Photo Courtesy of Siemens
When Annie Chan graduated from the California Maritime Academy, she knew she wanted to work for a company whose values aligned with her own. Thankfully, that’s something she’s found at Siemens, and she couldn’t be more excited. “I really wanted to find a company that I could build a career with, and it really does help that I work with a great group of people. I have continuously been reminded that I made the right choice in coming to Siemens,” says Annie.
True to Siemens’ ownership culture, Annie credits the company’s leadership for her career development and recent promotion to Service Operations Supervisor at Siemens Smart Infrastructure. “I’ve always felt supported and heard by my peers and our leadership, and that has made a huge difference in my development and confidence.”
Siemens is a global software company that brings together the digital and physical worlds to solve the world’s greatest challenges and make society a better place. In a recent interview with Fairygodboss, Annie gave us a closer look at the career path that led her to her senior position, and how Siemens is actively working to fight against COVID-19.
Name: Annie Chan
Title & Company: Service Operations Supervisor, Siemens Smart Infrastructure
You just got promoted to Service Operations Supervisor. Tell me what about your current role. What are your main priorities and job functions?
I am still in the process of the transition, so part of my time is still spent in the field supporting our customers as a service specialist. I maintain, update and build upon building automation systems. I troubleshoot electronics, electrical systems, mechanical systems, networking and programming. The other part of my time is dedicated to supporting our service specialist group with whatever they may need. My main priority in this new position is to continue to build upon our positive culture and to keep our specialists and customers happy. In that sense, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It requires getting to know each individual personally and understanding what each person needs/wants to feel supported and happy with their career, path, growth, etc.
Tell me a bit about your career journey at Siemens.
I started with Siemens as an Automation Service Specialist 1 in May of 2018, right after I graduated from the California Maritime Academy. I was attracted to the role because it felt like the perfect combination of computer, electrical, electronic, mechanical and programming work. We make building automation systems work at the click of a button on a computer, allowing centralized control of critical building functions. I also get to work in various buildings in a lot of different areas, which was more interesting to me than working in one location every day.
As a service department, we cover a lot of ground in Northern California. As far north as Santa Rosa and as far south as Monterey. We support several types of operations that include, but are not limited to, schools, office buildings, hospitals, research labs, biopharmaceutical production facilities and manufacturing facilities. I was mostly allocated to projects in the financial district of San Francisco, but I was also responsible for a few preventative maintenance accounts. The largest preventative maintenance account I was responsible for was San Francisco General Hospital. I was promoted to Service Specialist 2 in January of 2020 and started in my current role as Operations Supervisor in December of 2020.
What projects or programs are you currently working on? What about this type of work most excites you?
At any given time, I am working on multiple projects and, honestly, they’re all interesting! We have a lot of proprietary equipment, but I do a lot of integration work with third-party devices and it is always interesting to learn about the inner workings of things that we integrate. Every building has its own standard operating procedure and different base/auxiliary equipment, so I feel like I am always working on something a little different. The work is engaging, and I enjoy technical troubleshooting. I have done work in so many different buildings that I’ve honestly lost count. It is also awesome that I get to support and maintain systems for important operations such as hospitals. That is probably some of the work I am most proud of to date. Not only do we help make sure all mechanical operations at the hospitals run smoothly, but we also make sure the environments are safe for our health workers, their patients and lab research.
Even before COVID-19, our equipment was responsible for airflow and maintaining certain levels of pressurization for different rooms (ICUs, standard patient rooms, operating rooms, pharmacies, labs). Specifically, correct pressurization of those spaces prevents the spread of airborne particles to other spaces. When we heard COVID-19 was to arrive soon in the Bay Area, we adjusted fans to run faster for more air changes in rooms. I also created a simple graphic interface that allowed for quick display of occupancy and isolation room conditions. We had to verify and test that negatively pressurized rooms were truly negatively pressurized, to prevent airborne particles from traveling outside the patient rooms.
I think it is cool that our controls interface spans across many levels of equipment, from large equipment such as air handlers, boilers, chillers and cooling towers to small equipment that does localized individual room environmental control. When you see a thermostat on a wall in a commercial building, it means there is automated equipment that maintains a comfortable environment for you. There is a lot that goes into that!
Why did you choose to change jobs after being in the Field Tech role? Was there something about the job?
Honestly, I saw an opportunity to contribute more to our organization and that was what interested me. I am very much the kind of person who likes to get my hands dirty to problem solve in the field. The Specialist role was very rewarding because I got to work with a lot of different and awesome contractors and customers. This operations role will be a little different and I hope to be able to positively impact our department on a larger level. We have a great group of males (I was the only female Service Specialist in our department), and I look forward to my support role in operations. I’ve always felt supported and heard by my peers and our leadership, and that has made a huge difference in my development and confidence. I just want to return the favor and continue building on our positive culture because Siemens is a great place to work. It will be an interesting transition from field technician to operations. I am very comfortable on the technical side and less so on the operations side, but I think being uncomfortable or unfamiliar with my new job is very important to my professional development and growth. The move into operations aligned with my own goals and for me was the correct next step.
What about Siemens stood out to you and made you want to join? What’s been your favorite aspect since joining?
My values align with the company’s values and that is important to me. Siemens is incredibly innovative and truly works to make society a better place. I also saw a lot of opportunities to grow within the company because Siemens is involved in so many engineering industries. I really wanted to find a company that I could build a career with and I’ve found that with Siemens. It really does help that I work with a great group of people, and I have continuously been reminded that I made the right choice in coming to Siemens.
What is your favorite aspect of the culture at Siemens?
Ownership culture. My growth and development are in my own hands with great support and resources available. On my team, the working culture is awesome and I don’t ever feel set up for failure. Thriving is mutual — everyone looks out for the success of everyone else, which is important.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
The summer after my sophomore year of college I worked as a ship superintendent at Vigor Shipyard in Seattle for four months. I was responsible for running different ship repair projects at the Harbor Island yard (ferries, tankers, Coast Guard ships), and I was the youngest person there by far… not to mention the only female on the ship repair side. I would meet with the general manager every so often regarding my experiences. This included anything from what I was learning from the different people I worked with, to what strategies we should implement for people and project management. I’ll never forget that he wrote in my review that I am more powerful than I know. He said I should never be afraid to speak up because my insights are very valuable and relevant; that I have a lot to bring to the table. That has stuck with me more than anything else I’ve ever been told.
What’s your No. 1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs in the automation/tech industry?
Don’t be afraid to go after what you’re interested in! Always #SendIt! And don’t be afraid to hear “no.” It’s a little cheesy to say, but it’s true that you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. Even if you think something may be out of your reach, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. The worst that can happen is they say “no.” No harm, no foul. Some things in this universe are meant to happen, empower yourself to reach for those things!
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