2022 Security Risk Budget Outlook

Moving on up

At the onset of the pandemic, Security Risk budgets decreased as organizations shuttered their doors and employees left the office, and organizations under duress looked for places to cut costs. Many found their savings in the Security budget. But now, the potential to double or triple budgets in 2022 maybe a reality.

Our research shows approximately two-thirds of security budgets increased in 2021 from 2020, but still have yet to reach or return to 2019 levels. 2022 has the potential to change that.

As organizations are set to come back to life in 2022 security risk events have not gone away. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic created new security challenges. The new challenges have yet to be solved, and as schools and businesses reopen / remain open during potential future surges, the security risks of the past return as well. In order to protect themselves from past, current, and future threats, organizations need to reinvest in physical security.

Really watch

Real camera surveillance and real-time monitoring integrated with a uniformed security guard force that is properly trained may be for some organizations the order of the day. High-caliber uniforms security guards and training necessary to protect against threats to an organization cost more than $15-20 an hour. Challenges will emerge to protect your organization, your information, your IP, your personnel. All of this may lead to an explosion of security requirements, and the budget.

Another factor contributing to budget increases in 2022 is executive protection. According to the Ontic 2021 Mid-Year Outlook: State of Protective Intelligence Report, 58% of CEOs and senior leaders who expressed a stance on political issues received physical threats. Senior Public Officials and local health department leadership who encouraged health measures like vaccination or mask-wearing have also become targets of physical threats. Against the backdrop of this increased threat landscape, executive protection has grown in importance among physical security professionals.

An inner look

These aforementioned types of threats could also come from inside an organization. Leadership will either take a stand, or not take a stand. The personnel of an organization expect their leaders to take a stand, whatever that might be, for or against a particular issue or concern. Unfortunately, pent up frustration surrounding decisions may not even be pandemic related, and at times still result in leaders being threatened. In many areas of the country, threats against “leadership” is foreign territory for many organizations.


The threat landscape has always been uncertain and rapidly changing. With many advancements in approach, strategy, and technology, organizations can protect themselves with integrated security risk strategies.

As both physical and cyber threats compound, organizations are tasked with protecting themselves on all sides. With increased and realized threats there is one unfortunate downside. Higher security costs as risks to supply chains, cyber and physical security risks increase. During this pandemic many organizations have unfortunately learned that their security profile may not be or has been at a level they had hoped it to be. New gaps have been found, existing weaknesses have become even weaker and due to other impacts of the pandemic, organizations may have struggled to get the necessary supplies, purchases and even personnel in a manner to which they were once accustomed.

Plug it

Identify your shortfalls, your gaps and plug the holes. A comprehensive risk assessment will assist in that process. If organizations fail to plug those holes, and as they begin to re-open even more, they unfortunately will remain or fall back into a vulnerable position.

Proactive hard work

Technology enhancements, uniformed security, executive protection, education, and plain old attentiveness and proactive behaviour towards security risks to quickly address existing and newfound challenges brought forth because of the pandemic will require increases in security budgets in 2022.

Now more than ever we need to move beyond reactive, and proactively secure our organizations.

It all simply starts with a plan.

We can Help.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.


Should your Municipality need assistance, contact Michael White Group International today, and we will be happy to answer your questions. Visit michaelwhitegroup.com/contact/



Tips to Run a Successful In-Person Meeting

Over the last two years, many of us had to learn how to connect differently than we were used to. Instead of putting on our best suit, we’re still in our jammies from the waist down. Instead of shaking hands we’re pushing unmute.

Slowly but surely, the world is beginning to open back up. Where it’s safe to do so, many meetings are returning to an in-person format. Since we’ve all become accustomed to doing things virtually, it may take a little time and effort to get back into the swing of the face-to-face meetings. Here are a few tips to help make your meetings run as smoothly as possible.

Set the Agenda:

Municipalities know this, but meetings always run more efficiently when there is an agenda to follow. Having a clear agenda helps set the expectations. If the conversation starts going off track, you can always point back to the agenda items to steer things in the right direction. Setting out estimated times each agenda item should take for discussion, will also help provide direction and keep folks on track.

Start on Time. End on Time.

While it may seem polite to wait for some late arrivals to join, there’s a bigger downside to holding off until everyone is in the room. First and foremost, this sets a bad precedent. Accommodating the latecomers shows the others that arrival times are lax. This can spiral out of control quickly. Secondly, the attendees who’ve prioritized arriving on time are now feeling frustrated that their time isn’t being seen as valuable.

Set Ground Rules:

Having a few basic ground rules around meeting etiquette can help provide great flow in your meeting. Some solid rules, or expectations, can be something simple like; participate, get focus, maintain momentum, and reach closure. If you list these rules at the top of your agenda, both new and returning attendees will understand the direction of the meeting.

