Headshot of Noah Suissa

Noah joined HH Angus in 2018, and works with our Health Division.

What was your first role at HH Angus?

I arrived as a co-op student in 2017 for eight months, and came back full-time as a Mechanical Designer when I graduated. At the end of 2020, I was promoted to Senior Mechanical Designer.

Tell us your favourite thing about working at HH Angus. 

HH Angus’ culture and people. It is a great organization – it is a friendly, laid-back work environment, but you work hard and are surrounded by people with a wealth of technical expertise. I enjoy the social activities – the Angus soccer team, Friday afternoon hockey, etc.

What drew you to HH Angus and consulting, coming out of school?

I had worked a few co-op terms, initially in manufacturing, and found Consulting to be more rewarding. It allows me to work on projects from the beginning and see them through to completion. My current role is client facing, which I enjoy, particularly developing soft skills and working with clients to meet their needs.

How has working at HH Angus helped you grow in your career? 

HH Angus provides a lot of support in helping employees develop the skills to become independent. There is a strong foundation of knowledge and a lot of advanced technical insight. Another benefit is the wide range of projects undertaken at the company… I’m always learning something new. Plus the resources that back up all team members are amazing.

What made you want to work in engineering? 

Growing up, I was always good at math, and I enjoyed Physics. In university, I was drawn to engineering since most of those courses are math or physics-based. I’ve always preferred STEM courses to business or arts. I started learning various software programs in school and realized I had a passion for design.

What are some of the projects that you are most proud to be involved in at HH Angus? 

The renovation of Royal Columbian Hospital in BC was the first project I worked on independently – I worked on it for almost 2 years, from initial concept to project close out. When I walked through the site to see the project fully built, that was very rewarding!

Rendering of Royal Columbian Hospital Redevelopment
Royal Columbian Hospital Redevelopment. Rendering credits: Fraser Health

Describe a typical day. 

There aren’t any typical days! That’s the beauty of my role. There’s always something new. When you’re working in the AEC sector as a consultant, you never know what challenges you’ll encounter on any given day. It’s definitely not  a 9-5 desk job; there are always opportunities to go on site and do project walk throughs. 

During COVID, admittedly there are fewer on-site reviews; it’s more of an online experience. However, the technical designs don’t change – just your location is different.

What advice would you give someone just starting with HH Angus? 

Continue to reach out for help. Use every resource at your disposal. Build strong relationships with colleagues. Learn how to use the fancy cappuccino machines – they may be intimidating at first but they’re so worth it!

My technical skills have developed with the software available to us - HH Angus offers extensive training in this area – eg, Autocad, Revit, all mechanical disciplines, plumbing, HVAC, fire protection, medical gas and so on.

What skills or traits have helped you most to advance in your career? 

First, my technical skills have developed with the software available to us - HH Angus offers extensive training in this area – eg, Autocad, Revit, all mechanical disciplines, plumbing, HVAC, fire protection, medical gas and so on.  Next would be Project Management – these are the soft skills that I’ve been able to develop by meeting with clients. And I’d also include management skills; I’ve been able to improve and practice with colleagues while working with them on other projects.

What technology trends excite you?  

In the AEC industry, there’s been a lot of change in last 30 years around the importance of sustainable design for energy efficient buildings. Many big projects require you to design for the future; for example, on one project I had to design for 2080 outdoor conditions, keeping in mind climate change trends and how these would affect buildings in 2080.

What would be something that people would be surprised to know about you?  

My life is full of sports – watching sports as a die-hard Leafs and Blue Jays fan, playing golf and soccer - all of these are offered at the company, including fantasy sports leagues.

 

 

Headshot of Kim Osborne

Kim joined HH Angus in 2011.

Where did you start your career at HH Angus?

I initially worked in our Health Division as an electrical designer, and then transferred to our Angus Connect Division in 2013. I’m now a manager with Angus Connect, leading a range of digital strategy, IT planning and design projects.

What's your favourite thing about working at HH Angus?

I really appreciate the opportunity to work on some incredibly interesting and innovative projects. HH Angus is an industry leader in so many areas including digital strategy, smart buildings, P3 and AFP project delivery, and the use of technology to enhance engineering – we really have a great culture around innovation and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. At the same time, the actual work we do is so rewarding; one of my core values is having a positive impact on the world, and the projects I work on here actually improve the lives of people and the planet. Making this my career is a dream come true.

