Whether you worked as a political staffer in municipal, provincial or federal politics, you know that the political landscape can change quickly and dramatically.
Transferable Skills and Experience
There is no job security of any kind and political staffers can suddenly find themselves unemployed. For example, they can easily lose their jobs if their ‘bosses’ (City Councillor, Member of Provincial Parliament, Member of Parliament, Minister, Party Leader, etc.) resign or lose an election, or if an entire government is voted out.
For political staffers in the federal politics the bounce back can be even harder. The Federal Accountability Act has made this a bit more difficult since lobbying is no longer a potential exit path for political staffers to former ministers. These political staffers must now wait five years after they leave before they can lobby the federal government and that puts a burden on many former staffers.
For some the path forward is much clearer. They easily transition into positions with non-profit organizations, industry and trade associations, corporations and professional service firms to support the policy interests of these organizations or their clients. Others become political consultants (strategists) who work with politicians to help them run successful election campaigns.
Did you know political staffers can also add tremendous value as management consultants in federal government consulting? At NavPoint Consulting Group Inc., we are fully aware of the skills and experience political staffers bring, that are incredibly valuable to helping our federal government clients confidently tackle large challenges. They include:
Work Ethic: When their job depends on the government being re-elected, they have a built-in incentive to work as hard as possible to help their party succeed at the polls. So, political staff are used to working long hours and being on call — and doing whatever it takes to get the job done.
Communication Skills: Politics is one of the biggest employers and incubators of communications talent. Again, when their job depends on persuading people, they get pretty good at crafting a message and managing issues.
Analysis: Every day, political staffers give advice or make decisions involving millions of taxpayer dollars. To do this properly, staff need to be able to analyze the risks and rewards of a project from all sides. As a result, people who have made a career in politics usually have excellent decision-making skills.
Flexibility and adaptability: Consider all the branches of government – education, health care, infrastructure, transportation, natural resources, environment — each of these has its own dedicated ministry. Most political staffers have worked for multiple ministries, meaning they can quickly adapt to new files and new projects.
Stakeholder engagement: Political staffers have a lot of experience dealing with big personalities and high-stakes meetings. Policy staff, in particular, are used to high-level meetings with companies, governments and other stakeholders who work with the government.
Networks: Staff turnover has meant that many former staffers now have key and senior positions in organizations all over Canada. These political staffers are all connected through LinkedIn and Facebook. This massive and very loyal network can be helpful when a business is looking for a vendor or a contact or information about an issue — and they all have relationships with senior government bureaucrats.
Consulting Opportunities in the Canadian Federal Government
Business Management Consulting is primarily focused on supporting government departments and agencies with large-scale transformation efforts and the implementation of programs and new capabilities. These initiatives normally involve moving to a new way of doing business, such as major technology modernization or reorganization.
Government departments and agencies are regularly seeking professional services to fulfill resource capacity issues and competencies in the project delivery teams for their transformation efforts.
The roles below are just some of the few that the Federal Government is seeking to fill on an ongoing basis in order to deliver on government‑wide priorities and key activities to modernize service delivery, improve sustainability and promote digital stewardship.
- Strategic Management and Planning Services
- Corporate Communications
- Social Media Specialist
- Project Management Services
- Change Management Consulting
- Business Metrics
- Performance Management and Process Assessment and Improvement Services
- Business Analyst
- Database Administrator
- Information Management
- Power BI (Reports) Developer
- Business Intelligence Analyst
- Data Scientist
- Program Management Services
- Policy Development
Translating political experience to what private industry values is a key critical function for political staff considering management consulting opportunities. NavPoint’s team of experienced writers will work with you to translate your political experience into transferable skills and experiences that meet the resource requirements for our federal government clients. We will work to upgrade your activities into achievements so that even the placement of 10,000 signs during a federal campaign can be shown as growth percentages and goals exceeded.
