Scott Weaver, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Ministry of Energy and Resources, Government of Saskatchewan (Photo submitted)

"Identifying issues, finding solutions": JSGS alum and mentor on building a public policy career

Scott Weaver’s career path has taken some unexpected turns, something he feels is a wonderful way to find what you are looking for.   

By Scott Larson for JSGS

“Identify issues and fix them has kind of been my mantra over the past 15 years in the public service,” says Weaver, who is currently Director of Regulatory Affairs, Government of Saskatchewan, Ministry of Energy and Resources. He is also serving as a mentor in the JSGSAA Mentorship Program. 

Weaver’s relationship with Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) started years ago when he enrolled to get his Graduate Certificate via the school’s laddering option before completing his master’s degree in public administration. 

“I wanted to be able to confirm what I was seeing early on in my career in policy development,” Weaver said of the Certificate Program. “And it was a testing of the waters to see if I wanted to pursue a full master’s degree.” 

Weaver did his undergraduate degree in the 1990s and worked in the private sector until he went into the public service in 2008. 

Weaver first worked at the Legislature, then moved into the Ministry of Social Services where he worked on program and service design for disability programs. From there, he served as an Executive Assistant to the Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Economy and then helped create a new branch in the Energy Regulation division at the Ministry of Energy and Resources.  

“There was a need for some additional policy support in the division,” he explained. “Over time, the Regulatory Affairs branch has grown to lead on broader policy initiatives, legislative and regulation development and process management, as well as planning and reporting functions. We have also taken on licence management and lead special projects, as needed.”  

Four of his current and former staff have been JSGS graduates. 

“We own a few things, but we have role in most things,” he said. “We aim to support good decisions. It is not necessarily our place to say, ‘This is how it should be.’  We’re very much the collaborative group that says, here is all the research and information that has been gathered, let’s talk about how we will make this work in support of our mandate.”  

Weaver said it was nice to be able to work on MPA projects that were related to his Ministry’s work at the time.  For example, his class project related to statistical analysis examined the relationship between GDP growth and income assistance caseloads. 

“For most of the 20 years we studied, as the economy improved, caseloads dropped, which made sense.” he said. “But then there were a few years of anomalies, and we went back to see what could be possible explanations for these. Our work got us into the Case Competition.”   

Weaver said the MPA program helped him understand how everything fits in the grand scheme of things.   

“There are things that you may not fully understand when you start off in a career in public service that the courses helped me with. For example, people will voice frustration about government bureaucracy, and it can be frustrating at times.  However, when you more fully understand the role of government and how it functions you can better grasp why decisions can be slower than what one may want. Decisions made can have huge and lasting impacts. You don’t want to make those types of decisions without careful consideration.” 

Weaver says being able to share his knowledge with those he mentors has been a fulfilling experience.   

“The mentorship programs I have been involved in have been really enjoyable,” he said.  “My career path hasn't been linear. I’m interested in a lot of different things and challenges and my hope is that my mentees understand that the public service can offer a lot of opportunities for you to find what is of interest.  If you can identify issues and find solutions, you will have a fruitful career in public service. That’s my advice I give to those I’ve mentored.”     

“Through the JSGSAA mentorship program specifically, I hope to convey to anyone looking at a career in public service what it actually involves and some tips on how to get their careers off to a good start.” 

For Weaver, he’ll continue finding solutions to ongoing problems. 

“I would never have thought at any point in my career that I would wind up in Energy Regulation,” he said. “It will be interesting to see what the future holds.”