Tagged: Canada Revenue Agency

Intrapreneurship in Action: An interview with Nick Frate

This month’s blog features Nick Frate, the Assistant Director of the National Recognition Program and National Test Services with the Canada Revenue Agency. He also sits as a reverse mentor on the Deputy Ministers’ Committee on Policy Innovation.

Nick Frate, the Assistant Director of the National Recognition Program and National Test Services with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Nick Frate, Assistant Director of the National Recognition Program and National Test Services with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Here is a snapshot of Nick’s accomplishments:

Nick started his professional career in the private sector, where he spent five years as a manager in a financial institution. His career in the public service began in 2007 with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). In 2010, he joined the Quebec Federal Council first as Coordinator of the Federal Youth Network of Quebec and Official Languages, and then as Regional Coordinator for the National Managers’ Community – Quebec Region.

Nick has a Bachelor’s degree from McGill University in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Université du Québec à Montréal. He is also the recipient of the 2014 Public Service Award of Excellence – Youth Category. Nick speaks four languages: English, French, Italian and Spanish.

I asked Nick what “thinking and acting like an intrapreneur” in government looks like to him and this was his response…

In my previous role as National Chair of the Federal Youth Network (FYN) and my current leadership role in the CRA, I understand the importance of intrapreneurship. Fundamentally, it’s all about the essence of leadership related to these two components:

  1. Social leadership and its defining characteristics; and
  2. Social branding – how you appropriately brand yourself.

For me, social leadership is about 5 elements:

  1. Authentic leadership: This style of leadership is not authoritative in nature because it’s focused on tapping into the whole team’s expertise. The authentic leader understands each team member’s strengths and weaknesses and enables them to lead a file at the appropriate time. It’s all about empowerment.
  1. Meaningful communication: Being an effective communicator in today’s noisy world is critical. To be effective, you need to seek out ways to take advantage of all forms of communication. That way, you can ensure that feedback and information is relevant, timely, adds value and is accurate.
  1. High-level of emotional intelligence: Self-awareness often facilitates good leadership. It allows for real connections to happen and trust to be built between you and your team. It also enables you to be vulnerable, open and transparent, and more in tune with people’s emotions and personal boundaries. Being self-aware is a fundamental ingredient when trying to build respectful relationships.
  1. Ongoing recognition: Giving real-time recognition while making sure you adapt your praise and feedback to the needs of the person being recognized helps build trust and strengthen relationships. This is particularly important when something fails because it presents a great opportunity to help everyone quickly learn from errors and improve.
  1. Real visibility, both physical and virtual: Visibility is another critical element of social leadership and it ties nicely with my second component of intrapreneurship – social branding. Your team needs to see and be inspired by you as a thought-leader. Social branding allows you to build your social media profile to showcase yourself as an expert in a particular area and promote your ideas through visibility. This helps you build credibility and take on exciting leadership roles in your areas of expertise and passion. All you need is a picture and profile, alongside social media tools. My preferred tools are Twitter, LinkedIn and Periscope.

Here I mentioned to Nick that I often hear leaders in the public service talk about the need for us to take thoughtful risks, to not be so afraid to try and fail, but I rarely hear them tell stories about “how” they create safe space to try and fail. So, I asked Nick to share how he gives permission and encourages people to try and fail. This was his response…

First, you need to create the conditions and climate for trust. This is why emotional intelligence is so important. You can only encourage trust when you are open, transparent and vulnerable, and when there is continuous communication so people feel like they can confide in you. I share with my team the times that I make mistakes more often than my successes because they represent opportunities to learn and grow. I need to lead by example and say “it’s okay that I got this wrong.” You also need to welcome negative feedback to set the example for the team.

Here Nick explains the difference between social leadership and traditional leadership…

Social leadership and social branding are key ways to demonstrate your leadership ability and have an impact. Ultimately, they are about how to be a leader without a title because I firmly believe you don’t need a title to be a leader.

