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Our Meeting with Secretary of the Cabinet, Michelle DiEmanuele

We had the distinct pleasure of meeting with Ontario’s Secretary of the Cabinet, Head of the Public Service and Clerk of the Executive Council, Michelle E. DiEmanuele. As the chief public servant in the Ontario government, Ms. DiEmanuele closely advises the Premier; in fact, the Secretary of the Cabinet is the Premier’s Deputy Minister. It is a daunting job, but as we learned throughout our conversation with her, Ms. DiEmanuele is confident in her approach to the task.

Prior to her role as Secretary of the Cabinet, Ms. DiEmanuele held a variety of positions across the public and private sectors. A common thread in these positions was modernizing and improving service delivery. She stressed to us that leaders need to have a vision, such that they see beyond the immediate future and set long-term goals for an organization. While Ms. DiEmanuele stated that she prioritizes delivering Ontario’s current array of public services competently, it was evident she considers long-term planning an equally important objective.

Given her history of executive leadership, which ranges from positions with CIBC to Trillium Health Partners, Ms. DiEmanuele had many insights to share. One highlight was a message on the importance of core values. Ms. DiEmanuele explained that having core values as a leader ensures people will follow you during moments of ambiguity; they can trust your values and your judgement to be steady. This is a message that we can relate to as OLIP interns. Certain values guide our work, such as nonpartisanship and professionalism – we treat every day like it’s a job interview. Such values help us navigate our dynamic work as OLIP interns and make decisions with sound judgement.

A final highlight from this conversation was Ms. DiEmanuele’s advice regarding communication in a professional setting: “be the Hemingway,” of presenters. In other words, when presenting information to others, speak in bullet points and not prose. Considering we are recent graduates of institutions that encourage digression and detailed analysis, this can sometimes feel like an uphill battle for OLIP interns!

It was a privilege to hear the wisdom that Ms. DiEmanuele had to share and to get to pick the brain of Ontario’s chief public servant on a wide range of topics. Thank you, Ms. DiEmanuele, for sharing your time and thoughtful insights with us!

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