project from the initial design phase right up until building turnover. As electrical consultants, we're required to provide input on the electrical components of a building such as power distribution, lighting, communications, security, fire alarm, emergency systems and renewable energy systems. A big part of my job is coordinating my design with the architectural and mechanical consultants and identifying any issues that may relate to how our systems interact with each other.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day involves sorting and answering emails in the morning along with checking small tasks off my list. I usually then follow up with the status of my projects that are currently under construction to ensure we're getting the site guys any outstanding information needed for them to progress the build. Much of the rest of my day involves either meeting with clients and other consultants, or progressing the design of my ongoing projects to meet deadlines. I enjoy taking part in not only the design portion of my projects, but also the construction part, so I make an effort to get out to site periodically throughout construction. I like to chat with the contractors and see what went right, what went wrong, and what could be improved for next time.
What’s your favourite thing about working in consulting?
I really enjoy solving problems. My ideal work day would consist of opening up a project and being faced with a challenging scenario and having to think of neat ways to solve it. I also enjoy consulting in the electrical field because for the most part, people look at electricity like black magic, so in a sense, we're magicians. Being in the consulting industry also means that we're supposed to be experts in our field and that we're hired to bring that expertise and value to our clients on each and every project.
What skills and personal qualities have been instrumental in the success you have achieved in consulting?
Someone interested in the consulting industry needs to be focused, goal oriented, posses decent time management skills and have the ability and desire to learn new things. Critical thinking is quite important as well. It always helps to have a basic background in the electrical industry from the trade perspective as it allows me to evaluate the constructability of my design, as I'm designing it.