June, 2000

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Making Business Our Business

By Sue Evison, P.Eng.

During the more than ten years that I have been an active volunteer in this
Association, I have seen it make tremendous strides on a number of fronts.

Areas that immediately come to mind are communication with the public, relations with government and student involvement in APEGGA. In connection with the latter, I can mention that as this column was being prepared, almost 1,000 university students had signed up for the APEGGA Student Advantage Program (ASAP). We have also been very successful in establishing and maintaining links with governments both at the provincial level and the municipal level (through the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties).

Knowing Glances vs. Blank Stares

As someone who has been closely associated with APEGGA's efforts to raise
its profile though communication initiatives, it is gratifying to be met by
knowing glances rather than blank stares when I speak of our Association
to individuals and audiences. I believe that government, students and the
public increasingly recognize the value of an Association which ensures
public well-being and protection, and which brings value to stakeholders
by championing the professions of engineering, geology and geophysics.

Generally, individual members of APEGGA have recognized that while our
primary purpose is to ensure proper and ethical professional practice,
there also is added value in belonging to a professional body such as ours.

Bringing Our Message to Business

I am not sure that we always have succeeded in bringing that same message to the corporate sector. Certainly there have been efforts to explain APEGGA's Permit to Practice system and how it relates to corporate responsibility, quality assurance, and respect for employees'

We believe that the APEGGA connection carries weight and value. So much so that your Association recently took steps to encourage Permit holders to include the APEGGA logo on stationery and other corporate communications as signal of adherence to professional standards. In a sense, it's a reminder of quality much in the way that many firms proudly extol their ISO registration.

I believe there is more that our Association can do to enhance our interface and liaison with business. While we will want to choose our own path, there certainly are existing models and examples from which we can glean insight. My own professional activities have made me aware of the American Society of Foundation Engineers. ASFE effectively serves as a
bridge to the business side of that industry and acts as a standard-setting body which conducts peer reviews and prepares guidelines in such fields as risk management. A successful ASFE initiative has been what it terms "Backyard Seminars". With ASFE support, a firm or group of firms in a local area sponsors a seminar with local application. Topics have included client relations; profitability for project manager; contract basics for project managers; and field representation and the technicians role on site.

Your Ideas Welcomed

If you have other ideas on how we can improve APEGGA's dialogue with business, I would be happy to hear from you.

In conclusion, let me stress, it is not our intention to lessen the importance of compliance with existing regulations on APEGGA membership, including Permits to Practice. However, it is preferable if firms see their participation in APEGGA through the perspective not of compulsion but of enlightened self-interest. It is, if you will, the difference between APEGGA riding herd on members on and being a pied piper.

Let's make it our business to talk to business.





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