End with an Action Plan:

We’ve all been in meetings where the conversation seems to go around in circles without resolving anything. It’s important to establish a plan of action for the agenda items that need follow-up. Assigning certain people to particular tasks and plotting out a course of accountability will ensure that your meetings have purpose and value to all of those involved. We’ve conducted meetings by video teleconference for so long, (and honestly, we’ve become pretty good at them), it will be an adjustment for everyone to start attending again in person. But a well-organized meeting, and Chairperson with good leadership skills, will get us all back
in the swing of things soon.

Oh, and one more thing – dig out that suit again. Things may have changed over the last couple of years, but it’s still not considered socially acceptable to wear pajama bottoms to an in-person meeting.


The Value A Search Firm Provides Versus The Costs To A Municipality / Broader Public Sector Organization

Kartik Kumar

Kartik Kumar

National Practice Leader, Municipal Government and Broader Public Sectors.

When a Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization is looking to hire a new senior executive – they have two options. The first is to do the search themselves and take on the hiring and search process internally. The second is to partner with a specialized executive search firm that has a successful record and significant experience in placing senior level executives in their industry to manage the entire search process. 

Municipalities and Broader Public Sector organizations operate under very strict budgets and sometimes the cost of paying to work with an executive search firm can seem high. As a result, some organizations choose to take on a new senior management search themselves. While this may seem like a smart cost saving measure at the time, an organization can face serious legal issues, lost opportunity and lost time if they make a mis-hire and are unable to find the “right fit”. In full transparency, let’s take a look at the actual hard costs (in terms of time and resources) that a Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization will face and incur when taking on a new senior management search themselves without the help of an executive search firm. 

Phase I: Strategy Costs 

This entire executive search process will need to be owned and managed by a senior executive leader within the organization with the know-how “to manage a process such as this”. The Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization should be comfortable with the ethics of poaching and causing another Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization to lose a senior executive. Many organizations do not allow this type of activity amongst each other. However, using a third-party such as an executive search firm, allows this type of activity to take place without any conflicts or issues. Candidates would feel much more comfortable dealing with a search firm rather than dealing with a competing organization. Finding and placing a new leader within the organization is a very delicate and intensive process. Let’s say you are a senior executive at a Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization who will own this search process, and earn roughly ~$150,000 per year or ~$78.00 per hour. This will be our baseline for evaluating and calculating time in terms of cost to the Municipality.

Before you begin your executive search for a new senior executive, you will need to identify stakeholders, any technology required, construct a strategy, organize documents and create milestones for this entire process. This will need to be a few hours of meetings and time for all internal stakeholders that will be involved to align on this process. Let’s say for example it will take roughly 15 hours collectively (or ~$1,200) of the senior leadership team’s time to decide on a strategy and get the proper processes set in place and approved.

Once you have a strategy and plan in place, you will need to create a job profile including: a list of requirements, responsibilities, qualifications, skills and credentials required of a candidate to perform in the role. As you are looking for a high-performing senior executive, this position profile must be carefully crafted as the senior executive will be the next leader for your organization for years to come. Cost will vary significantly depending on the amount of time involved for multiple stakeholders in this process. 

Creating the job profile takes time, and the individuals that understand what is needed of a senior executive will need to collaborate within this part of the process. At this level, the senior leadership should be very involved in drafting and creating the position profile. Let’s say, for example, that four senior executives within the Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization will need to draft, review and approve the position profile spending about 10 hours of their time each on this profile totaling 40 hours or ~$3,200.

Total costs to your Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization at this point are: ~$4,400.00 

Phase II: Talent Acquisition Costs

When a Public Sector organization decides to take on a senior management search themselves – they assume the process is as simple as posting to a job board site and letting the resumes flood in. The search has to start somewhere, and this is the quickest way to build a talent pipeline when you do not have a network of talented professionals to choose from or contact.

This inbound recruiting method works well for staffing more junior level roles, but when it comes to senior leadership positions it is not ideal. Posting a job to a job board will attract only “Active” candidates. Active candidates are eagerly looking for a new opportunity or are currently unemployed. At the leadership level the “actively looking” talent pool yields a large volume of mediocre talent. More often than not, these candidates are in-process for other opportunities as well and have a relatively low commitment to your  organization or the position itself. There is no guarantee that the qualified candidates will flood in. In some cases, I have conducted searches where very few resumes responded to the posting. Most of our successful candidates are what we call “passive candidates.” These are candidates that are identified by reputation and directly sourced. Usually these candidates are not “actively looking” for a new role but open for opportunities to enhance their career. This a classic situation where direct poaching between organizations may be deemed unethical, however that is the business of an executive search firm. A professional executive search firm will do targeted research to determine who the most effective leaders are in this space and contact them directly. 

The average posting cost a public sector organization will assume for several job boards to generate a talent pipeline can be upwards of ~$5,000.

