Seattle City (spot)Light: Son M. Nguyen

This week in (spot)Light, get to know Son M. Nguyen in his own words.

Son Nguyen has worked for Seattle City Light for 14 years. He’s a technical lead for the web team and currently works with City of Seattle IT. His job includes maintaining internal and external web servers and systems/applications. Son enjoys helping people by making their jobs and customer experience easier.

As a 3-year-old child in 1975, Son immigrated to Washington with his family after the end of the war in Vietnam.  He earned an associate’s degree in computer science from Edmonds College and began working for the city soon after.

Web Developer Son M. Nguyen

I have too many hobbies, but mostly I like golf and photography. Photography isn’t something I really intended to do, but when I had babies, my wife wanted to take pictures. That’s how it started.

I took pictures of my kids and from there I grew into it. I just bought a camera and played with it to try and understand how to make my photos better. One of my pictures recently won the employee photo contest. It’s a cityscape taken at night from a park on Beacon Hill. Taking pictures at night is more difficult because you need a lower shutter speed and have to understand the mechanics of the camera. The technical side is the best part. But I’m only just beginning to do landscapes.

I like taking portraits and pictures of people the most. It’s a timepiece. When I look at an old photo, I can see a moment or a trend captured in time. I remember a photo of me as a kid in front of a grocery chain that doesn’t exist anymore in the Rainier Valley. That’s where I grew up. And that’s what’s so interesting about photos. Pictures can bring back memories.

Seattle City (spot)Light: Chris Armstrong

This week in (spot)Light, we introduce you to City Light’s Chris Armstrong.

Chris is the Internship Coordinator for City Light and has been with the utility for three years. He is responsible for recruiting high school and college interns and working with the various units within City Light to determine their intern needs. Once interns have been identified, Chris does the orientation, bi-weekly professional development, and organizes utility educational opportunities. At the end of each summer, he coordinates a showcase to highlight intern work from the year.

Prior to joining City Light, Chris worked at the University of Illinois in academic advising. Chris has an associate’s degree from Sinclair Community College, a bachelor’s degree from Wright State University, and a master’s in Human Resources from the University of Illinois.

Internship Coordinator Chris Armstrong

This job was the perfect blend of HR and working with students. It was a great merger of two things I love, and it was kind of a dream job. The timing was a little uncanny. I expected to move to Seattle and spend a few months looking for a job, but it just worked out that within a week I had the job offer and got started almost right away. My first day was a career fair. My manager asked, “Do you want to do that on your very first day?” And I was like, ‘”Trial by fire! Let’s do it!” So my very first day working at City Light I was out at the UW campus recruiting students.

I love getting together with friends and playing a card or board game.  It’s good social time. There’s a great community of it here, kind of a renaissance of board games.  I’m actually designing a game in my spare time.  A lot of people have a creative outlet, and to me it’s always interesting when I talk to people to see what they do creatively. At work we usually talk about business, but when I find out what people are doing for fun – cooking, sewing, gardening, building a car in their garage – that’s always the cool stuff. It’s tough to know how to be creative with a busy life. You have family, you have work, you have other obligations, you’re tired. But how do you carve out that little bit of time to still be creative and still do something that you’re passionate about?  Maybe you loved to do something as a kid but then kind of got away from it – but it makes you want to come back. So for me, it would be making that card game. I just had an idea and wondered if I could make my own, so I decided I’m doing it.

Seattle City (spot)Light: Aaron Siller

Seattle City (spot)Light introduces you to the people behind the scenes helping to power Seattle. This week in (spot)Light, learn about City Light’s Aaron Siller in his own words.

Aaron has been with City Light for eight years and is an electrician constructor crew chief assigned as a crew coordinator. He helps to manage projects at the North Service Center and North Stations, evaluates which equipment needs maintenance (and when) and determines crew availability for new and changing workloads.

Electrician Constructor Crew Chief Aaron Siller

There’s value having a trade. I figured once I had a trade, that’s something no one can take away. I started with City Light as an electrician constructor apprentice. I took the Beam Class, which is open to anybody who wants to get a basic understanding of electricity so you’re better prepared to apply if jobs become available. I felt preparation was important if I wanted to give it my best shot. Over 500 people applied for the apprenticeship, and I was one of only five selected. It’s a coveted job and there’s a lot of competition, so I was really excited. As an apprentice, you’re really there to learn, so I went through the four years of the program and learned all I could. Over the years I’ve been a journeyman, substation operation, and then was promoted to this position I’m in now. I get to work with three crews and like the planning and input aspect. I feel a sense of accomplishment when we complete projects that I’ve had a chance to be involved in.

