Integrated Water Management
Alumni Story – Christina Cholkan
Within five years of joining a civil engineering consulting firm, Christina Cholkan had earned her professional engineering designation and was working as a project manager, chairing her firm’s Young Professionals Group and helping develop the company’s strategic plan.
Despite this full workload, she wanted to continue expanding her technical and leadership skills, and the Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) in Integrated Water Management program matched her needs. ”It caught my eye due to its combination of both engineering and business, its one calendar year time frame and its location in beautiful Vancouver – as well as UBC’s solid reputation.”
A broader foundation of technical and business knowledge
Returning to school allowed Christina to delve into areas outside her professional sphere of expertise. “Work in engineering consulting at the beginning of a career can be topically focused,” she says. “Although I’d become quite experienced in stormwater management, I was a bit out of the loop on other current water issues. Spending a year exploring a broad spectrum of water topics was mentally stimulating and great for re-inspiring me in my career.”
Christina says that her water and wastewater management strategies class was particularly noteworthy, providing a high-level cross-disciplinary overview of diverse water issues and showcasing a “well-curated” group of guest lecturers who offered insight on a range of engaging and relevant topics.
She also says that her business-focused classes – which accounted for 40 per cent of the curriculum –were a definite draw. They provided her with a core foundation in business principles and leadership practices applicable to any work environment. And with the program’s support, she attended three industry-specific conferences – including the Canadian Water Summit in Toronto – that fostered “valuable connections as well as ongoing conversations for future opportunities.”
Since graduating, Christina has been applying her new skills in marketing and project management, and she anticipates drawing on her technical interests in future roles. “I look forward to using my extended knowledge of water management when communicating with various specialists and leading exciting projects that improve our world.”
Beyond the classroom
The year-long MEL program, while academically challenging, also offered opportunities to meet new people and explore the Vancouver area.
Christina says the program introduced her to “an amazing new network of friends from around the world” who were completing graduate degrees at UBC in engineering, engineering leadership and business. “Living in Vancouver, we took full advantage of the natural surroundings and completed a bucket list of scenic hikes as perfect study breaks, which bonded us as both project classmates and as friends.”