Let’s say for example, that you have posted your senior executive position to several job boards and received several applications and now it’s time to review. This stage of the process should typically be handled by a senior level leader who is capable of answering all relevant questions and has the expertise to communicate well with senior executives.,. In addition, you will need to build your own deep relationships with candidates throughout this entire journey ensuring that confidentiality is maintained at all times. If the word gets out there that a potential candidate is looking, it could potentially risk their current employment which could lead to legal action. Only you and other key stakeholders will understand what skills and leadership style will be a match for your organization. The time required to carefully sift through, organize and prioritize these  applications can take roughly 40 hours which can cost a Municipality ~$3,000.00 of your time. 

Total costs to your Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization at this point are: ~$12,400.00 

Phase III: Screening & Interviewing Costs

Next, you will need to screen via zoom or phone the top 20 candidates to begin the interview process. Let’s say that each initial candidate screening will take 1 hour per candidate and then some additional time to create the interview questions, draft and refine your feedback and notes, review resumes again and notify the bottom candidates that they will not be moving forward. This phase will cost the organization roughly 75 hours or ~$5,900.00 

After the top 10 candidates have been selected, a second round of initial interviews will need to be conducted to gain a firmer understanding of which candidates to present to leadership and the other key stakeholders as the top choices for the role. These interviews will be much more in-depth and should take longer than the initial screening interviews. In addition to longer interviews, candidates again will need to be measured and assessed after each interview. This stage of the process can take roughly 60 hours or a total of ~$4,700.00

Total costs to your Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization at this point are: ~$23,000.00 

Phase IV: Stakeholder Interviews & Final Assessments Costs

Once the top candidates have been screened, and put through an initial round of interviews – they will need to speak and interview with other senior leaders and stakeholders within the Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization. There will need to be at least 2 rounds of interviews between the senior leadership team and these top candidates. One of these interviews may be a panel interview with multiple stakeholders (3 for example) participating. After these interviews are conducted the team will need to come together to discuss their thoughts, notes and reactions to the candidates. This stage for one candidate can take up to 10 to 15 hours per candidate or ~$4,400.00

Now you must deliberate and choose to narrow it down to two finalist candidates. At this stage, some senior leadership stakeholders within the Municipality may want another round of interviews or have a candidate make a final presentation. In addition to these additional interviews or presentations, stakeholders will need to discuss and unanimously decide together on the best fit candidate. This can take roughly 15 hours total to complete and arrive at a selected finalist for a total cost of ~$1,200.  

Total costs to your Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization at this point are: ~$28,600.00 

Phase V: The Cost Of Making An Offer

At this phase, a verbal offer is made prior to drafting the official contract to be signed. This phase is relatively short, but sometimes negotiation and internal politics can extend this phase of the search considerably. Let’s say for example the candidate has decided to negotiate a few things into their contract which will require legal and HR to revise several drafts and receive approval each time. This stage can be outsourced or take roughly 10 hours of legal and HR’s time or ~$1,000

If the candidate accepts you will choose a start date which will be several weeks away. At this stage you have invested nearly ~$30,000 in your time to find a new senior executive. This time is in addition to your regular responsibilities and commitments in your everyday role. 

Hidden Costs And Outcomes: 

There are many variables that can happen during the executive search process such as your finalist candidate accepting another offer at a different organization. If this happens you will need to repeat some of Phase IV and consider those added time costs. 

More often than not when a senior management search is conducted by a Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization internally without the help of an executive search firm, the selected candidate is not a good fit, which results in a mis-hire several months later. As a result, this candidate needs to be replaced, but since too much time has passed from your initial interactions with all candidates when beginning your search, you will need to restart at Phase III again and revisit the entire search process. This can add an additional ~$15,000 to your original time spent and bring your total internal time costs up to ~$45,000 to find a replacement candidate for the position. 

The Cost Of Working With An Executive Search Firm.

Senior executives are key hires to your leadership team and your organization. They have a significant impact on the future of your community and organization and a controlling stake in that future for years to come. A miss-step by taking on a search yourself and hiring the wrong candidate can have monumental consequences and set a Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization back in many ways. When looking at the total internal costs associated with finding, interviewing and hiring the best senior executive, a Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization can save significant time, risk and money by partnering directly with an executive search firm to manage and run this entire process. 

Typically, the search fee itself will be lower than the cost in time and resources that the organization will spend doing a search themselves, and a search consultant will be able to serve as a trusted advisor throughout this entire process. In summary, here are some things to consider when debating the value of working with an executive search firm:

  1. By posting and praying, you have no control over whether a good candidate will respond. If they don’t respond, what are you going to do? 
  2. If the hired candidate leaves or is released or terminated, you are back to square one and must restart this entire process. With a search firm there is no additional cost as it is covered under a replacement guarantee. 
  3. A credible search firm does research into your industry and assesses its network to identify who the key players are, and proactively reaches out to them to determine interest. Most of our successful hires have been people in this category that would have not considered the opportunity otherwise.

