Communication. Strategic thinking. The ability to see the larger picture.
These are the core qualities George Eynon, P.Geo., Claudia Gomez-Villeneuve, P.Eng., and Seema Makwana, P.Eng., say are necessary for an APEGA Council member to possess. They would know, as the trio are all current or past councillors. Eynon served three terms—including Council President in 2019— while Gomez-Villeneuve is on her third term as Councillor and Makwana is serving her first term.
“Engineers and geoscientists are two of few professions given the privilege of self-regulation. So it’s up to us, as members, with APEGA staff, to ensure we maintain the highest professional standards of practice,” stresses Eynon.
Makwana agrees, “In order to maintain effective self-regulation, it is important that diverse, qualified, and passionate individuals step up and participate.”
APEGA Council consists of 16 professional members and three public members. Membership changes each year, with one president-elect and four councillors elected each spring.
Your opportunity to help guide the professions
Gomez-Villeneuve conveys Council members take the weight of their decisions seriously. “The decisions we make change the direction of APEGA. I would say it takes guts to vote yes or no. That’s why as a part of Council, you’re one of the brains of APEGA.” All three members acknowledge they are always well-prepared and informed by staff to analyze information and make balanced choices.
They also agree that effective communication skills are necessary. “Councillors need to be excellent communicators, not reticent about speaking up and able to convey ideas to varied audiences. That means listening carefully, as well as engaging in respectful discussion,” explains Eynon.
From the very beginning of her career as an engineer, Gomez-Villeneuve knew she wanted to be a Council member. She started out as a volunteer with APEGA’s Outreach Program before putting her name forward and getting elected. Eynon and Makwana, on the other hand, were encouraged to submit a self-nomination by fellow members who suggested they would be excellent contributors to APEGA Council. Eynon had extensive volunteer board experience and explains he’s proud of the P.Geo. following his name, so his natural next step was to support his profession by running for election to APEGA Council.
Makwana previously volunteered as part of APEGA’s Board of Examiners reviewing E.I.T. applications and was looking for an opportunity to promote women in leadership. She saw Council as a way she could set a personal example. Unsure of what being a Council member entailed, she discussed the expectations and how her skillset would contribute with a former councillor. Last election cycle, Makwana took the plunge by putting her name forward and was elected to join Council in April 2021. She cites the nomination process as straightforward, organized, and transparent.
Submitting a Nomination
To submit a Council election nomination, professional members are asked to provide their current résumé or curriculum vitae, the support of 25 professional members, a short explanation of why they want to run for Council, and a self-rating of skills against the list of councillor skills and experience.
The next step is to partake in an interview with the Nominating Committee, a volunteer panel of objective professionals who review the nomination submission and evaluate each candidate’s qualifications and experience. These interviews also include a third-party observer, who is not a voting member of the Committee, whose role is to ensure all interviews are conducted consistently, fairly, and without bias. Once the interviews are complete, the Committee makes recommendations as to who is best suited to meet the current Council’s requirements. Every candidate, recommended or not, receives a place on the ballot.
Once the election candidates are announced, candidates can campaign on social media and through their respective contacts in the professions. Makwana says she made sure to approach a diverse group of people when she was obtaining the support of 25 fellow professional engineers and geoscientists for her nomination to help spread the word she was running. Gomez-Villeneuve adds it’s important to promote your skills and the unique benefit you would bring to Council. Eynon says he told himself, “Perseverance! If you don’t get elected this time around, try again!”
A meaningful contribution
“We impact the public in many ways they don’t even know about. Our duty—indeed our mandate in the [Engineering and Geoscience Professions] Act—is to protect the public interest in all we do as professional engineers and geoscientists. It’s an immense responsibility,” says Eynon. Gomez-Villeneuve agrees, “Being a member of Council gives you the opportunity to make a difference.”
Election nominations now closed
Nominations for APEGA Council closed on September 23, 2021. Candidate names will be released to voters in December 2021. Voting will begin on February 7, 2022, and will run until March 10, 2022.