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
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
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
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.