Where and what is your current position?
As President and Senior Engineer of the company:
- Business development
- General management of structural engineering and research projects
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
Part of the path. Being an entrepreneur was something that was triggered once I left academia and started working as a professional engineer.
How does this job relate to your graduate degree?
About 40% of my time is dedicated to formulating new research projects that can lead to practical applications for structural engineers, homeowners, developers, architects, and government agencies. My research work at UBC and during my academic/professional career are the main foundations for the success of many projects being developed at PBRV.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
I was finishing my MASc at the Ottawa/Carleton Institute of Civil Engineering and found out that UBC was the strongest program on earthquake engineering. I had very limited offers in some of the big universities of California and didn't want to move out of Canada at that time. The mild weather of the west coast was also a very important factor to grow up as a professional engineer and with the family.
What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?
The diversity of my research group and the engagement on practical issues and projects from my supervisor Dr. Carlos Ventura.
What are key things you did that contributed to your success?
My attitude at work and life is to be surrounded by good, wise, and knowledgeable people, so I can get feedback, recommendations, and potential partners to have a solid plan ahead. Investing in education and training with young people and peers is key to the success of my company.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
Finish your bachelor studies ASAP, and get involved on projects in small or mid-size companies. After a year or two, try to get an idea of what your next step will be and what master's program you want to pursue. If your path is in academia, then you should go directly to a MASc program and then a PhD. If your plan is to make tons of money, consider other options/paths.
Did you have any breaks in your education?
Yes, I did. I finished my BASc in Chile, which is the equivalent to an MEng in Canada, in 2000. Then I was a lecturer and a practicing engineer for 4 years while preparing my English and paperwork to move to North America to pursue a MASc and then, potentially, my PhD. I commenced my MASc program as full-time student in 2004. The gap between my bachelor and my master was fundamental to define the objective of one of the main research projects that I've been involved in the last 15 years.
How did you find out about/obtain your current position?
This is my own company, and I always wanted to start a new business.
What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?
I think that money is always an issue when trying to finish either a MAsc or a PhD program. It can be a very frustrating experience if you don't set your goals and limitations ahead of time and when you are defining the objectives of your research work. What happened to me during my PhD was vital to pursue a new venture in business and to get involved with good people in my career.
How are jobs normally posted and filled in your organization or industry?
Normally I get CVs and emails directly from peers and people who have graduated from universities that have worked with us in the past.
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
Keeping my employees with competitive salaries considering that Vancouver is a very expensive city to live in.