Mandy never ever imagined she’d work on elevators – really, really not.
Her calling had always been food. When she allowed herself to dream, she envisioned working as a chef. Cooking up a storm, wowing restaurant guests each evening with unique flavors. Earning Michelin stars. Maybe even becoming a celebrity chef.
Cooking had always played a huge part in Mandy’s life – with cooking and food providing that comfort wherever life took her. "Moving from Canada, to Australia to Hong Kong, I’ve been kind of growing up by myself," she says.
Her love for food led her to study Food Science at university in Canada. "I had wanted to work as an engineer in the food industry." Recognizing the huge potential that automation had to revolutionize the food industry, she went on to acquire a Master’s Degree in Engineering from the University of Melbourne, Australia.
Shortly after graduating, she moved to Hong Kong, where she got an opportunity to join Schindler – and didn’t think too much of it. "When I started, I thought it would be an interesting temporary job," Mandy says. But she came around. "Now I see it as a long-term career. You can really use many different skills and there’s so much to learn."
She soon discovered that Schindler offered many more different career paths than she initially thought. "What I love about Schindler is the blend of old and new engineering. If you want to sink your teeth into traditional engineering, you can, and if you want to play with the latest technologies, you can do that, too!"
She liked how she was able to gain practical experience quickly by getting up close and personal with our products within her first weeks on the job. "As soon as I started in the field, the first thing I did was to help install an elevator."
Over time, she learnt to gain an appreciation for all the work going into elevators. "Some people think that all an elevator needs to do is move and that as long as there is power, it is fine," she says, sounding like a true industry insider. “But to have a genuinely superior quality elevator, the craftsmanship is key. There are a lot of things that will not start to show until after 10 or 20 years. For example, how the shaft and even the doors withstand constant use over the life cycle of an elevator."
That’s particularly true in Hong Kong, which, as one of the most vertical and densest cities in the world, is heavily reliable on elevators. "Hong Kong is a perfect testing environment. We have the highest density of high-rises in the world, and lots of people constantly on the move. So, here we really push our machines to the maximum over their life cycle."
After spending her first year assisting engineers and shadowing supervisors on construction sites, Mandy is now part of the field engineer development program.
Mandy is the only woman in her Hong Kong team – living proof that we as a company have still a long way to go to advance diversity and inclusion. "Being the only woman has never been an issue, though. What matters to my colleagues is that you show you are willing to do the work and learn how to do it properly."
Not a problem for Mandy, who fits that description to a tee. "All the supervisors I have worked with have all been very important to my journey in Schindler. John Lo, Kwok Siu Chung, Lee Kai Wang, Man Wai Lau, Hon Kwan Chui, and Ming Kin Leung are all masters in their specific field, and I have learnt a lot from them."
"You could say that each one has been like Mr Miyagi in their own way," she says jokingly. "Working with them I feel like I am gaining an additional degree and I can’t help but ask myself ‘why don’t they teach it like this at school?’"
And it’s that wealth of knowledge that never ceases to impress Mandy. "There are things some people might not focus on to begin with, but here there are people who’ve been working in the field for 40 or 50 years," she says. "Their knowledge and attention to detail is amazing."
And to conclude: "That’s why people call us the Benz of elevators."
"I go through phases and currently love southern American food. When I cook, I always try to use a fresh seasoning and ingredients. Recently I realized how amazing heirloom tomatoes are, so I’m planning to start growing them myself now. The key to goring tomatoes it to feed them, they need a lot more fertiliser that you’d think!"
So, whether it is taking care of elevators or tomatoes, Mandy’s a great person to ask.