Ryan L. Baete
SLS, P. Surv., ALS, CLS
I would like to start this article with a big thank you to Ryan Maloney for putting my name forward to be on council. At first I wasn’t sure I was ready for it, I thought “I have only been a SLS for a year and a half, I can’t be on council!”. But as in many other situations in life I decided to take the challenge and see what happens. Coincidentally Ryan was President of the Saskatchewan Land Surveyors Association the year that I received my commission, a very special moment in my career.
I am about to start the second year of my term on council and am looking forward to becoming even more involved and contributing as much as possible. I urge you all to do the same.
I have juggled ideas for about a year on what I should write for this article, reading many past articles to see what past councilors have written and in doing so found many great articles. Some ideas I had were: the importance of volunteering, types of leadership, difficult survey scenarios, or perhaps new technology.
After all that I thought a good place to start would be informing my fellow members about my history and how I came to join the association in 2014. I hail from a small town in Manitoba called Holland, with a population of approximately 400 (which includes the surrounding farming community) driving by you may miss it with the blink of an eye. I have two siblings; one older sister (Danielle) and one older brother (Brent). Yes, that is correct-I am the baby of the family. Other than my sister and I, the rest of my family still resides in Holland.
My mother, Brenda, was a stay at home mom for most of my childhood. My father, Daniel, is/was a carpenter by trade and ran his own company. They taught us kids a lot about hard work and determination by the example they lead with. I would not be in the position I am in without them. My brother and I worked with my dad during the summers while we were going through high school. It was a great experience with a lot of life lessons learnt as well as a great opportunity to make some money. I graduated high school in 1995, I still can’t believe it’s been 22 years! After graduation, I enrolled at the University of Manitoba with the intentions of becoming an accountant. I loved math and seemed to have a knack for it, but, it wasn’t meant to be. In the fall of ‘95 the professors at the U of M all went on strike leaving us students twiddling our thumbs. The strike lasted between 6-8 weeks and when it ended all the students were given the opportunity to either take the rest of the year off and get reimbursed their tuition or make up the lost class time on your own and forge on. I took my tuition and ran! One of the best choices I have ever made.
I went back home and began working for my dad full time, alongside my brother. I did this for 5-1/2 years until something caught my eye. Now my dad’s business was growing. With both my brother and I working with him he could take on more projects as well as larger projects and thus we started considering new tools and technology that we could use. We had been doing large concrete slabs and a salesman had shown us a laser leveling attachment that could be mounted on our Bobcat. I thought this was the best invention ever. No more setting pegs with a screed pipe and dragging sand/gravel by hand. We bought the equipment and life was good! A few months passed and the same salesman came back to one of our sites with another piece of equipment that he thought we would be interested in, a total station. He thought that we would benefit from its capabilities, after all we had begun doing large projects and using a total station would be a great way to lay out your forms accurately and quickly. That day was a life changer for me. I was quite intrigued by this device and as a result enrolled in the 3 year Geomatics Technology program at Red River College the following fall. I packed my bags and off to Winnipeg I went. At this point I didn’t even know that a Professional Land Surveyor was a profession.
The three years at college flew by. I was very interested in what I was learning and thus did very well. So well that I made the honor roll, something I had never thought was possible for me. Near the end of my third year I was sitting in class when one of my instructors asked the class if anyone was interested in moving “Out West”. I was ready for a change of scenery and ended up applying and getting a job with McElhanney Land Surveys out of their Calgary office. My girlfriend (now wife) Monique had decided to make the journey with me. I am so thankful that she did, had she not, I doubt I would be writing this article.
We moved to Calgary in the spring of 2004 and spent the better part of 10 years there. Both of our two children, Liam (9) and Jessenia (7) were born in Calgary. It was a big move for both of us but one that I think made us both stronger individually as well as a couple.
I spent a couple of years in the Calgary office at first. Starting as a drafter and moving my way up to a plan checker and junior project manager. During this time I had decided that I would challenge the Western Board Exams, I received 6 credits from Red River and needed to write 7 exams. When I mentioned this to my colleagues they looked at me with a crooked smile and said “Good Luck!”. I was told it wasn’t an easy process and that it would take a lot of time and hard work to complete. I wasn’t afraid of putting in time or working hard so on I went. I completed the 7 exams in 3 sittings over the next 18 months. Getting my certificate of completion was a very proud moment, allowing me to start articling. It was now early 2006 and I had transitioned to the field as a Survey Assistant. After a few months in that position I was given a truck to run my own crew, spending the next two years in the field while writing the three professional exams and three projects that were required for the Alberta Land Surveyors Association. Upon completing them I moved back in to the office and began studying for my oral exam. I did my oral exam for the Alberta Land Surveyors Association on March 17, 2009. I can still remember how much my brain hurt when I left the oral exam to wait for the examiners to determine whether I passed or not. I remember thinking that at that point I didn’t care whether I passed or not, I was exhausted. A few minutes later they called me back in and told me I passed, one of the top moments of my career.
Shortly after getting my ALS I began working on projects with one of our CLS’s in the Calgary office. I decided that while I was still in study mode I should write the CLS exams as well. I wrote the three exams over the next two years and received my CLS commission in Yellowknife in July 2011. I thought I was finished with exams! After all, since graduating from College I wrote 7 Western Board exams, 3 ALS professional exams and 3 CLS exams, and as you can probably guess I wasn’t quite done yet.
In December 2013 McElhanney posted a position to start a new office in Regina. Being from Southern Manitoba, and always wanting to be closer to our families and friends, this opportunity was worth exploring. In February 2014, I interviewed and was awarded the position, even though at the time I was not a Saskatchewan Land Surveyor. The spring/summer of 2014 was one of the most stressful times of my life. Monique and I flew to Regina on the Easter weekend of April 2014 to go house shopping. That weekend we put an offer on a house and within a few days the house was ours. Now we had to sell our house in Calgary and I needed to write the labor mobility exam to become a Saskatchewan Land Surveyor. At the time this seemed very daunting. We put our house up for sale in May 2014 and within 24 hours we had 3 offers, needless to say our house was sold. In July 2014, after the Canada Day long weekend I flew to Regina to write the labor mobility exam. I spent a lot of time studying for this exam as there was a lot riding on me passing. Using my experience from writing all of the previous exams I passed. When I received the email from the SLSA on September 4, 2014 I was very nervous before opening it. Realizing I had to open it, I did. I passed. What a relief that was!
Not to go on and on (which I probably already did) I will end my article here.
Needless to say; I am very proud to be a member of the SLSA and to be on council. The membership has been very welcoming. I have had the pleasure to meet a lot of the members and look forward to getting to know everyone else in the future.