About The Author

Kartik Kumar is a Partner at Legacy Executive Search Partners and has over 15 years experience in successfully executing 250 projects within the Public and Private Sector, including Municipal Government and Public Libraries. Kartik has a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Ryerson University and an accredited certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University.

Prior to joining Legacy Executive Search Partners, Kartik has held several Managing Director roles within large national and international executive search firms. He has successfully developed an executive search practice across Ontario and Canada within Municipal Government and the Broader Public Sector.

Contact Kartik to learn more ([email protected]) about Senior Leadership Recruitment within the Public Sector across Canada.


Finding Diversity, Inclusion & Equity in Municipal Government and Public Sector Organizations in Canada


Kartik KumarKartik Kumar, National Practice Leader, Municipal Government and Broader Public Sectors.


Diversity and Inclusion has been a common discussion point for many Municipalities and Broader Public Sector organizations over the last several years in Canada. As communities and populations begin to shift to become more inclusive and diverse, meeting these changing societal values and demographics will require fresh perspectives and representation at the leadership level within Municipalities and other Public sector organizations.

Oftentimes innovative leadership qualities are found within diversity candidates that can challenge the status quo to effectively impact change across a community. Typically, diversity candidates have experienced and mitigated a lifetime of adversity and obstacles. These experiences, both professionally and personally, foster new ideas, creative thinking, innovation, agility and influence. However, when it comes to appointing diversity candidates to positions of leadership, Municipalities and other organizations within the Public Sector face a number of challenges including:

●  Finding Passive Diversity Talent

●  Diversity Leadership Driven By Representation

●  Benchmarking Diversity Candidates Against Competencies and Skills

●  Creating An Inclusive Culture To Drive Performance

Finding Passive Diversity Talent

Many Municipalities and organizations see the value that diversity can bring to their leadership teams but don’t know where to start their search for this elusive talent. For many years, organizations and Municipalities unknowingly created a culture of homogeneity thus shrinking their own internal talent pipelines as a source for diversity talent. Instead, Public and Private Sector organizations must partner with external experts, such as an executive search consultant, to assist in the identification, appointment and presentation of the most qualified and capable diversity candidates for a role.

Diversity Mandates Driven Representation

One element of diversity that some organizations fall victim to is the necessity to hire a diversity candidate as a response to societal pressure. I’ve worked with many clients in my career as an executive search consultant, that believe that hiring a diversity candidate that can provide the best value to a community is the simple concept of representation.

When I work with Municipalities, Public Libraries and other Public Sector organizations – I advise Councillors, Board members and other stakeholders and selection/recruitment committees to consider three things:

  1. The benefits that diversity can bring to their communities/ organizations.
  2. Require a diverse slate of candidates.
  3. Examine diversity within the community/ organization and population to help clarify and define the best fit of diversity for a leadership role.

Benchmarking Diversity Candidates Against Competencies and Skills

Sometimes the personification and perception of diversity by selection/recruitment committees may not always align with the true values and representation of the communities they will be serving. As a best practice, a diversity candidate should be representative of the larger community in which they will serve, while also maintaining the leadership attributes required by the role.

In addition, Municipalities and Public Sector organization’s selection/recruitment committees must carefully examine what key competencies and skills the role requires. Sometimes the benchmark diversity candidate that a search committee thinks they need, does not always align with the skills and core competencies demanded by the role itself. The best fit diversity candidate is a well-rounded individual that is able to meet both the requirements for the role as well as represent the larger community/ organization.

Creating An Inclusive Culture To Drive Performance

The other caveat that Municipalities and Leadership within the Public Sector overlook when hiring a diversity candidate is inclusivity training and acceptance of new and different perspectives for other senior leaders. Inclusivity programs allow for the broader leadership team to adopt and best leverage new perspectives gleaned by diversity candidates in powerful ways. By elevating cultural sensitivities and awareness to the existing senior leadership team and creating a more inclusive culture, senior leaders can learn how to better collaborate, break through unconscious bias and support one another.

As a result, this awareness and approach to inclusivity will increase collaboration. This culture reshaping will then trickle down through the wider teams and produce better results. As this cultural shift slowly takes place, success can be measured by performance and the attraction of other diversity candidates to the talent pipeline.

About The Author.

Kartik Kumar is a Partner at Legacy Executive Search Partners and has over 15 years experience in successfully executing 250 projects within the Public and Private Sector, including Municipal Government and Public Libraries. Kartik has a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Ryerson University and an accredited certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University.

Prior to joining Legacy Executive Search Partners, Kartik has held several Managing Director roles within large national and international executive search firms. He has successfully developed an executive search practice across Ontario and Canada within Municipal Government and the Broader Public Sector.

Contact Kartik to learn more ([email protected]) about Senior Leadership Recruitment within the Public Sector across Canada.


Vaccination Policies for Municipal Employees and Consultants

While there is currently no federal or provincial legislation in Canada requiring mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for all employees, we are seeing more and more municipalities implementing requirements for their employees, consultants and contractors.

