Certificate Program in Public Sector Leadership and Governance

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Meeting the Need for Public Sector Executive Development

Effective Countries depend on Quality Public Service

Canada, as every advanced nation, depends on well-designed and competently administered government policies, programs and services for the effective functioning of its economy and society. While political leaders set the direction and tone of government action, it is public service leaders who support them both in shaping policy and in delivering services.

Globalization and unprecedented mobility, instant communication, declining trust in institutions, growing desire for inclusion, shifts in power among nations, and ever-changing technology demand from public service leaders intensified alertness to the world in all its fluctuating complexity, and a mature capacity to learn and adapt continuously to the frenzy.

All this is occurring while experienced public service leaders continue to retire in historically high numbers. New leaders are challenged to step up quickly and make sense out of both today’s crises and the longer-term issues that lurk just below the surface. Yet few senior managers will take up their roles with all the requisite knowledge and skills.  Most will need to fill in more than one gap in their professional development.  Executives must continue to learn and grow even more intensively in senior positions than they did on the way up.  

The Certificate Program in Public Sector Leadership and Governance

This program is designed specifically to accelerate the development of senior public service leaders who are well performing and promising, but who need to broaden and deepen if they are to prosper in assuming greater responsibility.

Each autumn, participants will begin a 20-month journey of learning and discovery at the University of Ottawa’s Odell House, home of the Centre on Public Management and Policy. By the time they receive their Certificate in Public Sector Leadership and Governance, participants will have:

  • gained a broad understanding of fundamental principles, sound practices and current issues and challenges in public management and policy;
  • met with a wide cross-section of top practitioners and thought leaders, for candid dialogue on their experience and lessons learned;
  • compared perspectives with counterparts and experts across Canada and abroad through study tours;
  • probed and deepened their mastery of the personal and interpersonal dimensions of high-level leadership; and
  • forged life-long bonds of trust and friendship with first-rate colleagues.

While participants come primarily from the federal public service, executives from Crown corporations, provincial or municipal public services, or the private sector, will also benefit from the Program, and will enrich its value for all participants.

The Certificate Program is organized into two parts: the first focuses on public sector management and on governance; and the second on the world and Canada's place in it, and on assessing evidence in shaping advice and action. Both parts include as well a particular emphasis on leadership.

The Program concerns itself throughout with the new (2015) key leadership competencies identified by the federal Treasury Board Secretariat: create vision and strategy; mobilize people; uphold integrity and respect; collaborate with partners and stakeholders; promote innovation and guide change; and achive results. The aim is to assist participants to prepare themselves to assume greater responsibility at the levels of Assistant Deputy Minister or Director General, or their equivalents.

Background to the Certificate Program

In January 2007, the University of Ottawa launched its Certificate Program in Public Sector Leadership and Governance, following consultations by David Zussman, Jarislowsky Chair in Public Sector Management, with federal Deputy Ministers. The Program was designed to address the above challenges by helping to prepare emerging public sector leaders to assume greater responsibility as older seasoned executives retire in increasing numbers.

Since then, nearly 300 participants in Cohorts I, II, III, IV ,V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X , XIand XII have successfully completed the Program. Further cohorts will be launched each autumn.

For more information about the program, please download our certificate program prospectus (pdf, 9,251 KB) .

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