I asked Nick what percentage of his team embodies social branding and he responded…

I believe that about 60% are embracing the idea. Some team members report directly to me and others report to a manager. Of those who report directly to me, it is 100%. When it comes to promoting social branding within my team, I stress that it’s not about doing it for me – the value is for them. What I want people to understand is that they are their own leaders. When I’m going to them for help to solve a problem, I need their expertise. They are the knowledge holders and I empower them to provide solutions. Social media tools enable their expertise to shine and it gives people the opportunity to sell and promote their talents.

I believe social media tools give you the power to do three things:

  1. Promote yourself.
  2. Take ownership of your career and personal development.
  1. Act as an ambassador for your organization through showcasing your expertise and preferred knowledge area to colleagues across government.

Having an intrapreneurial mindset helps me better lead, manage and inspire my team because I’m always focused on trying to find out what other people think and know. I don’t see employees in my organization. I see colleagues, who are equals, regardless of the title they may have in the hierarchy.

I asked Nick to share an example of intrapreneurship and he told me about a reverse mentorship initiative he has been involved in for the past three years in the federal government that nicely demonstrates the principles of intrapreneurship in practice…

This is not a program per se, but the reverse mentorship model is an extremely innovative initiative that has wowed Canada’s counterparts in Australia and the United Kingdom. Both countries are impressed with our leadership and intrigued by the executive support for this commitment.

Nick share’s the story of how the reverse mentorship model came to be…

Our previous Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Wayne Wouters, created a new Deputy Ministers’ Committee to examine social media tools and develop government policy around usage given its rise in popularity. This was a closed Deputy Minister table where policy, programs and service delivery were discussed at the highest levels. The appointed Committee thought it would be interesting and would likely to lead to better input if they brought internal people to the table that had vast knowledge of social media tools. The Deputies were keen to learn about how these tools could be applied in the public service even though none of them were using the tools. Furthermore, they thought it would be valuable to seek out people who were non-executives to share their expertise and perspectives, as well as participate as reverse mentors. This had never been done before so it was cutting-edge thinking.

First, the reverse mentors were asked to coach Deputies on a new social media tool and demonstrate how it functioned. Then they were asked to highlight the benefits and explain where and how the tool could be used in a policy area. In the second year, the Deputies realized the many advantages of having these non-executives around the table to bring forward unique perspectives and ramped up participation.

Andrew Treusch, the head of CRA, was placed on the Committee during the second year. He started looking for a reverse mentor to support him and I was the fortunate candidate selected. One of my first responsibilities as Andrew’s reverse mentor was working to help coordinate efforts on a report back to the Committee on a concept known as “nudging”. The nudge concept comes from behavioural sciencepolitical theory and economics – it argues that positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions to try to achieve non-forced compliance can influence the motives, incentives and decision-making of groups and individuals, at least as effectively – if not more effectively – than direct instruction, legislation, or enforcement. The Committee had a great interest in learning how the CRA was applying nudge economics to further its mandate. This was largely due to the Committee’s desire to develop a Playbook of Best Practices in the federal government and they were seeking input on different ways organizations were doing things to drive innovation and improve efficiency.

The role of this Committee continues to evolve. Now, in year three, it has officially become the Deputy Ministers’ Committee on Policy Innovation. Today, it’s known in government as the DMCPI – and the role of reverse mentorship has also increased to provide more than just coaching and teaching to Deputies on social media. The Committee invites ideas and input on other emerging policy initiatives and trends in government. This provides Deputies with great insight and adds to their ability to provide culturally relevant leadership. Currently, the Committee is looking into areas that don’t necessarily fit with any particular ministry or mandate. One area of focus is on the sharing economy.

A key factor driving success has been showcasing the value of the reverse mentorship model during the past three years. Promoting the benefits both the Deputies and the reverse mentors have experienced has led to the new Clerk, Janice Charette, supporting the model and showcasing it to her colleagues around the world. Many exciting opportunities lie ahead as we begin to connect the DMCPI to the new Government of Canada’s innovation hub.