What drew you to HH Angus and consulting, coming out of school?

During my degree, I was able to work in a range of jobs as a coop student, and this work experience was key in helping me figure out what work I enjoyed. My early terms were in automotive and chemical manufacturing industries and, while it was interesting to see the processes behind the scenes, I found myself drawn to the technical design work that was the domain of the consultants. I did several coop jobs with a consulting firm in the nuclear industry, and found I really enjoyed the variety of working on different projects and interfacing with clients. As for what drew me to HH Angus – well, I have never had so much fun interviewing anywhere else, and figured if the interviewers were this great, then it must be a great place to work! (Spoiler alert: it definitely is!)

How has working at HH Angus helped you grow your career? 

In my opinion, HH Angus is the perfect size for career growth – small enough to provide a variety of responsibilities and roles within the team, but big enough that we are able to take on large and exciting projects. Being part of a quickly growing division within HH Angus has allowed me to combine my interest in design, project management, strategy, innovation, and business development in a way that’s really rewarding.

What drew you to an engineering career? 

I have always had an intense curiosity about the world and how things work. As a child, I loved designing things – from coming up with ideas on how to use electromagnets to run mag-lev trains, to sketching out designs for renovations on our house. Math and science gave me the tools to better understand how to optimize my designs, and engineering specifically was the perfect blend of theoretical and practical knowledge. And I still bring that curiosity and creativity to my everyday work.

I am so lucky to work with a great team of people who are always ready to take on complex and challenging projects. 

What's the best thing that you have learned on the job? 

Communication is such an important skill for everyone to have, regardless of the work you do – most of our clients and partners are not technical experts, which is why they rely on our trusted advice. Learning how to distill complex technical information down to the relevant concepts and then communicate these concisely to decision-makers is at the core of what it means to be a consultant, and what differentiates us from others who have the same knowledge.

What is your proudest moment here? 

There are a lot, but I think all of my proudest moments come back to clients appreciating the great work we do. I am so lucky to work with a great team of people who are always ready to take on complex and challenging projects, and we work hard to deliver incredible results; for example, when a client stops in the middle of a regular touchpoint and says “I just want to say how much I enjoy working with you and the team at HH Angus. You do such great work and I really appreciate it,” it just makes my day. Sometimes the best recognition is a heartfelt thank you and the knowledge you made someone else’s life a little easier.

What are some of the trends and technology that excite you the most? 

I have always been passionate about data analysis and visualization, which is why I think it’s so exciting to see some really innovative technologies enhancing our abilities to gather, process and understand the data that is constantly being created around us. Big Data was a bit of a buzzword several years ago, but the technology has matured considerably and is now generating real value for those who own it – particularly since data processing capabilities have evolved and now use artificial intelligence and machine learning to expand our ability to process and understand large unstructured data sets. Sophisticated data visualization tools, including dynamic dashboards and extended reality have made understanding this data more intuitive and accessible, creating an incredible opportunity to leverage data to drive personalized insights and evidence-based decisions. There is immense potential in this area, and I can’t wait to see how this shapes our understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.

What is something that people would be surprised to know about you?  

I don’t know how to snap my fingers! Honestly though, I am not sure that there are any real surprises – I am generally a pretty open person, and truly enjoy building honest and authentic connections with people. I bring my whole self to my work, and I hope that others feel comfortable being themselves with me as well.

What skills or traits have helped you to advance your career? 

I am incredibly organized! I think this is really a skill that helps everywhere – not only in the obvious places like project management, but also in areas like performance management, business development and especially design. Often, I work on projects that last multiple years, and having the decisions and analysis properly documented makes things so much easier when five years on someone asks “why did we make that decision again?”

Kim at Health Achieve booth at MTCC
Kim at Health Achieve booth at MTCC
Outside of work, Kim can often be spotted riding her bike.
Outside of work, Kim can often be spotted riding her bike.

Evan joined HH Angus in 2018, and is an Engineering Designer working with our Health Division.

Tell us your favourite thing about working at HH Angus.

