May, 2000

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Sue Evison Speaks to The PEGG

APEGGA President Sue Evison, P.Eng.,
answers questions related to APEGGA
and the professions.

Is there anything that you particularly are looking forward to as you begin your term as APEGGA President?

I am looking forward to meeting new people and spending time promoting the professions. I expect to be liaising with representatives of other professions and that should be a learning experience even though our allied professions are dealing with similar issues. APEGGAís president is called upon to do a fair bit of speaking and I am looking forward to the opportunities to speak publicly and being associated with a prestigious organization.

You have the distinction of being the first woman to be elected President of the Association. What are your own thoughts in that regard? Do you anticipate it means you will bring a different approach / perspective to the presidency?

I feel a bit uncomfortable about expectations that I will be a gender representative. I am firmly of the opinion that APEGGA is an organization of members who share common traits of being knowledgeable, dedicated, ethical and skilled practitioners. The fact that we splinter a bit into engineers, geologists and geophysicists; male/female; while necessary in some cases, can tend to detract from the whole.

I will bring a different style, no question, but APEGGAís strategies are set by Council and, as President, I see myself as providing a voice to carry the resulting messages to our membership and other constituencies.

What do you consider some of the priorities facing the professions and, by implication, the Association?

There is no doubt that professions -- and our three professions are not alone in this -- are facing difficulties being professionals in todayís rapidly changing world. While once the specialized knowledge we possessed as professionals might have given us certain privileges --- such as the right to license and regulate ourselves -- specialized knowledge now is accessible to millions almost instantaneously via the Internet and other new technologies. I donít think we have fully come to grips with what this means to our professions. With so much knowledge so readily available, there are those who may question the usefulness of self-governing professionals. I believe it is important to draw a distinction between knowledge and using or applying that knowledge. It is in this area, in particular, that I see a need and value in having competent and defined professionals who enjoy the publicís trust.

By virtue of your training in geotechnical engineering, you presumably have worked closely with earth scientists. How might this influence your approach to earth scientists and their participation in APEGGA?

Let me approach this from a different angle. From my personal experience, starting off in the structural and earthquake side of civil engineering, and then moving into geotechnical engineering, I am aware of how technical areas push up against each other. While Iím not about to suggest that engineers, geologists and geophysicists are about to lose their distinctive identities, I think we must recognize that the boundaries between disciplines are being pushed up against each other. At some point, we may have to decide whether we maintain boundaries or look for ways to dissolve them. Because of its very make-up -- with three professions within one organization -- APEGGA has had more experience than most professional groups in accommodating divergence and convergence.

The professions face a number of critical issues in the national and even the international context. Could you specify what you consider to be some of the key issues and how you might like to see them handled?

Mobility is an important issue which sister associations, working through CCPE (the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers) as well as the CCPG (Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists), have achieved considerable progress. However, more work needs to be done to deliver the message that it now is relatively straightforward for professionals to transfer between Canadian jurisdictions. Progress also has been made to make it easier for professionals to move across international boundaries but obstacles remain regarding easy movement between Canada and the United States.

The question of software engineering and use of that term remains an important issue but there are signs that progress is being made toward resolving that problem.

In a provincial context, are there some matters that you see as being of ones of particular importance to the Association and its members?

Some of the matters I have mentioned in the national context also have provincial implications.

The question of the Associationís relevance not only to members but to a range of stakeholders, including Permit holders, those using our services, and government, is important. I am glad to say that a Council task force, led by Linda Van Gastel, is well on its way toward providing us with a better understanding of what we may have to do to remain relevant a decade from now or further into the future. Lindaís task force will also benefit from the work of two other Council task forces -- one on emerging technologies and the other on the role of geoscientists within APEGGA -- both of which have produced useful reports. I should add that the question of relevancy also is a national concern.

Long before being elected to Council, you were an active APEGGA volunteer. What got you actively involved in the Association and what kept you involved?

It gave me an opportunity to be part of a group of very positive and often like-minded people. It also provided me with a chance for personal growth beyond technical engineering.


Are there any particular changes or trends which you have observed during your association with APEGGA?

I think the work done under the leadership of Dan Motyka to update our governance structure has been very beneficial. But thinking back even further to the early 1990s, APEGGA underwent a very large strategic direction change on how it approached communication. The huge effort was initiated and led by then Councillor Bill Slusarchuk, P.Eng., PhD.

What do you say to those who maintain they are too busy with their work and their personal lives to devote time to a professional association or technical society?

Itís not for me to judge. I cannot know someone else's life sufficiently well to comment. As the saying goes: "I would have to walk in their moccasins for a full cycle of the moon" to even start to understand.

Is there any person(s) who had a special impact on your career or professional development, possibly as a mentor or role model?

Several people have shaped my definition of who I am. There have been many people who have helped me create an environment where I could try to do my best. They are not necessarily mentors but more like facilitators. I would include in the list my current employer Klohn Crippen and also my daughters, Tisha and Rhiannon, who have been very understanding of the demands of time placed on me as I pursued my career and devoted time to APEGGA and other causes.









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