David Barrick is a career civil servant and former elected official in Canada. He has dedicated his career to public administration and developed a keen ability to liaise between senior members of government and constituents. His career has included serving as Chief Administrative Officer of Brampton, Ontario; the Budget Chair for the Niagara Region; the senior leader at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority; Councilor for the Regional Municipality of Niagara; and on the Police Services Board. Throughout his career, he has mastered budgetary management for essentials like infrastructure, social programs, and environmental issues.
What obstacles have you overcome during your career?
David Barrick: Public administration is singular in many respects, particularly with regard to unique challenges. I think one of my greatest moves was to anticipate the challenges of my chosen career path. So, I earned an Honours Bachelor’s in Political Science and a concentration in Law from Brock University. I often hear people discuss how their degrees never really helped in their careers, but that hasn’t been the case with me. My education created a good foundation for my continued learning once I was in the workplace. I also feel that continued education is essential to stay competitive, so I have earned a number of leadership-focused and administrative certifications in addition to my degree. Certifications are fantastic because you can figure out where you need some additional growth and get the education to be your best self in the workplace. The world is changing rapidly while government is built, at least to some degree, to change incrementally. Reconciling that was a little difficult at the beginning.
How has public administration changed in the last 10 years?
David Barrick: I think the more appropriate question would be how hasn’t it changed? The entire landscape altered, as is the case with most industries, with greater acceptance of the internet, greater connectivity, more remote work, the pandemic, social media. Throw into that mix budgetary challenges, different political camps/opinions, the ebb and flow of economies: what you have, even within local municipalities, is this gigantic, challenging puzzle and a number of people who have dedicated their careers and lives to making it work.
What is your favourite aspect of your career?
David Barrick: The challenge is what I love most about it. I mean, we are helping communities navigate unique challenges of climate change, shrinking revenues, infrastructure issues, and social necessities under very specific circumstances. In reality, we are trying to safeguard the populace from the challenges of today while also trying to foresee the obstacles that are coming down the road, and attempting to mitigate those before they arrive. It is a tremendous responsibility, it keeps my colleagues and I awake at night, but we were never really the type of people to “clock out” and forget about work, either. Another thing I love: solid leadership can be transformative because it spurs collaboration and team loyalty. That’s a beautiful thing.
What advice do you have for people who want to begin careers in public administration?
David Barrick: If you are the type of person that simply wants to go to work and then go home and forget about work, then this is not the job for you. If you want minimal stress or prefer to work alone, this is also not the job for you. If you want to work hard, care about what you are doing, work with amazing colleagues and strive to make a real difference in your community or organisation, then keep going. We need you in the arena.
What do you see for the future of public administration?
David Barrick: The issue of ageing infrastructure is about to hit a fever pitch all over the world. I’m not sure people are considering what even just ageing roads and bridges could mean to the supply chain, which has already been challenged during the pandemic. Obviously, environmental concerns will continue to plague the world as-well. Policy will attempt to catch-up with necessity in a number of areas, which means that public administration will take on an increasingly important role.