Caroline Andrewes, the new president of the BC chapter of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Canada (ACEC-BC), is looking to preserve past good work while moving the organization forward.
Andrewes is a professional engineer who has worked in British Columbia for the past 20 years. For the last 10 years she has volunteered with Engineers and Geoscientists BC and joined its governing body as a councillor in 2014 and as president of the organization from 2017 to 2018. She was named president and CEO of ACEC-BC in December 2018 and assumed the role on Jan. 7.
“I’m currently the past president (of Engineers and Geoscientists BC), and still sit on the council. It gave me a lot of access to consulting engineers,” Andrewes said.
She said her first big engineering job was at Ballard Power Systems where she worked for 12 years followed by a role as director of risk management and of product cost engineering at Creation Technologies for five-and-a-half years.
“I’m also a certified public accountant (CPA) so I was mostly doing finance work,” she said. “When the role became available I got a couple of calls, but I didn’t realize Keith Sashaw was retiring. The phone calls were how I found out about it.”
Sashaw served as president and CEO of ACEC-BC from 2012 before retiring at the end of 2018, and his previous roles included president of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association from 2001 to 2012 and the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC from 1985 to 1999.
The first thing Andrewes intends to do going forward is “build on the good work of my predecessor,” she said.
“We have a deep volunteer pool, great relationships with sector clients, regulators and sister associations,” she said. “The first three months of the year are very busy for the association, as we hosted our transport conference in January, and we’ll be hosting our awards gala on April 6 to recognize our members.”
“In the spring, we’ll be looking at new initiatives, such as how we represent our membership to the public, and looking at how we show the contributions members are making both in their professional lives and in their communities.”
Andrewes said a “complete rework” of the association’s website is needed as well as better utilization of social media. She said she’s been looking through the minutes of ACEC-BC committees over the past year to stay informed.
“One of the beauties of this industry is that it’s a meritocracy where you can rise if you’re skilled, but that’s not reflected in the way we present ourselves,” she said, adding the association will look at event offerings and how they add value for members.
She also cited professional development programs designed for mid-career and young engineers.
“We always like to stay on top of contract clauses, selection practices and contract practices, as well as how clients select consultants and continuing to work with our partners across the country,” Andrewes said.
At a policy level, Andrewes said, emerging issues for the association include helping engage with contracting practices and advocacy for members concerning the Professional Governance Act passed in the B.C. legislature in late 2018. The new legislation consolidates oversight of five professional regulators under the new Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance. Over the next few years the government will release regulations to support implementation of the act.
Andrewes said the organization will continue to act in a non-partisan manner as “there’s benefit with maintaining good relationships with government, and one of the main reasons is to continue to be influential and help the government of the day understand why a policy is helpful or harmful.”
“We’re also a fan of letting the opposition know what’s going on in the industry, because our members are in every riding,” Andrewes said.