Alumni Spotlight: Get To Know Monica Kwong

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Headshot of Monica Kwong

In our second edition of our Alumni Spotlight, meet Monica Kwong, a Chemical Engineering graduate of Ryerson University circa 2018. Monica is currently an Operations Lead for Ingredion, where she oversees the syrup loadout department at her plant. We asked Monica to share some advice and here’s what she had to say.

Who is Monica Kwong? Tell us about yourself.

I graduated from the Chemical Engineering program in 2018, with a specialization in Management Sciences. Right after graduation, I started off as a Process Engineer at Sofina Foods in various primary and further food processing facilities for three years. Earlier this year, I started my new role as an Operations Lead with Ingredion, where I oversee the syrup loadout department at my plant. At Ingredion, I’m in the Global Talent for Operations Program, where I’ll be rotating roles annually over the next three years.

Currently, I spend my spare time taking courses in the Project Management certificate program via Chang School, hip-hop dancing, cheering for the Toronto Raptors, and spending time with friends and family whenever I’m in the GTA.

What was your experience like at Ryerson? What are some of your fondest memories from your time in the Engineering program?

The fondest memories from my time in the Engineering program were the extracurricular activities I was involved in, including RyeChemU, RSU, and the Canadian Engineering Competition 2018. These activities allowed me to meet amazing people and build my leadership experiences. It was also a special memory for me to represent my class at the Iron Ring ceremony.

Do you think it was beneficial to you in the long run to be involved with so many things during your time at Ryerson?

My participation in extracurricular activities played a significant role in my career development and leadership experiences. I was able to learn what my leadership style is, how to collaborate with people and manage conflict, how to make decisions involving unfavourable constraints, how to manage projects and events… similar to what happens in the world outside of school. Extracurricular activities provided me with a safe environment that allowed me to gain these experiences, make mistakes, and learn accordingly. In addition, they have also helped me showcase what I have to offer during various job searches.

Have any of your aforementioned experiences helped you with the work you do in your job today?

My aforementioned experiences definitely have helped with my current role today. I lead a team of 12 people in my department, and although I’m still fairly new to the job, the extracurricular experiences have prepared my mindset on how to approach different scenarios that are out of my comfort zone.

How do you think Ryerson Engineering set you up for success?

Particularly in the Chemical Engineering program, I definitely felt that the mandatory co-op program plays a huge role in where I am today. I’m very thankful for the different opportunities it helped me land, whether it helped me expand on my Excel skills, taught me different water treatment processes, or showed me how a supply chain works together with customer service, production schedulers, and sales in a manufacturing environment.

What advice would you give to current students?

School is the best time to experiment with different techniques that work for you in time management and maintenance of your physical and mental health. Everyone is unique, so don’t get frustrated if someone’s morning and evening routines don’t work for you. Once you are able to establish this, you can carry this foundation with you throughout your professional and personal life.

Take advantage of the different programs and resources available at the university: career center for resume and cover letter writing, technical skills workshops, mentorship programs, startup programs, networking opportunities, discount programs for entertainment.

Alumni Spotlight: Get To Know Amar Latchman

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Headshot of Amar Latchman

As a student, one of the things that often helps you get through the tough parts of school is advice. Advice from people who care, who have insight and best of all: who have been in your shoes before. That’s why we’ve decided to create an Alumni Spotlight series where we feature one alumnus who has graduated from the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science. These alumni will share their career trajectory, what helped them at Ryerson and of course, their wisdom for current students.

First up, we have Amar Latchman, an Industrial Engineering graduate of Ryerson University circa 2019. He’s currently working as a Business Analyst for Deloitte’s Technology Strategy and Transformation Consulting Practice! Here’s everything from his favourite course at Ryerson to what his day-to-day looks like…

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do?

I currently work at Deloitte and the technology strategy consulting practice. My day-to-day mostly includes my standup meetings to figure out what it is the client is going to need, and we go through project plans to determine what a client’s new ERP system should look like. For example, should they be completely replaced, should only certain functions be replaced? We build plans with a client and [work on] a big picture strategy to determine how the business and technology can align with each other and support each other moving forward.

Thinking back to your time at Ryerson, what was that experience like for you?

Oh, Ryerson was a lot of fun! It was pretty amazing because there’s so much diversity in the community and in the school, not just within the programs. My favourite part about Ryerson was––especially my program––the amount of hands-on experience that is available for you and experiential learning opportunities. They force you to get out of the classroom and visit companies to do your projects at. 

What are some of your fondest memories from your time and engineering program?

This was the moment I knew that I wanted to become an engineer, and I really knew this program was meant for me. It was the MEC 325 course, Introduction to Design. And that was the course where it really forced you out of the box to not just memorize or calculate equations, but [made me] truly think what does the user need at the end of the day, and [how can I build] those requirements out? At the end of the day, it made me wake up and say, “Okay, I want to be an engineer. This is meant for me, and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Were there any student groups or activities that you were involved in?

I started the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Club at Ryerson! That was a really big passion for me because I have a huge interest in both quality improvement and continuous improvement organizations, but also for healthcare. So I got to align those two interests of mine and find other people in the Ryerson community with that same interest.

Have any of your aforementioned experiences helped you with the work that you do in your job today?

