President of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec
One-on-One with Kathy Baig
February 15, 2019 - One-on-One
1. What led you to become President of the Ordre des Ingénieurs du Québec?
I had the deep desire to reposition the engineering profession and bring it back its lustre. It all started in 2013, during the Charbonneau Commission. I was on maternity leave and was watching the proceedings on television. I was deeply saddened by what was happening and wondered what I could do to help. It’s not true that ALL engineers are corrupt… So, I’ve joined the board of directors to help manage the crisis and, about a year later, became Vice-President of Finance. I then chaired another important committee. I had a vision of how the profession could emerge from the crisis and the next step was really to become president, so I could take concrete actions in the process. A lot of people supported my nomination and asked me to take the plunge. The desire to reshape the public perception of engineering led me on the path to becoming president.
2. What does professional success look like to you?
I feel like I’ve achieved success when we’ve met the goal we had set at the start of a project, and this is especially true when we haven’t “lost” anyone along the way either. In my mind, the entire team has to reach the finish line with the same sense of a job well done. If some people aren’t happy with the final end of a project, I don’t consider it a success. It’s important to deliver on expectations, while mobilizing everyone. Further, professional success to me is being happy. It might sound silly, but there are several jobs I could have taken, but that would have made me miserable. That wouldn’t have been professional success to me, no matter how well I did.”
3. What have you learned about yourself since being President?
I would say that I learned how important it is to surround yourself with the right people. When I started this job, I was 35 years old and the organization had all the problems possible, all at the same time. Sometimes, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The work seems insurmountable and you wonder if it’s possible to reach the goal by the deadline you’ve set for yourself. Years later, I’m forced to admit that we are generating good results. I say this very humbly. I knew this already but going through a difficult situation made it clear to me that it’s crucial to build a team of engaged players. When everything seems impossible, you roll up your sleeves and you tackle one thing at a time. You move forward with your eye on the prize, without succumbing to panic.
4. What motivates you and inspires you on a daily basis?
I like changing things, moving things forward, transforming them and feeling useful. That inspires me and it’s the reason the position attracted me. If I feel like I can no longer make a difference, my inner fire goes out. I have to be able to contribute. Life is too short. I must live it to the fullest. I invest everything I am, in my children and friendships, as well as in my professional life. I have to be all-in.
5. What do you want your legacy to be as President?
That’s a big question and I don’t know if I can commit to answering it. My initial desire was to restore our profession’s image. If I managed to give engineers some of their pride back, that’s one of the things I would take pride in. Also, if I sparked a change in our organization’s culture—which doesn’t happen overnight, of course—but if I contributed to a deep and durable change over the years, that would be very satisfying.
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