BBA puts people first, and Angela recognizes that her soft skills and being a generalist are both huge advantages in her job. As Department Manager, Mechanical and Structural Engineering, Angela is in a prime position where she can both learn from and support her team members. She’s also the first woman to become partner in the Central Canada region.
Picking the right direction
I grew up watching my father work with his hands and fix things, and I enjoy doing that too. In high school, the FIRST Robotics Canada team came and gave a demonstration of the robot they were building, and I was hooked. I liked math and science and I was good at it. Engineering checked off all the right boxes!
The advantage of being a generalist
I always thought I’d specialize in a particular area of engineering. When I started out at a big consulting engineering firm, I shadowed more experienced engineers and developed skills in a specific expertise. But along the way, I was exposed to other areas and worked on a large variety of projects. I realized I was more of a generalist than a specialist, but I kept thinking I should specialize in something. I felt a bit out of place being surrounded by experts. Finally, a few years before I joined BBA, I realized that being a generalist was actually an advantage because it allowed me to better understand areas outside my field.
If you don’t go for it, you’ll never know what’s right for you.
An unconventional career path
In 2020, after working for a single company for 13 years, I felt I needed a change, so I put the word out and got a call from a BBA recruiter. I was unexpectedly interviewed by members of senior management. It surprised me to find them so friendly, open and transparent about what I should expect and how the firm worked. The honesty was incredible. Soon after, they made me an offer, and I accepted the job!
I quickly discovered that it was just as they had said and that it was the perfect environment for me to continue expanding my knowledge and experience. I knew there was a lot I wanted to learn, and that just made me want to go as far as I could.
The people working with me recognized my eagerness to learn and try new things and started putting my name forward for opportunities. These opportunities may have been outside my comfort zone, but I went for it anyway, and this shot my career into an unexpected and exciting direction.
Soft skills are important
As a generalist, my peers see me as being flexible and open to new ideas. My varied experience, combined with my desire to reach out, helps me take into account all the important elements in a project so it runs smoothly.
I like speaking with other people, connecting with them and connecting them with others. My leaders recognized this and kept assigning me roles that increasingly became more about talking to people and forming relationships with them. It helped me take a step back from the details and see the bigger picture. This makes the team feel more comfortable and motivated, which leads to better results!
Being a leader
At BBA, my people skills were recognized quickly, and the opportunities just started rolling in. I was appointed team leader and then, as our office quickly grew, my office director told me they were opening the position of Department Manager and asked me to apply.
At first, I hesitated because it was a big step, and I had only joined BBA a year before. But my office director really believed in me and encouraged me to go for it, as did my husband. So, I interviewed and got the job!
Part of BBA’s culture is entrusting people with mandates they can handle. Like when my office director asked me to apply for a department manager position because he recognized my strengths. He really believed in me and encouraged me to go for it.
Don’t let fear get in the way
Many times, fear gets in the way of doing what you want to do or doing things you never thought you could do. If you don’t go for it, you’ll never know what’s right for you. People at BBA want you to succeed, and they want you to be happy while doing it. Everyone is always available to lend a hand. There isn’t any real sense of hierarchy. I encourage junior engineers to speak with our senior engineers or managers all the time.
When your leaders sense potential, they seize it and provide opportunities you may never have thought would happen. It’s also important for you to raise your hand if there are opportunities that interest you. If you had asked me five years ago if I’d become a department manager, I would have said, “No.”
I was then offered the opportunity to become the first woman partner in the Central Canada region, which is a big deal. I never expected that. So, if you ask me now where I think I’ll be in another five years, I can safely say that I have no idea! But I’m excited to find out where my path will lead me within BBA.
My focus right now is to support my team members to be the best they can be in any capacity I can and to continue developing my own skills. Experience has taught me that it’s better to keep an open mind, know what you like and want to do, and keep an eye out to seize opportunities as they come your way. I can’t think of a better place to do that than right here at BBA.
People at BBA want you to succeed, and they want you to be happy while doing it.