This is a controversial issue and muniSERV is not speaking out for or against these policies. We believe that municipalities have an obligation to protect the health and safety of their employees, as well as their residents and the community as a whole. Although implementing a mandatory vaccination policy poses potential legal risks, such as human rights and privacy claims, most municipalities are moving forward. This blog is meant to help clear up some misconceptions and to help municipalities make informed choices when developing, implementing and enforcing their vaccination policies.

Human Rights

Human rights legislation, pertaining to employment, prohibits discrimination on certain grounds, including disability, sex and religion. If an employee refuses to comply with mandatory vaccination policies with a justifiable exemption, the employer must make accommodations. These can include working remotely or more specific measures like increased PPE or modified work hours. Many municipalities are requiring staff who have are not fully vaccinated to attend vaccination education training and undergo routine COVID testingPrivacy Concerns

In most Canadian provinces, an employer may collect, use or disclose personal employee information only with their consent and for reasonable purposes. In order to enforce a mandatory vaccination policy, employers would be required to ask employees if they are vaccinated. This qualifies as the collection of personal information, which means that the employee would have to consent but also that the employer must demonstrate that they are collecting the information for a reasonable purpose.

In this case, the employer could reasonably request vaccination information but only to be used for the implementation of vaccination policies, health and safety protocols and infection control measures. This information should, ideally, be kept separate from regular personnel files and only accessed with required.


An employee who refuses to be vaccinated because of a medical condition or religious belief cannot have their employment terminated as that would be considered discrimination under the human rights code. But, the reality is that employers can invoke a “without cause” termination as long as the proper severance is paid.

Non-compliance with vaccination policies could leave employers in a delicate situation, forcing them to discipline their employees and even possibly terminate their employment.

Unionized Employees

Since many municipal employees are also union members, municipalities must work closely with the unions before finalizing and implementing their vaccination policies. Workplace safety is a founding principle for most unions but the pandemic has produced new obstacles for everyone.

Of course, it is always best that municipalities explore all of their options and obligations when developing, implementing and enforcing their vaccination policies.


Reflections on Working in a Municipality

I recently was asked to discuss, “Managing Your Career from Start to Finish”, with the graduating class of the University of Western’s Municipal Public Administration program.

To prepare for it, I was asked to reflect on the trajectory of my career and provide some thoughts and tips I might have on launching a municipal career.  

It was an interesting task – not one I’d really given much thought to before. 

The graduates were surprised to learn, that when I first became interested in a career in municipal government, many municipalities in rural Ontario were managed by husband-and-wife teams.  Not good financial management at all but back then it worked.  

This is a far cry from the professionalism municipalities deliver today.  While constant changes in legislation are frustrating to municipalities, they really have served to improve municipalities over time.

When my local husband-and-wife team announced their impending retirements, I started taking the AMCTO Municipal Administration Courses and going to Council meetings – not only to understand municipal operations better, but also so the Council would get to know me.  And it worked!  

I applied and my first municipal job was as Clerk/Treasurer/Tax Collector of my local municipality.  

So, here’s some strategies that may help you land your first municipal job

Do some homework;

  • Research the municipality and the department of interest
  • What are the issues? What key projects are they working on?
  • Go to a Council meeting in person once things open again so Council and staff will start to get to know you, or watch some online to understand the protocols
  • Volunteer to help at municipal/community events
  • Look for a summer job in the municipality to get a feel for what it’s like to work there
  • Ask if you can job shadow the CAO for a day (at no charge) 
  • Investigate OMAA Bursary program http://www.omaa.on.ca/en/about-omaa/the-omaa-bursary-program.asp  It’s a Bursary program offering $5,000 annually to support the education of future municipal government leaders and promote the role of CAO. The program runs to 2025.


My personal belief is that those launching municipal careers right now have perhaps the best opportunity in recent history, for quick career advancement, because so many municipal employees are eligible for retirement in 2021.

Many are staying on past their retirement dates, however, to help their communities through COVID, but I predict there will be a mass exodus of employees soon as the COVID crisis begins to ease. We’re already seeing an increase in municipal job postings.  

As for the trajectory of my career – well, I eventually became the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and helped the municipality through restructuring, worked with the province in issues and project management, and eventually decided to set up a municipal consultancy and develop muniSERV.ca. and muniJOBS.ca

To me, a career in local government is still the most challenging and rewarding work you’ll ever do. 

Like I always say, You can take the girl out of the municipality, but you can never take the municipality out of the girl.”  


Susan Shannon, AMCT

Founder & Principal, muniSERV.ca & Shaping Organizational Solutions (SOS)

[email protected]  Phone: 855.477.5095


Podcast Interview with Ripple Analytics

Do you dread conducting annual employee reviews?

Ripple is a platform for providing quick, anonymous team member evaluations. By rating colleagues based on the Big 5 Personality Traits, Ripple turns objective feedback into actionable information.

