♫ I’m Goin’ on a Cool adventure and I Don’t Know What’s in Store…♫
I am really excited to let you know that I am headed an adventure with the Policy Community Partnership Office. Before I talk about my new adventure, I’d like to reflect, mid-career, on the amazingness of my experience as a public servant so far.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
I began working for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in May 2001, right after graduating from Carleton University. I had no plans to work for the public service but I was in the right place at the right time. A booth had been set-up in the student lounge offering a job where you continued to be trained throughout the year and they were looking for science students.
I was brought in through the CFIA’s Officer Training Program, which allowed me to learn about the CFIA through three four-month assignments:
- I was an inspector in Quebec city — inspecting grain ships for contamination before loading, inspecting imported plants for pests, and inspecting wood packaging for insects like Asian Long Horned Beetle
- I drafted responses to letters to the Minister regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs); and
- I created programs designed to protect horticultural crops (e.g. greenhouse and nursery plants, apples/pears, and grapevines) from pests and disease.
It turns out that I really enjoyed protecting Canada’s environment, agriculture and forestry from pest invasion and that’s mostly what I’ve been doing for the last 16 years! I have been fortunate to have traveled the world conducting negotiations with our foreign counterparts in Brazil, China, Cuba, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand, and United States of America. I’ve loved learning about other cultures and meeting colleagues around the world.
In 2005–2006, I took a one year sabbatical from the CFIA and moved to New Zealand to work for our Kiwi counterparts. This was an amazing experience personally but also professionally. I learned about how another country, an island nation, protects their plants and animals from pests and disease.
I’ve had the chance to influence international policy through working with the International Plant Protection Convention to set international standards and regionally with the North American Plant Protection Organization. I love the process of multilateral negotiations and consensus-building. I also helped negotiate the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union.
Last year, I took a 7-month assignment in CFIA’s policy group. We conducted analysis and recommended input into the development of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. We also conducted a thorough environmental scan of social, technological, environmental, economic and political trends that might affect the agency. I learned that I find the policy world incredibly fascinating.
Co-creating a Plant and Animal Health Strategy
Lately, I’ve been working with a multi-disciplinary team to facilitate the co-creation of a Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada. What an amazing opportunity this has been!
I am starting with the Policy Community Partnership Office. This “start-up” organization has only six employees (I’ll be the seventh), is presently nomadic (no office yet), and owns no computers (they are borrowing equipment from another department). They have been tasked with creating an inclusive and cross-functional community of policy professionals and with enhancing their capacity to meet evolving expectations for evidence, engagement, and impact.
As an aside, the hiring process has been amazing. I met with the team to discuss their project and how I might contribute (e.g. intrapreneurial spirit, passion for engagement, and an interest in inclusion of the broader policy ecosystem into the community — programs and service delivery). It is a multi-disciplinary team where everyone is more than their job description and I love this. We also talked about their team values. This was the clincher for me — not only did our values match (e.g. open by default, be your own guinea pig, mental health awareness), any team that wants to talk about their values, period, is a team for me ☺
What a great adventure it’s been so far!
I’ve worked with so many public servants who are passionate about creating an improved future for Canadians.
I am really looking forward to seeing where my career in the public service takes me!