Contract Manager – Meet Katherine Kwok

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Katherine Kwok smiles on the platform of Castro Station. A train is about to stop in the background.Katherine Kwok helps our agency maintain critical subway infrastructure. She’s seen here at Castro Station.

Contract Manager -- Meet Katherine Kwok 

Katherine Kwok is a principal administrative analyst for our Mechanical Systems Program. She manages contracts and projects that help us maintain our subways. Learn how her experience in parking and operations management set her up for success. Plus, find out the key skills Katherine needs for her current role and what she enjoys most about the job. 

Coursework and jobs before current role:  

Katherine’s story:  

“Before joining the SFMTA’s Mechanical Systems Program, I gained valuable experience in other male-centric industries,” Kwok said.  

“I entered the parking management industry initially. Then, I expanded into facility and operations management. That's where I focused on respect, teamwork and problem-solving. This helped me strengthen my skills as a leader and communicator.” 

Along the way, Kwok developed an expertise in contract management and project management. Now, she uses both skills every day at the SFMTA. 

Coursework: Business Administration – San Francisco State University 

Previous jobs: 

  • Contracts Manager. Oversaw the negotiation, execution, and management of contracts. Ensured compliance and formed effective business relationships. 

  • Parking Operations Manager. Oversaw the efficient management and administration of parking facilities. Focus included staffing, maintenance, revenue management and customer service. 

Key skills required for current role: 

For our Mechanical Systems Program, Kwok oversees contracts and projects that relate to subway maintenance. These include elevator and escalator upkeep. They also span fire and life safety systems. Her work even covers underground storage tank systems that hold diesel fuel for Muni vehicles.   

Kwok says several behavioral skills have helped her thrive in the job. They include: 

  • Adaptability, assertiveness, effective communication and problem-solving 

“I cultivated these through my personal life, on the job learning and formal education.”  

  • Be open to other people’s perspectives 

“Understanding other people and respecting their views and opinions is so important in this work. When you give out warmth and positivity, you get it back.” 

  • Turn obstacles into opportunities 

“It's really important to maintain a growth mindset. It involves embracing challenges and finding ways to adopt and evolve and improve. Having this outlook helps me navigate challenges with optimism. I can turn negative situations into positive outcomes." 

  • Build relationships with other teams 

“It's crucial to know how a large public agency works. Sometimes, departments can be disconnected. That's why it's important to network with various teams. I establish relationships early on, which helps me advance complex projects. It becomes easy to collaborate because people are already familiar with me." 
Training resources: 

What a typical workday looks like: 

Kwok’s typical workday can include:  

  • Task prioritization 

  • Data analysis 

  • Site visits 

  • Stakeholder meetings 

  • Problem-solving sessions 

  • Contract and project management  

“In contract management, multiple stakeholders and departments are usually involved," Katherine explained. 

"It's also common to work with third-party vendors as you acquire contracts and secure agreements. This can require working with the City Attorney's Office. That's why it's critical to be organized."  

 Kwok says the key to success is managing your emails first thing in the morning. 

 "By doing this, I not only structure my day but also set the tone for the entire week. It enables me to schedule meetings effectively and allocate time for my tasks. In this role, I highly recommend blocking out specific time slots on your Outlook calendar for individual tasks." 

What she likes most about the job: 

  • Exciting challenges to solve every day  

"I genuinely value the ever-changing dynamics of my role. The job consistently presents new challenges. I see this ongoing growth as an opportunity for both personal and professional development.” 

  • Paving the way for more women in her field 

"I also find fulfillment in knowing that my career contributes to fostering a more inclusive workforce for future generations of women."