CEO, Noah L. Pusey, brings a unique perspective to growing Ripple, drawn from nearly two decades of experience establishing and building law firms in New York City.  He has counseled and advised individual and corporate clients in various practice areas including business development, growth strategy and general transactional matters.

Noah has firsthand knowledge of the flawed employee review systems used by many companies – having participated in hundreds of annual evaluations over the years, so he has set out to change they way they’re done!

Listen to this podcast to learn more: https://truecomparepeo.com/2021/05/06/noah-pusey/


How To Find Executive Level Talent For Canada’s Municipalities And Broader Public Sector Organizations

How To Find Executive Level Talent For Canada’s Municipalities And Broader Public Sector Organizations

Some thoughts from a search expert in these fields.

In my last article, we discussed the leadership qualities and traits that will be required to transition Canada’s Municipalities and the general Public Sector into a post-pandemic reality. As the pandemic recovery slowly makes its way through the economy in Canada and abroad, industries will begin to bounce back, becoming more resilient, agile and innovative under new leadership. As a result, an increase in hiring has surged through the workforce and is transforming the talent landscape from a “War for Talent” to include a “Race For Talent”. So what is the best way that Councils’ and Boards’ in the Public Sector can reach, engage and attract the best talent to lead the recovery. 

More often than not Municipal Councils’, Boards’ and Senior Management Teams within the Public Sector will approach the recruitment of a Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Executive Officer, Director or other C-level senior executive similarly to that of a mid-level manager. When taking this effort on themselves, they will post the job description, gather resumes, interview candidates and make a final selection. This approach to running a senior level search internally is compromised for many reasons including:

  • There is limited access to qualified leaders beyond your team’s immediate networks.
  • A lot of potential candidates are not “actively looking,” are “selective” regarding their career moves and would not apply for the role concerned about a breach of confidentiality. Dealing with a search consultant, before they commit, makes it easier for these candidates to feel comfortable and seek more details about the opportunity.

Countless times I have seen Municipalities and other Public Sector organizations attempt to take on the hiring for a senior executive leader internally, and end up coming to us eventually for help in managing the search process.

In order to avoid this initial waste of resources, time, finances and frustration, I’ve created a guide for how Municipal Councils’, Board’s and Senior Management teams in Canada can partner and work with an external executive search firm for finding and appointing the best leaders for their organizations and communities.

Step 1: What Is Their Specialization? Success In Finding And Placing Right Fit Candidates Who Can Make A Difference

Firstly, you will need to identify the best search firm to partner with. This will include a close examination of several key areas including the types of executives they have placed, other clients they have worked with in the past (are these past clients similar to you and your needs) and a list of recent or past searches. For example, I specialize in placing Chief Administrative Officers’, Chief Executive Officers’, Commissioners’ and Directors’ for Municipalities, Public Sector organizations and Libraries across Canada. To quickly gather this information, review a search firm’s website. If you are still unclear of their specialization and methods you can dive deeper into their thought leadership that they have published. Look for regular postings of thought leadership articles and content about your industry and ask yourself if these articles provide deeper insights than others you have come across or reveal perspectives that you may not have considered. A truly experienced search consultant should be able to demonstrate and provide value to their wider networks in addition to their immediate clients.

Successful search consultants that exceed client expectations, will also see a high rate of repeat and referral business – it is important to understand what percentage of a search firm’s business is repeat or referral business versus new business. The higher the repeat / referral rate – the better the relationship a search consultant will have with their clients. I am grateful to have a very high rate of repeat / referral business. 

The final consideration for identifying specialization within a search firm when working in the Public Sector, is to confirm that a search firm or search consultant is a trusted partner and vetted provider with prior experience working with Municipalities and Public Sector organizations. A search firm that has been through this rigorous process of verification, certification, approval and documentation, will be accustomed to these requirements and this process. Having this awareness and experience will save you time and resources when looking for an external search firm to partner with.

Step 2: Why Partner with A Search Firm Instead Of Doing It Yourself?

Aside from the downsides to doing it yourself that I mentioned earlier, there are a number of additional reasons why allowing a well respected third party to manage and run your executive search process will yield better results. In addition to unrivaled candidate access and relationships, a search consultant or search firm you partner with can:

  • Collectively gather information from internal stakeholders to create a summary of ideal core competencies, gain trust and build consensus.
  • Remain unbiased during the research, interviewing and decision-making processes.
  • Conduct interviews to provide a fair and objective process for everyone involved.
  • Assure that candidates have fair representation in the interview process.
  • Garner buy-in across multiple internal stakeholders.
  • Decrease the time to placement / hire by circumventing internal obstacles and politics. 

