Skip to main content

Troy Liu

Arts + Social Sciences › Public Policy

empty
A Glimpse into the Privy Council OFFICE
As public servants, we must strive for excellence, and not just be good enough. But when pressed for time, we need judgement to properly balance between excellence and good enough.
Student Meet and Greet With the Clerk
Clerk lecture

I attended the PCO Student Meet and Greet and had the pleasure of meeting Ian Shugart, the Clerk of the Privy Council. It was an informal opportunity to meet other students, discuss our experiences, and ask the Clerk any questions that may help us gain a closer look at the inner workings of the PCO.

The Clerk kicked off the session with an introduction to his role. He explained that the Clerk is a title for the Head of the federal public service. He is also the Secretary to the Cabinet and is responsible for being the principal public service advisor to the Prime Minister. 

Next, he opened up the floor for questions.

As the former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Shugart has only recently transitioned to the role of the Clerk of the Privy Council. So when it was my turn to pick his brain, I explained that we are all new to the PCO. He has been at the PCO for eight weeks and it’s been four weeks for the most of us. I was curious to hear what he was doing personally to help adjust to his new role as the Clerk, and how students can learn from that.

Prioritizing

He took a moment to gather his thoughts and started to explain that the range of his files has become broader. With so many files to oversee, the Clerk needs to understand and determine which files are to take precedence in order to administer the government’s priorities and objectives.

“This requires judgement, everyone tells me what to do so the most important decision I make in a week is what will I not do.”

Developing Good Judgement and Striving for Excellence
Clerk lecture

The Clerk advised us to learn to cultivate and recognize good judgement. To elaborate, he used the example of striving for excellence.

As public servants, we must strive for excellence, and not just be good enough. But when pressed for time, we need judgement to properly balance between excellence and good enough.

I immediately thought of the homework analogy. When project deadlines and final exams are fast approaching, there is not enough time to strive for excellence on everything. Hence, we must exercise proper judgement on what is good enough to obtain the best grades possible.

In the workplace setting, public servants often navigate between multiple priorities and deadlines. From my experience, I believe it is fine to acknowledge time as a constraint. But when time permits, we should all strive for excellence.

Professionalism

The Clerk urged us to be professionals and he stressed the importance of developing the skill to ask the right questions and to challenge our assumptions.

He described the public service as an asset to our country. As the public service, we serve the government the people of Canada elect. It is our responsibility to provide governments with evidence and objective advice to keep standards high. This would mean to deploy all existing tools and disciplines to give our advice based on facts and analysis.

I would like to thank the Clerk for taking the time to share with us his vision and lessons for young professionals. The PCO offers a great environment for us to apply these lessons and I believe they are applicable in both public and private sectors. We hope to hone our skills, find harder questions, and generate greater discussions in the future. In addition, I would encourage other students to take advantage of similar opportunities in engaging their employers during their co-op. 

Author

Troy Liu

Arts + Social Sciences › Public Policy

Posts by Author

Troy's office with the blog title overlayed
Blog
A Glimpse Into The Privy Council Office | Part One

In this first part of the series, Troy Liu sits down with the senior policy asdivsor at the Privy Council Office (PCO) to gain insight on the challenges of the role. Read on to see what adivce the senior policy advisor gives on professional development, and work-life balance.

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Career Exploration, Seeking, Work Term Extension

author, courtney, smiling
A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

Having completed my first work term for Health Canada as a Communications Officer Intern, I was eager to try something new, and the government was not where I believed that was going to happen. That is until I was offered a position at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada...

picture of glichelle pondering a though
Surviving Workplace Politics

Ever been peeved with workplace politics? Have you ever been a victim of office politics? One student shares her experiences from the workplace with tips on how to survive.

 

person with their head in a book
Responsibility and Success

One of the most memorable parts of my time in co-op was the collection of accidents, errors, mistakes, and mix-ups that happened in the course of working in the laboratory.

 

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

Claire and her students
Heat in Catalonia: Lessons from International Co-op

A student desperately wanting to have class outside suggested we put the decision to a vote. An overwhelming amount of hands went up for having class in the sun and I paused to think about how I could adjust my lesson plan without a chalkboard. The students saw my hesitation and said, “but Claire, don’t you believe in our right to have a democracy?”. This was when I knew I would learn a lot more than just how to teach, from my international co-op term in Catalonia.

View of the city and temple from a height in Japan
Co-op Japan: The Experience of a Lifetime

The Co-op Japan program is more than a way to add an international job to your resume; it can also be a trip of self-discovery.  Two co-op students share their memorable experiences in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Worried woman
Tanya's Kinesiology Co-op: A Challenging Experience

My name is Tanya and I am majoring in Kinesiology – Active Health and Rehabilitation. I decided to join the Co-op program to gain hands-on experience and find out what type of work I would like to do once I have graduated. I began co-op in January of 2010 and finished the last of my co-op terms at the end of 2011, all in the area of physical rehabilitation. I wanted to address some of the challenges I have experienced during my time in co-op, and I hope to help other students who may be facing similar problems in their own work terms.