HH Angus is bringing home the bacon this morning with our sizzling Stampede Breakfast for staff and guests. It’s an annual all-you-can-eat summer extravaganza, featuring live music and good times, and where cowboy hats are the absolute last word in engineer fashion (Yes, we understand that’s an oxymoron!)
Melissa joined HH Angus in 2016 and is currently in the role of BIM Specialist.
What’s your favourite thing about working at HH Angus?
It’s the people – everyone cares about their job and wants to produce a high quality product. And there is a sense of community here that I like. You don’t really get that in other firms that have 200 + people, like we do.
How do you contribute to design and construction here at the company?
I work with Revit projects and our designers. I train technical staff to use the software, make sure they are following best practices, and help them to work efficiently to produce high quality drawings.
How has working at HH Angus helped you grow your career?
One of the ways management has supported my professional goals is by sending me to conferences; coming out of a conference in the US, we collaborated with Matterport in delivering a webinar about 3D scanning.
Why did you want to work at HH Angus?
While I’m not an engineer or designer, I fit in our BIM team here. I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do after graduating college, I just knew that I wanted to work with Revit, because I love Revit. So, I applied for a designer position, but it turned out that the company recognized my specialized skills and put me on the BIM team! I definitely love what I do now. I grew into the role and everyday is a little bit different – I love it!
“The sense of community here is really awesome. It really feels like the company cares about you, supports you and helps you grow professionally. ”
What are some of the projects that you are most proud to be involved in at HH Angus?
We did a project for Toronto Western Hospital, where we used our 3D scanner to scan the interior of the power house. We generated a 3D point cloud file from those images and brought it into Revit where we then modeled all the existing MEP. It was a very new workflow for us. It was very rewarding to develop best practices and workflows on that project. And resulting from that was a class that I went on to teach at an emerging technologies conference. The power house was our showcase project. We presented a webinar with Matterport about working with the point cloud and reality capture, and I filmed a customers sucess story with them - it was really great!
What attracted you to HH Angus, coming out of school?
I researched many other companies, and what stood out about HH Angus is that it has been in business for so long – already over a hundred years – so it has to be doing something right. And I did notice by researching and talking to people that the company is very innovative and forward thinking and this is something that I wanted to be associated with. I wanted a stable and rewarding career so that I can be here for another 30 years, and that’s what I found.
What are some of the things that you like about HH Angus aside from the technical aspects of your work?
The sense of community here is really awesome. It really feels like the company cares about you, supports you and helps you grow professionally. The perks are really cool too – the staff Holiday lunch in December, the staff Golf & Activity Day, the list goes on and on. I tell my friends who don’t work here all about it and they are all jealous.
What has been your proudest moment here?
When I taught that conference class. I worked so hard for many, many months, developing the entire presentation, a 14-page handout, and initially working on the project for Toronto Western Hospital. A lot of hard work went into that and it was really rewarding to finally present it to an out-of-town audience and to share my knowledge at an industry conference in Minneapolis. A lot of industry professionals were there and it was really rewarding.
Do you have an example of a senior staff member helping you, maybe early on in your career?
My officially assigned mentor, Jovan Filipović, really helped me, and he still does. You don’t break up with your mentor after the program ends. Having a mentor was really awesome; he helped me learn what everybody’s role was, and who to talk to for different kinds of project work, and who is managing which people. We worked on conflict resolution at the beginning, because this was my first office job and I was trying to settle in and get to know everybody. We continued to meet the need; he is great resource for project advice. It is very helpful to have a mentor – everybody should have a mentor!
If someone were to ask you if they should apply to HH Angus, what would you tell them?
Absolutely yes! It’s an awesome place to work. Again – the management cares about you, your work is interesting and everyday there is something new.
What inspires you?
Seeing the fruits of my labour. It is very encouraging to see all my hard work pay off. I always try to do a good job, and when everything I put my mind to pays off, it is good to see that, very encouraging.