A search consultant should serve as a trusted advisor to both a client and a candidate. Having an objective perspective as a search consultant, they can lead the charge and the process and instill confidence and trust within the candidate. When a search is conducted internally – candidates often will not trust the process for any number of reasons and therefore lose interest, shrinking the available talent pool. This distrust can manifest from any number of prior experiences including:

  • Mistreatment in a prior internal interview process
  • Losing the role to an internal hire / promotion (for cost hiring purposes)
  • Mishired and not a good fit culturally. 

The candidate experience is becoming more and more critical to finding and attracting senior leadership talent within the Public Sector. A third party search consultant represents both the client to the candidate and vice versa and will have everyone’s best interests top of mind throughout the entire cycle. When candidates are not selected to move forward for any number of reasons, an expert search consultant will assure that the candidate’s experience remains positive by offering additional coaching, feedback, etc. This in turn creates a favorable impression by the candidate and maintains a Municipality’s or Public Sector organization’s reputation. 

Another reason why senior executive candidates do not apply directly to positions is the risk of exposure to their current company which can damage their reputation and career aspirations. As a search consultant, I make sure that the entire search process remains confidential and candidates are informed of their status in a timely and discrete manner – regardless of the outcome. 

Once your Search / Recruitment Committee has selected a search firm to appoint your next senior executive, it is imperative to understand the process of how you will work together with a search consultant. 

Step 3: Understanding The Executive Search Process. 

To set expectations, an executive search process for selecting a new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) or a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will take roughly 6-8 weeks to complete. First, we interview Search / Recruitment Committees and the rest of Council / Board members to gain insight, get stakeholders actively involved and identify the core competencies (skills, traits, qualities) of the ideal candidate. When completed, this reveals the summary of the most important core competencies, which are then developed and approved by the Search / Recruitment committee and built into a position profile. 

Next, as a search consultant, we go to market to research, find, engage and source candidates that align with these competencies. Our team will often consult with my confidential advisory committee of current and past successful Municipal and Public Sector executives seeking potential referrals for candidates. Typically this initial research will yield approximately 80-100 candidates, who are then scored and ranked against the competency matrix through a round of initial interviews and either moved forward or withdrawn from the process. After this initial screening and research phase, I match the best candidates that align with both the required experience and core leadership skills, resulting in roughly 8-10 top candidates ready to be presented to the Search / Recruitment Committee. 

At this point, a truly experienced search consultant will continue to manage and facilitate the interview process between candidates and the search committee. By facilitating panel interviews as a moderator and coaching stakeholders on key questions to ask, a search consultant will make sure that the process remains fair and equitable. This also avoids any possibilities for potential conflict internally and eliminates favoritism and bias. 

We would then work with Search / Recruitment Committee stakeholders to build consensus of their top 3 candidate selections. Once further interviews are conducted and a finalist is chosen, we also recommend a unique psychometric assessment expert to conduct an independent assessment of the finalist candidate. I will conduct final reference, credential, criminal background and social media checks. An offer is then extended to the candidate who will then either negotiate or accept. 

The above process is an example of a typical search process that has been successful on many occasions in hiring senior executives, however each process is tailored to clients’ specific needs and agreed to in advance. We constantly strive to improve our processes and do so based on feedback from clients. 

It is our understanding that the average tenure for a Chief Administrative Officer / Chief Executive Officer in the Public Sector is roughly 3-5 years. If you have any questions regarding the Canadian marketplace or are considering a new executive hire to your leadership team, I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Below are a list of our current searches that we are working on:

Some of Our Past Successful Searches Include:

  • Chief Administrative Officer – City of Pickering
  • Chief Administrative Officer – City of St. Catharines
  • Chief Administrative Officer – Township of Uxbridge
  • Chief Administrative Officer – Town of Niagara – On – the Lake
  • Chief Administrative Officer – Region of Waterloo
  • Chief Executive Officer – Burlington Public Library
  • Chief Executive Officer – St. Catharines Public Library
  • Director, Economic Development Services – City of Oshawa
  • Director, Planning Services – City of Oshawa
  • Director, Transit Services – Region of Waterloo
  • Director of Municipal Works – City of Niagara Falls
  • Director of Operations and Environmental Services – Town of Ajax
  • Director of Communications – City of Cambridge
  • Director of Information Technology – Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC)
  • Director of Finance – Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC)
  • City Manager – City of Cambridge
  • Senior Manager, Economic Development – Town of Whitby

About The Author

Kartik Kumar is a Partner at Legacy Executive Search Partners and has over 15 years experience in successfully executing 250 projects within the Public and Private Sector industry segments, including Municipalities and other Broader Public Sector organizations. Kartik has a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Ryerson University and an accredited certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University.

Prior to joining Legacy Executive Search Partners, Kartik has held several Managing Director and Partner roles within large national and international executive search firms. He has successfully developed an executive search practice across Ontario and Canada within Municipal Government and the broader Public Sector.

Contact Kartik Kumar at [email protected] for Senior Leadership Recruitment within the Public Sector across Canada. 


