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Building Dreams: A Q&A with Cynthia Richard, Director of Engineering at Kent Homes

Meet Cynthia Richard, P.Eng and Director of Engineering at Kent Homes, based in Bouctouche, New Brunswick. She wants to share her story with aspiring engineers and technologists to celebrate National Engineering Month. This enterprising engineer started out sketching dream home designs and went on to play a critical role in creating them for homeowners across Atlantic Canada and Ontario.

Q: I see you attended the University of Moncton to pursue your degree in civil engineering. What sparked your interest in this field? Was there a eureka moment where you realized this was the path for you?

A: Growing up, my dad had a construction company. I was always fascinated by the plans he had on the corner of the table and would look through them and ask him questions. Then, I would wander off and draw my future house plans! I think this was almost in my blood.

Q: You've worked with Kent Homes since you were a university student. Could you tell us about your journey from being a student employee to becoming the Director of Engineering?

A: I've had an interesting journey where I jumped at any opportunities that came my way. As a student, I must have worked in every department at Kent Homes, which has helped me understand the business better. I was also working as a project coordinator for Kent Commercial. That helped me a lot with the construction knowledge I have today. 

I started as a full-time project manager in 2017 and led a team of project managers and an estimator. Not long after, I jumped at the opportunity to become the Director of Supply Chain when I was only 25. After a few years in that role, I moved up to become the Director of Engineering in 2021. I knew that it would be a challenging role but also worth it! I enjoy every minute of it.

Q: People often imagine that being an engineer is making calculations all day in an office — and that isn't exactly the case. Could you please tell us a bit about what your day-to-day professional life is really like?

A: That’s what I like: not one day is the same. You're always faced with different challenges. 

At Kent Homes, we always need to innovate, whether it's for new product offerings or designs. To implement these, we work as a team (engineering, sales, production, procurement) to ensure that we've planned and launched correctly. Then, we bring back the info to the engineering team, who update our drawings. 

I always try to help remove barriers or facilitate improvements, which makes me work with lots of people and get their ideas and opinions!

Q: What is it like being a female leader in the world of engineering? Do you feel that your gender gives you a different sort of perspective or leadership style?

A: Since I started here as a student, I have worked with many departments and people on the production floor. I built relationships and earned respect. Since becoming a director, I have often been one of the only women in leadership at Kent Homes. 

Whether I was a student or a director, I have always treated others as I would want to be treated. By having the respect of others and being true to myself, I have never felt like a minority or that people thought less of me because I am a woman.

Q: What advice do you have for people interested in pursuing a career in architecture and engineering? What kinds of hands-on experiences should they seek, what technical skills are in demand, and — maybe most importantly — what kind of interests and passions do they need personally to succeed?

A: Whether students go to college or university, they should pursue the courses and programs they find the most interesting — they should follow their hearts. For me, it was structural engineering. So, I knew I wanted to focus more on these courses. 

I was also fortunate that Civil Engineering at the University of Moncton offers courses in different specialties. I studied structural engineering, water treatment, road construction, geology and more. Through these courses, I was able to narrow down my interests. I would also encourage students, even in high school, to try to spend time on career day with people in the industry. 

The beauty of a career in engineering is the possibility to diversify. Options are almost endless — and there are a ton of opportunities! I would encourage first-year university students to apply with an organization like JDI, ask questions, learn more about other divisions, and seek opportunities for summer jobs. There’s no better way. 

Take every chance you can to meet people in the jobs you'd love to have!

We’re Hiring: Build Something Great with Us

Would you like to start your career in engineering or residential construction trades? Build something great with us at Kent Homes. You'll be joining a strong tradition of pride and craftsmanship, working in a comfortable environment with specialized technology, and protected by our high standards of safety and quality assurance.