Can you tell us a little bit about the kind of work you do?
I am Founder and CEO of VeloMetro Mobility. I led the development of our novel enclosed electric-assist trikes for the first 3 years of our company, and now direct operations and secure financing as we grow into new markets. My background in mechanical engineering certainly gives me an excellent base from which to make technical decisions for development options.
What have been the turning points and milestones in your career?
Cleantech has always been a passion for me and has been a main driver behind why I chose to enter Mechanical Engineering. After graduating undergrad, I grew my career as a design engineer with several cleantech focused companies. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about good design, while feeling good about helping to bring products to market that improved the air, water or soil around us. A major turning point in my career is when I stepped out of my comfort zone of design engineering, and took a position where I would be managing a team of engineers. I didn’t know if I would be good at managing others, or whether I would like it. While the jury may be out on whether or not I’m skilled at it, I did thoroughly enjoy it! I also fell in love with working for small companies, where I had opportunities to wear many hats and have a significant impact on the direction of the company. This led me to get my MBA and discover my passion for start-ups. While I don’t spend much time these days on CAD stations, it certainly helps that I can speak to the technical nitty-gritty of our design intent when speaking to media or investors.
What is a fact about your work that people might find surprising?
People are surprised that we have accomplished all that we have done, from scratch, with a small team of super talented engineers and conservative budget. Always hire people that are smarter than you!
What was your favourite thing to do on campus as a UBC student?
I have many great memories from my years of living and studying on campus. From living in the Totem Park dorms in first and second year, where I met many of my closest friends today, to meeting my wife during a river rafting trip (and learning German for her) in my final year of study. The coop terms that I had provided such an excellent base of experience from which I could relatively smoothly launch my career. I also fondly remember the odd “tanking”, and miss the old “Cheeze” whenever I’m back on campus.
Do you have any advice you would like to share with students interested in pursuing Mechanical Engineering?
When I reflect back on my engineering studies compared to my MBA studies, I feel that I did not take advantage of developing closer relationships with the excellent professors I had. I advise students to really pick the brains of their profs, and if you are considering to pursue mechanical engineering, do it before registering in the program. Look up some of the profs from courses you may find interesting, and see if they would simply have a phone conversation with you or return an email. They are great people, but I was often intimidated. Try not to be intimidated, and instead engage.