Linda Van Gastel, P.Eng.,
became APEGGA’s 85th president
in April. A native Calgarian, she graduated from the University
of Alberta in 1967 with a bachelor of science degree in chemical
engineering, and added an M.Sc. in 1972.
Ms. Van Gastel began her career with Western Research and
Development, and later joined PanCanadian Petroleum (now
EnCana). Now retired from EnCana, she’s been an active
APEGGA volunteer since 1991 when she joined the Practice
Standards Committee, and was first elected to Council in
The PEGG presented her with a series of questions to help
members learn a little more about their newest APEGGA elected
1) What excites you most about assuming the leadership of
I view this as an opportunity to give something back to
a profession that has done so much for me. I believe that
our professions and our Association need the active support
of our members. Like many retirees, I find that I have both
the energy and the time to contribute, and I enjoy working
with Council and the wonderful people APEGGA has on staff.
2) Inclusivity turned into a hot topic for Council near
the end of your predecessor's term. What do you think APEGGA
learned from the experience and do you see any changes coming
in the way the Association handles potentially contentious
issues like this one?
APEGGA learned a lot about the importance of effective consultation
and communication. Interestingly enough, Council thought
that there had already been a lot of communication, and there
was widespread support for the concept. As more details began
to be communicated in the March time frame, some of our members
had serious concerns, and took the time to express those
The feedback was valuable, and as soon as Council became
aware of the concerns we realized that we were moving too
fast and that we needed more widespread consultation. We
learned that we need to have more and better communication,
including consultation and dialogue, especially on potentially
We also learned that many of our members wish to understand
the details of implementation as part of considering proposed
policies. We are currently planning more extensive consultation
on inclusivity, and I’m sure we’ll learn from
that process as well.
3) In this space last year, Mike Smyth, P.Eng., said inclusivity
was the major issue or challenge of the year. Does that
hold for 2004-2005, or are there other issues that you
see moving to the forefront?
Inclusivity will be a major issue for 2004-2005 as well.
Other issues that will likely require attention include ASET’s
continuing quest for status as an independent regulatory
body, and a more active advocacy role for APEGGA on behalf
of the professions.
4) Communication and consultation appear to be two watchwords
emerging for your term as president. What's your role, as
president, in these areas?
As president, my role is to speak for Council, and be active
in communicating Council’s intentions. We have committed
to consulting with our membership as well, and that will
involve a lot of listening and consensus building. I expect
a busier than usual year on both fronts, and will work hard
to make sure that APEGGA handles this challenge well.
5) What are the main challenges facing individual APEGGA
professionals on the job, and how do you see their self-regulating
Association helping them meet those challenges?
Our professions and working conditions are so diverse that
there is no simple answer to this question. As members of
self-regulating professions, though, individual professionals
gain a great deal. Their status is recognized and valued
by their employers, their customers, governments, regulatory
bodies and the public, and there is an automatic level of
trust associated with that status. This degree of recognition
is much more difficult to obtain without the benefit of membership
in a self-governing association. Governments are increasingly
relying on bodies like APEGGA to provide regulation of “qualified
6) What can members do to make the Association more effective,
now and down the road?
Back to the communication and consultation theme. We need
members to engage in the issues of the day, to consider proposed
solutions carefully, and provide their suggestions in a spirit
of constructive discussion. We also need to have members
take an active role in the Association – volunteering
to work on committees or projects.
7) What perspective do your career and personal background
bring to the presidency?
My career was largely spent with a large and effective petroleum
company, and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity
to take on a variety of leadership roles. In my most recent
assignments I worked with geologists, geophysicists and a
wide variety of engineers, so I have a broad understanding
of the challenges faced by our professionals working in operating
companies. My experience at the senior management level also
provides useful perspective in dealing with association governance.
8) How did you become interested and involved in APEGGA,
and what has that involvement done for you personally and
I was asked to join APEGGA’s Practice Standards Committee
in 1991 – an associate had recommended me to APEGGA.
Working with APEGGA broadened my perspective, including giving
me exposure to the consulting side of our professions, and
provided me with leadership opportunities that were different
from and complementary to my working opportunities.
I particularly enjoyed working with APEGGA Council, because
it welcomes constructive dissent and deals effectively with
differing perspectives on issues. This experience has been
very helpful to me in working with other boards and corporate
9) Are there any APEGGA or other mentors you'd like to mention?
How did they help you get where you are today?
The gentleman who invited me to join Practice Standards
Committee in 1991 was Stewart McIntosh, P.Eng., and he has
been a continuous connection with APEGGA and an inspiration.
Many of APEGGA’s past presidents have also been inspirational
and encouraging – and “helped” my development
through task force assignments.
In my working career, I was fortunate enough to work with
many wonderful people, too numerous to name. I particularly
value my associations, however, with Terry Lawrence, P.Eng.,
David Tuer, Honorary Member David O’Brien, Gerry Macey,
P.Geol., and Des Allen, all of whom encouraged me, challenged
me and gave me room to grow.