An Interview with the President of IPAC Victoria
As a busy management consultant, what prompted you to consider joining Institute of Public Administration of Canada?
I decided to join IPAC – the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, because I believe strongly in IPAC’s mission – excellence in public administration, meaning government. This goal should resonate with everyone in Canada, whether you are a public service employee, someone who provides goods and services to the public service, or a taxpayer and resident.
In addition, many of my clients are public servants, and I used to be one myself as a former Assistant Auditor General of BC, so I have a long standing interest and passion for public administration.
Founded in 1947, IPAC also has a long history of providing high quality events and publications. It has 3,200 members nation-wide, and 18 regional chapters, including Victoria.
What does IPAC Victoria do?
IPAC Victoria is one of the association’s most active chapters nationwide. We share knowledge with each other about emerging issues, new practices and trends in public administration with peers across Canada and throughout the rest of the world.
We do this largely by staging a host of events and forums that are each attended by over 50 people from all levels of government, the private sector and the academic world. At our last event, Athana Mentzelopoulos, Deputy Minister for BC Intergovernmental Relations, shared her thoughts on BC's intergovernmental priorities and their approach to engaging with the new federal government. At an earlier event, Arn van Iersel, former Auditor General of BC, Auditor General of Local Government and Comptroller General of BC, spoke about his approach to leadership, including a number of practical tools that have worked for him in his career.
In what direction are you and your Board leading IPAC Victoria?
I inherited a well-run chapter when I took over the Chair’s role in 2014. With the help of a great group of volunteers, we have re-energized our New Professionals Program through two networking events. The first event was at the Vancouver Island Brewery and included over 75 new professionals networking, tasting beer, and providing the IPAC Victoria board with suggestions for future events. The second event – a “speed dating” format at The Guild – was also a big success. Over 40 new professionals met with a dozen senior managers from both the private and the public sectors to obtain their advice on a variety of topics.
We also launched two new awards. The MPA Student award is given to two students for demonstrating excellence in their final Master’s report. The second award is the Policy Brief Competition – an event where participants have three minutes or less to present their policy proposal for unresolved issues in public administration to a panel of judges comprised of executive level leaders from all levels of government. Cash awards of $250 to $1,000 are provided to the winning competitors.
We’re now focussing on building and diversifying our active roster of 90 members by at least 10% with a greater variety of events, making greater use of technology, enhancing our Chapter’s marketing and communications program by improving our website, establishing a stronger social media presence, and following-up more with our existing members to ensure they are getting value for money for their membership dollars.
We’re also identifying and implementing ways to partner with other local associations, the private sector and the academic world to expand our reach and learn more from each other towards the goal of building excellence in public administration.
As an experienced management consultant and President of IPAC Victoria, what do you see as the keys to achieving excellence in public administration?
Excellence in public administration is about managing effectively. It means having a solid vision and goals that clients support and staff at all levels truly own. Equally important is having processes, systems and structures that are aligned with that vision.
Excellence requires leaders that have the courage, creativity and integrity to lead their organizations into new and unknown territory, while at the same time supporting their people in this journey. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside many strong and inspiring public sector leaders that have helped their organizations excel, often during frugal and turbulent times.
In your role as a management consultant, you’ve seen one of your clients be recognized on the national stage by IPAC. What was that about and what was the purpose of your client sharing their story?
IPAC has an annual national awards program that recognizes “world-class innovators who are changing the face of the public sector in Canada.” This program also provides an opportunity to share these ideas and promote wider-spread adoption throughout the public sector. One of our clients, Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), received this award for the work they did to recover from the June 2013 flood. This was the worst flooding in Alberta history and the most expensive natural disaster in Canada, causing an estimated $6 billion in damages.
AEP engaged us to help them streamline the process for flood recovery applications to deal with a huge increase in the number of applications due to the flood. Over three weeks in July 2013, we worked with a cross-functional team to redesign the application process. The result was a one window process and a reduction in turnaround times from four to six months to seven days for most applications. We were in awe of their dedication and proud to have been a part of their success. For more information, including the presentation they provided at the June 2014 IPAC National Conference in Edmonton, you can check out the following case study: https://www.berlineaton.com/case-studies/southern-alberta-2013-flood-recovery.
Where can people find out more?
Give me a call at 250.472.3767 or email email@example.com. I’m happy to tell you more about the Victoria Chapter of IPAC and answer any questions.