I have shared an extreme example of mentorship – reverse mentorship – but this process of sharing expertise happens through any form of mentorship. I am a big supporter of providing a mentor connection site on the Government of Canada website to foster learning by exchanging knowledge across levels, functions and generations. Through these tools, we can help create a workplace that is more diverse and inclusive, and develop leaders by building on their strengths and showcasing their leadership skills. These networks are important for connecting gamechangers, intrapreneurs and social leaders.

Mentorship is always two ways – it benefits both parties. The Federal National Youth network advocated for the reverse mentorship model because of the relationship connection it facilitated between the junior and experienced employees. Enabling insights to flow both ways has led to great success.

Anyone from a junior analyst to middle management can be invited to participate in the DMCPI. Everyone is valued and treated like an equal. The role of the reverse mentor includes disseminating information so knowledge doesn’t stop with them and engaging colleagues across government to get involved in certain activities. These may include hosting seminars and workshops to collect feedback.

For any leader, I believe it is fundamental to have a reverse mentor. In these informal settings, you get to know people. It is worth your time and focus because you will get so much out of these relationships. As a leader, you just have to make the time. You, and your performance, will only be better.

I’m currently interested in working with colleagues from DMCPI and the CRA on the digital workplace and how it can be a tool that can facilitate real-time collaboration across government. These are areas of interest to the DMCPI – policy areas that are forward thinking. The items discussed are not yet under the purview of any department or ministry, and don’t yet fall under the responsibility of a Deputy Minister. That is what makes this an innovative model – its focus on thinking forward.

I asked Nick how many representatives sit on the Committee…

Nineteen reverse mentors sit on the DMCPI. What makes this role so special is your perspective matters. You don’t sit at the back of the table behind your Deputies. You sit at the table and you are frequently called upon to share your opinion. If you are interested in learning more or connecting in, they have a twitter account, which is @DMCPI.

I asked Nick to share the benefits he has experienced as a result of the DMCPI – and this is what he said…

I have learned a lot from this experience, but most importantly, I’ve gained a clear understanding of how the machine of government functions. I understand the importance of the institutional structure and how it relates to the foundational pillars of the public service. I have a much better understanding of the principles the public service has been built on.

I am stating this as a key lesson because, as much as I’m all about being a game-changer, I believe that being a guardian for all Canadians requires you to have a deep understanding of the pillars of the public service. Having this type of exposure to the complex challenges many Deputies are grappling with has allowed me to connect the dots and better understand the functions of government. I often find it hard to believe that I’m getting this opportunity to sit at the DMCPI table.

Being exposed to Deputies in this way has also “humanized” these leaders in my eyes. It has made them real, approachable, and easier to follow. When leaders seem far away it’s hard to connect with them, but when you are able to interact with them at a table like this, where you are colleagues, it’s amazing! It makes your dedication to your job, and to the organization, quite profound. I think it increases your engagement tremendously.

The last question I asked Nick was about an intriguing comment I heard from him in Ottawa at the Institute of Public Administration of Canada’s New Professional’s conference. He said “don’t talk to me about being overwhelmed and work/life balance, talk to me about life work integration.” I asked Nick to tell me more about that statement…

I don’t believe in life/work balance. You have one life. You are one person. You are who you are so you need to find personal balance when you are leading a team, especially the intergenerational teams we’re all a part of today. For me, I work all the time because I’m always thinking about challenges and solutions. We are human. I am one Nick and I come into work with my own world and concerns. When I need to do something on the personal front, I do it. I don’t feel guilty about it. By focusing on life/work integration, I think it allows you to better manage your needs. If you have something in the middle of the day, you address it, and get your work done at night. If you have a passion around a change effort, live it, and find a creative way to connect it to your work. This sometimes takes time and discipline but life/work integration is always possible. We are all adults and we know what we need to get done and how best to manage our life/career pressures.

