SIAST honorary grad keen on soft skills

Perry Bergson
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More than 200 SIAST Woodland Campus students graduated on Friday afternoon in a massive ceremony at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.

The school, which has 26,000 students spread across its four campuses in Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Regina, along with pupils in long distance education, named Howard Kirby its honorary graduate on Friday.

The 1973 SIAST grad, who now serves as president and GM of Anderson Pump House in North Battleford and Prince Albert, told students in a five-minute speech that soft skills will take them a long way.

“They are the personal qualities and attitudes that help you to work well with others and make a positive contribution to the organization you work for,” he said, noting that grads will have to know how to build and maintain relationships.

“An individual whose attitude is upbeat and is always willing to help is going to get the best jobs, retain them when times are lean and get promoted.

“Your technical skills may get your foot in the door but it’s your people skills that will help with the doors to come.”

Kirby added that other skills like the ability to communicate and take criticism are essential.

Anderson Pump House Ltd. began by selling water and sewage systems to farms and acreages around the Battleford and Prince Albert areas but now also deal in a wide range of water system products. 

Anne Neufeld, SIAST’s provost and vice president, Academic, introduced Kirby prior to the businessman receiving the honour.

“Through Howard’s vision and leadership as president and GM, the company has founded a strong value system that supports learning, feedback and coaching,” she said. “Howard believes that everyone should be given the opportunity to acquire the knowledge they need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.”

After being presented with a sash and honorary degree by SIAST president Larry Rosia, Kirby joked that he actually missed his first graduation.

“I could never have dreamed 41 years ago that I would be receiving such a prestigious award from SIAST today. I’m extremely humbled and grateful for the honour that’s been bestowed upon me.”

It wasn’t the only hardware handed out.

Justine Lofstrom, a graduate of the Integrated Resource Management program, received the award for achieving the highest overall average upon graduation from a post-secondary program at SIAST Woodland Campus.

Brad Halko, meanehile, a graduate of the Adult 12 Basic Education program, received the award for the highest overall average -upon graduation from a secondary school program at SIAST Woodland Campus.

In total, a couple hundred of more than 700 students listed in the 2014 graduation book received their diplomas from 37 separate programs.

While the overwhelming majority of the graduates were from Prince Albert and area, there were also graduates from B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories as well.


Organizations: Prince Albert, E.A. Rawlinson Centre, Anderson Pump House

Geographic location: Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, North Battleford Battleford Alberta Manitoba Ontario Prince Edward Island Northwest Territories

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