When did you join BC Ferries?
I joined BC Ferries in 1994 as a casual catering attendant on the northern routes while attending university during the winter months. I catered for 3 summers before completing a pre-apprenticeship in diesel engine mechanics at BCIT and joining the BC Ferries engineering team. I am currently chief engineer on the MV Quinsam.
What does your job as chief engineer entail?
As chief engineer, I ensure the safe and efficient operation of all of the vessel’s machinery from main engines to emergency equipment such as the fire and bilge pumps. This includes managing scheduled preventative maintenance routines as well as any emergency maintenance required. Engineering also works with the deck department to ensure that all of the vessel’s inspections and certifications required to sail are kept up to date.
What does your typical day at work look like?
A typical day for me involves the startup or shutdown of the vessel, watchkeeping all running machinery, planning and ensuring preventative maintenance routines are carried out, fueling, and any unscheduled maintenance. Communication within the engineering department and between the engineering and deck department is key to ensuring that any potential operational problems are addressed. My favourite part of the day is being the first person on board or the last person to leave at night…I’m waking the vessel up in the morning or putting the vessel to bed at night!
What is the most interesting part of being a chief engineer?
The most interesting part of my role as an engineer at BC Ferries is the opportunity to problem solve. I enjoy working with the engineering team to solve any issues or problems that arise. It may be something as simple as fixing a light or small leak, or it could involve liaising with the fleet maintenance unit, fleet support or terminal maintenance to solve more complex issues.
How does your job impact the customer?
As part of the engineering team, I feel that I contribute to the customers’ experience by ensuring safe and reliable vessel operation. Although the contributions that engineering make to a positive customer experience often go unseen by the travelling public, they are important and as chief engineer, I take those responsibilities seriously. I always enjoy hearing customers comment on how much they enjoyed their BC Ferries experience because even if I didn’t have the opportunity to interact with them personally, I know that doing my job well has contributed to their overall positive experience onboard.
What does good customer service mean to you?
Good customer service is always being positive and willing to assist the customers to the best of my ability. The goal is to ensure that every customer has a positive experience with BC Ferries and I believe this is achievable by putting into practice the 3 key attributes of customer service: be friendly, communicate and listen, and be professional.
Do you have any customer interactions that stand out to you?
One of my more memorable customer interactions happened a few days before Christmas 2016.
While travelling on board the Quinsam, a customer had an accident and I assisted with first aid while we waited for an ambulance. I made contact with her family in Calgary and explained what had happened.
The customer had surgery at the Nanaimo hospital and decided to cancel her travel plans to visit her family in Calgary and instead, spend a quiet Christmas on Gabriola Island recuperating. I went to visit her at home and brought her a card from the crew as well as a basket of goodies and a flower arrangement. We had a lovely chat and she said, “It is really unfortunate that this accident happened, however, it has shown me how many kind people there are and how many people truly care. I have met so many wonderful new people because of this accident!” My new friend is 92 years young and we had many cups of tea since.
I am grateful I was there to help her that day and believe that she gave me the gift of a life lesson: no matter the situation, there are positive outcomes; you just need to look for them.