NAME: Troy Hawkes
POSITION: Plant Manager
COMPANY: Ocean Steel
LENGTH OF EMPLOYMENT: 7 years
DEGREE AND SCHOOL: Civil Engineering Technology degree from the University of New Brunswick
Where did you go to school?
My career with Ocean Steel started after I graduated from the Civil Engineering Technology program, from the New Brunswick Community College in Moncton. After working for Ocean Steel for a number of years, I decided I wanted to further my education. I started by attending courses part time at the University of New Brunswick, then chose to take a leave of absence from Ocean Steel to pursue the final two years of my Civil Engineering degree full-time.
How did you find your current position?
I am a member of the Canadian Air Cadets. The summer after my graduation from the New Brunswick Community College I spent flying with the Cadets. At the end of the summer, I received a call from an instructor at the community college that Ocean Steel was looking for Civil Engineering Technology graduates. I applied and the rest is history.
What positions have you held with Ocean Steel and what is your current role and responsibilities?
One of the benefits of working for Ocean Steel is the advancement opportunities. My career with the company started in the Detailing Department. My role there was to take the drawings from our Engineers and add the details in the drawings for the shop or site. After about a year in that department, I moved into Estimating and spent approximately two years in this position. My next role with the company was in Project Management. I spent four years there before taking my leave for two years to return to school. After graduating from Civil Engineering, I returned to Ocean Steel as the plant manager of our 120,000 square foot, Saint John steel plant. The plant employs 12 full time staff and 60 unionized workers. I’m responsible for every aspect of the plant, from production and maintenance to staffing.
What do you think it takes to be successful in this career?
It takes a willingness to work with your team, learn new skills, and an ability to think outside the box. You also need to be able to sell these new ideas to both upper management and to the trades.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part comes from the most challenging aspect of my position. I need to stay up to date with new technologies and changes with codes. It all boils down to staying competitive in the industry. Ocean Steel sends me to trade shows, pays for courses and seminars, which enables me to bring the information back to our plant. There are lots of ideas out there, I need to sort through them, and decide which ones are beneficial to us. The next part is to sell the idea to the rest of the company. When I brought in the magnetic heat induction, it took sometime to convince others that it was going to be beneficial. The rewarding part was seeing them realize that it did work, was cost effective, and less dangerous than other methods we have used.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Choosing to go back to school and obtaining my degree is the first one. Another one is getting through our manpower issues. We had a few years where many of our staff were retiring and we needed to hire a new workforce. Skilled labour is hard to find, but we were successful in transitioning our workforce.
What are your future career aspirations?
There are still some more challenges and opportunities in my current role. However, a goal I would like to see myself fulfill is the Canadian Steel General Manager position with OSCO Construction Group.
What advice do you have for students looking to land their first job?
Be honest with yourself about what you want. I know when students are looking for that first job, and you have bills to pay, it’s easy to just take anything that comes along, but job satisfaction counts for a lot. When you do land a job, keep pushing, keep learning, no one owes you anything just because you have an education. You need to continue to learn. Learning doesn’t have to take place in a classroom, it can also be done on the job. Be open to new ideas and suggestions. Ask others what their thoughts and ideas are, and be open to try them.