Name: Tegiola Xhemalaj
Program: Civil Engineering
University(s) / College(s) Attended: McMaster University and Mohawk College
Education / Degree(s): Master of Engineering Design; Bachelor of Civil Engineering & Infrastructure Technology
Current Job Title: Project Manager
Current Employer: Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL)
Fun Facts About Me
Share one fun fact about yourself: I've traveled to more than 30 countries.
The most inspiring engineer I know is ....... Because ........ ?: My father, who was a Civil Engineer, was my inspiration when I was growing up. I remember very vividly when I was seven years old, he was sketching on his drafting table for an infrastructure project and I insisted that I really wanted to help out. So my dad decided that I could assist him by handing over the different coloured fountain pens, per his instructions, and this way I would contribute to the project as well. Seeing that set of drawings take life and get transformed into an actual building mesmerized me – and that’s where my love for Engineering was born.
Why did you choose to study engineering?: Growing up I was always interested in architecture and engineering, especially everything related to infrastructure. Building a new hospital to better serve the people, a new bridge to connect different areas, a new technology to cut down on time and cost were only a couple of the reasons that triggered me to look into this field. Looking back in time, I can confidently say that I made the best career decision.
How do you apply your engineering degree to your current career?: I am currently working on a couple of very exciting projects that vary from office fit-outs to infrastructure construction projects. While soft skills like leadership and communication are critical in every job, technical skills are a must in this profession. Some of the technical skills that are essential to my role and I get to use in all my projects are: reviewing drawings, understanding design techniques, identifying possible design improvements, being able to manage all phases of construction, developing budget and schedule etc. It is very important you are equipped with these technical skills in order to deliver projects successfully and account for when setbacks occur.
What do you love most about your career?: I love the fact that whatever project I work on, it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comforts of life. There have been many moments in my career when words cannot describe the feeling when you look at a newly constructed project and say, “I built that ...”. It gives you a great fulfillment when you know that you are actually positively contributing something to society.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to pursue a career in engineering?: Engineering is a beautiful impactful profession. You will use all the skills you learn in school to solve real life problems and contribute in creating something new that everyone gets to experience. Those acquired skills and the confidence you gain from problem solving, will help you in every step of your career no matter the challenges you are faced with. As a matter of fact, you will start viewing every problem as a challenge and an opportunity to grow.