Former Political Staffers We Helped
Read about Adrian Papara’s journey from former political staffer to top Management Consultant on the NavPoint Consulting Group Inc. roster.
“Working as political staffer is among the most rewarding job I ever had. Many times, I felt like I was witnessing history in the making, like being in the thick of the 2015 federal election that saw the end of the Harper era. I have met many high-profile individuals, worked on drafting life-changing legislation and at one point even ran as a federal candidate in an Ottawa by-election. I took great pride in working in the same building that’s featured on the Canadian $20 bank note.
In my 4-year stint as political staffer, I have worked for two Members of Parliament, slowly rising in the ranks and creating a name for myself among other staffers. Between 2016-18 our office had become one of the most advanced in using social media and mail-out surveys to micro-target voters. We tracked these engagements over time to clean data and increase the number of identified voters in our riding to gauge the percentage level of current and lifetime support with improved accuracy. We also created detailed profiles of voters with dozens of data points to predict their stance on issues. Word spread fast and I was regularly approached by fellow staffers for advice and to share internal strategies on voter identification.
During my time as a political staffer, I had gotten married and knew that by settling down and starting a family I would soon need to find a job that gave me better work-life balance and greater job security. For political staffers the hours are long, and the demands are high. I remember countless days of late-night debates (sometimes until midnight) as the ruling government was trying to push through laws before Parliament would rise for summer. My job was also at the mercy of my bosses – if they decided to resign, would lose their seat in Parliament, or frankly die – I would be out of a job.
With this in mind I started to look at other jobs off Parliament Hill. The most logical option for anyone leaving politics is to become a government relations consultant (in other words a lobbyist) working to advance the policy interests of organizations (industry and trade associations, corporations, and professional service firms) or their clients. But even as a government relations consultant you must continue to have your finger on the pulse and sometimes when a bill (relevant to your organization or client) is up for debate or votes you’ll likely need to work through the night.
I began tapping into my network and putting it out there that I was considering leaving politics. I had numerous coffee meetings with people to see what else was out there in the private sector. I wanted my next job to be a lateral move without having to start over in a junior role.
Through my wife I landed a coffee meeting with Peter Antonitti, the president of NavPoint Consulting Group Inc. who gave me valuable advice on potential career paths I could take given my political experience. I didn’t think much of it but was grateful for his time. About two weeks later, out of the blue I received a call from Peter asking if would be interested in becoming a management consultant doing work for the federal government through his consulting firm.
I was hesitant at first because I didn’t think I was qualified as I had no previous consulting experience. But Peter was able to shift my thinking to instead focus on my transferable skills and experiences. NavPoint is a consulting firm that primarily delivers solutions in IT/IM environments so with the help of NavPoint’s internal writers I was able to create a consultant resume that highlighted my achievements in IT/IM as a political staffer. For example, I worked to update, improve, and maintain data quality and administration processes within the Member’s office for the federal Conservative Party’s permanent information management national system: the Constituent Information Management System (CIMS). Each political party owns an IT system that tracks voter issues and helps identify supporters to get them out to the ballot box on election day. I also helped implement a case management system (CivicTrack) a web-based platform that helped streamline support for constituent casework (immigration, employment insurance and federal benefits applications, passport renewals, etc.) for faster, more consistent response and ensuring compliance to challenging service levels.
With my new consultant resume in hand, NavPoint was able to successfully propose me as a Business Analyst on a multi-year digital transformation project with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Along with other NavPoint resources, we went on to implement people, process and IM/IT modernization initiatives within the organization that would result in improved client satisfaction through improved operational performance and employee engagement.
I have since moved on to other projects and along the way completed certifications to strengthen my knowledge of IT/IM project management. I have no regrets leaving politics and now enjoy a great work-life balance while earning significantly more than when I was a political staffer. If you’re thinking of life after politics, I strongly encourage you to consider management consulting. If you need NavPoint’s help to get the ball rolling, just drop us a line at email@example.com.”