Building The Road to Success – Jared Wilkison Receives an ASTTBC Top in Technology Award
Interview by Cindy Hughes.
Flash back in time a few decades and you’d be likely to catch a young Jared Wilkison doing what he loved best back then—building small tracks and ramps to play with his dinky cars, then later bigger tracks and ramps to ride his bike through. A few more years into the future and you might catch a teenage Jared at his computer deep into a game of Sim City, building virtual cities, roads and communities.
So it isn’t a huge surprise that today, he has a thriving career at Urban Systems as a transportation designer, working on highway interchanges and intersection designs as well as urban and rural arterial roadways. Recently, he was honoured with a Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC) Top in Technology award for excelling in his field. We chatted with Jared about his work, his life and his vision for the future.
CH: Can you tell us a bit about how you got started, and where you’re at today in your career?
JW: For sure. I was born and raised in Kelowna and love it here. During my second year at Okanagan University College, I was introduced to Urban as a summer Co-op student. They hired me on as what we’ve now coined internally as a “grow your own” team member as soon as I graduated in late 2002. By 2005 I started to work under Tim Blackburn with the Transportation Practice and I really haven’t looked back, the years have just whizzed by. I’ve had the ability to work on cool, large-scale projects throughout the province, and some really neat small niche projects too. It’s been so diverse and rewarding.
CH: Can you talk about your favourite project?
JW: You know what, there are a number of projects that stand out; it’s hard to narrow it down! But I will say I always love working on interchange projects. The Westside road interchange in West Kelowna for example was a complicated project dealing with the Ministry of Highways and the Westbank First Nation—it was a balancing act catering to both clients as well challenges with traffic management and during construction, succeeding there was really rewarding.
There was also the Sarcee Trail project in Calgary.
I travelled to Calgary from Kelowna every week on that one and led an internal team made up of various different disciplines. I was managing the civil components of the project’s designs, things like roadways, laning and how the interchange operated as well as coordinating those elements with the utilities underground and overhead. That was a really cool project; not cookie cutter or out of the box. We were dealing with parks, urban forestry, private land areas and public stakeholders and we had a lot of public scrutiny based on the high profile location. It was cool and energizing and I got to use a lot of the different tools in my kit—I’m a jack-of-all-trades (master of nothing) haha, so I love the variety.
CH: It sounds like no two days are the same at work for you. What would you say is the part of your job you love most?
JW: One interest I discovered I had when I joined Urban was working with people. I mean I always knew I liked people, I just didn’t know what a big part of this job dealing with people would be, and it has come as a pleasant surprise how rewarding that aspect of work is. Yes, applied science is important, but dialogue and daily interactions with people—problem solving and working together—is so key. I love communicating with all kinds of different people to solve the interesting challenges we’re faced with. I’ve even been asked back to the Okanagan College to talk to students about how important communication is in the engineering field.
“Yes, applied science is important, but dialogue and daily interactions with people—problem solving and working together—is so key. I love communicating with all kinds of different people to solve the interesting challenges we’re faced with.”
CH: How would you describe Urban Systems to someone who doesn’t work there?
JW: (laughs) You’ve got to see it to believe it! We are such a unique, non-typical firm. We’re given freedom to be entrepreneurial and chase our career dreams here. We get so much support from our teammates and leadership—really the support is second to none. There are no barriers in your way if you want to pursue and make a career in a certain field of work. Urban is extremely open and supportive of your aspirations. Basically we’re a group of professional people who like to have fun and not take ourselves too seriously but who also have a high regard for quality service and delivering top quality work. We believe in being constantly innovative, creative and inventive for our clients and pushing that leading edge. I feel so lucky to be here.
When you aren’t working, what kinds of things do you like to do?
JW: Well, I’m married and also a dad to a 10-month-old daughter, so I love spending time with my family. I also wear a fair number of different volunteer hats—I’m a Director at the BC Wildlife Federation, Past President of a local Fish and Game club in town and I sit on the Okanagan College Civil Engineering Program Advisory Committee. Also I like to keep a really engaged social life. When I’m not doing those things, I’m an avid outdoorsman and really enjoy camping, fishing, hunting and hiking. You’ll often find me in the mountains or on mountain lakes—I love to fly fish and I’ve got some favourite local spots to spend the day out on the water and just relax.
What does the future hold for you, professionally?
JW: I’m working toward getting my Limited Engineering License with APEGBC. That’s an accreditation that will let me review and seal my own work without having a senior reviewer do it. I’m most of the way through the process, I’ve written and passed the exams already, and I hope to finish up in 2017.
I also look forward to continuing to build on the momentum we have in our transportation practice. It’s a fast paced and highly performing practice and to continue to build on our successes would be huge. I guess you could say it’s my goal to see us all continue that upward growth and just get better and better year over year.
Congrats on your award Jared, we are very proud to have you on the team!