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Could you describe your current role as a Senior Policy Advisor at Ontario Red Tape Reduction and the key objectives of your team?

Senior Policy Advisors within Ontario Red Tape Reduction play a critical role in streamlining interactions between the public and the provincial government. They act as a bridge, facilitating the translation of public needs into effective policy development. The role itself offers a unique level of flexibility. The team focuses on the intricate details of red tape reduction, encompassing untangling complex laws and regulations, simplifying forms, and optimizing processes. Ultimately, the objective is to enhance the overall experience citizens and businesses have when interacting with the government. A comprehensive “whole of government” approach ensures the burden reduction efforts are consistent and impactful across ministries.

Senior Policy Advisors are the driving force behind the “meat and potatoes” of policy development. They coordinate the entire process, ensuring positive change is implemented effectively. This multifaceted role necessitates both the ability to lead and guide complex policy initiatives and the technical expertise to execute them with precision. The role offers some flexibility in its scope – some advisors may thrive in a more leadership-oriented capacity, guiding teams and spearheading initiatives, others may prefer a more hands-on approach with the research. Regardless of their chosen focus, all Senior Policy Advisors conduct rigorous research, engage stakeholders through consultations, and analyze relevant data. This comprehensive analysis allows for the formulation of early implementation strategies to streamline regulations or amend legislation.

What are some of the most challenging aspects of working in policy development and strategic planning, and how do you navigate them?

One of the trickiest parts of building effective policy and strategic plans, especially within a large, is ensuring effective collaboration. My time with the OPS has proved time and again that successful policy development necessitates thoughtful consideration of implementation from the beginning. Top-down approaches rarely yield lasting change, which is why we need a diverse range of voices involved early on, but managing those interactions effectively is a complex challenge.

There’s no magic bullet for smooth collaboration, but it starts with assembling the right brain trust. A smaller, focused group with the necessary expertise would easily outperform a large, unwieldy committee every time. Second, before diving into strategic engagement mode, I prefer to build rapport on a personal level. This helps with establishing some level of psychological safety that is so important with group interactions. Authenticity is key – people can smell insincerity a mile away, and genuine interactions are the bedrock of strong working relationships. Finally, building genuine relationships become easier when equity is the north star of everything you do. Effective policies go beyond red tape reduction; they must ensure all stakeholders benefit, contributing to a more just and inclusive society. When everyone feels valued and heard, conflict resolution becomes a matter of refining ideas, not personalities. This strengthens the policy development process, ultimately leading to more robust outcomes.

One of the trickiest parts of building effective policy and strategic plans, especially within a large organization, is ensuring effective collaboration.

Amrutha RaoOntario Red Tape Reduction

Can you share a pivotal moment or project in your career that significantly influenced your professional trajectory?

Like many others, COVID-19 forever changed the trajectory of my career. Only six months into my full time 2 year MBA program at University of Toronto, the world entered a period of immense uncertainty. Despite having a summer internship lined up at a Toronto hospital, I knew I couldn’t simply wait things out.

I took a leap of faith and contacted them early, offering to start three months earlier than planned. Fortunately, they were looking for assistance in strategic planning, and that initial internship evolved into something much more significant.

Over the next three years, I had the incredible opportunity to work across different elements of public health, gaining invaluable experience in strategic planning, response & recovery efforts, and ultimately, policy development.

This defining period solidified my desire to building a better world and using my skills to make a positive difference in people’s lives. The pandemic also underscored the importance of authenticity in everything you do.

With work entering our living rooms and work-life boundaries being blurred, there was no room for facades. Building genuine connections with colleagues was essential, and that’s a value I hold dear to this day.

Public service offers a rewarding career path for those driven by purpose and collaboration.

What advice would you give to young professionals who are thinking about pursuing a career in public service?

Public service offers a rewarding career path for those driven by purpose and collaboration. Here’s some advice based on my experience.

Firstly, understand your “why.” Public service isn’t just a job; it’s a commitment to serving the greater good. Reflect on the issues that spark your passion, the impact you want to create. A clear purpose will be your compass, guiding you towards the right opportunities and fueling your long-term satisfaction. With a strong purpose, even the smaller everyday problems will seem less daunting. Secondly, embrace diverse experiences. The public sector is vast. Seek out a variety of roles, volunteer opportunities, or internships. This broadens your skillset and grants you a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities within public service. The more you learn, the more meaningfully you can contribute later on. Every experience, even the negative ones, can contribute to your effectiveness as a public servant.

Finally, remember – public service thrives on collaboration. It’s not a solo act. Focus on building genuine connections with colleagues. Forget transactional networking; it’s about connecting on a human level, sharing your expertise, and working together to create a positive impact. Stronger relationships lead to a more effective public service, ultimately serving the public better. And with those strong relationships, you can influence positive change, even if it happens incrementally, as is often the case in large organizations like the OPS.