The Waterloop Experience with Anna Fok
I first found out about Waterloop when their posts started popping up on my Facebook newsfeed. Initially, I didn’t know much about the team other than for the fact that they were involved with SpaceX, but what I did know was that I wanted to get involved!
Before I get into that, let me introduce myself: my name is Anna Fok and I am in 5B Human Resources Management at the University of Waterloo. After seeing and hearing a bit about what Waterloop was about, I came across an opportunity to apply for the team and leapt at it! I wanted to know more about the Waterloop mission and I was really curious about what it would be like to be part of a student team. Within a few weeks, I became a new addition to the team as their Finance Lead.
So, what is Waterloop?
It’s been nearly two terms since I joined the team, and I’ve learned so much about Waterloop’s objectives and goals, as well as their potential to impact the future transportation industry. After all my work with the team, I can summarize what Waterloop is all about in two words: Growth and Motivation.
When I joined Waterloop, I was in the process of going into a different field of study, and the team was just starting to branch out from the SpaceX competitions to look at future applications of the hyperloop. It was a time of growth for everyone, both on a team and individual level, and being able to learn and expand my knowledge in a team environment has been incredibly rewarding. Since joining, I also got to bare witness to the expansion of the team objectives by implementing a new infrastructure team, which was really cool to see.
Beyond my role on the team, I’ve gotten the opportunity to expand my knowledge and develop skills that I will carry with me throughout my career. Being part of this team has taught me accountability because, sometimes, there are no deadlines; but the team is still depending on you to take ownership of your work and get it done. As a team lead, I’ve also learned a lot about leadership and the responsibility that comes with directing and managing a team. Finally, my overall experience as finance lead has helped me learn to communicate some of the more complex accounting principles to members who may not have much of a financial background, which is a really great skill to have!
There is nothing that says “motivation” more than students — already swamped with work and busy enough as it is — using their minimal free time to devote themselves to a cause like the hyperloop. Every week, I witness the hard work and dedication the team members put into this project, and I get to hear about all the great progress that Waterloop has made over the past term, which motivates me daily to do more with my position.
As Finance Lead, my role is to handle reimbursements, procurements, and accounting. That means overseeing the sourcing and purchasing of parts that are essential for building prototypes for future competitions. I’m also responsible for knowing where Waterloop stands financially and determining any constraints on our ability to spend on building materials and general growth, which ultimately helps us set goals for sponsorship to keep Waterloo afloat!
Looking into the future…
As I start my career, regardless of the field I end up in, the work ethic that I developed while on the team will stay with me. Not only will I be able to reference the technical skills I gained, but the soft skills — communication, leadership, teamwork — will also be a great resource for me. The opportunity to work on such a multi-faceted and cross-disciplinary team has been plenty rewarding on its own too. It has definitely helped me learn how to integrate myself and my role into a complex team environment, which lets me contribute the full value of my work. Overall, my experience on the Waterloop team will stay with me well beyond my time as Finance Lead.
Apart from my future… what about Waterloop’s future? As the team continues to expand, new positions and opportunities will be opening up to the community, and that means new members! So, to all you future team members, I have one thing to say: you get out of it what you put into it.
What I mean by that is, don’t be afraid to invest yourself and explore the team. It’s easy to just attend the meetings and do what’s assigned to you, but the term will go by in the blink of an eye. Don’t miss the opportunity to ask questions and get involved with other team members. You might learn something you never thought you would — just be curious!