I have never had a personal versus professional dilemma. For me, I portray I’m an expert in social media. I have learned that it’s important for me to not only showcase my professional side through social media, but also my human side. So I have shifted how I use Twitter. I stay focused on my professional interests, and also share more about who I am. I’m a dad. I love to cook and make homemade pasta – it allows me to connect with my creativity and my heritage. Showing who we are, more often, will help connect us.

And I believe everything is about connection.

Epilogue

These are the treasured examples of innovation I am on a quest to seek out. It’s why I write this blog – to showcase innovative practices and mind-sets in an effort to demystify what innovation looks like in government.

Innovation is not going to happen in isolated change labs or hubs. Often times, it doesn’t even come from innovation champions, conferences, public speakers or lean practices. Innovation comes from forward thinkers who create space for new dialogue. It also comes from creating the vehicles to harness the idle knowledge locked deep within our organizations.

Innovation stems from leaders like Clerk Wouters, who started the DMCPI. Innovation is driven by the Deputies on this Committee, who immediately saw the value of having reverse mentors and non-executives at their table – as equals. Finally, the conditions for innovation will only intensify given the leadership of Clerk Charette, who is now championing and expanding the mandate of the DMCPI.

This is a brilliant demonstration of public sector innovation and excellence. The public innovators who sit around this table set the leadership bar high. They illustrate the difference between leadership by position and leadership by action.

It begs the question – why don’t we have a Committee like this for each level of government across Canada given the great success of the reverse mentorship model?

I, like, many other public servants are struggling in the public service today to find genuine leadership and the space to bring new problem-solving strategies and policy ideas to the forefront. I continue to hear from executives that there are skills gaps. The only major skills gap I see is a leadership deficit. Leadership models such as the DMCPI stand as a beacon of hope for public innovators who want to showcase their skills in a different way.

And what I really appreciate about Nick’s social branding vision – is it’s a development opportunity that puts YOU in the driver’s seat of showcasing YOUR unique expertise. You don’t need to sit at the DMCPI table to do this; you just need to believe in your talents and be willing to share them with the world.


Colleen McCormickColleen McCormick is Director of Strategic Issues with the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training and former Director, Innovative Partnerships where she managed the social innovation file in the Ministry of Social Development. Colleen is also the founder of Social Innovators Network Foundation. Previously, she was a TEDxMileZero organizer and National Chair of the New Professionals for the Institute of Public Administration of Canada. She has an MBA from RRU and a Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation from the University of Waterloo. You can contact her on Twitter @SInnovatorsNet.

Text Messages and Government Records

Today’s newspapers are once again reading that bureaucrats, this time in CRA, possibly deleted text messages that may be “government records.” A spokesperson for Treasury Board President, Tony Clement, is quoted as saying: “If the (messages) were of business value and deleted, then the rules were broken. If the CRA can prove that they were transitory in nature I – if it was ‘meet you at the coffee shop in fifteen minutes’ – …but that is up to the CRA to prove”.

While I am an ardent proponent of government transparency, I am concerned that we have lost sight of what is and is not included in “the public’s right to know.”

At my former municipal government, we decided that text messages would not be logged, considering that such messages (like voice mails) were transitory. Where a text (or voice) message did contain something that could be classified as a corporate record, it was the responsibility of those involved to document the decision/record separately – e.g. a follow-up “as we discussed” memo or email – just as would be required if the exchange had taken place in a hallway conversation.

It seems that today’s prevailing political and media approach to text messages is to put the shoe on the other foot – assuming that they are corporate records (of business value) unless we can prove otherwise. This may simply result in bureaucrats reverting back to hallway or phone conversations on sensitive issues, since these are not (yet) being logged for posterity.

