Workplace Reflections: Why Employee Empowerment Matters
Reflecting on one year of work experience, people and opportunities that have contributed to shaping my career.
Three years ago, I arrived in Canada from France with two pieces of luggage in hand to study at Laval University in Québec City. Two years later, after completing all my courses, I moved to Ottawa for an internship with the Policy Insights Forum - a public policy think tank focusing on improving public policy and decision-making through independent research, analysis, and engagement - which then evolved into full-time position at Samuel Associates. Both organizations belong to the Samuel Group of Companies. One year into my position as the Executive Assistant to the President and CEO, I reflect on the progress made, the people met, the experiences lived, and the empowerment I received as a young professional woman starting her career in Canada.
1. Meeting New People, Sharing Knowledge and Actioning Advice
One of my favourite parts of my current position within the Samuel Group is that I get to meet knowledgeable, dedicated people with a strong passion for their work with various social and professional backgrounds. I genuinely enjoy creating links with others and connecting to people on all levels. Discussing various policy topics of national interest from differing points of view with them enables me to grow professionally and learn more about Canada in countless ways while developing business acumen, a greater understanding of the business environment in Canada and serving clients.
Working with our Associates act as almost a second education. Their vast knowledge and experience allow me a mentoring opportunity each time we work together. Their advice is something I value deeply as I benefit firsthand from their guidance when preparing various types of professional documentation as well as for different types of meetings, either online or in person, with industry executives or government officials or in Canada or abroad. I have learned that when preparation meets opportunity, success is usually one step away.
2. Working in a Professional Environment, Being Organized and Giving Back
In this very fast-paced work environment, many things need to be done, done right, and done simultaneously. Giving myself time in the morning to enjoy a coffee and prepare for the day ahead, helps me ground myself. Preparation and time management are key. Each day when I go to work, I find myself doing different things. Therefore, having the ability to adapt in a constantly changing environment is an essential part of my daily professional life.
I learned early on that organization, discipline, and consistency are other keys to a successful career. My initial four-month internship was instrumental as it helped me dip my toes in the waters of the working world of business consulting, government relations and public policymaking and primed me for the year ahead.
In addition to dedicating the majority of my time to work, I find taking some time to give back to the community is also essential. Throughout the year, I was able to achieve this both personally and professionally in different ways, such as by participating in various charity sponsorship and appreciation events for the defence and security community.
Outside of work, I am a member of Women in Defence and Security (WiDS) which aims to promote and support the advancement of women in careers related to Canadian defence and security. Participating in WiDS adds another layer of social engagement, which enables me to better understand the working environment in which women contribute and lead in the defence and security industry. I also benefit from this great network of women.
3. Learning Opportunities and Personal Growth
The Samuel Associates ethos is centered around client learning and personal development. Although I have completed my university studies, I am encouraged to continue studying and taking professional public sector policy and private sector business courses. For example, I recently completed the Government of Canada's Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) online program and the Algonquin College course on the Fundamentals of OCAP™ (ownership, control, access, and possession), which teaches the processes First Nations communities use for data collection. My goal is to increase my understanding and knowledge of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as Reconciliation with the Indigenous, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
Another incredible learning experience for me was being able to work in international settings through interactions with various Embassies and international organizations in Ottawa and abroad. I had the opportunity to travel for business meetings to Washington, D.C., where I met with Canadian Embassy officials, senior U.S. Senate political staff, and more recently, visits to Brussels for meetings at NATO, the EU Commission and the Canadian Embassy to Belgium and Luxemburg. Being able to connect both my European heritage with my work in Canada made me feel very proud.
Settling in as a newcomer in Ottawa fueled my determination and ambition to make Canada my home. My positive experience in beginning a career in strategic consulting and government relations leads me to encourage other young professionals to seek opportunities where employee empowerment matters, and personal growth is encouraged and rewarded.
Digital Marketing & Communications Specialist
Samuel Associates Inc.