In an industry where the people in a company are as important as the company itself, “Meet the Team” pages can give great information about individual employees and company culture. We’re going a bit beyond that. We want you to really get to know our individual employees who are the best of the best.
Nick Karakis has been a Project Manager and Professional Engineer at Cole since 2004. He wears many hats at Cole - and when managing projects that can take up to a decade or more, being a flexible problem-solver is just as important as technical skills. Currently, he and his team are working on developing a large block of land in Vaughan for a large commercial complex. Vaughan, a quickly-growing GTA suburb, needs infrastructure and industry in order to maintain its growth and support a growing working population.
The best part of the project, according to Nick?
“We had an active part in seeing these lands go from farm field lands, to getting secondary approvals... and now development can go through.” Being on-hand having a massive, population-supporting project from start to finish can be exciting, fulfilling, but still challenging. And for Nick and the team, there’s still a long construction phase ahead.
Nick started as a Civil Engineering student at Ryerson University, and he’s been in the industry ever since. Landing an engineering post, especially as a student, didn’t seem easy at the time; but while dropping off his first resume to a consulting firm he just happened to meet the head of HR in the hallway. An on-the-spot interview led him to a series of interviews up the ladder, and eventually he was hired.
He acknowledges it’s not so easy for engineering students now as it was when he graduated in 1999. Social media and online presence matters much more than it used to. His advice for job-searching grads and students? “Be active, not passive. Put together a great resume, put yourself out there, and show up in-person.”
When Nick interviews potential team members for Cole, an interviewee’s “character, ability to learn, and drive to succeed” are key for making that hiring decision - and making a great impression. More and more firms, including Cole, are shifting towards hiring for “fit” rather than experience. Since so many engineering positions require strong interpersonal skills and ability to lead, these attributes are taking center stage.
Nick likes travelling (his most recent getaway was a week-long trip to Aruba), and hanging out with friends and family. He’s a big fan of classic Star Wars - but at the time of our interview, he hadn’t seen the newest installment. “I know, that’s the thing, when you’re busy... I have a two-and-a-half-year old daughter. So now it’s more about watching Peppa Pig or Cinderella.” He doesn’t even mind shows like Peppa Pig or Sesame Street - they can be nostalgic, since he watched Sesame Street as a kid. But hopefully, one day, he’ll be able to share Star Wars with her as well.
In infrastructure and development, there’s a big move towards sustainability which seems to be, interestingly, driven by clients and landowners. The industry is seeing massive shifts in sustainable innovation and possibility, but it’s also become a necessity for many landowners, cities, and businesses. Clients need help overcoming sourcing-related challenges, as well as creating and advancing sustainable works. And engineers like Nick, with their team, are there to help them.
From L-R, Russell, Nav, Neil, Brad, Tyson, Mark and Nick