A familiar face has reappeared at Kalsi Engineering, Inc. (KEI). Dr. Kalsi’s daughter, Isken Ward, returned to KEI in 2014, and is presently serving as Chief Administrative Officer. Her previous employment at Kalsi Engineering was from 1987 to 1995. During that time, she was involved in many aspects of the business. She supported the company’s administrative work activities, such as accounts payable, benefits, insurance, and office administrative activities. In addition, she became interested in the Quality Assurance aspects of the company’s work with nuclear power-related design, analysis, and testing. She worked closely with Daniel Alvarez, the QA Manager, and eventually earned the QA Manager title for herself. As if that were not enough, she was also deeply involved with the newly formed Kalsi Seals Division. She was responsible for ordering the manufacture of all Kalsi-brand rotary seals, receiving them, inspecting them, and packaging them for sale, as well as being responsible for control of on-site seal inventory, sales, and invoicing. Her favorite part of the job was taking orders from customers, preparing the shipping paperwork, and sending the seals to the customers. Because of this customer service responsibility, she developed many special work relationships with KEI seal customers. She especially was fond of the Canadian customers, and felt fortunate to be able to visit with many of them in Canada.
In her present role as Chief Administrative Officer, Isken is learning more about the business, in support of the company’s long-term succession and business continuity planning activities. She is responsible for running the administrative office, which includes administrative oversight of some of the same types of activities she performed all those years ago. One big difference she sees is that the company has grown large enough that it takes quite a few people now to handle tasks related to the company’s rotary seal product line — so no more seal inspection for Isken! After two years of being back on the job, and working closely with Daniel Alvarez, Isken has also regained her QA Manager title. It’s funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Isken resigned back in 1995 because she felt an obligation to be a full-time mother. Her stay-at-home adventure began on August 31, 1995, when she left to raise her young daughter Zoe. Later a second child, Seth, was born, cementing her decision to stay at home and be a full-time mother. Now the children are grown. Zoe is working in Los Angeles as a Branded Content Specialist, and Seth, is attending Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he is studying Finance.
During her time away from KEI, Isken was busy with the children and found time to pursue her creative interests. She has had — and still has — a strong love affair with mosaic artistry. She began creating her own designs and selling to friends and neighbors, and eventually selling them at nearby holiday markets. This creative spirit is still strong in her life, but she is now too busy to create and design, although she hopes to get back to it one day.
In addition to being creative with mosaics, Isken has a strong sense for interior design. She and her husband, Chuck, have redesigned and remodeled three homes together. They accomplished this together from start to finish, with both of them being very involved in design, demolition and construction. This experience and love for design led Isken to start her own interior design company called Freestyle by Isken. During this period, Isken assisted many people in the design and decoration of their homes. She assisted customers with color and paint choices, tile and wood flooring choices, and design of remodel projects, and even the design of a home from start to finish. Isken found this work to be very challenging, and she loved the flow of creative juices. Even today she has friends and colleagues that will send her pictures over text or email and ask for her thoughts.
Another aspect of Isken’s stay-at-home life included volunteer work at the schools of both of her children. For example, she provided in-class support to the art teacher at her son’s school, and provided other volunteer activities on behalf of the Art Department. She also supported numerous activities at her daughter’s school, including Art a la Carte, which encourages students to expand their appreciation of historically significant art and architecture. Parent volunteers are given lesson plans that teach students about famous artists, paintings, sculpture and architecture, often in a historical context. Isken especially enjoyed this experience because she was able to interact with the students on a very personal level. To observe the excitement and the joy of the students as they were seeing something beautiful was quite a gift.
Isken has also been very involved with the outreach activities of her church. She has supported the Outreach Committee for several years by providing necessary site visits to the various organizations that the church funds. These visits included asking tough questions. Once the answers were received, the challenging work of evaluating the organizations was next, followed by giving the church a recommendation.
Isken also volunteered at a homeless shelter downtown called Lord of the Streets; this was some of the most rewarding work that she undertook. She found that connecting needy people with the right resources to be a very satisfying outcome. Isken has long supported, and now is the chair of, the outreach activities that support her church’s parishioners who have lost loved ones. She is tasked with organizing up to 20 volunteers who go out into the city to deliver lilies at Easter and poinsettias at Christmas. Isken says that seeing the face of a grieving person light up gives her the satisfaction of knowing the volunteers are doing something worthwhile.
Although many of her beloved volunteer activities have been put to the side for now, Isken has found returning to work at Kalsi Engineering, Inc. fulfills her in a different way. Supporting her father and the family business allows her to experience new and different challenges that bring her the opportunity to develop and mature in new and different ways.