Seattle City (spot)Light: Vinod Kumar

Line Crew Chief Vinod Kumar celebrated 20 years at City Light in August. “I started as a meter reader,” Vinod said. “From there, I worked in the warehouse and later became a material supplier. After a few years, I applied to the lineworker apprenticeship program and have been in this discipline ever since.”

Born in India, Vinod moved to Washington with his family 27 years ago. “My uncle came here as a Boeing engineer and told us about Seattle,” Vinod shared. “My older brother sponsored my whole family to move here. It’s nice to be near everyone; family is very important to me.” He graduated from college with a double major in political science and economics. He also received a certification in business management.

Vinod lives in Renton with his wife Seema. Their daughter Bhavya is attending medical school at the University of Washington. “We’re very proud of her,” Vinod said with a smile.

In this week’s (spot)Light, Vinod talks about his hobbies and shares how his grandfather influenced his career in public service.

Vinod with his wife and daughter

“For our crew, a typical day begins with regular assigned job tasks. Some days we set new poles and transfer, other days we work on different jobs. We also perform maintenance work like installing new switches, new lines or new poles. Sometimes we go to Cedar Fall Dam and Skagit Valley to complete maintenance on transmissions lines. Our crews plan together and receive feedback from one another. We get the job done and keep our customers happy.”

“I love this area. We spend time outdoors and go hiking. I’ve done trails at Mount Si, Cedar Falls and Crystal Mountain. I just learned of a hike near Mt. Rainier that leads to a fire shack. I want to try that. I also enjoy working with and varnishing wood. I like being outside. My family owned a farm in India, and ever since I was a kid, I’ve always liked that physical work and working outside. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy my job so much.”

“My father served in three wars and was captured as a prisoner of war in China. When I was about three years old, my mom received a telegram saying my dad had died in the war. No one knew he was captured. After six or seven months, he escaped and made his way back to India and then to our home. One of my first memories is playing outside with my brother and seeing a man walk up to us in his uniform. It was my dad. He leaned over, picked us up and held us.”

“Working with the public is an ideal that was instilled in me at a young age. My grandfather was very involved with the community. He served as a town mayor, secretary for the college, and president of the high school. He was a prominent local figure. He passed away at 101 years old. When we moved to Seattle he told us, ‘Grandsons, work hard. Save money. And don’t stay out after sunset. When the birds fly back to their nest, that means it’s time to go home and be with your family.’ All these years, I’ve listened to his advice. My work has also allowed me to take on a leadership role. One of my favorite sayings is ‘Respect your elders and love your youngers.’ I’ve enjoyed mentoring our employees and implementing my grandfather’s leadership practice in my work.”