Achieving the Impossible

Achieving the Impossible

Lesley Ewoniak always wanted to work in the field. She took geomatics engineering with this goal in mind, envisioning a fieldwork-based career as a land surveyor in the oil patch.

Trouble was, in the 1990s nobody would hire a woman for field surveying work – especially not in the oil patch.

“It’s hard, physical work. I suppose they didn’t believe a woman could do the job,” explains Lesley. “Then McElhanney gave me a shot. They were really supportive, and that helped me to pursue my dreams.”

Once given a chance by McElhanney Land Surveys, Lesley discovered her passion – and excelled.

“I proved I could do the work,” says Lesley. Soon, she had graduated with her professional engineering degree, and began articling to become an Alberta Land Surveyor (ALS).

“It’s a long process,” says Lesley. “It normally takes about three years to article, and the whole time you are training, writing exams, and studying your butt off.”

It all culminated for Lesley in the oral examination for her ALS Commission – a verbal test where four senior land surveyors questioned her on a range of Land Surveying topics for over two hours.

“It all comes down to that moment. It’s the start of your professional career,” Lesley reflects. “I was so nervous.”

After deliberating, the examiners called Lesley back into the room. “They said, ‘you didn’t bring us donuts, but we’re passing you anyways’,” remembers Lesley. “It was one of the proudest moments of my life.”

Lesley became just the 11th female land surveyor to be commissioned in Alberta.

“It’s given me power,” Lesley says of the accomplishment. “Now I get to do something I love every day, and I see the number of women entering the program rising.”

Today, Lesley works as a professional Alberta Land Surveyor and project manager, has two children, and volunteers as a Cybermentor. She is also mentoring another woman who is articling for her own ALS Commission.

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