A Conversation With Noon Leelardcharoen, Senior Project Engineer in HOK’s Houston Office
Kanoknart “Noon” Leelardcharoen, LEED GA, is a senior structural engineer based in Houston and a member of the firm-wide structural engineering leadership team.
What inspired you to pursue a career as a structural engineer?
NL: Growing up around my father’s architecture and contracting office, I knew I wanted to work in the construction industry. My Dad was always so proud to point out his projects in our community. This was a main driver for my interest in the profession: I wanted to feel the same pride in my work. Because of my analytical skills and strengths in mathematics and physics, I pursued structural engineering.
What is something unusual about your life story?
I am from Chiang Mai, the largest province in the mountainous region of northern Thailand. I never imagined that I would be living on the other side of the world!
I studied engineering in college with the expectation of joining my father’s architecture and contracting firm. A year before graduating, I unexpectedly lost my father in a plane accident and instead joined an engineering firm in Bangkok. I quickly decided that additional education would help me become more successful so I applied to universities in the U.S. I graduated from Georgia Tech with a master’s degree and a doctorate in structural engineering. It is a great achievement for me to have come so far and have been so successful in my profession at HOK.
Which project have you been most proud of?
The project I am most proud of is Shell Woodcreek Campus, a development consisting of two 12-story office buildings, two parking garages and a one-story podium serving as the main campus cafeteria.
I worked on the project with Houston-based structural engineering firm Ingenium before we joined HOK in 2013. Ingenium was a small firm and, because of our size, the owner was initially hesitant to hire us. At the completion of the project, however, the owner’s representative asked us to participate in the next phase. It was a great feeling to have proven our skills and abilities.
Who has been an important mentor to you?
I have been privileged to work under the direction of Anu Mahendra, a highly respected, successful and experienced regional leader of engineering at HOK. I have been working closely with him for years, and this is one of the most important and influential relationships in my life. Mr. Mahendra is always willing to share his invaluable wisdom, knowledge and experience. I would not be where I am without his support.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
Thai culture encourages people to work much harder than they play. Until recently, I was not always successful at balancing my work and personal life.
I remind myself that work and personal life are equally important. I have many interests outside of work. I enjoy watching movies that spark the imagination but aren’t too far from reality. This helps to give me a new perspective on everyday life. Music helps me relax, and I like to play it as much as I like to listen to it.
I also play team sports as an opportunity to enjoy teamwork outside of the office. Whether it be volleyball, basketball or badminton, it’s a good feeling to play with a team that shares a common goal.