From hospitals and highways, to courthouses and bridges, Mike Pauley has helped build some of New Brunswick’s most important public infrastructure. As a professional engineer for New Brunswick’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, Mike manages large projects that are usually highly political and controversial.
Being an engineer was a logical choice for Mike when it came time to pick a career. “I like to fix things, and I like to solve problems. I also like to play with big toys,” he says, laughing. As it turns out, Mike is very good at solving problems – the bigger the better. And his current work is as much about diplomacy – listening to and managing stakeholders – as the science of engineering.
“My work begins when people come to me with a concept. For example, we need to build a psychiatric hospital in Campbellton. I would look at that and then go through all of the processes right from concept to completion and make sure everybody gets what they need,” says Mike.
It’s often a tricky balance that involves keeping stakeholders involved and engaged, while making sure environmental and other codes and standards are carefully adhered to. Ultimately, the goal is always to deliver a project that serves the public’s interests.
“When you’re managing these major infrastructure projects, I think the public has to take comfort in the fact that they have a person who works for the province who is going to do the right thing in their eyes,” he says.
Mike’s pride is apparent when he talks about the Petticodiac River Project in Moncton. The $61 million project will see a bridge replace a 50-year-old causeway – undoing decades of environmental damage. The causeway had blocked the river flow – causing massive silt buildup, restricting fish migration, and diminishing one of the area’s biggest tourist attractions – the ‘tidal bore’. It’s taken years to get the project funded, get stakeholders on board and do all of the environmental assessments, but ground finally broke last year. The new bridge and a healthy river will be part of Mike’s career legacy.
“I feel a great sense of pride in the work. There’s a great sense of accomplishment at the end of a project when you get to see people that utilize the work that you do to actually improve their lives,” he says.
It’s not just the engineering work Mike loves – being active in his union is also a big part of his job satisfaction. He’s been actively involved with PIPSC since 1996, and a steward since 1998. “The reason I became as active as I am is because I really enjoy helping people,” he says. “I like making sure that the employer knows what it takes to keep people happy in their jobs. It’s not always about money. It’s about self-esteem, development and the profession itself.”
For Mike, the union is as strong as its members. “I keep telling people that we are the union, and as long as we keep supporting each other, we’ll have a better time at work.”