By: Katie Geoghegan, MPA student
For David Cundall and Amanda Vindevoghel Cundall, constant change has been the norm. Their careers have evolved through diverse public sector roles.
While many students enrolled in the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School (JSGS) have connections to each other through work, friendship or other means, some are part of the same family. As one of the school’s husband and wife teams, Amanda and David first met during their undergraduate degrees in history class. Although both began their public sector careers as summer students at the Saskatchewan Legislature in 2008, their professional lives have since taken different paths.
After his summer student role, David started in 2008 as an Assistant Research Officer in Executive Council’s Cabinet Planning Branch.
“During this time, I began preparing for the LSATs and was considering law school,” says David. “Advocating for people really appealed to me.”
As his work at Executive Council continued, he met many senior public servants passionate about their work, and was inspired to change his career direction. “It was evident that the people I worked with loved what they were doing,” he said. “That passion was pretty infectious.” As a result, David re-evaluated his options and instead chose to apply to the school’s Master of Public Administration program.
Later that same year, David moved to the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety where he was hired as a Senior Policy Analyst. During his three years with the ministry, David served as project manager for a major legislative review of the Workers’ Compensation Act, 1979. The project Committee, which consisted of members of the public and equal representation from employer and employee groups, was required to review the legislation and its administration. The team undertook consultation through public hearings and written submissions in order to submit a report with 57 recommendations. David then worked with the Ministry in analyzing those recommendations, re-writing the existing legislation, and introducing a new Act. This work resulted in several significant improvements, such as indexing benefits for injured workers and expanding the number of industries that were covered by worker's compensation.
From the start, David’s goal had always been to gain experience in a variety of line ministry and central agencies, and eventually become a Treasury Board Analyst. In 2013, he did just that. This was a job that David really enjoyed because it was “pure policy analysis” from a fiscal perspective, and his role as a budget analyst gave him exposure to a broad portfolio -- the ministries of environment and finance, as well as the Water Security Agency.
After being at Treasury Board for only a year, David was recruited by a previous supervisor to MNP, a management consulting firm. Still enjoying his work, he was torn between a role he was still very much enjoying, and a new, challenging opportunity in the consulting world. True to his personality, David decided to embark on a new path.
For the last six months, David has worked as Manager, Consulting Services at MNP. Although his portfolio includes mostly public sector work, David also works with many not-for-profit organizations and First Nations groups. He has welcomed the opportunity to work one-on-one with non-governmental organizations, and is able to provide a unique, independent perspective. Though he technically works in the private sector, David is never too far from the public realm.
Like David, Amanda’s career has taken many turns. Having worked throughout her undergraduate degree, Amanda was invited to join the Premier’s correspondence units as an editor in 2010. She later moved into the office of the Minister of Advanced Education, Rob Norris. When torn between the idea of pursuing graduate studies in either education or public administration, it was Minister Norris who encouraged Amanda to pursue her policy passion.
Around the same period, Amanda became the Ministerial Assistant responsible for immigration. After a cabinet shuffle, she moved to another MA position in July 2012 with Minister McMorris in the Ministry of Highways.
Amanda joined JSGS in the spring of 2013, seeking a Masters Certificate. “I really enjoyed government work and wanted a more in-depth understanding of policy and administration,” said Amanda. ”What appealed to me was the opportunity to advance my career with transferable skills and to learn in an interdisciplinary environment”.
Amanda has since extended her study into the Master of Public Administration program. She has been recognized for her academic work, most recently getting long-listed in the IPAC Blueprint 2020 essay contest in the winter of 2014, for her recommendations for improving mental wellness in the federal public service.
Amanda, seeking experience in a less political side of public service, worked several months at Crown Investments Corporation (CIC). This year, she moved to her current role at SaskPower, where she is the Senior Analyst in the Sustainability Office.
The Sustainability Office’s mandate is “creating a unified picture of SaskPower’s sustainability efforts” by engaging stakeholders around the concept and practice of sustainability, “and using that to identify gaps and create a direction for future planning”. Amanda is looking forward for the chance to work with and learn from other organizations, the expansion of the Office and its work, and taking on meaningful projects. She is passionate about the role of sustainability in building public trust, and educating others on the reputational, financial, social and environmental benefits of undertaking a sustainability agenda.
The couple have taken very different journeys in their public sector careers, simultaneously pursuing professional and educational development. Both David and Amanda have been able to apply their policy and administration learning in each of their roles.
“Working in the public sector has given both David and I the opportunity to meet a lot of great people with different backgrounds, but a common interest in serving the community,” said Amanda.
Change is not something limited to the couple’s professional lives -- the two have recently grown their family with the arrival of their first child in January. Amanda and David are very much looking forward to what the future holds.