Ten Years Later: Interview with Wendy MacIsaac one of Canada’s Top Surveyors
Ten years ago, GoGeomatics interviewed Wendy MacIsaac of Midwest Surveys Inc. in Calgary, Alberta, about her career and being a female surveyor in a male-dominated profession. We decided to follow up with Wendy a decade later to see what changes have occurred within the industry.
GoGeomatics: What changes in the Canadian survey industry have you witnessed since 2012?
Wendy MacIsaac: The biggest changes I’ve witnessed have been the technological advancements in the industry. The survey industry has seen significant advancements in surveying equipment and software, such as the introduction of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, 3D laser scanners and virtual twin 3D modeling which have transformed the way that survey data is collected. The second change I’ve seen would be workforce challenges. The survey industry, like many other industries, is facing challenges related to workforce demographics, such as an aging workforce and a shortage of skilled workers. As a result, there has been a greater focus on workforce development and training, as well as initiatives to attract younger workers to the profession.
GoGeomatics:How has your role changed since we first talked to you? How is your job different from 10 years ago?
Wendy MacIsaac: In 2013 I moved into the office full time as a geomatics technician. Later that year I received my Alberta Land Surveyors commission. Since receiving my commission, I have been working as a project manager/ land surveyor. Aside from the odd field inspection I now spend 100% of my time in front of a computer.
GoGeomatics:What changes, if any, have been their hiring surveyors since 2012 to now? Is it harder or easier?
Wendy MacIsaac: I am not directly involved in hiring employees at the company I work for. I spoke with our Corporate Field Operations Manager who is involved in hiring and recruiting students. He said the challenges recently have been finding candidates or students that are interested or know what geomatics is and drawing them into the industry. He said it’s harder now hiring surveyors/crew chiefs/field staff. Enrollment in the post-secondary institutions seems to be lower, and there are more students that are gravitating towards the GIS side of geomatics so the hiring base for field staff is reduced.
GoGeomatics: Since your first interview Have you noticed any increase or decrease in women in the industry during the past 10 years?
Wendy MacIsaac: I would love to say that I’ve seen an increase in women in the survey industry over the last 10 years, however, from my experience it has not changed very much. The overall proportion of women in surveying and mapping is still significantly lower than in other STEM fields. In my interview 10 years ago I had HR give me the breakdown for the number of men and women in several positions in our company. I had them rerun the numbers. We currently have 9 out of 157 field positions are women, 6 out of 30 geomatics techs are women, 2 out of 13 project managers are women and 3 out of 23 land surveyors are women.
GoGeomatics:What is the biggest challenge facing Canada’s survey sector today? How can we deal with it?
Wendy MacIsaac: One of the biggest challenges facing Canada’s survey sector today is the shortage of skilled surveyors. As many experienced surveyors are reaching retirement age, there is a growing need for new surveyors to enter the profession, but there are not enough graduates or trained professionals to fill these positions. Another challenge facing the survey sector is the need to keep up with the rapid advancements in technology. Surveying equipment and software are constantly evolving, and surveyors need to stay up to date with the latest tools and techniques to remain competitive and provide accurate data. In addition, there is a growing demand for faster turnaround times and more cost-effective solutions, which can be challenging for survey companies to balance while maintaining high levels of accuracy and quality.
Link to past interview: https://gogeomatics.ca/women-in-canadian-surveying/