This is an easy question – it is definitely the people! Within the first few months, I got this strong feeling of community and support from everyone. I found that everybody is happy to take the time to listen to any questions you have and always willing to help and to explain new design concepts. It came as no surprise to me that, within short time, you start to refer to your colleagues as your HH Angus family.  

What drew you to HH Angus and consulting coming out of school?

Consulting was an attractive option coming out of school. It allowed me to combine the technical engineering I’d been learning with some of the business-related aspects that go along with consulting, such as project management, coordination, working with clients and meeting their needs – that definitely made consulting attractive. As far as why HH Angus, the long history of the firm and the high-profile project list made it an attractive option; it was definitely a good sign to me to see all those accomplishments.

Where did you hear about the new grad openings at HH Angus?

It was through my university’s website. When I spoke with people from my program, they knew students who had done coop terms with HH Angus, and they gave the firm high reviews. So, it definitely got me excited to apply.

How do you personally contribute to design and construction here at the company? 

I started on the design side, working behind the scenes, running simple duct sizing calculations or working in CAD and building my foundation of the design knowledge that we use every day. Today, I am in a design-construction role for the Royal Inland Hospital project, living and working in Kamloops BC. I get to work with our design team and coordinate the actual design that is ongoing as we are building a hospital here. We also investigate site-related issues or as-built conditions that may need to be accommodated. I am helping with the design and coordinating with the construction, and I’m really enjoying this new role. 

So you are there working with the construction and contractors?

It has been interesting so far to see the other side of the work, which I used to see only from the design perspective. I am attending all the contractor’s meetings now, so I see a more holistic approach, where we need to not only focus on the best way to design the system but also focus on what will work for constructors, and to take that into consideration in the design process.

How has working at HH Angus helped you grow your career?

HH Angus has been a fantastic place to begin and grow my career in consulting. It has provided me with solid foundation to develop my engineering design knowledge. In addition, it has allowed me to receive a gradual introduction to those important business-related skills: whether it’s coordinating a project or liaising with the client, it’s been a great introduction to develop my fundamental technical knowledge while exposing me to some of the behind-the-scenes activities that our business is rooted in. 

What made you want to become an engineer or a designer?

My love for engineering came from my grandfather. He was a civil engineer. As I grew up and did more research, I learned that behind the engineering is finding the solution. That’s what engineering is! I found that I love to be handed challenges and then work out the solution within the unique constraints of that issue. Doing that is often challenging, but you feel rewarded after, when you are able to come up with the best possible solution. Getting to do that on a daily basis, when every day you face a new challenge or problem, that makes the work exciting.

As I grew up and did more research, I learned that behind the engineering is finding the solution. That’s what engineering is!

What are some of the projects that you are most proud to be involved in at HH Angus?

Working here in Kamloops on the Royal Inland Hospital project blew everything else out of the water. Getting this opportunity and seeing the value that it has for society makes me proud to know that I am contributing to the overall healthcare system of the country. We are not front line workers, but knowing that the work that I am doing will contribute to people’s lives being saved, ensuring that the building operates as it should and that all the systems keep running – that makes me proud of this project.

How has HH Angus' mobility program helped you with your new role in Kamloops?

Being given the opportunity to move across the country was a dream come true for me. Combining my love for new experiences with the new responsibilities and exposure associated with this role, I knew I had to jump on this opportunity. HH Angus' mobility program helped make my cross-country move seamless, with the numerous support measures and resources that were provided. That level of support still remains to this day and it almost feels as if I still work in the Toronto office

Is what you are doing at HH Angus what you expected to be doing when you graduated?

If you were to tell me two years ago that I would be on the other side of the country working on a construction site solving all these as-built and construction issues as they arise, I definitely would not have thought it would be the case! But, in terms of daily problem solving and those things that made me want to become an engineer, I am definitely doing that and getting the opportunities to solve challenges.

Evan's life

Evan's life in Kamloops

What are some of the things that you like about HH Angus, aside from work?

It does not apply so much here in Kamloops, but before I transferred out here, I would say the extracurricular activities that go on throughout the company. Whether it is the Friday afternoon hockey games, softball or volleyball … I love that. I looked forward to those days every single week. It really helped me grow friendships within the company, and it just makes showing up to work that much better when you can ask someone if they are excited for the game later, or chat about upcoming events and how it went last week, or go out and enjoy a beer afterwards. I really, really enjoy that.

