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Taking a vision and making it reality: how an external association can advance your career

April 22, 2022

Taking a vision and making it reality: how an external association can advance your career

If you've been following along with our industry associations series, then you'll know some of the common benefits to membership: networking with industry leaders and peers, mentorship, and education. But have you considered the potential to develop your own industry designation fast-track program, becoming a social media savant, or create your own ‘Emerging Leaders’ group? As the co-founder of the Emerging Leaders Group for the British Columbia Construction Roundtable (BCCR), and chair of the Promotion, Sponsorship and Special Events committee for the same organization, Ryan Smith has experienced all that and more.  

For the past three years, Ryan Smith, a mechanical engineer-in-training (EIT) with our British Columbia Buildings group, has been an active member with the BCCR: a non-profit organization established in 1994 by senior members of the construction industry to provide an independent forum to share experiences, ideas, and industry knowledge. With the aim to support the industry and its members, the BCCR focuses on topical meetings, seminars, and relevant project site tours such as the Millennium Line or Canada Line transit system in Vancouver, or metro Vancouver’s massive Wastewater Treatment plant at Annacis Island. 

Ryan Smith and Brian Yates.

Through his positions within the association, Ryan has had firsthand experience in planning many of its seminars, and networking events. His most recent was the holiday event hosted this past December, which was an exciting and fulfilling initiative as it was one of the first in-person industry events planned since the start of the pandemic. Ryan recalls that, although logistically challenging, it was worth it. “If I had never put my hand up to lead the planning of something of this scale, I would never have been able to introduce the event to a group of pretty high-level industry professionals. They now know me, and that recognition is something that I know will provide so much value to my career in the long-run,” he reflected. “It’s one of those things, especially as a younger, developing professional or someone new in the industry, that you have to do—because the benefits that come after is incredible” concludes Ryan.

Incredible, yes. In late 2021, Ryan, along with a colleague, were able to take a joint vision and make it a reality. Hoping to bridge the gap between senior and intermediate industry leaders, Ryan hopes to continue the legacy of the BCCR by developing the ‘Emerging Leaders’ program through the BCCR. Still in its infancy, the Emerging Leaders group will focus on millennials—who by, 2025 are expected to make up 75% of the workforce—and create connections between consultants, contractors, and clients, as well as drive education and innovation, and most importantly, engage the next generation of industry professionals. Primary responsibilities of the Emerging Leaders will include mentoring, scholarships, events, and social media engagement. Ryan brims with pride when discussing his inaugural group, “Having an Emerging Leaders program will not only help sustain the BCCR into the future, but it will provide career progression opportunities to the younger members of our companies by allowing them to improve their soft skills while cementing relationships within the industry. It will bring energy and enthusiasm to the BCCR and provide diverse perspectives for the industry.”

It’s one of those things, especially as a younger, developing professional or someone new in the industry, that you have to do – because the benefits that come after is incredible.

Ryan also contributes to the BCCR Instagram pages—which drives social engagement and reenergizes the BCCRs audience—speaking with top industry professionals to develop seminar content and collaborate with other organizations to secure sponsorships for the BCCR.  “Across all this, what I’m experiencing is proving to make me a better engineer, especially a consultant. You should be able to communicate your design with all disciplines. You need to be able to talk to the client and figure out their needs and figure out how you can meet them and really get that point. Doing all these things help with that. It’s such a big benefit to me in the workplace.”

Speaking of communication skills, Ryan is also the communications lead for the British Columbia Regional DPG. Supporting many initiatives within the region, Ryan has a direct hand in the ‘Speed Networking with Leadership Event’ events, and in the development of an accredited program within Stantec to fast-track professional engineering applications for EITs in the region. “I do really enjoy design—I went to school to do it, but I also like connecting with others and meeting others and I like trying to help other people succeed as well as trying to improve my career, so this is kind of my outlet for that” explains Ryan. 

Beyond developing new skillsets, homing in on communication skills, and supporting the industry, for Ryan, being a part of the BCCR is about comradery and mentorship. “It’s kind of unexpected the friendships you develop” he says. Ryan has a close mentor/mentee relationship with the president of the BCCR: “we go on frequent bike rides around the sea wall in Vancouver, and that all stemmed from the mentorship we established at the beginning of my career. It’s just cool to be able to connect with someone at this level and continuously learn about how to be better.” 

In his day-to-day, Ryan works on several projects that allow him to design mechanical systems for a wide variety of building typologies including pharmacies, fulfillment centers, and post-secondary institutions. Ryan is originally from Vancouver but has temporarily relocated to Edmonton taking complete advantage of the Rocky Mountains, often found skiing, hiking, biking, and soaking in the sunshine (even in negative-degree temperatures!).

Ryan is excited to continue to develop his career within Stantec and continue to support his peers, mentors, and industry with his involvement in the BCCR.

Our teams are driven to achieve. Stantec’s Developing Professionals Group is always looking for ways to improve the careers and connections of our people—learn how we’re Investing in our employees through our DPG Programming.

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