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From the Ground Up: An Interview with Emma Patterson

Emma Patterson is the current Vice-President of Operations and Finance at SAMU. She took over the role when the building project was transitioning between conceptualization and construction. Her entry into the role began at the ground-breaking ceremony in June of 2017. From there, Emma has had a hand in everything to do with the construction of the building, from making cost-cutting savings on excessive tile work, to championing an incredible event space. “I always feel like I was there right at the beginning of this building. The ground-breaking was one of the most exciting things I got to go to in my early days because even though I had no idea what was happening at the time, it was the moment I realized that this was where I started,” she mentioned, reminiscing about the beginning of construction.  

As one of the key decision makers on the building, Emma has had to ensure that students are getting what they need in the building in a cost effective and reasonable way. “It’s a special talent to be able to balance multiple stakeholders, students, architects, MacEwan staff and contractors in a multi-million-dollar project, she discussed. It has been a learning curve for her, but the time she has spent with the building, and her supportive team allowed her to learn quickly and thrive in the role. “It’s a daunting project, but contractors and architects care a lot about the success of this project and that helps.” When she was asked about the role she played in any changes to the building design, she claims that she can take very little credit for that, “it was more about taking the shell that they designed and making sure that fits its purpose with layout and that space was allocated appropriately.”

When discussing her favourite parts of the building Emma was torn, listing the event space, the design of the new Breakfast Club and Peer Support spaces and the moss wall as some of her favourite parts. After more careful deliberation she mentioned, “the building itself is my favourite part of the project, as cheesy as it may be. My portfolio has brought it to fruition, and while I really like certain parts of it, it’s the entirety of the building itself is what I’m really proud of.”

Emma takes great pride in the building and is excited to see how students perceive it. “We want this to be the living room of the campus home, the place that everyone gravitates towards and wants to be in.” Part of the reason that the building will be between building 8 and 9 is to help realize this vision. She has confidence that a few specific features of the building are going to enhance that perception, “students are really going to notice the new retail spaces and furniture in the building. We have a lot of help selecting things that are going to be in the building, we know it’s going to be awesome.”

Emma’s term is up in May of 2019 and she will have to run for re-election if she wants to be a member of the Executive Committee for the opening of the building. The idea of transitioning the role to someone else has been tough. “I feel like this building is my baby and I have brought it to graduation day but can’t be there to help it graduate,” she says wistfully, “I know the project so well and I have invested so much time and effort into it. The closer it gets the harder it gets, but my goal is to set up a foundation so that whoever comes into this position has a diving board that they can spring off into the next great thing.” Emma compared herself to other past Executives who came up with the idea and got it off the ground by mentioning that they also worked very hard on the project. “It’s really special to be where I am in this project. Lots of people have worked on this building before me, and lots will come after and help it thrive.”