What’s the best thing that you’ve learned on the job?

Perseverance. We’d all like to paint our job as some walk through the park with rainbows, but we can find ourselves in difficult situations that require hard work and critical thinking to get to a solution.  I find perseverance leads to success in the end - learning to push through those tough times.

What is your proudest moment here?

The proudest moment I’ve had so far happened when I had been at HH Angus only a few months.  I was working on generator report for a client, and it had been weeks and weeks of research, report writing, formatting, and implementing client feedback. The proudest moment was at the end, after I had poured hundreds of hours into this deliverable. We got the feedback from the client on the final report and it was glowing. They were so appreciative of all our work, they loved the content, and they were happy with the depth of detail. We received high praise.  Meanwhile, I was still at an entry-level role in the company. To have received such high praise directly from the client and knowing the hard work I had put into this report, that definitely was a very proud moment and I felt really good about it.

Tell us about an experience when a senior staff helped you, maybe early on in your career.

When I started working with my manager in Tech, he was always sharing wisdom with me, whether simple design tips or how to succeed in our role as engineers, things to look out for, and also life advice. When I told him about this current opportunity in Kamloops, he told me to jump all over it, that it would be a great experience for me. Having someone who is able to share their knowledge and experience with you has been really great, and it definitely molded me into the person that I am today with the firm. Numerous times, just having good advice passed down has helped me and led to my success.

When you are out with friends who don’t work in the industry, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you start describing the company?

We design electrical and mechanical systems for various buildings, from data centers to healthcare facilities and more. But, it’s not just the work. I also describe it as this fun-loving place where it feels like everyone is just hanging out together. You are surrounded by good company and you enjoy spending the day with your work friends; a lot of people get jealous when they hear that. All the extracurriculars that we do and all the fun that I have participating in them – everyone has a hard time believing that I leave work at noon on Fridays to go play hockey for an hour and the day is done after that. Just one of the many benefits of our flex-time policy!

You are surrounded by good company and you enjoy spending the day with your work friends; a lot of people get jealous when they hear that.

What inspires you?

Being able to make a difference. Sometimes it’s hard to see the direct impact your work has on a project and it is not until the structure is being built and the building is operating that you are going to see the impact that you made. In some cases, you are just add air conditioning into the building and it goes unnoticed for most of the people. But being able to make a difference and knowing that you put hard work into these system designs, providing solutions that keep the client happy, using the latest technologies – it’s rewarding even though you may not be getting direct recognition from end users. It’s knowing that the work you are doing is having an impact; that inspires me to work harder and think a little more critically versus taking the easiest route.

What are some of the trends and tech that excite you the most?

For me, it’s the increased awareness around energy and efficient operations of our systems. For example, I didn’t realize how much thought and effort needs to go into coming up with complex design sequencing in order to run air handing units. It may not necessarily be new technology but it is utilizing new and emerging methods of energy conservation and energy recovery, and we’re discovering how to incorporate those into the design. That’s what gets me and other people on this current project excited. It is a lot of work, and you definitely have to start thinking in new creative ways. But it is exciting to help build the future and make a difference on the energy front.

What skills or trait have helped you the most to advance in your career?

Communication skills - engineering is a discipline where people understand how things work, but being able to effectively communicate your understanding and your ideas - how you see things in your head - is an important part of what we do. Having strong communication skills has definitely led to my success on projects.

Is there something people will be surprised to learn about you?

I have a big appreciation for classical music, and jazz and blues … something not popular in my age group. I have appreciation for arts, I love taking time to visit museums.  

Rita Patel joined HH Angus in 2010.

What is your favorite thing about working at HH Angus?

For me, it is the people and the interaction, and the general atmosphere in the office. It’s almost familial – everyone gets along, everyone is open, super nice and very helpful. You can walk into any VP’s office, or the President’s office, talk to them about anything, whether work-related or not. And the fact that, at least for me in my role, it is not a desk job – I get to go to site.

How do you contribute to design and construction of the built environment?

I do everything from initial concept design to detailed design, to seeing the project through construction and handover to the owner. So, all of it!

