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Annette Bergeron

Photography by Kourosh Keshiri


President, Professional Engineers Ontario


Annette provides leadership for 80,000 engineering license holders

Elected the sixth female president of Professional Engineers Ontario since 1922

Total assets increased from $5 million in 2009 to $9 million in 2012


Tom Harris, Vice-Principal (Advancement), Queen’s University

From Tom Harris

As told to Allison Lawlor

Taking the easy road has never been an option for Annette. As one of the few women in her class at Queen’s University in the late 1980s, she earned an honours bachelor of science in material and metallurgical engineering. Undeterred by the seeming man’s world, she moved into a career in Hamilton’s tough, steel-making industry, working as a production engineer at Dofasco. Persistent determination got her to where she is today—the 94th president of Profes­sional Engineers Ontario (PEO), the licensing and regulating body for engineering in the province. Annette leads the association’s 80,000 members as only the sixth woman to be elected president.

Not a person who strikes you as an A-type personality, Annette isn’t exuberant and doesn’t pound her fist on the table. She’s not a big person­ality. Her success doesn’t come from that. She is quiet and thoughtful and persistent and strategic.

After earning an MBA from York University’s Schulich School of Business, she returned to Queen’s in 2000 to try teaching. Starting with a course in entrepreneurship in the chemical engineering department, she later became the director of the first-year engineering program.

Then, as the dean of engineering, I hired Annette as director, putting her in charge of more than 600 students, the major­ity of whom were away from home for the first time and often not well equipped to cope with university. Coming from a non-academic background, it was a challenging position for Annette. She had to not only gain the respect of her colleagues, but also deal with the trials and tribulations of the young students. As an academic and personal counsellor, she was compassionate and firm. She always struck the right balance.

Focused on professionalism, she had her leather engineering jacket hanging prom­inently over a chair in a corner of her office. It served as a reminder to students that they were at university to not just have a good time, but ultimately to become professional engineers. Her motto was: “work hard, play hard.” Good work habits were something she always stressed.

Not afraid of change, Annette was critical in abandoning long-held practices within the engineering department. Despite opposition, she remained focused on helping the depart­ment get rid of physics and chemistry labs in favour of more collaborative teamwork. She wanted students to understand that seldom would they solve problems on their own in the workplace. Recognizing that change is slow and not easy, she has patiently and persistently worked over the past 25 years to see the number of women entering her profession climb—little by little.

Annette values what people have to say and takes the approach: “Here is the goal. How are we all going to get there?”