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Gardiner Centre partners with government to mould leaders

Recent graduates of the Gardiner Centre's Public Sector Leadership and Management Development Program.

By Meaghan Whelan

The Gardiner Centre is helping to develop managers and leaders in the public sector through a popular program offering.

The Public Sector Leadership and Management Development Program was launched in 2001 in partnership with the provincial and federal governments. The Gardiner Centre, then known as the Centre for Management Development, worked with government representatives to create a program that builds on the core competencies of managers and leaders in the public service. The curriculum consists of 10 modules that cover topics ranging from leadership and learning to problem solving and decision making. More than 500 public-sector employees have participated in the program over the last eight years.

“When this program began, it was the first partnership of its kind between a Canadian university and the federal and provincial governments,” explained Susan Arscott, program developer in the Gardiner Centre. “What we did was so unique and so successful that other Canadian universities have followed suit and created similar programs for their areas.”

Although the program was created with government employees in mind, it has since been opened up to others in the civil service. Jackie Collins is the Gardiner Centre’s client relations co-ordinator, and she says the diversity of participants is one of the strengths of the program. “In addition to federal and provincial managers from a variety of departments, we also have university employees, municipal managers, RCMP officers and administrators from the school boards,” she said. “It is a fantastic opportunity for peer learning and it generates a lot of interesting classroom discussions.”

Genevieve Dooling, a 2009 program graduate, is the director of strategic human resource management for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s executive council. She echoed Ms. Collins’ sentiments. “I think the strengths of the program are the combination of classroom learning and learning from your peers, instructors and guest lecturers,” she said. “The fact that it was interactive and participants share their ideas and issues gives you a lot to take away and reflect upon.”

Ms. Dooling is one of the 28 students who graduated from the program in June. She began the program while working as the director of policy, planning, accountability and information for the provincial Department of Finance, and continued with the program as she moved into her present role.

Ms. Collins says the modular format of the program makes it easier for participants to get exactly what they need. “The program structure is very flexible and people can choose to do only a few modules, or go through the whole program to get a certificate of completion in recognition to the management skills they have developed,” she explained. “They can complete the program within a year or do it over several years depending on their schedule.”

Catering to the business development needs of clients is central to the Gardiner Centre’s mandate. "All of the programs we offer are very carefully thought out and evaluated to ensure they are relevant to the real world, and the public sector program is a perfect example of this," Ms. Collins explained. "We’ve already received a number of inquires about when this program will be offered again, which shows there is an ongoing demand for what we are offering and there’s confidence in the quality of our programs."

The 2009-10 schedule for the Public Sector Leadership and Management Development Program will be available in mid-September. To learn more about other seminar and programs offerings, visit