IPAC Saskatchewan’s Lieutenant Governor’s Gold Medal Award of Excellence – Clare Isman’s Remarks

The following remarks were made on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 by Clare Isman, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Finance at the IPAC Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor’s Gold Medal Award Ceremony.

 If you will first afford me a few minutes to extend some Thank You’s:

First and foremost I would like to thank the Lieutenant-Governor and IPAC for this award. I am truly humbled because I know there are so many people that are deserving of such recognition, and I’m the fortunate one standing here today.

I am also honored to be placed in the distinguished company of the past recipients – many of whom I have had the privilege of working with, who have coached and mentored me, and all who have made important contributions to the Province of Saskatchewan. 

In particular I would like to say thank you to 3 past recipients – Bob Linner, Dan Perrins and Doug Moen – who have each made very significant impacts on my skills, my career, and my commitment to the Public Service.

And to Premier Wall, Minister Doherty and the previous Ministers I have had the pleasure of serving – thank you for the privilege (and please continue to put up with me!)

Thank you to my colleagues that nominated me for this award and those that provided letters of support. I knew nothing about this until I received the call from Jim Engel – and now I’m worried that we have a breakdown in Internal Controls!!

To my colleagues at Finance, from the former Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment, Immigration and Labour, from the Public Service Commission, and all of my Deputy and President colleagues – this award represents the work we have all done as a team. I have often had the privilege of standing in front (actually sometimes it was the panic of being in front) BUT, the quality of the Saskatchewan Public Service is not just one of us – it’s all of us. Thank you for being wonderful colleagues and friends.

Lastly – my thanks (and love) goes to my family – my Mom (Kayla) my Dad (who I know is smiling down on me right now) and my sisters – for instilling in me the value of Community and Public Service. I know Cindy will agree with me – there was hardly a day that went by in our house when we weren’t told how wonderful it was to live and grow up in Biggar, in Saskatchewan, and in Canada. My mother never lets us forgot how grateful we must be for the privilege of living here. And my dad was the consummate business and community leader – involved in virtually every community group and serving as an elected official for most of my growing up years. So working in the public service – is kinda like always being at home!

And to work for 36 years, and be married for 35 and have 2 wonderful and talented daughters should tell you everything – I have an amazing husband and kids. Their love, patience and encouragement have been the foundation of support that has allowed me to do everything that I love – and to find some semblance of balance through it all. Van (to you, Erin and Miriam) – I love you, and thanks!

I started with my thank-you’s because they are an important context for the rest of my very brief remarks. It’s never about one person – it’s about how one person can make a difference by teaming up with and working with other people. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s harder – but generally speaking it’s always worthwhile.

36 years of working in the Public Service. How did that happen?

I’d love to say it was all part of a plan – but it wasn’t.

When I finished University it was about pursuing a career in Accounting, and living up to my parents’ expectation to do the best I could. Ok, there was one more thing – I wanted to move to Regina so I could be close to Van and convince him to marry me.

So, Regina it was, and that led me to the Provincial Auditor’s Office, and once again – the reason was pretty simple. They were offering $50 more a month than the National Accounting Firms – and that helped pay the rent.

So maybe I should thank the late Willard Lutz for setting me on the right path.

Perhaps it was fate – but that experience helped me realize that I was more interested in contributing to an organization from ‘inside the organization’ rather than consulting to it/ or auditing it from the outside.

That led me to the City where I stayed for 17 years, working with people who pushed me, encouraged me, and gave me room to make mistakes and grow.

When I joined the City (at the ripe old age of 24) it was still about being an excellent accountant and hopefully a manager and leader in the future.

But, once I was there – I started to understand the linkage of the work I was doing for the organization – to why the organization existed in the first place – to serve the citizens and make Regina an excellent community to live in and raise our family. What could be better.

There were probably very few opportunities that I would have left the City for – but working for the Provincial Public Service Commission was one of them.

The ability to contribute to ‘change and improvement’ within a bigger public service was a golden opportunity.

And thank goodness for people like Wynne Young and Dan Perrins – who coached someone who hadn’t grown up in the system – to be successful in the system.

I was driven by, and continue to be driven by, how we can be the best public service – in order to support being the best Province in which to live.

I firmly believe that we could have all the money in the world but without an excellent public service – we wouldn’t achieve our goals and meet the needs of the Citizens.

A quick side bar – I am the Deputy Minister of Finance – and a little bit more money sure would make our work easier!

So that’s why working in the public service means so much to me – we truly do make a difference each and every day.

While I truly am grateful for this award – I also want to say – I’m not done yet. I hope to continue contributing in whatever way I can – to keep telling our story, to drive a culture of excellence and continuous improvement, to coach and mentor the great young people who are the public service of the future, and serve the Government and the people of Saskatchewan.

Thank you again for this wonderful honor, and for being here today to celebrate it with me.