Managing the Work He Loves

"My work is my hobby. I've loved every aspect of my career," says Jim Mackenzie, Senior Vice President of North American Maintenance Operations at Colliers International. He's in charge of the physical plant and building systems -- heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical distribution, and life safety systems -- for 59 million square feet of commercial, office, retail, residential, and industrial space in North America.

Jim owes his stellar career rise to finding the post-secondary education that suited his talents and abilities. After a less than successful start in engineering at university, he ended up in the BCIT power engineering program, at the suggestion of his father. The hands-on, applied approach fit his learning style.

His particular niche in the marketplace is in strategically transforming operations and systems to be more effective and efficient. He has developed this ability during the twenty years since he graduated from BCIT. He gained hands-on experience and skill in troubleshooting, at first working in hospital facilities, then in commercial properties. All this, as well as the management courses that he also took at BCIT, provided the groundwork for a move into his current managerial position.

While lifelong learning is one of the keys to Jim's success, he has another suggestion for prospective and current students: "Arrange informal tours of all sorts of different facilities." He and a fellow student did this, and it gave them a good grounding in the equipment and systems used in different types of operations. It also gave them some good contacts. His advice is probably well founded – Jim found a job two weeks before he finished the power engineering program, and a scholarship too!

One of the things that Jim loves about his career is the breadth of it. In his current position, he's involved in major capital upgrades, which includes system design, equipment selection, installation, and commissioning. He also has to deal with the vagaries of equipment upkeep and installation in a variety of weather conditions, from the snow belts of Ontario to the sunny dry conditions of southern California – the challenges are quite different.

Jim couldn't be more enthusiastic about his work, or about the importance of his BCIT education in putting him on this very successful career path.

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