While this may seem cynical, I believe it is important to allow a certain amount of bureaucratic discretion and privacy. In the Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry of a few years ago, much time was spent reviewing different versions of Council reports to determine who had made certain changes or deletions, as the reports went through various drafts. It was my, perhaps old fashioned, view that only the final report was a corporate record; all previous drafts could (and should) have been deleted. Similarly, an inquiry into a contract award for Toronto’s Union Station renovations sought disclosure of how individuals on an evaluation team had voted. Again, my view was that the record was the recommendation made by the team collectively. The discussion/individual votes leading up to that recommendation should remain private.

In general, the public is entitled to know what has been decided or recommended – but not “who said what” in the process of arriving at a decision. Pushing government transparency too far into the boardrooms is ultimately unhealthy for our democracy. Bureaucrats should be entitled and encouraged to have healthy debates and disagreements without fear that these will become public. It is the decisions or recommendations that arise out of such debates which are legitimately public records.

Much of this confusion relates back to technology. Text messages are now generally logged, so we assume a right of access and an expectation that they not be deleted unless we can “prove” that they are not “of business value.” Telephone and hallway conversations are generally not logged, so the same expectations do not apply. To be consistent, does this mean that all “conversations” should be recorded and logged, until we can prove that they were not of business value? If not, why are we separating out a specific form of conversation?


Roy Wiseman
Roy Wiseman is currently Executive Director and was a founding member of MISA/ASIM Canada. He is a Board Member and Past President of the Institute for Citizen Centred Service, Past President of MISA Ontario, former municipal Co-Chair of the Service Mapping Subcommittee and Project Director for the Municipal Reference Model (MRMv2) project.

Lessons from the Field: How Changemakers Get Things Done in Government

“We have a temptation as human beings to think everyone else has to be the change agent rather than be the author ourselves.”

– Andrew Treusch

Andrew Treucsh

This month’s blog features Andrew Treusch, Commissioner of Revenue and Chief Executive Officer of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). I didn’t quite know Andrew’s role when I first met him through the Board of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC). Having been the National Chair of IPAC’s New Professionals, I was always intrigued and inspired by his attitude around change and his interest in new professionals. This is Part 1 of our conversation.

In terms of being passionate about the future of the public service, Andrew is the real deal – a genuine leader. Not only is he a big champion of small innovation, Andrew is a government trendsetter when it comes to the use of social media to tap into the collective, cutting-edge expertise of the next generation of public servants.

Here is a snapshot of Andrew’s accomplishments:

He was appointed Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in December 2012. Born in Saskatoon, Andrew grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He received a B.A. (Honours) and M.A. degrees from the University of Manitoba in 1976 and 1978; his principal field of study was Political Studies. He began his Ph.D. at Queen’s University in 1979 when he was selected as a Canadian Parliamentary Intern, which brought him to Ottawa.

Andrew’s career began with the Public Service of Canada in the early 1980s. He joined the Department of Finance in 1984, and then moved to the Privy Council Office, the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development in positions of increasing responsibility.

In 2007, Andrew was named Executive Director to the Competition Policy Review Panel, chaired by L.R. Wilson. The Panel’s mandate was to review competition and investment policies and to report to the Minister of Industry. The Panel’s report, “Compete to Win,” was released in June 2008.

Andrew was appointed Associate Deputy Minister of Environment Canada in June 2008 and later Associate Deputy Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada in September 2009.

Currently, Andrew is the National Chair of the 2014 Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC), the Federal Deputy Minister Champion for Memorial University of Newfoundland, and the Past President of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC).

Andrew is married, has three children, and resides in Ottawa.

Andrew has been heavily involved in leading a dialogue around Blueprint 2020 – Getting Started: Getting Your Views – a living engagement strategy launched last year by Wayne Wouters, Head of the Public Service of Canada, which invites public servants across the country to take part in a discussion about the future of the public service.

Blueprint 2020 is based on these four guiding principles:
● an open and networked environment that engages citizens and partners for the public good;
● a whole-of-government approach that enhances service delivery and value for money;
● a modern workplace that makes smart use of new technologies to improve networking, access to data and customer service; and
● a capable, confident and high-performing workforce that embraces new ways of working and mobilizing the diversity of talent to serve the country’s evolving needs.

