Employee Spotlight: Brian Vikner
It’s the quintessential story of a small-town-boy turned world traveller. Meet Brian Vikner, our Construction Operations Manager and his fascinating story about how he was born and raised in a Canadian town with a minuscule population but has now visited far-flung countries all over the world, mostly to visit WhiteWater job sites. Brian found WhiteWater through his father, David Vikner, who was a 35-year WhiteWater original.
Please tell us a bit about yourself
I grew up in the small town of Cawston, British Columbia; I think the population is still under 1,000 people. I grew up playing any sport that was available to me (mainly hockey, soccer, and basketball), and eventually went on to Kelowna, British Columbia for my undergrad at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan campus). While there, I started my WhiteWater career as a construction department intern and joined WhiteWater full time after the completion of my degree. After travelling and installing slides for WhiteWater for a couple of years, I moved into the head office in January 2015 to help manage the growing Construction Department. Growing up, my siblings and I were exposed to water slides our entire lives, as our father was one of the installers on the original water park in Penticton, BC back in 1980/1981; we even had a couple water slides in our back yard.
What do you do at WhiteWater?
I am currently responsible for the recruitment, training, management, and global dispatching of the WhiteWater global site construction advisory staff. There are 55+ members in the group currently, living and working around the world. As such, it is also my responsibility to liaise between the office staff and the site advisory staff to connect and share information between the two groups.
What do you love about working at WhiteWater?
I am really happy to be working with so many great people and being plugged into a position where I can use my communication skills. I am a pretty extroverted person, so being in a position that requires a large amount of communication between groups and between people gave me the opportunity to strike a good balance that seems to work for me and my team. I am most excited for the seemingly endless opportunities that come up at WhiteWater—whether it be travelling to a project site in a new country or taking on a new responsibility—there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the exciting opportunities that come every now and again.
In addition to what I love about working at WhiteWater, I also enjoy playing at WhiteWater: it’s a very fun product that we work with, and it’s nice to be able to create smiles and memories for kids and families that use our product—and I, like most, also still enjoy riding the products we offer, too, so the secret is out: it’s not just for kids.
What’s your favourite WhiteWater product?
I have always gravitated to talking about our higher thrill rides when asked what is my favourite—things like AquaLoop are the most exciting to me. It is because you can mix anticipation (having a trap door fall out from underneath you) with high velocities (going fast enough to do a loop-de-loop). On a recent trip, though, I had an incredible time riding some attractions products (log flume rides and roller-coaster type rides) that we are offering, and I was exposed to a new type of WhiteWater product, and those rides have a place near the near the top of my ‘favourites list’ now, as well.
What’s on your bucket list?
I have never been the type of person to have a written out bucket list— I always just try to do take advantage of the opportunities that come up, and plan noteworthy things along the way. I didn’t really have Kilimanjaro on my bucket list until I found out it was in Tanzania, so with about 5 weeks to get organized, I decided to do it and prepared for the 7-day hike. I guess if there is one place that I have always wanted to go that I can say with confidence that we won’t be doing a water park there, it would be Antarctica— the desire to go there is probably part of an overarching plan to be on all 7 continents.
Do you have a hidden talent? Tell us about it!
I’m afraid to say because the audience will probably be torn on this one, but here goes:
about half of my friends tell me that I should seriously be doing stand-up comedy as a hobby, based on stories and experiences I’ve had and the storytelling that I can do to turn these stories into material/jokes; however, the other half of my friends tell me that I am not funny and that I should be talking less.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’m not sure exactly where I will be in 10 years. I could remain happily at WhiteWater, still, but I do know that in 10 years I will have continued to grow and built more skills that will continue to take me into leadership positions and utilize my people skills. As of right now, I do plan to further my education by going into another program, such as an MBA, but until I finish the current degree I’m doing, I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. I definitely want to continue working on international projects.
What do you do outside of work? What’s your favourite past time?
Currently it seems like most of my time outside of work is spent at BCIT—I am doing a second bachelor’s degree in technology (focus in construction management). If I had more time during the week, I’d spend it playing sports, I used to spend all my week nights playing basketball and hockey. A lot of my weekends are filled with spontaneous or planned trips—I tend to make the most of free time when it becomes available by going to concerts, planning weekend getaway trips with friends, or taking trips to visit friends and family who remain in the Okanagan. Even though I work full time in Vancouver now, I haven’t really stopped living out of a suitcase since I came into the office from the field in 2015.
What is the most interesting place you’ve visited and why?
In August 2018, I flew to Zanzibar, Tanzania to visit a job site; Zanzibar was an awesome place to experience a really laid back ‘island lifestyle’, where everyone lives by the Swahili ‘Hakuna Matata’ (no worries) mindset. I spent 3.5 days on the island (not enough time!) before heading to the Tanzanian mainland to spend a couple weeks on vacation. In Tanzania, I had the opportunity to do a safari-trek through the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater where I saw all the animals I could have wanted to see, came face to face with wild hyenas, buffalo, and woke up to a pride of lions breathing and interacting directly outside my tent. I also spent a week climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, and it all made for an interesting and unforgettable trip. (Yes, I did reach the summit).