How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked?
I completed the IAP2 Foundations training in October 2014 while working as an Environment, Safety and Regulatory Analyst at an oil & gas company in Calgary. In my role as an Analyst I had the opportunity to work with Synergy Alberta, an organization whose mandate is to bring industry, community organizations and community members together for dialogue about resource management. Having whetted my palate in the engagement world, I was thrilled to be presented with an opportunity to do Aboriginal engagement as a consultant for a major pipeline replacement project. Through this project I have I have been able to do work with many of the over 100 Aboriginal communities involved, as well as with the National Energy Board. In other projects, I also have the fortune of consulting in the world of strategic planning, stakeholder analysis, governance, and leadership development.
I have a background in philosophy with a particular interest in contemporary moral and social issues. When you’re talking about Canada and moral and social issues, Aboriginal history is undoubtedly going to come up in conversation. Stakeholder and Aboriginal engagement became an interest of mine in university as I studied Australian Aboriginal social issues while on exchange, and as I contemplated the underlying philosophy of duty to consult, rights of future generations, and other contemporary ethics throughout my undergraduate degree.
What turned you on to P2 in the first place?
While studying philosophy at St. Francis Xavier University, I became curious about how to challenge oneself to let go of preconceived ideas about how things should or shouldn’t be. I believe that’s the key to good engagement: listening carefully and considering another perspective and the merits of that perspective and not just sitting there thinking about how you’re going to prove your point.
I learned about IAP2 through a colleague and was encouraged to take the training. I didn’t know much about the organization, but was intrigued by the core values and ethics outlined by the organization, and I wanted to explore what the practical application of these values and ethics looked like.
Have you had a “Golden Learning Moment”?
I have them all the time. Every time I’m brought face to face with my own preconceived notions about what a decision should be or how a process should unfold I have a learning moment. I’m only one person in a room full of varying perspectives. Thinking I’m right all the time doesn’t make for a good facilitator or life-long learner.
What “big wins” have you had?
I’d say my biggest win has been developing a community of P2 professionals, and IAP2 has been invaluable in helping me to do that. I have been really fortunate to have met professionals who inspire, challenge and mentor me. IAP2’s Mentorship Program has really been the catalyst for the development of my P2 community. My mentor is Anne Harding, and it has been through Anne, through my attendance at the IAP2 North American Conference, and through many, many conversations over coffee, that my network has grown.
I have to say, being involved in engagement full-time is a big win and I’m thrilled that I get to do what I do every day.
If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business …
Become a sponge. Seek out people you can learn from, and ask questions unabashedly. Become aware of the P2 that surrounds you as a community member (an athlete, a musician, a neighbour…) you will find all sorts of opportunities to participate, and all sorts of opportunities to discover what successful (and unsuccessful) engagement looks and feels like from the perspective of the person who is being engaged.