After 26 years serving the Burnaby public, the city's deputy engineer is checking into retirement.
Barry Davis was born and raised in the small farming town, Prince Albert, Sask. He had an uncle who worked in engineering and the profession sparked his interest from a young age.
"Everybody has a favourite aunt or uncle who was quite an idol," he told the NOW. "He was with a heavy construction company. He did a lot of major capital construction works, dams and bridges, and he was always fascinating to talk to."
When Davis was in school, he naturally gravitated towards the engineering path and received his science degree in civil engineering from the University of Saskatchewan.
"I was quite fortunate," he said.
"It was my career, and it truly did turn out to be what I wanted to do."
Then Davis applied to get his master's degree in business administration, but he needed a job.
"As a backup, I did a lot of highway engineering back in Saskatchewan before I came out here," he said. "I worked for a contractor. I had a lot of operations experience and managing union staff type experience."
A position in Burnaby's engineering department popped up in 1987, Davis took it and he was able to complete his master's, as well.
"The job looked interesting, and it fit what I thought my skill sets were," he said. "That's the way it turned out.
"I was not sure I was going to stay, and 26 years later, I'm sure I'm staying."
Davis started with the city as the roads and draining superintendent on the operation's side of the department.
"After roads and drainage, there was a reorganization," he said. "There was a position as assistant director of public works. I was fortunate enough to get that position ... in 1990."
His job included roads, water, sewage and drainage - and the renewal and rehabilitation work that goes with it.
In 2007, Davis was promoted to deputy director of the engineering department. Then for the last year, he was acting director of engineering.
"I decided it wasn't really my cup of tea," he said. "It's a different position.
It has a lot of interesting facets to it."
But, when Davis decided the job wasn't for him and he returned to his deputy position, he reflected on what he wanted to do next.
"What do I want to do? What's my focus? I decided it was time to do something different," he said.
"We'll do some traveling. ... Then I'll take a step back, relax for awhile, and then we'll see."
Davis is now 58 and is looking forward to joining his wife in retirement at the end of August. Next stop for them is a safari vacation in Africa.
"For now, I'm going to be half-way retired," he said. "Maybe I'll do some golfing. I'll learn how to golf. I swing a club at a ball, but I'm not
really a golfer. I might break down and take some lessons."
For the next generation of engineers who will soon join the workforce, Davis's advice to them is to not only focus on the technical side of things but to branch out and learn how to work with people.
Davis says knowing how to work well with and communicate with people is the most important part of the job.
Overall, he said his job kept him busy as there's always a problem to solve, a program to manage or develop, or have a look at and improve things - but the people he worked with kept him in Burnaby.
"It's never a steady state," Davis noted.
"I can truly say I don't think I've ever been bored, ever, in this job. I have to say it's a very fulfilling career. We came in and part of why I stayed was the people I worked with. It's just a great group of people."
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