Name: Karen Chan, P.Eng, MBA, FEC
Program: Mechanical Engineering
University(s) / College(s) Attended: Western University
Education / Degree(s): BESc (Mechanical) ‘99, BA (English) ’00, MBA (Executive) ‘10
Current Job Title: Managing Agile Coach / Director, Technology Solutions
Current Employer: TD Bank Group
Email: Send Email
Fun Facts About Me
Share one fun fact about yourself: I learned how to do a J-Turn in the defensive driving course that was part of mandatory employee training. The Corvette Racing Team were my teachers!
The most inspiring engineer I know is ....... Because ........ ?: Julie Payette! If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be an engineer. I don’t know if she’d remember the 17-year old kid she met years ago, but I hope she’d be proud to know I took her advice and found a fulfilling career in engineering.
Why did you choose to study engineering?: I fell into engineering by accident; I had planned to study architecture so that I could build the structures you would need for colonizing the moon or Mars. At the Canada 125 Young Space Ambassadors Program, I met astronaut Julie Payette and she told me that to qualify as a Canadian astronaut, I needed a science degree and architecture didn’t count. So, I decided to switch to engineering as that seemed the next closest thing.
How do you apply your engineering degree to your current career?: I still think of myself as a quality engineer – that’s been the constant throughout my career. As I went from automotive manufacturing to digital media to technology consulting then to financial services, I draw on that process improvement and product development experience from manufacturing to coach teams on how to build better software products and now coaching executives on how to adopt a more agile way of working.
What do you love most about your career?: I love that there are so many possibilities to achieve a goal. There isn’t one right answer that works every time; you continue to learn and grow. When something doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it’s an opportunity to gain knowledge that you didn’t have before.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to pursue a career in engineering?: Do it! Whether it’s your entire career or just a stepping stone into something else, engineering gives you the skills to bring a solution finding mindset to whatever you are working on. Whether it is a problem you are trying to solve, an answer to a question you may have, or an innovation you are trying to make real, engineering will help you figure out the way forward.