Here is what Andrew had to say on the cycle of change and innovation in government:

Change isn’t new. What has happened in the past will likely happen in the future, but the drivers are different and the pace of change is constantly accelerating.

I worry about people who make innovation so big and so grand that it ends up disenfranchising individual employees. This can lead to people feeling like they don’t have the time, authority, resources or the span of control to make big change. If people think change and innovation is something huge, such as a free trade agreement with the United States, a St. Lawrence Seaway project or building a railroad coast-to-coast, it can seem almost beyond our power.

I believe that big change comes from a thousand little changes, so it’s important to look at what is within your realm of control, what YOU can do, and what you and three other people can do.

When it comes to driving organizational change, it’s important to foster a space where everyone feels like they can make a difference, and make change happen at every level with their authority, using the tools and resources they have access to.

Big changes are doable but you often need a lot of time and millions of dollars to bring them about. People will say to me, “Why don’t we integrate all our e-service delivery by wiring everything together to make it seamless?” Now, this is quite doable, but you need five years and a lot of money to do it.

What is impressive is taking the power and resources that you have and mixing them in a way to make change happen. Innovation is about taking what you have and introducing something new in your own way.”

Andrew shares how he designs his change efforts:

When it comes to change, I have a recipe of three ingredients. First, I discourage grand thinking unless it’s accompanied by a practical plan to move forward, step by step. Second, there is no such thing as an idea too small. Third, the emphasis is always on what you can do, not necessarily what others need to do.

Since we started Blueprint 2020, one of the reflections I’ve had is just asking people what they want is not enough. Because if you directly ask people what they want, they will often come back with things that they want somebody else to do. They want better workplace tools, or HR to fix this and IT to fix that. We need to find better ways to ask people what they want while putting the onus back on them with what can “you” do or what can “we” do together, now.

We have a temptation as human beings to think everyone else has to be the change agent rather than be the author ourselves. We need to shift responsibility back on the individual. Now, that goes hand in hand with empowerment because people need to feel that they can be that author of change.

There are a lot of people who are quite motivated to embark on change but who are still looking up to see what supports are there for them and wonder if they will be blamed if something goes wrong.

Today’s public service culture stems from Max Weber – it’s hierarchical, a closed system that is rules-bound and very traditional. When I try to imagine a workplace at the other end of the spectrum (for example, Google), where it’s the opposite because it puts a premium on innovation, I don’t see the public service ever being that way, to be honest. I do, however, imagine us getting to some place at the midpoint between the two extremes.

When it comes to Blueprint 2020, I profoundly believe that if it’s going to be a success, it is because we have changed the culture of the public service. We will have shifted from a top-down, closed, hierarchical, rules-bound, and totally risk-averse culture to one that is more open, networked, collaborative, and less risk-averse as a result of taking smart, calculated risks.

Our goal with Blueprint 2020 is to fundamentally change the culture so the public service of the future is different. We want to help transform it by minimizing naysaying, and by helping to make it less “top-down”. The intent is to create a public service that allows for more individual initiative by offering more authority to develop, test and move ideas forward.”

Getting from here to there

Andrew’s step-by-step approach to building and leading change:

In a big undertaking of change, you need the vision of where you want to go. And then you need to be able to describe the destination, the end state of your journey, in a clear and compelling way. This is where you trigger the emotional side of people.

You also have the practical people to please, those who need the practical plan going forward. They need to know how the change is going to happen incrementally and what the impact is going to be. The practical people want to see all those little steps that lead you to that grand vision.

Throughout my career, I have encountered people and leaders who were strong in one of these areas and absent in the other. Some people may think that one is more important than the other, but you need both. And if you are more visionary in nature, connect with a great plan builder and vice versa.”

