Terri-Jane Yuzda


An Interview with Mike Smyth, P.Eng.

Consensus Building
APEGGA President Mike Smyth, P.Eng., leads a spring strategy session in Kananaskis. Council and senior staff tackled the tough issue of how inclusive APEGGA should become, in light of emerging and related disciplines, increasing immigration of people trained in the professions, and rapidly changing technology.

One of the important functions of the president of Alberta's largest professional association is to discuss issues with members. With that in mind, Mike Smyth, P.Eng., APEGGA's 84th president, will reach out regularly with topics of interest to members through his President's Notebook, which appears on the opposite page.

Mr. Smyth will also meet face-to-face with as many members as possible, through a series of President's Visits to branch functions. With his term now underway for a little more than a month, we thought it would be a good time to introduce PEGG readers to the person holding the highest elected office in the professions, by way of a question-and-answer feature.

Mr. Smyth, 46, is a project engineer with Optima Engineers and Constructors in Calgary. He brings to his APEGGA position more than 15 years of service to the Association, including five years on Council. Most recently, he worked on the Licensure Task Force and the Advocacy Task Force. He's been a member of various other APEGGA committees, including the Council Governance Subcommittee and the Investigative Committee. He and his wife Cindy, a teacher, have four children.

1) What excites you most about assuming the leadership of APEGGA?

It is a genuine honour and privilege to represent our professions, and to have the chance to give back something to the profession that means so much to me. The most exciting thing for me is the opportunity to meet and get to know so many people in our professions right across Alberta.

2) Mobility continues to be an issue for APEGGA and for its members. What advances on this front would you like to make during your term?

APEGGA has made great strides in this area over the past few years. Inter-provincial mobility is now a reality if you are a member in good standing in any province in Canada. Mobility into the U.S. is a long-term project, and we continue to aim for a seamless border for professionals working there. Good progress is being made, but it will take more time and effort to see tangible results.

3) Is there a single major issue or challenge of critical importance in 2003-2004?

The question of the year is "Do we need to be more inclusive?" The answer to this question at an APEGGA strategy session in Kananaskis just a few weeks ago was a resounding "Yes!" We will begin to focus on how APEGGA might tackle this major initiative at our first Council meeting in June.

4) What are the main challenges facing individual APEGGA professionals, on the job, and how do you see APEGGA addressing them?

Many of the on the job challenges I face are of the self-imposed type that I set for myself, and I expect that is the same for most professionals. We love challenges! Most of us are very well equipped in the technical areas, but could benefit from improving some of the soft skills that are required to succeed in the working world. APEGGA provides opportunities to develop these skills through the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) program, and also through volunteer opportunities on numerous committees.

5) What kind of perspective do your career and personal background bring to the presidency?

As a practicing, hands on, technical engineer for more than 20 years, I bring a real world perspective to this job. My interests have always been wide and varied, but over the past five years have diverged from a focus on the technical engineering aspects into the areas of communications, people issues, team dynamics and public policy. Serving as your president is a tremendous opportunity that will allow me to apply all of these skills and interests.

6) How did you become interested and involved in APEGGA, and what has that involvement done for you personally and professionally?

In the mid-1980s when I embarked on a career in consulting, there was much to learn in the areas of business, people, tax law, and the technical aspects of the profession. The factors that concerned me the most were those of professionalism and ethics, things that most of us are not taught in school. A friend suggested that it would be wise to volunteer with APEGGA in order to learn more about this. Aside from choosing this profession, volunteering with APEGGA is one of the best things I have done in my career. My APEGGA experience over the past 15 years has had a tremendous impact in my personal and professional development.

7) Are there any APEGGA or other mentors you'd like to mention? How did they help get you to where you are today?

I've been very fortunate to have been positively influenced by many people in my career, too many in fact to mention them all. APEGGA Director of Special Projects Stewart McIntosh, P.Eng., has provided support and encouragement over the years, as he has done for many others, and I owe him a lot. Past presidents such as Tony Howard, P.Eng., Darrel Danyluk, P.Eng., Sue Evison, P.Eng., Ron Tenove, P.Eng., and Dale Miller, P.Eng., have helped me in many ways and have become good friends. Without doubt the best mentor I will ever have is an honorary member of APEGGA, Bob McTague, president of Optima Engineers. My daily interaction with Bob continues to be a valuable source of information and inspiration.

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