MEET THE PRESIDENT
Advocacy, Compliance and Specialization
Are Major Issues Facing APEGGA, Says Dale Miller, P.Eng.
APEGGA's latest president is 50-year-old Dale Miller, P.Eng., who first
began volunteering for the Association at the branch level in Lethbridge
in 1983. He worked his way up through the branch chair position and ran
and was elected for two three-year terms on council, the second as a write-in
candidate. Most recently Mr. Miller advanced from first vice-president
under Sue Evison, P.Eng., (now the past president), into APEGGA's top
Mr. Miller brings both private and public sector experience to his one-year
term as president. He is director of water management for UMA Engineering
Ltd. in Lethbridge, and before that was principal of MPE Engineering Ltd.,
which he co-founded, district engineer for the Bow River Irrigation District,
and a design engineer with Saskatchewan Agriculture.
A 1974 graduate in civil engineering from the University of Saskatchewan,
Mr. Miller became APEGGA's 82nd president at the Annual General Conference
and Annual General Meeting in Calgary in April. He and his wife Rose live
in Lethbridge and have three grown children and two grandchildren. Their
oldest child is Jason, 28, daughter Alanna is 26, and Trevor, 23, will
graduate from computer engineering in 2002.
The PEGG recently asked Mr. Miller a few questions about his new duties
What excites you the most about taking the helm
First of all, everybody should be president before they're elected to
Council. You really would be a lot more effective. As president, you see
the issues from a different perspective. You have access to a lot more
information, you get to talk to a lot more colleagues in the professions
and so forth, so it really is a tremendous learning experience -- and
a lot of work. I think it's even more work than I was led to believe beforehand,
but it's also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
So I guess the answer is that what excites me is being given the opportunity
to serve the professions at this level. It's as simple as that.
What are the main challenges and issues facing
I believe there is no single, big, controversial issue hanging over Council
and the Association, which hasn't always been the case in the past. So
I'm lucky in that regard.
Advocacy is one issue, in the sense of should we be taking a more proactive
role in our approach to the issues, and if so how far should we go. I
think that's definitely going to be an issue.
I think we're going to be challenged a lot more on certification and specialization.
We're seeing it in B.C., with the push for seismic structural certification,
and here with the concerns of the Alberta Securities Commission on petroleum
reserve evaluations, that we look for ways to make the evaluations of
a higher calibre than they were previously.
The biggest challenge of them all is how can we bring more of our people
into the fold. We need to convince engineers, geologists and geophysicists
that they should be licensed and in fact they are required to be licensed,
without taking the big stick to them. I don't have a problem using the
big stick, it's just that the carrot is often the better way to go.
At the end of the day, it's the law, and we have to strive for 100 per
cent compliance. Otherwise, we're not performing out duty to protect the
public. That suggests that we have to become more proactive in our enforcement.
We're well respected by the other associations as a national leader, we're
well respected by industry and business, and we're well respected by government.
This gives us the ability to look ahead and keep moving forward.
What are the main challenges and issues facing
APEGGA's professionals, on an individual level?
Globalization, changes in technology and the growth of knowledge. How
do we keep up? And how do we compete in different jurisdictions?
Mobility, which makes it easier for professionals to practice in other
jurisdictions, is certainly important to our members, and APEGGA has made
some real progress, continentally, in those areas -- with the signing
of mobility agreements in Canada for engineers and geoscientists, and
the progress of talks with our counterparts in the U.S.
How do we keep up with all the changes in our professions? Well, professional
development is essential, and the association can certainly help members
in that area, and in fact continued professional development is now required
of our member professionals. An on-line learning system called PEGGasus
is also being spearheaded by APEGGA.
Learning for life is what's important. Knowledge grows too fast to rely
on what you knew when you graduated from university.
What do you bring to this job that is unique
or of particular interest?
Number one, I come from outside Calgary or Edmonton. I think that's important
because it gives me a real understanding of what's important at the branch
level and in the smaller communities. I also think it makes me very accessible;
I'm used to being recognized on the street.
Number two, I don't work in oil and gas. It's not that there's anything
wrong with working in oil and gas, it's just that so much of our work
as an association is related to it. I have an outsider's advantage. I
don't have any particular bias or insider's understanding of the issues,
so I can offer a different and objective perspective.
Your career is an interesting mix of private
and public engineering. What does that background bring to the table?
Actually, I have three perspectives. I've been a government employee,
then a private sector engineer, and now a consulting engineer.
I guess this gives me a bit of an understanding of how the different areas
work. I know a little bit about developing plans and strategies to deal
with bureaucracy. There's certainly some value in that. And I also know
what it's like to be in business as a principal, as well as to work for
a larger company.
How did you become interested and involved in
I'd always been involved in my community, as a Kinsmen, a Boy Scout leader,
a hockey coach. But until I moved to Lethbridge I hadn't had any real
opportunity to become involved in APEGGA. I got involved in the local
branch's school program in 1983. From that day on, I've been involved.
I moved through the executive to branch chair, and then started sitting
in as an observer of Council meetings. What I saw was that Council seemed
to me to be a bit of an old boys' club. They tended to micro-manage things,
like argue about the colour of the border on a certificate they were handing
out, and not see some of the big things coming at them, like the Alberta
Society of Engineering Technologists issue of registering technologists.
So I thought, well, I couldn't do any harm. President Barry Lester, P.Eng.,
now a life member, got me on the nominatino list, and the rest is history.
I served three years, and ran again as a write-in nomination.
And definitely Council has improved, not just because of me, of course.
Council is not micro-managing anymore. It is looking at the broader issues.
And it seems to have a wider representation of professional members, so
councillors come at issues with a broader base of knowledge and more perspectives
than in the past. They're acting a lot less like engineers on Council
and a lot more like managers and leaders.
The public members have helped a lot, too. They bring a whole different
perspective on how we should do things.
Council still might have a bit of the old boys' club feel, but more than
ever before it is not really an old boys' club.
I'd encourage anyone to get involved. If you have a problem with something
the association is doing or you don't see the value of your membership,
volunteer. You will soon see the tremendous effort that goes into making
this association work, and you will be able to speak and be heard, and
make a difference in the association and the professions.
It's a great sacrifice that council and the executive make, at the expense
of their time and their families, but to me it's very rewarding to serve
the professions, and you get way more out of it than you put in, both
personally and professionally.
Do you have any APEGGA mentors you'd like to
I don't really want to single anyone out. But I will say that some of
the presidents I served under were exceptional. We had some very dedicated
and tremendous leaders. I'm just happy that I have been given the chance
to work with them and now to follow in their footsteps.