What aspects of your work you enjoy the most?
I enjoy training people so much. Developing the training courses, trying to make it interesting for all types of people with different personalities and especially different learning styles – that’s a big challenge in developing a training course that many people will take part in. So, I try to make my training courses fun; we get a lot of good feedback and that’s what I love the most.
What are some of the trends and technology that excite you?
Virtual reality – because we just acquired some VR tech that our team is testing. With this technology, we can export the Revit model, walk around in it and see where our designers have modeled the content and if it’s in the right place. And if it’s not, with the software we can actually move that object in the VR environment and push that straight back to Revit, so that those changes happen in the Revit model too.
Do you have any secret talents?
I like riding my motorcycle in the countryside. That’s my favourite weekend hobby, and would be my everyday hobby but I have to work.
What skills or trait have helped you the most to advance in your career?
I would say it’s knowing when I don’t know something and asking questions, researching, being willing to learn. Because I graduated from an interior design program, moving into an MEP firm was not something I knew much about. When I would get requests to model heat exchangers and air handling unit Revit families, at first I didn’t know how these work, so I asked my manager for help: “Please teach me how this equipment works, so that I know more about the systems that we model and can get it right on the first try.” So that helped me grow professionally, and to transition from interior design into MEP. Today, I can tell you all about air handing units and heat exchangers. So there you go!
Where is your dream vacation?
I’ve been to Florida, but I haven’t been to Key West in Florida. Florida is my destination - in May or October, when it’s not too hot or too cold. I've been to Disney World and it was so much fun – I love it there. So Florida – not super interesting, but it’s a vacation destination I like.
Sarah joined HH Angus in 2012 and is currently an Electrical Engineer and Manager in our Technology Division.
Did you spend a co-op term at HH Angus?
No, I joined as a new graduate from the University of Waterloo and this was my first full time job.
What is your favourite thing about working at HH Angus?
It is definitely the people. I graduated from University of Waterloo and it is such a competitive environment; then I came here and I expected the exact same thing. But it turned out to be more open and you are allowed to ask questions, and there’s an open door policy. There is a huge learning curve around things we were not taught at school, but the learning curve is achievable. It’s about 5 years – it’s long, but it’s achievable.
How do you personally contribute to design and construction?
It’s the attitude you bring, which is something that the culture here fosters. You don’t focus on the problem – you focus on a solution. And that’s why we retain clients, that’s why we get hired over and again. That’s why our reputation is what it is. But it’s top down from Rod [Mons, Division Director – Technology]; you always focus on the best solution possible for the client.
How has working at HHA helped you grow in your career?
First of all, it introduced me to the construction industry. I knew a little bit, not from school but from my co-op term. I spent two terms with two different consulting firms focused on commercial work in Waterloo, Ontario. Working on mission critical sites at HH Angus in the Technology Division – I didn’t know anything about that sector and it opened up a whole different side of consulting.
In terms of how it helped me grow in my career – it has been my career. HH Angus has taught me everything from how to conduct a meeting to how to maintain relationships in the construction industry. Because with the clients that we are working with, you have to be able to maintain that relationship while working on technologically challenging projects.
So you have shifted from the technical side of things to managing clients and working with the constructors and getting things built?
I think it goes hand in hand. In the Technology Division, we supervise mission critical shut downs, and the unique thing about shut downs is that everyone’s there – our clients are there, some of whom are alumni from HH Angus, so you have to be technically knowlegable and be able to repond to situations, especially during the shut down. It pushes you, that’s why the learning curve is five years. You have to learn as you are trying to manage all of it. So, it helps to be an all-rounder, I think. To be able to communicate well – I think that’s the most important part.
“I like that it is not a boring 9 to 5 job. And every day is different. Every single project I do is different and it’s been seven years. That’s unique.”
Why did you want to become an engineer?
