Meet Amina Deiab

Amina began working as the President and CEO of the Safety Codes Council on August 10, 2020. She came to the Council from the Government of Alberta, where she has served in several leadership roles, particularly within the Departments of Economic Development and Trade, Energy, and most recently Executive Council. Amina spent the first 15 years of her career in the private sector focused on business development across Canada and the U.S., including founding her own companies involved in the residential construction sector.

In the following interview, Amina shares the different factors influencing her thinking as the Council works to develop our 2021-2025 Strategic Plan.  

Why did you want to work for the Safety Codes Council?

Two reasons: the first chapter of my career was in residential construction. I absolutely love the building and construction industry and have always loved working with tradespeople. There’s just something very tangible and exciting about building, and the industry is a huge driver in Alberta’s economy. I also have a background in policy and regulation, and so for me, coming to the Safety Codes Council feels very natural, a coming home. It brings together my small business background in the construction and building industry, but also my policy and regulatory background. So it’s exciting for me to think about how regulation impacts and works with business and industry, and the public good that we have oversight over, which is, of course, ensuring the public safety of all Albertans.

The second reason is that I just see such a huge opportunity for the Safety Codes Council and the system writ large. I’d like to share an anecdote: in the second chapter of my career, in the Government of Alberta, my background was primarily in energy policy and being part of some great initiatives aimed at unlocking investment potential in Alberta’s energy sector. Innovation and technology are huge drivers in the oil and gas sector in Alberta, not just in terms of extraction technologies but also on the safety side, such as the use of drones and AI to enhance pipeline integrity and inspections. That has driven all sorts of positive economic outcomes. I see the same thing happening in the building sector in Alberta. First of all, we’re seeing a lot of different disruptors in the construction industry that will be game-changing. As a regulator, a key part of our role in the safety system is to keep abreast of the changes and to ensure codes are keeping up with technology and innovation advancements. There’s so much opportunity for industry and the Safety Codes Council to work together. I see the Council playing such a critical role in that space.

One of the change drivers impacting the construction and building sector is COVID. That is such a disruptor for everyone, across all sectors of the economy in construction. On the inspections side, there has been a move towards remote inspections and technology to better enable remote inspections. Another key disruption is renewable energy. You see technology and innovation in the market and in construction: energy and battery storage and solar panel installations, to name a few. Legislation, policy, regulations, and codes are always a step or two behind the technology. So it’s important for us, because we have such a critical role to work with the sub-councils and with industry, to identify where those gaps and opportunities are.

I’d say the other big piece is the way we’re living, and how we think about our homes is absolutely being disrupted. We’ve moved beyond stick-and-frame homes: we now have 12-storey wood frame buildings, homes made from sea-cans, modular homes, future-proof design and construction, and the not-so-far future includes the 3-D printing of buildings. We need to think about the macro perspective: is the code adaptive and flexible and encouraging of the different ways we choose to live in a community?

The last piece in terms of opportunities is smart buildings. That’s a huge disruptor. Companies like PCL, for example, have adopted and integrated the use of IoT data and advanced analytics to improve construction processes and increase safety. The Safety Codes Council has a huge role to play with our stakeholders and partners in helping address all those disruptors in technology and innovation.

What’s made the biggest impression on you so far?

The people! Absolutely the people. Coming here, and working with an engaged and passionate group of people that are excited every day to come to work and truly care about what they do. I’ve heard that from our staff that come in and talk to me every day. I’ve heard it from our sub-councils, which are all volunteer. Before I came to the Safety Codes Council, I had no idea, even being in the building industry, that there were sub-councils overseeing our 10 safety disciplines. They put in their hard work, their effort, their expertise, and their time. The sub-councils, and all the volunteers that dedicate their time, are the backbone of Alberta’s safety system.

What happens in sub-council meetings is meaningful. The recommendations go to the national tables to help influence code changes and to the Government of Alberta to create variances to the code. This is indicative of a flexible and responsive system. So what they do is absolutely critical, and what we do here is absolutely critical.

And that’s, to me, a testament of the passion, and the engagement of the people here. The hard-working staff and volunteers in Alberta’s safety system are foundational to absolutely everything we do, and that by far has left the biggest impression on me.

What are you most excited for in the coming months?

Developing the Safety Codes Council’s new Strategic Plan. The Safety Codes Council is beginning the development of a new strategic plan. We’re doing things a little bit differently. We are working with all of our staff at the Safety Codes Council and the sub-councils to provide input into the Strategic Plan. And that’s critical. They are the ones who are out engaged in the community, working across all of the different safety disciplines and understanding all of the change drivers and disruptors that are happening on the landscape.

Our stakeholders are also key to the development of the Safety Codes Council’s Strategic Plan. I’m working with our stakeholders to start setting a new future for our Safety Codes Council that encompasses a very broad range of stakeholder perspectives.

What is your #1 goal right now?

Talking to stakeholders, and working with all of our stakeholders. I’m out in communities talking to a broad range of stakeholders in Alberta’s building safety system, including municipalities, rural communities, associations, inspectors, safety codes officers, education providers, builders, and industry. So for me, it’s critical as a new CEO coming into the organization, to really get a sense of not only how our stakeholders are interacting with us, but what things are disrupting their environments, and how are we bringing that back into our organization. I would say that’s the number one goal for me right now: getting out into communities, talking to all of our stakeholders, and getting an understanding of the changes that they’re seeing.