Leadership, friends and contacts: Bud Halkewycz

Editor’s Note: This month’s Member Profile features Bohdan V. “Bud” Halkewycz, P.Eng., President of Halkewycz Associates, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and former Manitoba Chapter President, CPWA President, and longtime board member.

Tell us about your background: I am of Ukrainian heritage. During World War II my parents and grandparents on my father’s side fled Ukraine during the communist takeover. They became displaced persons in Europe like millions of others at that time. My sister was just two weeks old when they had to flee their home in Lviv, Ukraine.

I was born in Germany, and we spent five years in a displaced persons camp in the American zone. We eventually came to the U.S. sponsored through a Catholic relief agency as many other refugees had after World War II. I grew up and went to school in Cohoes, New York, which is upstate near Albany. I went to LaSalle Institute, which was a private military high school. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

During this time my friends and I were influenced by John Kennedy, and by the idea that service to your country was a given. We were excited by his promise to take us to space. That is probably why I went into engineering. The challenges thrown out to us by Kennedy directed many young people to enter the sciences in that era.

After I graduated, I worked for the Department of Highways for the State of Vermont, doing interstate design work in the field. I was then drafted into the United States Army, serving for three years in the Corps of Engineers. I was fortunate to enter Officer Candidate School and became a lieutenant, spending 13 months in South Korea near the demilitarized zone. After I got out of the army, I worked for Ebasco Services, consulting engineers, out of New York City. I worked on the construction of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vernon, Vermont. I passed by this plant last year when I was in the area, and was pleased to note that it is still in operation.

During this time I got married to Maria Kopynsky, a lawyer from Winnipeg, Manitoba. We have one son, Andrei.

After getting married, I attended the University of Manitoba and received a Master of Science degree in Engineering, specializing in transportation. My first job after graduating was to work for the Department of Northern Affairs, Province of Manitoba. We were responsible for building roads, airports and providing municipal services for remote communities. Then I began working for the City of Winnipeg as a Transportation Engineer, eventually becoming District Engineer for District #2, which is part of the city called St. James-Assiniboia. The District provided a full range of public works services for about one-sixth of the city, including landfill operation, streets, sewer and water, and the whole gamut of public works services.

During the time I worked for District #2, I first became involved with APWA. My boss, Jim Scaife, was a member and encouraged me to join. In terms of my career, APWA was the organization that I found best provided me with a whole range of professional services. It gave me tools to do a better job, and it gave me networking—locally, nationally, and in the U.S. We continue to have our monthly meetings, which provide a wonderful experience for young people to learn from seasoned engineers and other professionals. APWA/CPWA provided self-development for me, and provided social contacts as well—many of the friendships my wife and I have today were developed through APWA/CPWA meetings, social events and conferences.

I was subsequently promoted to Director for the city’s Civic Buildings Department, where I was responsible for management, administration, construction, operation and maintenance of a whole range of buildings and facilities that the City of Winnipeg owns, be they police stations, libraries, museums, office buildings, public works facilities, etc. The staff included architects, planners and engineers, as well as technical, financial and administrative staff. We also operated the City of Winnipeg Parking Authority and Pantages Playhouse Theatre. We worked with numerous politicians during that time, both provincially and at the municipal level. I also taught a course at the training center on leadership and motivation, which I found very fulfilling. I was able to pass on my knowledge on things of that nature which I had learned from others. I remember enjoying that course immensely because it took me away from the day-to-day troubleshooting that you, as a director, have to do.

In 1998 I subsequently retired from the city and began a small management company called Halkewycz Associates, which does work managing and developing commercial facilities. During my career I joined APWA and CPWA, American Water Works Association, Institute for Transportation Engineers, International Facility Management Association, and Western Canada Water & Waste Water Association. I presently serve on the Board of Revision for the City of Winnipeg, where we hear appeals respecting property values, be they office buildings, industrial, etc. I also serve as President of the Board of Directors of Carpathia Credit Union, an 11,500-member credit union.

APWA and CPWA have had a strong influence in my professional development. Because of the leadership opportunities provided in these highly professional and motivated organizations, I learned many of the skills that have served me well in the past, and continue to serve me. The friends and contacts that I have made are invaluable and irreplaceable. In terms of my service to APWA and CPWA, I was on the executive committee of the Manitoba Chapter for many years, and I am a past president of this chapter. I was the Manitoba Chapter delegate to APWA for 10 years, and in 2002 the chapter gave me the Distinguished Service Award. I served on the National Board of Directors for CPWA for a number of years, and I served as president of that board for the year 2000.

Favorite Book: I am now re-reading Tolkien’s trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. I read it as a young man in college, and since the movies have come out, I have started reading it again. Of course, I read numerous magazines and journals that come into our office. But that is probably my favorite book today. I like it because it is a clear story of good versus evil, and how it is never easy for good to triumph.

Hobbies: I have always been involved in sports. I still play volleyball in a league. I support the national volleyball teams in Canada and Ukraine. I was fortunate enough to go Ukraine in 1994 to see the national team. My family went to the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 to follow both the Canadian and Ukrainian volleyball teams, and to see the first-ever beach volleyball games played at the Olympics. This year I began taking singing lessons, which for me is quite a change. During a recital, it is interesting to see the wide spectrum of people involved in singing—professors, young students, anyone who wants to try something new.

Role Model: My father, Roman Halkewycz, for a couple of reasons. He was able to help the family to survive those horrible times during World War II, get us to the States, and educate us. My father is an engineer, and when he came to the U.S., he had to learn a new language—he went back to university. He is probably one of the few complete engineers I know—he can conceptualize, design, construct, build and maintain projects. I guess that’s the way they taught them in Europe, to be more holistic. Certainly, many of us here became specialists in certain fields. My father is 86 and still kicking. He is president of a seniors organization, still quite an active man.

Tell us more about Halkewycz Associates: It’s a small firm. We provide facility development and office property management. As I mentioned earlier, my wife is a lawyer, and I’m fortunate to have an office within her complex. Along with my regular work, I also help with her administrative work. Now and then engineers become handy for lawyers, because there are issues regarding land items that cross lawyers’ tables.

What else can you add about being a member of APWA? APWA has been a very special organization throughout my professional life, not just for the educational activities and networking, but also the social and self-fulfilling side. It has helped me feel good about myself, and has made me want to serve. Most young people, I believe, want to serve their country, their province, their state, their city. APWA/CPWA has certainly been one vehicle for me to do that. And it remains so—I’m still active in the chapter on a number of committees. Even when you become partially retired, you can still find a way through the organization to serve others.