Meet the President: In His Own Words

Last week, we brought you part one of our two-part Meet the President series designed to introduce the man leading APEGA through our centennial year. In part two, we sat down with John—virtually, of course—to get to know the man behind the presidency in his own words.

This past April, amid a global health emergency, collapsing oil prices, and a strained economy, APEGA welcomed its 101st president. From the very first days of his term, John Van der Put, P.Eng., has been paving his own way—out of necessity. He’s the first president in the association’s history to take the helm during a pandemic.

Can you help our members get to know you?

I’m an innovator, a builder, and a leader. I chart the way and inspire others to come along with me, and I’m passionate about enriching their experiences and giving them the same opportunities I had. I’m extremely fortunate—my career, home life, and education have enabled me to move forward confidently and seize many opportunities throughout the years. I’ve been a creator and a groundbreaker, and I intend to continue as such for many years to come.

My other hopes and dreams are for my daughters—I want them to have the same or better opportunities than I had. My greatest hope is that their dreams are realized.

Why did you run for president?

I ran for APEGA president for the same reason I’ve volunteered for APEGA for more than 25 years: I want to give back to the profession that has afforded me so many opportunities and allowed me to realize my hopes and dreams. I ran because I can leverage the skills I have developed over the course of my career —particularly the leadership skills—and make a difference.

What are your biggest goals for your term?

I will ensure every decision Council makes contributes to enhancing the value of our APEGA membership, and I will lead APEGA to become an even stronger regulator.

The greatest value of an APEGA membership is the opportunity to practise engineering or geoscience independently in Alberta. The license we hold as APEGA members shows we have what it takes to practise our profession competently and ethically to warrant the trust that the public places in the P.Eng. and P.Geo. designations. Our members understand this, and I will continue communicating it.

You’ve been an energy executive for more than 35 years. How does this influence you as APEGA president?

My career has given me immeasurable experience in leading and managing, and the knowledge that I can make a difference. It has given me the skills and understanding to leverage resources and get things done. There’s an awful lot that can be done through the good people we have at APEGA—on Council and staff—and I’m committed to leading the way.

Why is volunteering so important to you?

I’ve been volunteering all my life. I was very involved in the Boy Scouts of America when I was younger, and I have served on university boards. It’s who I am—if I see something that can be done better, I make it better. It’s part of being a builder. Additionally, I want to provide others with the tools and development that served me so well in my life. There’s nothing better than seeing someone grow and knowing you had a hand in that. You can see the difference you’re making.

You’ve also spent more than 25 years as an APEGA volunteer. Why is it important to you to maintain that close, hands-on relationship?

There was never any question I wanted to help APEGA be the best it can be, and the best way to do that was to get involved and volunteer. In addition to having experience on Council, I’ve volunteered with many APEGA committees. I’ve been on the Professional Development Committee, helping develop the Continuing Professional Development Program. I was involved with student outreach, performing science demonstrations in elementary school classrooms. I was also on the Discipline Committee, which was great preparation for my role now as APEGA president.

Let’s talk about the pandemic. Do you see APEGA changing in the future because of it?

I don’t see APEGA changing in any fundamental way, but it has led us to develop tools to continue to be an effective regulator even in the face of a pandemic, and that will stay with us. These are lessons that will serve us well when the next challenge comes along. We may not change in a large way, but we’ll take the lessons we’ve learned and bring them into how we function in the future.

Many of our members and permit holders are struggling with the difficulties brought on by the pandemic. What can you tell them?

Professional engineers and geoscientists are all about dealing with challenges, and that’s really powerful at a time like this. We thrive on solving problems and we’re innovative—and we’re getting to exercise those muscles now more than ever.

We’re going through a tough time now, but this isn’t the way it will be forever. We will come through this, and when we do, we’re going to feel fulfilled knowing we were able to rise to the occasion and deal with the great challenge we faced. We’ll look back at this time and see that we were put to the test and we triumphed.

How does it feel taking on the role of APEGA president during a pandemic?

I really see it as just another career challenge—working with other great people to succeed in the face of a problem we have to surmount together.

The biggest difference is social distancing and restrictions on gatherings. Many of the things a president does, such as visit the branches and meet with membership and government officials, all must be done virtually, but APEGA staff has done an amazing job of finding ways to have those interactions in a different way.

Again, this isn’t going to be forever. We’re changing how we connect right now, and we’re taking it all in stride and getting things done. We’ll come through this stronger because of it.

Watch John Van der Put's AGM Speech

In case you missed it, watch John's inaugural speech (delivered virtually) from April 24, 2020.

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John Van der Put, P.Eng., FEC, FGC (Hon.)
APEGA Council President 2020-21