In the Spotlight | ALLAN KWAN

February 2024

Meet Mr. Allan Kwan, our Information Systems Specialist who provides front-line IT support to our members and is responsible for maintaining the Department’s computer systems and network infrastructure. He has been a member of our core administrative team since 2004.

Can you tell us more about your background and role in the Department?

I went to high school in Windsor, Ontario, then graduated with my Honors Computer Science degree at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. I started working at IBM/ICL as a programmer and support executive in Hong Kong, however when I immigrated back to Vancouver, Canada, there were no computer jobs at all. I start working in different kinds of jobs, plus working in a computer store in Calgary for a year. I passed the Microsoft exams and became a Microsoft System Engineer, then worked as an on-site IT Consultant servicing most major law firms and accounting companies in the downtown Vancouver area.

I joined the UBC Department of Psychiatry on the first day of January, 2004, and have continued to support all the volunteers, students, staff, and Faculty from day one until now. I also met my wife in the Department of Psychiatry – sometimes we will run into another professor and only then they realize that she and I know each other and are actually husband and wife!  

Who have been some inspirational or encouraging mentors to you, personally or professionally?

I worked with Tim Lem, who left UBC Psychiatry but is still a good friend of mine. Tim is now in New Brunswick, where he is from, and we always WhatsApp each other. Tim is born in Canada and majored in English, so he always corrects my English accent because I am from Hong Kong.

I also worked with Colin Bryant, Communication and Computer Systems Manger and my supervisor for 20 years. Colin retired on January 31st, 2023 after serving UBC for 40 years. Colin was the best mentor for me because he was always calm and detail oriented. He didn’t talk much sometimes, but we didn’t need to ask each other things because we automatically knew what each other wanted.

I was on medical leave two times. The first time, I went through a bad depression, and the second time, I suffered from heart failure and was in VGH for 17 days where I almost died. Luckily, I have super nice co-workers who helped me through this. I would like to express my gratefulness to Vicky Yau and Colin Bryant, who assisted me during these two medical leaves and helped me get through those difficult times.

Can you share what a typical work day looks like for you?

We always try our best to assist all people who work in Department of Psychiatry. Sometimes when there are not many support requests, we work on overdue support requests, research on difficult issues, and try everything we can to look for solutions. Sometimes we have lots of support requests coming in at the same time, so we have to triage and share the requests to help our clients.

One time the UBC email system was down for a long time, and basically everyone could not perform their work smoothly at all. Another time we had a virus attack and we needed to run around to clients’ computers to stop the clients from using them, and we spent two days cleaning out the virus.

The satisfaction I get is when my clients are happy that I have resolved their issues so they can continue their work. It really doesn’t matter if they thank me or not. We can see the thank you on their face, or tone of voice if I am helping them over the phone. I always enjoy working in the IT team of the Department of Psychiatry.

What are your interests and hobbies outside of work?

If I need to relax, I will go to play badminton (my favorite hobby), also cycling, hiking, and skiing in the winter.