Alumna Story — Kimberly Bueckert
Kimberly Bueckert was considering a master’s degree in urban planning as a way to continue developing her technical and leadership skills and advance her career. But after discovering the Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) in Urban Systems, she knew she’d found a better fit.
“I was attracted to the one-year length program, and I liked the fact that it was a multidisciplinary degree that brought together experts from UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning, UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School and the Faculty of Applied Science.”
A one-year investment in the future
Kimberly came to the program with a degree in geography — specializing in urban development — and four years of work experience as a geographic information systems specialist. As an innovative and unique professional graduate degree, the MEL in Urban Systems seemed like a strategic way for her to deepen her knowledge of urban systems and take her career to a new level.
“One of my favourite courses was infrastructure asset management,” she says. “This is a growing field because of the age and state of so much of the infrastructure in North America. As in our other technical classes, we looked at issues systematically, learned about economic modelling and planning, and took into account the socioeconomic impact of various decisions.”
Kimberly says that in many ways it was an advantage to be one of only two students in the Urban Systems program without a formal education in engineering. “In my group work and team projects, I was able to bring a holistic approach to the problems we were working on, and my background in planning and real estate was also beneficial. I learned a lot from the engineers in my groups and our projects were stronger because of the integration of highly technical skill sets with my broader perspective.”
One group project was completed for the City of New Westminster, with the students in the Urban Systems program asked to help the municipality advance its Intelligent City initiative. Kimberly was a member of the group looking at public engagement and big data, and in April they presented their case study and best practice recommendations to the City.
She also credits her business courses for strengthening her leadership and communication skills.
“Before entering the program, my business education consisted of what I’d learned on the job. It was inspiring to be taught business concepts by industry leaders, and all of our group work allowed us to gain experience as team leaders, build our collaboration skills and become better public speakers and presenters.”
Outside of class, Kimberly was one of two social coordinators for the MEL program, attending meetings with the MEL student executive and planning multiple events throughout the year — from movie nights in the grad lounge to a summer BBQ and volleyball tournament at the beach and the year-end gala.
Ready for new opportunities and responsibilities
Looking back on the program, she says it was an invaluable year of gaining knowledge, skills and confidence. And looking ahead, she sees many doors opening thanks to the investment she’s made in her career.
“I’m interested in working in a client-facing consulting role where I can share my knowledge of urban systems and asset management. My education and training have given me the ability to approach challenges from a systems perspective and to develop out-of-the box solutions. I have strong technical and analytical skills from my work experience and the MEL program has certainly developed my communication, networking and presentation skills so that I can thrive in a fast-paced, team-oriented environment.”
Gain the high-level technical knowledge and urban planning perspective to design and manage urban infrastructure systems and create more resilient cities.Read More