Steve calls Calgary, Alberta home and he does his best to take advantage of all that Calgary has to offer. The city is known for its abundant sunshine (333 days of the year on average) and close proximity to the mountains.
An avid biker and skier and hiker, Steve enjoys spending a lot of time outdoors. Swimming is also a big part of his life. He finds swimming meditative because it forces him to focus on his breathing. He typically swims at least 2 kms, 3 times a week.
Interestingly, Steve had to relearn how to swim after having abandoned the sport when he was younger. In fact, he admits that learning how to swim again got off to a pretty rocky start; he could barely manage the front crawl. Today he easily does 80 lengths in 40 minutes.
Steve’s perseverance with learning how to swim again is perhaps a great metaphor for his own career journey; a journey where he has been challenged to keep on learning new things.
When Steve finished university he had a degree in electrical engineering and a minor in computer engineering. He even had a job all lined up with one of the big five consulting firms. But a job posting at the university to work for an up-and-coming software company called Mentor Engineering caught his eye. The company specialized in fleet management equipment and mobile workforce management solutions for a variety of industries including public transport.
“It was almost fate because I had another job,” says Steve. “I went into the interview cold. Had no time to prepare for anything and the questions they were asking me were all around GPS, which I had just done a project on.”
Steve didn’t like the idea of “being a little speck in a huge conglomerate” so he was looking for something smaller. Mentor really appealed to him from that perspective. He landed the job.
Steve started at Mentor in deployment, deploying projects and then moved into R&D to write software. One day he was asked to start-up a production line to build the new in-vehicle hardware. Steve knew nothing about production, but he was willing to learn.
When asked how he felt about being challenged to do something he had never done before, Steve jokes: “When I did the production stuff, I had zero experience. It’s great they have confidence in me to do this, but I have no idea what I am doing.”
So Steve did some research on the Six Sigma Process and learned everything he could on how to eliminate waste in a production environment. He’s used the learnings from that experience in every type of challenge he’s taken on since.
“A lot of times in my career I’ve been asked to do things I’ve never really done before,” says Steve. “The first time you’re asked to do something new it freaks you out. The fifth time? It still freaks you out a bit but you have the experience of the other four times to draw on.”
Mentor was eventually acquired in 2013 and Steve continued on with the company, under the TripSpark brand, leading client services. (Yes, another new role for him!) In 2018, Steve was given his biggest challenge yet when he was asked to take on the position of General Manager (GM) for TripSpark’s Non-Emergency Medical Transport business.
The non-emergency medical transport business is still an emerging area of people transportation in North America. The sector continues to evolve and Steve and the team continue to find it both challenging and personally satisfying.
Steve says: “My passion for medical transportation is even greater than transit. I just really like the idea that we’re helping vulnerable people get to their medical appointments and improve their quality of life.”
“It’s one of the things that really motivates everyone on my team,” he continues. “You can actually directly link what we do to the quality of life of people, which not a lot of businesses can say that.”
When asked what he thinks about his career journey, Steve reflects: “I kept moving around every few years and that’s what has kept it so interesting. I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to stay essentially in the same company for 25+ years.”
When asked what’s next for him, Steve smiles and admits he doesn’t yet have an answer; there is still so much to build and do and learn with TripSpark. But perhaps that’s a question he might start thinking about the next time he goes for a swim.