In high school, I started to realize that I liked math and science and solving problems. And my Dad is an engineer – so that kind of helps. Once I realized that I didn’t want to go into theory, I wanted to go into practical applications. And it built from there, into choosing this industry, because I am more of a visual learner and I think that helps – we work with drawings, visual things and we get to build things.
What are some of the projects that you are most proud to be involved in and why?
There are multiple projects that I am proud of because each was challenging at a given point in my career.
The first project I did was with a financial client and was a big one, basically replacing half the electrical distribution of the building. It was very complex and it was my first introduction to a high-budget project. I am proud of it because I came out of it alive!
What helpful experience did you get from a senior staff member when you started?
I think the most helpful thing that the Technology Division has a tradition of doing, is bringing new grads to shut downs. Because it just helps you learn so fast. Mike McReynolds did it for me when I first started. And I took a new grad I was mentoring to an overnight shut down on his second day. It’s like a trial by fire. Obviously, he wasn’t given any responsibility, it was more of a ‘let’s shadow and watch’. When you go to a shut down or a site visit, it puts everything in context.
Outside the technical things, what are some of the things that you love about HH Angus?
Every time you come in here, it’s a very relaxed atmosphere. Which you don’t necessarily expect. Especially given our industry – many places have more of a formal corporate culture. You know it’s a collaborative process. And when you ask for help, it’s there.
What advice would you give someone applying to HH Angus?
I would say, if you do get in, it’s a great place to start, because you get exposed to a lot of things that you wouldn’t experience at elsewhere. The opportunities are endless. But you do have to be prepared to work hard. Because if you want to move ahead, that’s required. And again, the construction industry is such, you don’t learn this at school, it’s not taught, especially for electrical. So it should be communicated that it's okay that you know nothing at that point.
What inspires you?
I think on the day to day basis, I get inspired by problems. There shouldn’t be a problem we are not able to navigate. And when you work with the people that I do, no one looks at the problem; actually, it’s the attitude to the problems, again, because no one looks at a problem and gets angry at it. You don’t fear bringing a problem to somebody. I think the fact that issues are received so well and that I like solving problems – it’s a combination of those things.
What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?
I like that it is not a boring 9 to 5 job. And every day is different. Every single project I do is different and it’s been seven years. That’s unique.And because the players change, the expectations change. So you are like, “How will I handle that this time?”
What are technologies or trends in the industry that excite you?
With Smart Buildings, there is Wi-Fi communication that will affect electrical distribution. I was at a conference in Texas and they were using Wi-Fi to get a lot of information there for massive electrical equipment. And you have 3D printing. All of that is going to push the construction industry into a new era, especially combined with mobile technology. There is a part of our industry that is very conservative and very old school, because a building is a building, but there is a way to modernize it now.
Do you have any secret talents people don’t know about?
I like cooking – it s a hobby.
If you could change one thing how buildings are designed or constructed, what would it be?
I think the process could be more collaborative. I would like it if all the different types of teams, different types of engineers, like civil and structural engineers, could come together and see what the others do. Before, I had a hard time reading structural drawings. You only understand once you’ve made a mistake, and they are, like, “no, you can’t do that”. If it was more collaborative and I could have sat down with a structural engineer who explained “this is what I need and this is why I need it”, I feel this would improve the process.
Do you have a dream vacation spot?
Italy – because of the food! It’s a beautiful country!
Golf/Activity Day 2019 at Hockley Valley Resort was a fantastic team-building day for HH Angus staff. The weather gods were smiling on us as we enjoyed golf, hiking the Bruce Trail, winery tour, art jam class, a great meal and lots of amazing prizes. An almost 60-year tradition, the event is a staff fave, and was even more special this year as HH Angus continues the year-long celebration of our 100th Anniversary!
HH Angus' intrepid team of climbers recently scaled Toronto's famed CN Tower (on the inside!). Their wobbly legs were in aid of a great cause - raising money for the World Wildlife Fund, Proud of you guys!