Ryan Huffman and Kyle Reese, Poject Managers at UBC Infrastructure Development, Project Services

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?

Ryan Huffman &
Kyle Reese

Ryan Huffman and Kyle Reese are both Project Managers at UBC Infrastructure Development, Project Services. They joined the Project Services team in 2013. They joke that at the time, people at the office were constantly mistaking them. They suspect it’s because they sat beside each other — or maybe because each of their names contained four letters. Whatever the reason, their names seem to be inseparably linked.

Ryan studied electrical and mechanical engineering at BCIT for three years then completed his undergraduate degree in Ontario in mechanical engineering. For the first seven years of his career he worked primarily in the industrial sector. Some of those experiences include designing and manufacturing fiberglass reinforced plastic equipment and working for a major paper tissue group.

Kyle completed his mechanical engineering degree in the United States before working for an energy services firm for three years, which took him all across America working on various environmental conservation projects. He changed career paths by moving to Vancouver as a design engineer before beginning work at UBC in 2011 with the campus sustainability office.

UBC Communications and Marketing had a chance to talk to Ryan and Kyle about their exciting work as Project Managers.

Q
Could you each describe your day-to-day work at Project Services?

Ryan: As a Project Manager at UBC, the day-to-day activities can vary, but in the end the main goal is to ensure I am driving the project through various stages, and ensuring everything I do results in a successful project. This means that I’m working with many internal clients, but most importantly trying to manage expectations. I am also responsible for hiring and managing consultants, contractors, vendors and coordinating between the UBC stakeholders and design/construction team.

I ultimately manage time, budget and quality. It’s a constant juggling act trying to meet client expectations, because the Project Manager is the main conduit between said teams. One of the crucial elements to project management is communication, and making sure that every channel is used to its fullest, whether it be directly to clients, consultants, contractors or the UBC community. I am dedicating my time and resources to collaborating with campus stakeholders to create great spaces for people to teach and learn, conduct leading-edge research, and enjoy the life of the campus community.

Kyle: As a Project Manager at UBC, my day-to-day work is really about making sure things are happening in such a way that the project is successful. This means that I’m hiring and managing design consultants and contractors, purchasing various equipment or furniture and working with the client and stakeholders to ensure quality, costs and functional needs are met. This role requires a lot of communication in multiple channels and is a constant juggling act of properly identifying priority actions and managing expectations. Essentially, we are trying to ensure that the capital funds that are invested in the University go toward making great spaces, infrastructure or systems.

Today, the bulk of my time is spent on one project, the renewal of the Biological Sciences North Wing and replacement of the Biological Sciences Centre Wing. This is a major capital project, which is now two years in the making with two more to go. There are a lot of moving parts on a project like this, and it requires a great deal of patience and cooperation to work with the project team, as well as working with the stakeholders and broader campus community. The push is to always remember that the end goal is to create a great space for the future of undergraduate Biology teaching.

Ryan Huffman, Project Manager at UBC Infrastructure Development, Project Services
Quote

Ryan: I am dedicating my time and resources to collaborating with campus stakeholders to create great spaces for people to teach and learn, conduct leading-edge research, and enjoy the life of the campus community.

Q
You both have the job title ‘Project Manager’. How much of what you do the same and how much of it is different?

Ryan: Essentially, both Kyle and I have the same role, and we are required to follow the same processes, but we are very different people, and like all project managers, we manage things in our own way. I’m an excited, anxious tempered individual and generally start flying at things right at the onset, whereas Kyle takes a methodical and more even-tempered approach. In the end, we both have a lot of responsibilities, and we play to our strengths to get the job done.

Kyle: We have the same essential role with the same basic processes required, but every project is different and every person manages in their own individual way. Ryan and I have very different personalities. He’s always on the tipping point of elation and I’m so even tempered, you might think I’m not even paying attention. But we both play to our strengths and know when to adjust to suit the situation.

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Ryan: I’m an excited, anxious tempered individual and generally start flying at things right at the onset, whereas Kyle takes a methodical and more even-tempered approach. In the end, we both have a lot of responsibilities, and we play to our strengths to get the job done.

Q
What factors do you consider when you first start on a project?

Ryan: 1. Who are the stakeholders, and what benefits will be gained from executing this project? Sometimes stakeholders are people on the receiving end, or they are people that are indirectly affected by the project.

2. What is the impact of the project on the University? Unfortunately not all projects are a benefit to everyone, and they may have a big impact on their day-to-day life. Understanding how we can mitigate such impact is huge to the successful delivery of a project.

3. Who’s paying for the project, are there multiple funding sources? Not all projects are funded by a single source, and not all sources of funding have the same metrics, so this is important when managing budgets.

4. In addition to funding, are there any synergies with other Faculties and/or Building Operations? In many instances, projects may have a big impact in a certain area of a building or the campus.

Kyle: 1. What are the benefits? All projects have benefits, whether it is fulfilling a regulatory requirement, resolving a long-standing problem, renovating or refreshing an existing space or building something new entirely.

2. Who will benefit? If no one benefits from a project, there is always a question of why the money is being spent. In most cases the beneficiaries are obvious (e.g., researchers, students, or administration). It is very important to get representatives of these groups on board to champion the project.

3. Who will pay? The funding for projects has to come from someone or some department’s budget.

Industrial pipes and gages.
Q
What’s something you like to do when you’re not working?

Ryan: I love travelling. I’ve been doing it since I graduated from high school, and I am now up to 46 different countries and I hope it continues to climb.

What I love to do the most is mountain biking, and this allows me to travel around this beautiful province exploring gorgeous mountains and terrain. Mostly I love barreling down the North Shore mountains on my downhill bikes.

Kyle: These days, I’m mostly hanging out with my wife and two kids. My kids are two and three years old, which means constant running, playing, learning, teaching, and correcting. I have to be careful, sometimes, not to project manage my kids. I’m also in the beginning stage of training for my first half-marathon.

Quote

Kyle: My kids are two and three years old, which means constant running, playing, learning, teaching, and correcting. I have to be careful, sometimes, not to project manage my kids.

Kyle Reese, Project Manager at UBC Infrastructure Development, Project Services
Q
What do you enjoy most about being a Project Manager at UBC?

Ryan: I enjoy working with people, and not just people I deliver projects to, but all of the people within my office and the different people within the community that support projects.

There are so many people and groups at UBC and the opportunity to help and provide the best possible outcomes so they can do their best is boundless. Essentially, I love making great spaces so people can enjoy life in the campus community.

Kyle: The best part of this job is helping people achieve greater things. Whether it’s within our team, a client or one of the stakeholders on a project, I am blessed to be a part in assisting them toward achieving their best.

Ryan and Kyle are heading into their fourth year at UBC Infrastructure Development, Project Services, where they continue to work on compelling projects. Whether they are managing the development of buildings or exploring the relationship between community and education, they bring their breadth of skill and expertise to the UBC Vancouver campus.


Story Credits

Special thanks to our story partners: Ryan Huffman & Kyle Reese, UBC Infrastructure Development, Project Services.

Story team: UBC Communications & Marketing — Cindy Connor, Online Producer; Margaret Doyle, Digital Storyteller; Paul Joseph, UBC Photographer; Michael Kam, Web Developer; Lina Kang, Web Coordinator; Adrian Liem, Manager, Digital Communications; Aida Viziru, Web Interaction Designer; Matt Warburton, Manager, Graphic Design; Mormei Zanke, Writer.

Published: January 2017