Opportunity is knocking for young people in Alberta, and SAIT‘s new president is determined to see that the institute answers.
A year after taking over from Irene Lewis as president and chief executive officer of SAIT Polytechnic, Ross believes the institution is at a key point in its history – striving not only to educate students, but also to prepare them contribute to the Albertan economy after they graduate.
One of the core pieces for SAIT in the next five to 10 years, according to Ross, will be to find ways to have more Albertans go through the institution’s programs, so they can take advantage of the career opportunities that SAIT’s grads enjoy.
“That speaks about growth, about making sure our programs stay current and us having a leadership role in that, about us being a leader in making sure students are successful and get through to graduation, [and] about us being very nimble in identifying what those emerging opportunities are because I also happen to believe that opportunities [are] accelerating,” he said.
“So it really is – over the next five to 10 years – more opportunities for students [and] our graduates,” Ross said in an interview in his Heritage Hall office on March 5.
From his office windows, the president can look out over a campus that was physically transformed by his predecessor, who oversaw the construction of many new buildings, including four state-of-the-art teaching facilities.
Ross’s assignment will be basically to fill those buildings up with new students, and to ready them for work in the rapidly growing Alberta economy.
Another piece critical to SAIT’s expansion, Ross explained, is the need to continue to build strong linkages with the organization’s strategic partners such as industry, the communities SAIT serves, the government it works with on a regular basis, and stronger connections with its expansive alumni group.
And the last piece towards the institution’s success in the years to come, he explained, will be SAIT’s place on the national global stage.
In the strategic planning process now under way at SAIT, growth is the cornerstone to the institute’s position going forward.
“SAIT is very much known for providing opportunities to our graduates in terms of being career-ready and being able to start their careers immediately, but the linkage is critical,” Ross said.
“It’s one thing to offer the program but to have that person be able to leave the institution immediately and participate in the economy, those will be critical parameters in terms of how we prioritize that growth.”
With all these ideas and plans to expand and diversify SAIT’s reach in the Alberta economy, as well as on a national level, Ross said most of his time is focussed on the workings of the institution.
However, his wife and four-year-old son are the key for Ross outside the office.
“Between working at SAIT, the presidency, and the needs of a growing young man, my life is very full,” he said.
Aside from his hectic lifestyle, he enjoys sitting down with a good comic book, because he is an avid old-time and classic comic-book reader.
“I talk about change in the institution [but] there’s constant change in my life on a day-to-day basis,” he said, with a smile. “That keeps me engaged.
“That’s part of the reason I love what I do because it does evolve on a day-to-basis.”