Manon Moreau has worked towards ensuring political change for the Canadian Indigenous Yukon nation. Currently, she serves as the President of the Yukon Liquor Corporation and is the Secretary of the Yukon Lotteries Commission. Some of the achievements in Manon’s prolific public service career include implementing the First Nations Final Agreement and developing the trailblazing Peel Watershed Plan.
Besides drafting policy documents, Manon runs mentorship programs for public servants and advises Yukon and Canadian MPs. She has helped several people develop their professional goals and strengthen their leadership skills.
What would you say has been the most rewarding part of your career in the public sector?
This is a difficult question for me! There are so many rewarding aspects to a career in the public sector: I’ve had the opportunity to develop public policy to create positive changes for Yukon and Yukoners; I’ve played a role in implementing First Nation Final Agreements; and I have advised senior leaders and participated in changing the course of public programs. Working with citizens and other governments across Yukon and Canada is very fulfilling.
The best part of my job - what makes my heart sing - is developing people. Human resource management isn’t done off the side of my desk: it is front and centre. Drawing out employees’ full potential and witnessing them reach their goals is like winning the jackpot.
Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
If I was to pick one file, it would be the approval of the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan. The Peel Watershed is a region in northern Yukon with great natural beauty and great natural resources: the land planning process was very controversial and contested between various parties. It was a very tumultuous experience that really tested the meaning of being a public servant. I lost many professional and personal relationships along the way. My team stuck to gathering data from the affected indigenous nations, the public and domain experts. We provided evidence, informed decision making, and acknowledged the prerogative of decision-makers to make the decision at hand. To reach a final decision after so many years was cathartic. I’m proud that despite the very tough challenges along the way, we completed the approval process with integrity and respect. Now on to implementation!
On the other hand, it is the day-to-day contributions that make me most proud. Drafting a policy document, running mentorship circles for staff, visiting clients at their shops, covering the front counter in a pinch, briefing and advising Ministers … it’s those everyday contributions that give me goosebumps.
Have you encountered obstacles as a result of your gender, and how have you overcome them?
For sure. When working in the natural resource policy field, I often found myself the only woman in the room. Being “overtalked” is extremely frustrating. At first I tried to overtalk the overtalk. With time, I learned that waiting it out, and speaking when the talk died down, was more powerful and effective in the end. Especially if I could cap it off with a zinger comment.
I’ve also encountered obstacles as a result of my francophone heritage. Little remarks and jokes can make you a bit uneasy in your skin. When that happens, I remind myself that I have also encountered opportunities as a result of my gender and my francophone heritage. There are those who appreciate what my gender and francophone heritage bring to the table. I focus on the opportunities that are willing to move with me not against me.
Having worked in multiple sectors within the government of Yukon, do you have any advice for taking on risks/opportunities as they come?
Say yes to life. Put yourself out there. I resigned from a permanent position twice to take on term assignments that I believed would get me closer to loving my work. That was risky from a financial standpoint given I had two young children at the time. I am fortunate to have a partner who is as passionate about “living to work” as opposed to “working to live”. The risk paid off in spades.
Don’t be afraid to move into a new field. Leadership competencies, whether developing people, influencing others, thinking strategically, or leading change to name a few, transcend sectors. It can be very uncomfortable to lose your technical expertise edge but it is so rewarding to learn a new domain, to make new connections, to connect past experiences to new situations, and to flex your leadership skills in new ways.
Do you have any advice for young women looking to pursue a role in public policy and government?
Be yourself. There is no advantage to pretending to be someone you are not. There are many leadership styles and there is a time and place for all of them in public policy and government. Put forward your best you and the right opportunity will present itself at the right time. Be patient.
Also, remember, no one succeeds alone. You need a team, you need a network, and you need your personal supporters. I’m a big believer in mentorship. Find a mentor or coach to help you prepare or debrief for different situations. Be good and fair to anyone you work with – he or she could be your boss one day!
Finally, have fun and enjoy the ride.
If you have any questions for Manon Moreau, please:
1. Leave a comment under our Woman of the Week FB post, or
2. Email us at exec@WCPunimelb.com