I first met Lynda Kiejko at my previous job; she was known to be the Pan American Gold medalist while I was an IT Auditor. Our paths never crossed until one day when Lynda attended a belly dancing class I was teaching during lunch time at our workplace. She was a bit shy and very friendly. Having just come back from maternity, she was already in full training for the Canadian Olympic team trials for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Over the next few classes, I began to see just how Lynda was re-defining the modern meaning of being a geek. She likes science and she is an athlete. She has comic book art framed on her living walls, her wedding cake had coding syntax on it and she could crunch data for hours without end. If there was such a thing as a formal geek stamp of approval, Lynda would have received it.
Wait, there is more! She is a Civil Engineer with passion for problems, mathematical models and theories. She proudly says she is the “go-to” oracle at her work for civil engineering questions.
But why is Lynda being a Civil Engineer so unique (over and above her Olympian status)? It is a common perception, not to mentioned supported by data, that female engineers are outnumbered in this field. When asked about it with regards to her university years and at work, Lynda agrees there are visibly many more males than females. However, she’s quick to indicate that she never felt like she was a minority or treated differently for being a women among her male colleagues. She went on to add that “equality also has to start from within”. In my box, Lynda just went from being a geek athlete to being a wise geek athlete! What an important reminder that it is. One cannot change what it is going around oneself until she / he starts changing what it is going on inside oneself. Thus, data nor perception frightened Lynda. For her, the equation was simple: she loved math, so she went on to pursue engineering because of this love. No fear, no prejudice.
Lynda graduated from UofA with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 2003. Since then, she’s worked her way up to becoming a Senior Civil Engineer. Lynda got promoted to a Manager role, which she enjoyed but did not love. After two years as a Manager, Lynda decided to step down and went on in being solely a hands-on Civil Engineer. She jokes now about all the many entertaining rumours that went around in her workplace; people were baffled that she decided not be in the Manager role. Lynda showed that she knows herself and understand what makes her happy. “I am a better leader without the management activities,” she mentions. Lynda doesn’t believe in having it all, but she sure believes in being whole.
Lynda learned from being an athlete that it is not the title nor the gold medals that are her measurements of success, but the journey. She knows the doing is often more important than the outcome. She embraces with admiration what Erica Wiebe, Olympic wrestling champion said to the CBC Sports back in November 2016:
“I want to be defined by the 3,000 days of training, not the one day I won gold.”
Pistol shooting requires not only shooting training, but physical and mental training as well. Lynda worked hard to guarantee her spot on the Canadian Olympic team. It meant waking up early to do her workouts, going to the shooting range almost every day, and postponing spending time with her family. And it so happens that she did not bring a medal home from Rio. It was an incredibly sad moment for Lynda, her eyes got watery when talking about it, but quickly a shining smile took place as she quoted her biggest supporter: her husband Kevin. He said: “Lynda, if a gold medal is the measurement of success, then the Olympics is the biggest bunch of losers you will ever meet”. Lynda and I both laughed, knowing that his logic is 100% true.
As we finish our interview, Lynda said one last wise statement:
“If you are not ready for failure you are not ready for the achievement of success”.
Lynda definitely does not need a spotlight as she shines from within.
Do you want to know more about Lynda? Watch this fun interview video we’ve made:
Chic Geek Challenge
After speaking with Lynda, I was challenged to redefine what success means to me. So, tell us, what does success mean to you?