Moving past resistance

Andrew shares some of the strategies he has deployed throughout his career to build resiliency into his change efforts:

Sometimes there can be this sense of naivety for people who are new to the public service when it comes to leading change. You need to understand the scale of the change you are dealing with. If I have a small change, such as changing the routing procedures in my office, I take a certain approach because it involves and impacts a small group of people.

If I am dealing with a bigger change that will affect the Agency, government, or the Canadian public, I need to use a different set of strategies. Big change means you need far more resources and time. The higher your ambition, the higher the scale of change is, which means of course you will encounter resistance. And absolutely you should encounter resistance. You will get more push-back and challenges – as you should. It is entirely appropriate.

On the human psyche side, when I give a talk about public service leaders and key attributes, what I put way above intelligence, analytical, HR skills and all of the other conventional talents and attributes of leaders are stamina and determination.

If I was to reflect on the bigger things I have done in government, I would have to say they are a case study in dogged determination. They have always taken three times longer than I thought or hoped for from the outset. There were serious setbacks, difficult timing challenges, and moments where I thought the initiatives were dead. I felt a lot of frustration with the process but you have to see things through. You have to be resolute and confident enough to stay the course despite all of that.

There are always going to be critics, hard questions, and challenges that come at you, but these have merit! You have to be smart enough to realize “Wow, I didn’t think of that, so we might not be ready to go.”

I have learned to appreciate that for something to proceed, if I needed to get a particular stakeholder group to be supportive who was not, then I had to go back and work at it. You have to expect resistance, hear out the critics and address key concerns – you have to be clever about it.”

 


Colleen McCormickColleen McCormick is Director of Strategic Issues with the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training and former Director, Innovative Partnerships where she managed the social innovation file in the Ministry of Social Development. Colleen is also the founder of Social Innovators Network Foundation. Previously, she was a TEDxMileZero organizer and National Chair of the New Professionals for the Institute of Public Administration of Canada. She has an MBA from RRU and a Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation from the University of Waterloo. You can contact her on Twitter @SInnovatorsNet.

Summit Speaker Profile: Louise Levonian

The question confronting the Canadian public service today isn’t whether it’s possible for the service to be exceptional without solid leadership, but what type of leadership is necessary to maintain, or even recapture, this status?

“Leaders of the public service will need to set the tone and guide by example,” said Louise Levonian, Associate Deputy Minister for the Department of Finance.

“In this dynamic environment, leadership will be increasingly important to finding fresh ways to uphold the tradition of excellence that is the hallmark of Canada’s public service,” said Levonian.

Recruitment of key talent will be vital to the Service’s success, according to Levonian. These future leaders will need to deal with issues such as an increasingly connected society, massive transformation of global and domestic economies, increasingly complex policy issues, an aging population and, of course, rising citizen expectations.

“Building the public service of tomorrow requires a culture change and therefore must take place from the ground up by empowering our employees,” said Levonian.

As the Chair of the Sub-Committee on Public Service Engagement, Levonian is leading the public service-wide engagement efforts surrounding Blueprint 2020.

“Blueprint 2020 has proven to be the ideal vehicle to engage employees on how we can strengthen and improve our capacity to contribute to Canada’s successes and better serve Canadians through the delivery of excellent services and policy advice,” said Levonian.

Those interested in contributing to the Blueprint 2020 process can do so here.

Levonian will be participating in a panel at our Leadership Summit, titled Leadership Challenges and Bluprint 2020, along with Kevin Leahy, RCMP inspector and chair of the National Managers’ Community; Andrew Treusch, Commissioner and Chief Executive of the Canada Revenue Agency; and moderator Karen Ellis, President of the Federal Economic Agency for Southern Ontario.

Registration for our 2014 Leadership Summit is now open. If you wish to attend the event, please visit our leadership website to register.


Jeff MackeyJeff Mackey is an intern with Canadian Government Executive, Vanguard and WRLWND magazines. Before joining us, Jeff worked with the Canadian Press in Toronto and Metro News in Regina. Now, back in his native Ottawa, Jeff is excited to cover everything from the public service and the military to today’s modern technology.