Why did you become an engineer?

I was applying to university and selecting courses, thinking the whole time that I wanted to go into some sort of bio-med or airline pilot program. But, the courses were all business courses and geographical courses – there was no math involved – and I began thinking, “I’m not going like any of this”. So, when we started picking the courses I liked, I was advised that I should be an engineer, because the courses I selected were all math related, with definitive answers and some challenges. That’s how I ended up in engineering.  So, a pilot was not what I wanted as a career after all!  I ended up doing that on the side instead.

My two mentors have taught me a lot; for example, how to behave in a meeting and how to interact with clients. They’ve always kept me involved and have helped me build client relationships.

What projects that you are most proud of?

I mainly engineer hospital renovations, and I am proud of most of those projects because they are so challenging to deliver within the space. In healthcare facilities, you can’t just go in and disrupt everyone.  The fact that we are able to do renovations in functioning operating rooms or operating theatres is great! I recall one OR project where we had to replace all the medical gases in eighteen suites over two weeks, and it went really well. I was quite nervous about that project, because it was an OR suite, so it would be very critical if anything went wrong. But, it turned out great and went exactly as planned.

You worked elsewhere before HH Angus - was that also in consulting?

No, it was in aerospace, where I was doing a lot of computational aerodynamics. I realized I wasn’t satisfied sitting at a computer doing essentially the same thing over and over. My sister was familiar with HH Angus and put me in touch with managers here, and that’s how I started working here.

So the big sell was that you wouldn’t be sitting at a desk?

Yes! Just the fact that I get to go to Sunnybrook Hospital, which is only 5 km away, made it exciting – I get to see construction, I get to see things actually getting built, which I didn’t get to do before.

Describe a typical day.

They’re never the same. Sometimes I come into the office, sometimes I go straight to a site. For me, that’s the great part – you never know what is going to happen from week to week, or even day to day. It is not a monotonous job where you just come in and do the same thing again and again.

What’s a special moment you’ve enjoyed recently?

Being promoted to Manager, Construction Services is a good one. I’m now working in both healthcare and construction. The great thing about construction is that I was already working closely with the inspectors, so it wasn’t much of a change for me. I already understood what they do, and being able to help them even more now is a good thing.

How have senior managers helped guide you?

My two mentors have taught me a lot; for example, how to behave in a meeting and how to interact with clients. They’ve always kept me involved and have helped me build client relationships. Now, they trust me with their clients. Technically, my mechanical mentor has provided the best guidance I could ever ask for. He just knows how to get things built, and he can solve any problem I have ever faced.

What advice would you give to somebody applying to work at HH Angus?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because you don’t know what you don’t know. I see younger staff, especially new grads, being hesitant to ask questions because they think they should know the answer already. But there are literally no dumb questions, and no one will judge you for asking.

What is it about design that drives you?

It’s fun! Let’s say you are renovating a space - how do we get air supply to this space? We have to figure out how we are going to do that. It’s a challenge, especially in existing facilities. And then you get to roll it out and see that it works! I like going through the entire process because you know that you did the whole thing, from start to finish. Also, because I work in the healthcare sector, it is nice knowing that you are helping people.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. My other favourite line is – you don’t know what you don’t know. I see younger staff being afraid to ask questions because they think they should already know the answer. But, literally, there are no dumb questions, and no one will judge you for asking.

What trends are you excited about?

I am a member of the CSA HVAC Committee. We are constantly developing new clauses or new standards to help improve the quality of HVAC in healthcare facilities. Being part of this committee is really exciting. Also implementing those new standards; for example, providing extra air filtration for patients with immune system challenges - if you have low immunity, you need greater filtration of the air being pumped into the room. Also, implementing technology that helps reduce airborne infections. Hospitals risk many healthcare-associated infections, and we want to do all we can to minimize those risks, so we specify equipment such as copper toilet seats or UV lighting. Copper kills bacteria, so if you have a copper-infused toilet seat, airborne infectious matter in the vicinity will not survive.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I flew small planes for two or three years. It was fun, but probably gets more fun when you get to bigger planes.

What skills or traits help you most in progressing through your career?

People tell me that I am pretty efficient, and self-sufficient. If you give me something to do, I will find a way to get it done. And, most of the time, 99.9% of my work will be done on time and of good quality.

