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Senior Public Sector Leader Program

An exclusive learning experience for senior public sector leaders.

These are challenging times for senior public servants. Considered policy advice, formerly the exclusive preserve of the public service, has been replaced by a constant bombardment of raw information and ideas, delivered 24/7 via Twitter. The confidential policy advice elected politicians do receive from the public service is regularly published in the media via access-to-information requests. Accountability legislation means that even the most minute detail of how government departments are run is under intense public scrutiny. The ongoing evolution of ministerial responsibility means that public servants are increasingly expected to shoulder the blame when government policies go awry. In sum, today senior public servants regularly confront challenges rarely seen by even the most seasoned private sector executives.

Yet a non-partisan, professional public service is a key asset to any nation seeking to succeed in today’s hypercompetitive global economy. To help support the public service as a critical national institution and to prepare senior public servants to successfully meet the challenges they confront, the Ivey Business School is offering a program of executive education for senior public sector leaders.

Upcoming Sessions

Join us for one of our upcoming sessions.

Who Should Attend? 

Admission to the program is through nomination by a Deputy Minister or a crown corporation CEO. The program is geared to individuals who have completed at least a year as an Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) or a crown corporation VP in both federal and provincial governments who have the potential to assume further responsibility in their career. The program is designed to encourage participants to meet and exchange with their peers in other organizations.

What You Learn


ADMs and crown corporation VPs operate in a more complex, demanding and ambiguous environment than ever before. The changing roles of Ministers’ offices and parliamentarians and legislators, the perceived collapse of the knowledge advantage that public services once had, the increase in scrutiny and oversight by third parties, and the shrinkage of budgets are all factors that are redefining the role, the scope and the accountabilities of senior leaders. This program theme will assist executives in taking stock of these challenges and developing new leadership strategies to address them. Executives – in addition to being good managers – must lead and inspire. The program will provide senior leaders with tools to assist them in leading their organizations.


The specific lines of accountability between elected officials and the permanent public service have always been, by design, somewhat imprecise. For a number of reasons, these lines are increasingly blurred and are often redefined in real time. This program theme will explore the causes of this evolution and compare it to developments in other countries. ADMs and crown corporation VPs will be provided with insights and strategies to deal constructively with increasingly unclear accountability lines.

Decision Making

Decision making is increasingly afflicted by the curse of short-termism. Decisions are made without full information because the pressure of time. This program theme focuses on “battlefield surgery” decision-making where known unknowns represent strategic risks and authority is unclear and accountability is focused on public servants. ADMs and crown corporation VPs will develop a strategic perspective on the increasingly frequent situations where a product is sought within extraordinarily short time frames, with limited staff resources and an undefined notion of success.

Department and Portfolio Coordination

A key difference between the work of Directors General, and the work of ADMs and crown corporation VPs is the need for the latter to assume leadership for departmental corporate initiatives and on issues that span branches and portfolio organizations. For example, arms-length organizations have increasingly come under scrutiny from oversight bodies, the opposition and the media. Issues of governance accountability between boards and governments continue to be a source of stress. This program theme will assist senior leaders in managing departmental corporate initiatives as well as the relationships between ministers and portfolio organizations.


CEOs of publicly-traded companies must release quarterly financial results, including a Management Discussion and Analysis (MDA) section that provides a narrative on challenges and opportunities. Such obligations focus the attention of senior executives and their organizations on tracking progress, as well as identifying new developments and potential problems. This program theme will assist ADMs and crown corporation VPs in developing practical management reporting systems to enhance organization effectiveness and efficiency.

Case Studies

The cases used for the program are drawn from both the public and the private sectors since we believe that many of the challenges leaders of large organizations face are the same for both the private and public sectors. The various case discussions will be supplemented by targeted lectures and presentations by outside experts from the private and public sectors.

How You Learn

This is Not about Text Books and Lectures

If you are having a hard time imagining yourself in a classroom again, keep in mind that Senior Public Sector Leader Program is designed with busy leaders in mind. It is an engaging, interactive experience that draws on the vast perspectives that you and your classmates will bring to the program. Our real-world Case-Method of Learning is not about textbooks and lectures – it’s about learning by doing. Using case studies you’ll put yourself in the role of decision-maker and take on real challenges to gain practical hands-on experience. You’ll come away with new knowledge and ideas that are directly applicable and that will have immediate impact.

Create Immediate Impact

Throughout the program, you will track your learning outcomes and pinpoint specific initiatives to implement. You leave knowing exactly how you will apply your new knowledge and skills, and a self-developed implementation plan to start your impact once back in the office.

Participant Testimonials

“Over the week, my horizons on strategy were stretched, expanded and opened to different possibilities, while at the same time, the course positioned me to delve deep inside of my personal core of leadership – to reflect and activate!”

—Marian Campbell Jarvis, Assistant Deputy Minister, Minerals and Metals Sector, Natural Resources Canada

“I would recommend this program to public sector leaders who want to deepen their leadership skills and advance their career. The challenges presented in the case studies and other materials are deeply resonant of issues we face as senior public servants and offer a different level of understanding. Working through complex situations with new colleagues from different levels of government is an expansive and unforgettable experience.”

—Helen Angus, Associate Deputy Minister/ Transformation Secretariat, Ministry of Health and Long Term Care


Paul Boothe

Faculty Director
Paul Boothe

Paul Boothe was appointed Professor and Director of the Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management at the Ivey Business School, Western University in September 2012. His career has included university research and teaching, acting as an independent consultant to Canadian and international organizations, and serving at the deputy minister level in provincial and federal governments. 

Dr. Boothe was trained in economics at Western (Hons BA) and UBC (PhD).  He was appointed to the faculty of the University of Alberta from 1984 to 2007.  He has authored more than 70 publications in the areas of macroeconomics, international finance, debt management and public finance.

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Mary Crossan

Mary Crossan

David Moloney

David Moloney

Richard Dicerni

Richard Dicerni


Where You Learn

Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre

London, Ontario, Canada

Housed in a Georgian manor situated on 30 beautifully landscaped acres of parkland, Ivey’s residential executive centre is minutes from Western University and the Ivey Business School.

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

Banff, Alberta, Canada

From it's home in the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity aims to inspire everyone who attends our campus – artists, leaders, and thinkers – to unleash their creative potential.