Meet Woman in Public Service, Sarah Dion – Public Service sector : Federal Government (Transport Canada)
Tell us a little bit about what your career in public service and why you chose this path in the first place?
I’ve been working with Transport Canada for the last 2.5 years now. I’m working with various systems and softwares and ensure that the financial coding in place is accurate. I like to think that the Public Service chose me rather than the other way around: I was actually meeting with a student from my tutoring side-hustle when I was offered my first position in the Public Service.
At what age did you first decide that public service was something you might like to pursue?
I was in my 3rd year of University when I realized the potential of this career path. I was about 20 years old.
What do you think are some of the qualities a woman needs to be successful in public service?
I think it’s important to be ambitious, as you really need to brand yourself in order to progress in the Public Service. I also think you have to be determined to challenge the status quo and get past the glass ceiling!
It really depends of the sector you would find yourself working for, but I believe any Public Service employee should be comfortable with technology. It’s actually a big concern in our department at the moment and, as a member of the Transport Canada Young Professional Network Steering Committee, I think taking advantage of the available technology is vital to retain talent within the organization. Also, being bilingual is a great skill to have when working with the Canadian government.
What are some of the drawbacks to being in public service?
I do believe it can be harder to progress at a rapid pace in the Public Service. I’m a very driven and ambitious young woman, so I find it hard to just wait and move up at a regular rate. I would like to be able to prove myself to managers and reach out to greater opportunities this way, but the Government doesn’t really allow this flexibility. It is definitely an important comparison point with the Private Sector, where you can basically apply to any job and show the hiring managers that you can indeed thrive in the position.
What opportunities do you see for women who would like to pursue public service as a career choice?
The Public Service is great when it comes to equity, so women are most definitely encouraged to apply. It is definitely a good option to consider.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
I would have to say the amazing Danièle Henkel. She is a great entrepreneur, she is powerful and very eloquent. I first saw her as one of the panelist on ‘’Dans l’oeil du Dragon’’, which is a Quebec version of Shark Tank, and ever since I’ve been telling myself : ‘’this is who I want to become’’. A woman of influence and an inspiration to all future generations.
What are some of the needs in public service that you see are lacking leadership or need a “woman’s touch?”
Women often get told to act more like men when trying to reach higher positions, that their feminine side and emotions are not what is needed for a leadership role. I think this mentality is extremely outdated and that any department could benefit from a woman’s touch. Being a woman in business doesn’t mean to be weak: it means to be rational, yet understanding. We need more women leaders in order to really change things.
What is your favorite quote and why?
‘’A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions.’’ – Marcus Aurelius
Having a goal and doing everything possible to reach it is one of the most gratifying feeling in this world. I think the only way to evolve and grow as a person is to have goals and dreams and try to achieve them every day.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I would like to be an influence for the younger generation by becoming a Director at a young age. Therefore, I would like to work hard and be in a higher management position within the next 5 years.
And for those who think it’s impossible: just watch.
What’s next for you?
I want to keep on promoting my side-hustle, SarahSpeaking, which is a French tutoring business designed for Public Servants. I make lots of connections through it and I think it’s a very good resource to network and help others achieve their goals.
How can the readers of WE Magazine for Women connect with you?