If you could change one thing how hospitals are constructed, what would it be?

I would tell hospitals to stop putting patients in buildings that are over 40 years old, where there are no HVAC systems. Regarding new builds, the biggest challenge we have is space – said every engineer ever! All the space tends to be taken up for clinical use, and mechanical/electrical infrastructure is often an afterthought. We are always struggling with service distribution.  So, I would ensure there was adequate space allowed for these essential building services.

Generoso Jessica - Op 2

Jessica joined HH Angus in 2017 and is a Senior Engineering Designer in our Technology Division.

What is your favourite thing about working at HH Angus?

By far, it’s the sense of camaraderie and community - not only with my immediate colleagues, but between junior staff and management. Everybody genuinely cares about everybody else’s well-being, everyone is very open. It is always a positive working environment.  

What drew you to consulting engineering and to HH Angus coming out of school?

The summer before I graduated, I worked for ACML (Angus Consulting Management Limited) at the TD Centre in downtown Toronto. Many of my colleagues there told me I had done a great job and recommended that I apply to HH Angus next year. It helped get my foot into the door but also opened my eyes to consulting engineering. Seeing HH Angus in action at the TD Centre site attracted me to the company specifically, but also to consulting, because I had a clearer idea about what it is. 

How do you personally contribute to design and construction here at the company?

I am doing a lot of construction administration (CA) work for the Health Division during the (COVID-19) pandemic, which has been a rewarding way to give back to the company and my community. I also do CA on my own projects because I appreciate construction and find it interesting to see a project through from a design on paper to a completed installation in front of me.

What is Contract Administration?

The majority of it is attending site meetings and walking through the site. We take the drawings that HH Angus issues and, essentially, review and verify the contractor’s progress, and help when the contractor has questions or challenges along the way. We handle the RFIs (Requests for Information), shop drawings, examine change notices, review costs and make recommendations to the owner…just generally being a steward between the owner and the constructor.

I really like the company culture and how open people are. As someone who learns best verbally, I often walk over to someone’s desk and ask
a question.

How has working at HH Angus helped you grow your career?

This being my first job, I warrant an incredible amount of technical advice from my mentor as well as my manager. As you get onto different projects, you are exposed to different things. I always have an abundance of questions, so the answers add to my technical knowledge. I’ve worked on diverse projects and have had really good exposure to the construction industry and how it works from a trades perspective rather than from an engineering perspective. I feel that I have a better sense of what it actually takes to get that thing built that I am designing.  

Why did you decide to become an engineer?

I always liked science and math, but I disliked biology, so that took me out of the path of health sciences. In my Grade 12 Physics class, a former student made a Women in Engineering presentation – I was at an all-girls school. I remember thinking, ‘this is so interesting’ – I loved the idea of females in engineering and that push forward for woman getting into STEM and the varied career opportunities you can have with those skills. I remember thinking, “Oh, engineering… I could do that. I would be good at that! Let’s focus my energy there now”.

What HH Angus projects are you proud to have worked on?

I’m proud of the laboratory jobs that I have worked on, mostly because I have firsthand experience performing research during my undergrad at Queen’s University. Through that experience, I recognize how important a functional lab is to quality of research, and then how important research is for the greater good of society. I’m always proud that we can build the lab that meets a professor’s standards.  I’ve never had a happier client than a professor who gets to go in and start getting their hands dirty in their new lab.

Bright and Ultra Modern High Tech Laboratory Full of Advanced Technological Wonders, Computers, Analyzing Machines, Test Tubes and Beakers.

Which lab projects have you worked on?

I’ve worked on a small cleanroom at the University of Toronto. And I am doing CA for a virology lab at Sunnybrook that is going to be testing Coronavirus samples so, very relevant. The state-of-the-art lab was already in development, but when the hospital saw that Coronavirus was on the rise, they designated it as a testing facility. It was all hands on deck to get the project out the door and up and running; it was unusual to see everybody from the construction team completely come together. And when the owner says something “needs to be done yesterday”, the construction team responds - no questions asked - because everybody knows how important this is.

Describe a typical day.

