UBC MEL MHLP Professional Leadership Master Degrees

Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering – Leandra Siems-Hoffmann

Alumna Story — Leandra Siems-Hoffmann

Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering – Leandra Siems-Hoffmann

After graduating with a bachelor of engineering in naval architecture and ocean engineering, Leandra Siems-Hoffmann landed a position at Lurssen Yachts – a globally renowned designer of luxury yachts measuring up to 180 metres in length, as project co-ordinator in the outfitting design department, her role involved communicating with a range of stakeholders – from the client and classification society to the designer and project manager – as well as monitoring cost and the project schedule.

She says that even in the early days of her career her role required a mix of business skills and technical knowledge. That led to her interest in finding a graduate program that combined the two.

“I love naval architecture and I’m really interested in the technical concepts, so I didn’t want to leave any of that behind,” she says. “When I found this degree it was perfect. Naval architecture is such a niche degree and there aren’t that many programs out there, so when I found this master’s program that also included business coursework I knew it was the right fit.”

A comprehensive technical curriculum

The Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering covers all stages of shipbuilding – from initial design requirements and vessel construction to operations, maintenance and eventual retirement.

Leandra says that although she had already covered parts of the technical coursework in her undergraduate degree, she enjoyed the passion and expertise that was brought to the content by some course instructors – noting that Peter Ostafichuk’s class on ship dynamics and control really stood out in this regard.

Students have the opportunity to do an internship placement as part of their degree to gain supervised technical work experience. Leandra obtained a position at Crescent Custom Yachts as an outfitting engineer, where she was responsible for design drawings, assisting the project manager and liaising with subcontractors from a range of disciplines.

“I was never made to feel like I was ‘just an intern,’” she says. “I was welcomed to the team right away and given a lot of responsibility in my position. I enjoyed this work because it allowed me to experience life in Canada not just as a student but as an employee. The work culture and group dynamics were quite laid back and friendly, making the internship experience one of the highlights of my year.”

Business courses provide complementary skills

About 40% of the program’s curriculum are made up of business and leadership classes offered through UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School.

“To be honest,” says Leandra, “I had been concerned that the business classes would not be as interesting as the ones on marine engineering. But this wasn’t the case at all.”

“One standout for me was a class on analytics and interpretation for applied sciences. The instructor, Donabel Santos, was great, and I loved learning about big data, data analysis and how to present data in meaningful ways. Sustainability & Leadership was another highlight because it emphasized our responsibilities as leaders and citizens to do more to integrate sustainable strategies and practices. And even though I have always tried to make environmentally ethical decisions, the class had a big impact on me and I think about it daily in my working life.”

Gaining new perspectives

Beyond the classroom, Leandra says she appreciated the diversity of the student cohort, in terms of both their professional backgrounds and experience as well as their geographic diversity.

“I met some great people,” she says. “Although we only had a couple of months to get to know each other in person before classes shifted online due to the pandemic, I was still able to make some great friends and had an amazing experience.”

Leandra remained in Vancouver throughout 2020, completing her degree online after instruction moved to the virtual realm in March 2020. She returned to Germany and her position at the Lurssen shipyard in April 2021.

“I’ve only been back to my job for about a month, so it’s still early days to talk about the impact of the MEL on my work and career,” she says.

“However, the degree really encourages you to look at the bigger picture and to consider issues from multiple points of view. So when I’m working, I do feel like I’m more open minded and actively considering more options.”

Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

Combine the engineering and physics of ship design with broad business and leadership training.

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