Public servants get advice on giving their careers a boost

Cbc-logoJulie Ireton CBC News – Richard Rochefort wears a pin on his lapel that reads “work for passion, not pension” and that’s the retired assistant deputy minister and current career coach’s key message these days.

“When you look at a job with passion, you’re always learning,” said Rochefort. “As an assistant deputy minister I hired thousands of public servants and at the end, that’s what you need. I think passion should be the driving force, not pension.”

Rochefort was a panelist at a career forum for public sector workers in Ottawa on Wednesday. The Canadian Public Sector Excellence Network and Career Joy partnered to give a room full of bureaucrats some pointers on how to create or develop their careers.

He gained his own experience at jobs including: vice president of the Canada School of Public Service and director general roles at the Privy Council Office, Service Canada College and the Canadian Centre for Management Development.

He said public servants don’t have too many opportunities to chat about career development because the federal government is a huge organization and is “siloed” into so many different departments and agencies.

“What they mostly can get out of this discussion is they’re not alone. It’s a very lonely journey trying to manage your career by yourself and you get really self absorbed in your work. So coming together like this and actually meeting others that are facing similar challenges, it really gives you a boost,” said Rochefort.

‘People need to get that wisdom’

Other senior public servants on the panel shared their perspectives, their successes and failures.

Susan Seally, a human resources manager at the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, said her life’s purpose has been attraction and retention of good workers to the public service.

“There’s a lack of knowledge out there. There’s a void. People need to get that wisdom,” said Seally who added that’s why these kinds of discussion are valuable. She had her own advice to share:

“Be really open and look at a career, as not just what you know, the technical competencies, but take a look at the transferrable skills you have and really know yourself and know what skills you bring to the table.”

Philip Grandy, a senior public servant and a volunteer member of the non-profit, Canadian Public Sector Excellence Network, helped organize the career forum that he also sees as an important networking tool.

Grandy noted the new, federal government is attempting to set a new tone for the bureaucracy, yet it also has a lot of new plans and programs to deliver.

A purpose behind push for ‘excellence’

“When you’re trying to move very quickly stress levels can get very high and when you’ve got other people you can rely on, get answers to questions that you’re dealing with, the network creates those connections and help you get those reassurances in some cases.” said Grandy.

“I’m excited about the way the new government’s going because it reinforces for us that there’s a purpose behind us driving excellence.”

Rodney Hester, a potential public servant attended the forum to get some insight on how to get a job in the federal bureaucracy.

“I enjoy working and helping people. I hope to be part of the solution,” said Heister, who said he will look first to work in Natural Resources Canada or Indigenous Affairs.

“As an Indigenous person I’m looking to apply my experience to advance government policy with relations with Indigenous peoples.”