There really is no typical day! 50% of the week, I’m on site. When I am in the office, it’s answering emails, doing design-related work, etc. Often, I find a big chunk of my day goes towards coordination between the disciplines. I usually work on projects where we’re the Prime Consultant, so I make sure that the sub-consultants have all the information they need. I also look at their drawings and our drawings and make sure that when the package leaves the door the client receives a unified design.

Is what you are doing now at HH Angus what you expected to be doing when you graduated?

When I graduated, I thought, ‘I am a mechanical engineer, I’ll be working on mechanical things’. I didn’t realize that I’d also be working with architects to learn what an effective building envelope is, structural engineers to learn about load carrying, and even acoustic engineers. Not to mention that I work closely with our in-house electrical engineering group. I find that, because I am working with so many different disciplines, I have learned quite a bit about each segment of the industry such that I can hold a conversation with each party and understand their scope. That was a big surprise. 

What are some of the things that you like about HH Angus apart from the work itself?

I really like the company culture and how open people are. As someone who learns best verbally, I often walk over to someone’s desk and ask a question. I find that my colleagues will always take the time to sit down with me and go into an in-depth analysis so that I understand. I love that I’m comfortable doing that, which I think is unique and probably one of the things that is of the most of value. Everyone knows that the company has to put its best foot forward and one of the ways we do that is by senior team members helping junior ones.  

What is your proudest moment here?

I have two answers. One is fun: I’m super-proud that I won the HH Angus Limerick Contest this year! I’ve been trying to win for years. I’ve submitted an entry every year and I’ve always run them by my colleagues for a laugh. As nerdy as it is (and the limericks are always nerdy), I think they’re great! But this year I won and I was very proud.

My serious answer is that I am most proud that I can gain people’s respect at a meeting, despite being both young and female. I’m often the only woman in the room. When I first started, I found that the older contractors with a lot of experience would ask me a question and if I couldn’t immediately answer, I didn’t gain their respect. This would quickly become evident when they would later go over my head to someone more senior. So, I’m proud that in the meetings now I have people’s respect from the start, they come to me immediately and trust my judgment.

How did you get to that point?

It happened when I was able to demonstrate in-depth technical knowledge about my drawings. I find that when I’m meeting a contractor for the first time, they will always fire questions at me and if I can answer each one and they’re satisfied, I gain their respect for the duration of the project. So, it’s having complete knowledge of the drawings and being able to communicate that effectively. With clients, I’m good at taking something that is highly technical and explaining it in a way that people without technical training can understand. That was learned on the job… although it is a trait I also developed through tutoring in high school and university. 

Can you recall a time when a senior staff member helped you, maybe early in your career?

I have a vivid memory of being in a client meeting with my manager when he unknowingly taught me something important just by example. We knew going in that it was going to be a difficult meeting and there was some tension on both sides. My manager led the meeting and every time it started to get out of hand, he immediately deflated the situation and you could feel the tension de-escalate. I remember thinking, ‘wow, look at how he handled a difficult client so well’. Now, when I am in a meeting on my own and find myself in a similar situation, I think, ‘okay, well what would he do?’ and it helps my judgment.

Jessica, first from left with her colleagues

Jessica, at left with colleagues

When you’re with friends who are not in the industry, what’s the first thing you tell them about HH Angus?

That we have a lot of fun! For example, I started a staff softball team with my colleagues. Or I tell them about our annual Golf Day - I’m horrible at golf, but it is always a memorable day. The office has a relaxed environment and the entire staff gets along well. I think that is largely because the company genuinely cares about their employees and work/life balance.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by seeing other females thrive in engineering. One of our young female managers in my division really inspires me, and I am happy to see a decreasing gender gap in the industry. I have been helping my mother, who is an elementary school teacher, expose her female students to things like building robots and coding. I guess, it’s just bringing more women into this field.

What are some of the trends and tech that excite you?

I love the 3D scanner and the fact that you can put goggles on and walk around a site virtually. And I love the developing field of being able to take a 3D scan and, by clicking a button, have it to go into AutoCAD or Revit. We are not quite there yet, but the technology is going that way and that’s really exciting for our industry.

Do you have any secret talents?

I love to bake bread! And being at home during the pandemic, I am experimenting with sourdough starter and making sourdough bread. I think I have made 12 loaves so far!