Talking leadership, asset and risk management with Wakako Kimura Thomson

by BIM Academy | March 7, 2022 |  4 min read

Wakako Kimura Thomson
Home / Insights / People / Wakako Kimura Thomson

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, BIM Academy’s Dr Melanie Robinson met with some of our clients, supporters and partners who are pioneering women in their field, to showcase their incredible talent, genius and leadership.

Over the coming days we will be talking with five women who are delivering digital solutions to shape the future of their industries and just like BIM Academy, they are digital transformation champions.

International Women’s Day is celebrated each year on March 8, and recognises economic, cultural, environmental and political achievements of women.

For 2022, the main theme celebrated this year is: gender equality for a sustainable tomorrow. At BIM Academy we are committed to helping redefine climate action in the AEC Industry, putting sustainability at the heart of our values. Which is why it is important to us to give a voice to those passionate about securing a greener, cleaner future for all society.

The first of Melanie’s interviews this week is with Wakako Kimura Thomson, Director, Technical Services for Fraser Health Authority, which is one of five publicly funded health care regions into which the Canadian province of British Columbia is divided.

Wakako has over 20 years experience centred on new program development and building high performance teams. With a proven track record of managing challenging environments within healthcare, Wakako is currently leading the Asset, Risk and Quality Team at Fraser Health which provides quality assurance technical services to major capital projects ranging from $500M to $1B (Canadian Dollars).

Tell us about your role and what you do?

I lead the department of Asset, Risk and Quality; Technical Services (ARQTS), focusing on two key areas; 1) ensuring facilities quality and delivering asset management including BIM application at major health care facility capital projects, and 2) advancing operation and maintenance excellence and reliability at owned and operated Health Care Facilities.

What attracted you to your industry?

I was originally in the industry of financial asset management in Tokyo. When I moved to Canada from Japan, I moved on to physical asset management industry. Contributing to Health Care Facilities as a part of clinical care services team makes me feel proud, especially for the last two years with COVID, this has really tested the resources of the Authority. We are a strong team and together we have survived and learnt so much through these dreadful times. 

What exciting projects are you working on right now?

Among many asset management related initiatives, I am most excited about being part of the three major health care facilities capital projects, ranging from $700M to $1B.

I am guiding the team providing quality assurance technical services, developing appropriate technical specifications and asset management requirements in the procurement package. As well as inspecting the design and construction, and ensuring the smooth operational start up and handover for safe and reliable facilities management.

What steps have you/your company taken in recent years to support climate change action?

Within the last year, our health care facilities faced many extreme climate events, all as what would seem to be a result of climate change, such as flooding, heatwaves, gale force winds, plummeting temperatures and fire and smoke. Our facilities were impacted and some clinical services were affected. As a result we have been analysing our facilities resiliencies and we are incorporating resilient design at new health care facilities to manage the resulting injuries of these extreme events. 

When it comes to sustainability and climate change, what major challengers or opportunities do you foresee for your industry in the next five years?

Major challenges will be funding as climate changes are happening much sooner than anticipated. Not just new construction but also existing health care facilities require upgrades / improvements in order to be resilient. However, old facilities will cost much more due to many difficulties including hazardous materials such as asbestos, infection control requirements, and spaces being occupied for 24/7.

That being said, there are many opportunities to improve our facilities being triggered by climate change thanks to technology advancements. Some creative solution with low cost may make huge differences such as installing window film to block heat. Also BIM usage will definitely add value at existing locations to minimize the work onsite.

What single piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in your profession?

Be curious about what you do.  Visit the sites and talk to people.   

Name your favourite place in the world?

Tokyo. I wish I could go back there this year after not visiting for almost three years due to COVID.

What would your superpower be?