Definitely, every student group that I’ve been a part of. Because when you’re in student groups or working in group activities, even with a project for one of your classes––you’re going to have a lot of conflicts, you’re going to be butting heads, and sometimes people are not doing their work, and sometimes people are doing your part of the project. I think all those conflicts really help you in the real world because you’re going to be working with individuals every day. Right now [in] my job, I work with these two amazing consultants, and they [ask] every single day for feedback. I’ve butted heads in the past and in school, so I know how to take that constructive criticism properly and also how to deliver criticism properly as well.

How do you think Ryerson Engineering has set you up for success?

People are passionate about helping each other at Ryerson, you can walk around and ask a random person on the street for anything, and they will help you to the best of their ability, and they won’t ask for anything return––they won’t even ask for your name. And they’ll just keep going about their day; that’s something that is unique to the Ryerson community. I think that when you apply that within yourself, and you’re down to help anyone, you become the best kind of person people will want to work with. Because that’s the kind of thing others want to see in their everyday life. People always want to give and support others. So I think that mentality, that personality is so contagious at Ryerson of giving and helping others. It’s what sets you up for success the most.

8 Incredible Women in Engineering

Hi, my name is Tanzina Nowshin and I’m a recent Mechanical Engineering graduate from Ryerson University, and I’m here to tell you about 8 amazing women in engineering across three levels.

Let’s start on an international scale with…

Dahun Mamora: She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a master’s degree in Engineering Management. She is currently a Technical Project Manager on the Power Electronics Team at TESLA. Dahun also launched a platform called Beyond Our Limitations to help provide mentorship and financial support to international students in the US. Her goal is to use the platform to share her story, and also build a community of international students and remind them that they can achieve great things in life if they look beyond their limitations! 

Audrey Tang: Audrey wrote her first computer game at just 8 years old to help her brother learn fractions. She began learning Perl at age 12, dropped out of high school, left Taiwan and by age 19 she was hailed as an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. In 2016, Audrey also became Taiwan’s youngest government minister as well as Taiwan’s first transgender Cabinet member. 

Anushree Sonic: She is an alumna of Ryerson University and International Space University where she got her Bachelor’s in Aerospace Engineering and Master’s in Space Science respectively. Anushree began her career at the NASA Ames Research Center where she supported on-orbit operations of various payloads on the International Space Station. She left NASA Ames in 2020 to pursue a career working for Waymo, formerly known as Google’s self-driving car project. There she is currently managing and leading a team working on the development of the self-driving system.

Next, let’s move on to a national scale starting with…

Natasha Walji – Natasha is a Director at Google Canada leading the Tech, Telecom & Public sector business. She has been at Google for 10 years and was previously a McKinsey consultant and a software developer. She has been serving the community for around 20 years in the areas of disaster relief, poverty alleviation, public health and also founded an organization for children with disabilities. Natasha has also been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by WXN

Professor Noreen Komal – She has a Bachelor of Science and a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering as well as a Ph.D. in human-computer interaction. She collaborated on a COVID-19 project with the Nova Scotia Health Authority that applies engineering techniques to healthcare modelling. When I was reading her article, I really liked one of her quotes where she said: “As an interdisciplinary researcher, I am always promoting engineers within healthcare… I hope that we can see more engineers working within the health system working alongside epidemiologists, physicians, and administrators to develop solutions to create one of the best top-performing health systems that is agile enough to respond to situations such as this pandemic.”

Deanna Burgart – Deanna is Cree/Dene from Fond du Lac First Nation. She is an engineer and a Senior Instructor in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. Deanna also serves as the President of IndigeSTEAM, whose mission is the provision of Indigenous-led and culturally relevant programming to support better futures for Indigenous youth in STEM.

When I was reading more about what IndigeSTEAM does, I really liked how they defined the term STEAM. So, as we all know STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. But, when we talk about the connections to social enterprise, humanities, arts, innovation, entrepreneurship and more, we put an ‘A’ into STEM to get STEAM. The A can represent Arts, Architecture and Agriculture – all areas that Indigenous peoples have been innovators in for thousands of years.

Now on a local level, we have…

Minakshi Suri – Minakshi has a civil engineering degree and she is currently working in the higher education industry as an Engineering Outreach Coordinator for our very own, Ryerson University. Her work involves delivering several outreach programs designed to inform, educate and excite students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 about engineering as a field of study or profession. I personally think the kind of work that Minakshi is doing is critical for our future since it is essentially shaping and inspiring young minds to pursue a career in STEM, motivating the next generation of changemakers.

Now last but definitely not least, 

Vanessa Raponi – Vanessa is a Product Development Engineer-in-Training at Spin Master, a Canadian-founded international toy company. She designs and creates toys and balances her technical expertise with her leadership and project management skills and leads the Sustainable Materials committee. Vanessa is also the founder of EngiQueers Canada, a national non-profit that advocates for intersectional queer inclusion in the engineering profession.

And that is all I have for you today! These women were only a few of the hundreds out there in the workforce who are not only challenging barriers but making revolutionary waves within their respective industries. For all the women out there currently pursuing their degree, I encourage you to look into mentorship programs, extracurriculars or events such as WIE (women in engineering), or even follow inspiring female leaders on platforms such as LinkedIn.

For all those that do not identify as a woman, I encourage you to look into what it means to be an ally and how to support fellow female peers.

Thank you for listening!

References

8 Influential LGBTQ+ People in STEM to Celebrate This Pride Month

Natasha Walji recognized as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women in WXN’s Top 100 to Celebrate and Inspire Female Leaders

INWED 2020: Noreen Kamal, PhD, P.Eng.

IndigeSTEAM