I climbed Mount Rainer last year and do a lot of backpacking and hiking. It’s a challenge to push yourself and do something outside of the normal activities, and I like the thrill and adventure.  I also spend a lot of time working on my house. It’s just little projects, nothing major. I’m working on a rooftop deck with an outdoor seating area. It’ll be cool when it’s done, but it’s a work-in-progress right now. I work around a lot of skilled craftsmen at City Light, so I picked up some techniques and am sort of self-taught. A lot of the constructors are ‘do-it-yourself’ type people – the kind of people who I can ask questions. A lot of them aren’t just electricians, they’re really handy at plumbing and woodwork and things. I’ve learned a lot from them.

There’s also a side of me that people don’t expect. I really like great food and wine. I think winemaking is really interesting, and the hands-on farming and blending is something I might like to do down the road.

Seattle City (spot)Light: Sarah Davis

Seattle City (spot)Light introduces you to the people behind the scenes helping to power Seattle. Meet Sarah Davis, a senior power analyst who works in Regional Affairs and Contracts.

Sarah has been with City Light for five years, and spent the first year and a half as the assistant to the CEO. She currently manages long-term contracts and works on regional power and transmission related issues, and in November she will begin a new role as a strategic advisor. Prior to joining City Light, Sarah practiced family law. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Whitman College in Walla Walla and received her juris doctorate from Lewis & Clark Law School.

Senior Power Analyst Sarah Davis

I decided to take an assistant position as a way to get my foot in the door with City Light. I figured the energy industry would be stable and dynamic, and I knew that I could find something that made me happier than working in family law. Now, I love what I do. It’s a really interesting time be in the energy industry; we’re undergoing a tremendous amount of change. I like that I’m getting to experience it and that in 10 or 20 years, I‘ll be able to look back and know I was part of that history.

I really like my coworkers and enjoy coming to work. I meet two City Light friends every morning to get coffee at City Hall. I’m a creature of habit and no matter the weather, I drink the same thing every day – an iced vanilla latte. I’m always cold, so it doesn’t make sense to consume something that would only add to my chilliness, but I like what I like.

I also like to eat and cook. My husband and his brother recently opened a bakery. He’s more interested in the craft of baking whereas I’m more interested in the eating of said baked goods. Of course, I have a million extremely helpful suggestions for things they should make but, tragically, as brilliant as they are, a lot of my ideas tend to fall on deaf ears. But I really can’t complain about having unlimited access to pastries. While we don’t have any children or pets, we do have what is turning into quite a collection of cacti, succulents, and other interesting plants.

I live about three miles away from work. I really enjoy being active and I’m lucky enough to be able to walk to and from work every day. On my walks I listen to podcasts about bad movies, food, language, science and mysteries. It’s a really nice way to wake up in the morning and a good way to decompress on the way home.

Seattle City (spot)Light: Francis Sammy

Seattle City Light’s dynamic employees are the foundation upon which we achieve our public service and power goals. Seattle City (spot)Light introduces you to the great people behind the scenes helping to power Seattle. Meet Francis Sammy, electrical power systems engineer.

Francis has been with City Light for five years. He works with line crews to plan and write work orders for major equipment in the field. Every piece of equipment on a power pole has a purpose, and he helps to decide “what goes where, and why.” Prior to joining our team, Francis spent five years working at Tacoma Power. He grew up in New York and earned a degree in electrical engineering from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Electrical Power Systems Engineer Francis Sammy

When I moved here from New York, I didn’t know anyone. I was just looking to get experience. This job helped me stay. With public power, the people always seemed really nice. There’s this comradery and friendship and a sense of duty. I was only supposed to be here for a summer but I got a full-time offer. I also fell in love with the Northwest people. And the different-ness. I know that’s not a word, but I’m talking about the juxtaposition of urban living with being surrounded by so many beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers. Growing up in the heart of Brooklyn, there’s not really much of that. Actually, there’s none of it. I remember as a kid I liked it when my dad would drive us in an RV to the Poconos. I also like to stay active. I play basketball downtown. I bike to work, rain or shine. I’d rather grit my teeth through rain than grip my steering wheel in traffic. And at least I’m expending some energy and getting something positive out of my commute.

I think the day goes by way faster when we can all smile. We can stay focused but still joke and have fun from time to time. I can be pretty witty – it’s a small gift. Witty and helpful, when the opportunity allows. I try to be as approachable as possible and I like to know people. I’m not a ‘reinvent the wheel’ type of person. It’s better to talk to people about what they’ve already done and learn from their experience. It’s weird being at this moment in my life and thinking about what shaped me as a person. There’s a lot of introspection. It’s the 1-month countdown until baby girl Sammy arrives. I think about what my parents gave me and how I can mold a similar life for my daughter. I’m looking forward to my next chapter.