Christian Burke

MSc in Politics and Communication, 2011
Senior Strategic Advisor & Executive Assistant, Ontario Public Service

Please describe your career path to date

After graduating from LSE in 2011 I returned to the Ontario Public Service and was offered the position of Senior Strategic Advisor and Executive Assistant to the Chief Inclusion & Accessibility Officer.

In 2013 I began my part-time PhD studies in Communication and Culture at York University in Toronto. My research explores areas of deliberative democracy and the potential for a revitalized public sphere through reform of public and democratic institutions.

Before attending LSE I managed a small team of communications staff at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs responsible for initiatives related to local food, rural economic development and infrastructure programs. Since joining the government in 2000 I have held a number of senior policy and communication roles in a number of key ministries, including Training, Colleges and Universities, Community Safety & Corrections and the Attorney General.

Tell us about your current job   

As Senior Strategic Advisor to the Chief Officer I provide strategic policy advice on the implementation of the Inclusion Strategic Plan and the Multi-Year Accessibility Plan for the province of Ontario. I am responsible for the day-to-day operations of the division, issues management and serve as the liaison with senior decision-makers across the OPS, including Minister’s, Deputy Ministers and the Secretary of the Cabinet. Previously, he managed a small team of communications staff at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs responsible for initiatives related to local food, rural economic development and infrastructure programs.

Why did you choose this job?   

I chose this job as it provided an opportunity to work with some of the leading policy developers in the OPS and to lead some entrepreneurial and cutting-edge policy initiatives that are having a significant impact on the province. I also enjoy the challenge of working in a change management office focusing on inclusion and accessibility. This role requires the effective use of negotiation, persuasion and influencing to bring diverse and often difficult stakeholders to consensus. It has been a fantastic challenge and I have enjoyed it immensely. 

What career plans do you have for the future?  

I plan to continue in the Ontario Public Service and hope to advance further into the senior leadership of the service with a focus on policy development and stakeholder engagement. Upon completing my PhD I hope to be able to teach and continue my research as well. It would be my hope to apply my learnings from my doctoral work and help governments develop new tools and resources to more actively engage with citizens in a more deliberative fashion.

Thinking back, why did you choose your degree subject and why did you choose LSE?  

I chose the Politics and Communication programme at the LSE because it bridged the gulf between public policy and communications. As a public service professional I find it difficult to pursue policy initiatives without thinking about the role of communication and media. Additionally, how citizens deliberate is a key function that government must consider. As such, developing a deep theoretical understanding of communications as it pertains to public policy and political engagement was the driving force behind my decision to pursue my degree. I specifically chose the LSE because of its international character and multi-disciplinary approach to education. I also felt that have a broad international perspective would nicely complement my undergraduate education from two Canadian universities.

How has your time at LSE helped you so far in your career? 

The LSE provided me with a well-rounded multi-faceted education. I no longer look at my policy and communication work through a narrow Canadian lens, but bring a much richer international viewpoint to my approach. I have also benefited from building strategic relationships with a diversity of professionals across the world in business, government and academia. Spending a year in London and the ability to travel really broadened my horizons and allows me to better contextualize my work and life within the broader global community. It also gave me the inspiration to pursue my PhD and continue to maximize my professional learning opportunities.

What advice would you give to prospective or current LSE students?   

I would encourage students to maximise their learning opportunities and enjoy yourself in London. I would also use the year to network and build a strong infrastructure of diverse contacts both in and out of your field. I would also encourage them to start thinking about their career path and what their long-term aspirations are. In order to be successful, figure out what your passion is and just go for it. At LSE the world really is your oyster.

Overall, how do you look back on your LSE experience?

My year at LSE was life changing and was one of the most rewarding years of my life. Through the LSE I have made a number of rich friendships that I cherish and it gave me the inspiration to pursue my two passions - academia and public service. My degree is displayed prominently in my office and I wear my purple scarf with pride. I was very fortunate to attend the LSE and I only wish I had been able to stay longer and learn more from such an exceptional group of academics.

Burke Christian