Newly appointed West Coast Chief Engineer climbs the ropes with her expertise and dedication

From maritime engine-side crew to property management

After a career spent making repairs in buildings as an Engineer, Rihan Boot’s typical day as a new Chief Engineer is a bit less hands-on. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Promoted earlier this year, Rihan is now supervising a two person-team at 353 Sacramento Street in San Francisco’s Financial District. Among their recent accomplishments: installing a new Electric Fire Pump, installing a Heat Exchanger system and a Domestic Water Skid.

It’s a change, she admits. “I’m less in the field and more supervising, so it is a little different. I’m more focused on the status of projects, what’s happening with preventive maintenance — and we’re in budget season.”

Engineering and leadership come naturally to Rihan. She grew up accompanying her electrician father to work, answering the call for a screwdriver as quickly and easily as an assistant answering a surgeon, and with other odd jobs. She continued with engineering by earning a degree in Facilities Engineering Technology from Cal Maritime, where she also learned leadership skills that are standing her in good stead in her new role.

“I was a vice president of Cal Maritime’s Society of Multicultural Engineers, and went to a lot of leadership conferences, and that helped,” she recalls. “That was a rigorous time — the full-time course load was 12 units, but I was taking 15, doing sports, and the required weekly watch rotation, too. You learn to manage your time well, which definitely helps me with leadership.”

After graduation, she worked briefly with her dad at a power plant, then joined a commercial real estate company to reinvent her engineering career and found another mentor in Bill White, her former Chief at 353 Sacramento Street.

“We have worked together at a total of three different sites, and he has always given me the opportunity to grow that other Chiefs I worked with did not, Rihan said. “Bill believed in me since the beginning.”

She came to JLL in 2021 as a Journeyman Engineer and has been promoted rapidly to Chief Engineer, her dream post with the support and commitment to advancing women in commercial real estate through JLL Women’s Business Network, among other initiatives.

But there’s still work to do, she observes, in attracting women into the engineering field. That’s why Rihan has made a point of trying to recruit more women engineers throughout her career, attending the Cal Maritime career fair and speaking to the female cadets.

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“I also spoke at the local middle schools, which would have a career day, and I made a point of talking to the girls. I even put together a whole slide show of my journey to becoming an engineer and my life now as an engineer to entice them,” she recalls.

With a few months as Chief Engineer under her belt, Rihan is looking ahead to a overseeing major project at 353 Sacramento Street in 2024, and is busily researching the best company to do the job and how many vendors are needed, and considering whether a project manager should be hired.

“It’s just been a few months, and I’m getting the hang of it, but I want to feel 1,000 percent confident,” she says. “I want more projects under my belt. But I still want to grow.” And some things never change — Dad still keeps offering Rihan career advice. “I know he’s proud, and even though he should be retired, he’s still working and wants me to work with him again,” she laughs. “And I said, ‘No, Dad, I belong here.’”

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