Welcome to BizBeat, Pique’s newest web series profiling Whistler businesses and their employees who go above and beyond.
Each week, we will profile another resort employer and one of their staff, who have each agreed to answer the same questionnaire that has been sent to businesses and employees across the community.
After yesterday's BizBeat entry profiling Pockling Building Systems, we talk to star employee and project manager, Kushwant Bussawah.
The following interview has been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.
Pique: Tell us about yourself and how you landed in Whistler.
I’m a mechanical engineer from Montreal who decided that the East Coast lacked actual mountains and came here chasing snow, rock faces and a healthy work-life balance.
Describe your current job and what you do at the company.
I’m a project manager and estimator. My day-to-day tasks vary between scheduling work, planning out the year, juggling some of the company finances (also known as calling clients to follow up) and ensuring that everyone gets home safely at the end of the work day. Happy employees make happy customers.
What do you like best about the job?
My employers hold strong values toward a healthy work-life balance. Why else would we live in this amazing place if we cannot enjoy the mountains? Everyone has an expectation of getting paid a fair and living wage (we get paid more than that here) and the work output is a reflection of this stability.
What is your housing situation? How did you find it?
I’m a renter who considers himself lucky to have found a place like I did. Hopefully one day the market allows me to buy/build something that the dog and I can call our home.
How do you try to strike a healthy work-life balance in Whistler?
Powder days are ski days even on weekdays (we have a 20-centimetre rule at work). Sunny days in summer make for early afternoons of rock climbing, and the lunchtime breaks are for playing with the dog.
If you were mayor for a day, what single policy would you implement in Whistler to best support local workers?
Sea to Sky Standards—a policy that better reflects the reality of living in a resort community. The weather and the high cost of living are not the same as what Vancouver considers "normal." I’m personally adverse to the idea of tipping to mask the unethical and thieving ways of justifying paying employees less than the hard work they put in. Moreover, when it comes to building codes, our standards vary from those of the city (thanks to massive snow loads!) and it is about time that,as builders, we stand up for how much more we charge than city-based companies, because of our realities.
What’s a memorable moment or customer from your time on the job?
We were installing a new roof for a customer in Squamish and while my colleague and I were outside in the rain, picking up pieces of old cedar shingles from the ground, the client’s wife came out with a fresh pot of tea and biscuits. It was a small gesture, but a heartwarming moment on a grim day.
Any advice for young people trying to make it in Whistler?
Work hard so you can afford to play hard. Enough with the excuses.