In January 2021, Daniel Shihundu, P.Eng., MBA, was appointed President of Transoft Solutions. The affable, enthusiastic civil engineer, who most recently held the position of Transoft’s Senior VP for the Civil & Transportation Business Unit, talks about his background, and shares his thoughts on the future.
You’ve had an accomplished career, including holding other senior positions at Transoft. What choices did you make to get where you are today?
My upbringing has influenced most of my choices. As a young child growing up in Kenya, I had an inquisitive nature and wanted to understand how everything worked. Recognizing my passion, my father, a university professor, sent me to a special technical school. There I studied math and science, as well as practical subjects like woodworking, electrical wiring, automotive and mechanical machining. I am a practical person, so at university, I chose civil engineering because it impacts people daily.
After receiving my degree from the University of Nairobi, I amassed experience working on different types of projects in various capacities. I then moved to Eswatini (formerly called Swaziland) where I started working as an engineer with a consulting firm and enrolled for a Master’s in Business Administration at the University of the Free State in South Africa. It is during this time I was first introduced to Transoft’s flagship product AutoTURN.
In 2005, I relocated to Canada and joined a multi-disciplinary engineering consulting firm in North Vancouver, BC during which I learnt about an exciting opportunity at Transoft’s headquarters in Richmond, BC. This opportunity immediately captured my attention as it combined the three areas that greatly interested me: engineering, business, and software. Being with Transoft—as it has grown to a global company with a rich product portfolio—has kept me engaged.
What are some of your most memorable moments at Transoft? What are you proud of?
Being appointed President is certainly fulfilling, as I believe being in leadership is a noble endeavor.
Building the first Product Management team in 2007 and developing the TORUS Roundabouts software from scratch are standout memories. As a product incorporating our vehicle turning technology and roundabout design expert systems, it enabled us to develop a unique tool. That development, in turn, led to the advancement of several Transoft patents. And today, it is the roundabout software of choice and is used by more than 50% of US Departments of Transportation and key AEC firms.
While working with Transoft, I have been recognized as an expert by industry and technical associations such as the Transportation Research Board (TRB), American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and have been invited to lecture at established universities. But most rewarding, as I have held various positions at Transoft, are the friendships and strong bonds forged with colleagues.
The pandemic disrupted industries around the world. What can clients expect from Transoft in 2021 and into the future?
The past year was tough for many across all sectors. At Transoft we have always pushed ahead with our development plans regardless of the prevailing economic conditions and so in 2020, we put our product development into overdrive. For 2021, as we wait for the economy to rebound, we continue to enhance and update our products as well as develop new ones. I am an optimist by nature, and I see challenges, such as those created by COVID-19, as opportunities for positive change especially improving processes and efficiencies.
Our mission remains to provide trusted, innovative software to transportation professionals around the world. As a business with a global reach, we are looking to expand to geographical areas of tremendous growth potential like Africa and Asia. We will continue to improve our applications by including more built-in intelligence and updating the technologies we support.
As always, we will continue providing the best-in-class customer service. And we want to grow our talent pool while investing heavily in our staff’s well-being and supporting them in their career growth.
Any thoughts on the future of engineering?
Many of the design fundamentals in the broad field of engineering do not quickly change. I do see some technologies that will likely have a big impact though, including the use of drones, fast simulation, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and machine learning. The use of big data and simulations for decision-making can increase innovation and improve design with human and safety factors in mind. Autonomous and connected autonomous vehicles are also bound to influence the state and design of infrastructure.