Being aware – situationally aware

Our world has always been in a state of perpetual change. Now more than ever, it is perceived to be doing that at an ever-rapid pace.

Positive changes such as economic growth, and technology advancements to note a couple. Unfortunately, with the positive, comes the negative. A continuous cycle of persons who wish to do harm.

Safety and Security experts inform us that violent events will continue to happen. The violent extremist motivated and driven by an ideology, to the targeting of individuals, place of business, worship, acts of violence that permeate into every vertical, sector of business and government.

Active safety and security programs are continuous reviewed, modified to face existing and the new challenges of tomorrow.

To make your safety and security programs more effective, the program needs ambassadors, staff.

Ambassadors need to be aware. Situationally aware.

Situational awareness training provides your staff with valuable intelligence & time when facing safety and security situations of potential harm or danger.

Being situation aware is truly a change in mindset.

It is a way of thinking that will focus a person’s behaviour, their outlook, and their mental attitude. People that are aware are no longer vulnerable but capable.

Capable individuals are always prepared. Capable individuals are not complacent, they use technology to enhance their preparedness and response and their planning always includes a contingency plan.

Situationally aware staff improve the effectiveness of your safety and security program.

Situationally aware individuals enhance the workplace and enhance their personal safety and security.

We can Help.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance in Situation Awareness training, contact Michael White Group International today, and we will be happy to answer your questions.

Michael White Group International is Arcuri Group LLC approved Situation Awareness Specialist Certification Training provider.



Turn Stress into Good Stress by Choosing Your Response

Life is a parade of stress-inducing situations ever looming on the horizon. Which helps explain why, the more you resist stress, resist the inevitable, the more painful it becomes. For instance, say that your stress was an egg. And imagine squeezing and squeezing that egg. It’d finally crack under the pressure, right? What a mess! But if you gently hold the egg, you can easily handle it.

Stress can make us stronger, smarter and happier

In a Stanford News article by Clifton B. Parker, the author interviewed Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal who talked about her research indicating that “stress can make us stronger, smarter and happier – if we learn how to open our minds to it.”


McGonigal states that “The three most protective beliefs about stress are: 

1) to view your body’s stress response as helpful, not debilitating – for example, to view stress as energy you can use; 

2) to view yourself as able to handle, and even learn and grow from, the stress in your life; and 

3) to view stress as something that everyone deals with, and not something that proves how uniquely screwed up you or your life is.”

a cascade of health-promoting physical responses.

Studies have shown that when we embrace stress, our bodies release a cascade of health-promoting physical responses. A life-saving “biology of courage” that helps you endure and thrive even under the most daunting, stressful conditions.

In a Q&A with the Rotman School of Business, McGonigal responded to one of the questions with the following: “The profound ‘mindset reset’ that I’m encouraging involves embracing stress because you understand that there is no way to live a stress-free life, and that the presence of stress in our lives is important to being human. We need stress in order to experience the things we want most in life — whether it’s health, happiness, love or growth. I am convinced that when you choose to see the upside of stress, you increase your resilience, add meaning to your life and make more personal connections.”

A Story from Real Life…the horse is out of the barn!

In 2008, my husband, Stan, of 8 years was diagnosed with Stage IV gastric cancer. “Sorry, the horse is out of the barn” is what we were told over and over. Sorry, too late for surgery, the horse is out of the barn. Sorry, too late for radiation, the horse is out of the barn. “Maybe oncology can help.”  


In no time at all, here we were, our world suddenly turned absolutely upside down. It felt surreal and almost like we were watching ourselves in a movie. Alas, an oncologist who embraced Stan’s situation and wasn’t about to allow the horse to keep running until Stan ran out of breath. Instead, he told us that “Sometimes aggressive cancers respond to aggressive treatment.” Okay then – let’s get started, we responded. Keep in  mind, he continued “you have less than a 5% chance of living 5 years.”


That was a defining moment and one filled with immense stress – the life or death kind…literally. At that moment, we had a choice, we could feel defeated,  go the chemo course and hope for the best.


Instead, we chose our stress response. For Stan, it was an attitude of I’m not ready to leave my wife and my family – I still have so much to live for. Stan also looked at the odds and chose to respond by taking on the perspective that somebody is in that 5% that makes it so it’s going to be him.


The stress response I chose was one of combating this evil force. I could see it, it had a shape, it had a colour and it was voracious. Well guess what, I could be voracious back – “no I’m not going to let you win” I thought. 

Choice gives us power

This stress response was a choice and with choice comes power. There is so much more about this journey but today I just want to focus on just one of the techniques for mastering stress – choosing your stress response.


That choice is what kept me going as the caregiver, researcher, on-demand cook, chauffeur, part-time coach, communications head and wife. My choice gave me the courage that I needed to continue although inside I was filled with fear, particularly in the early days.


Months later, as my husband continued to make phenomenal progress and defy the odds, the oncologist shared that when he first saw Stan, he didn’t expect him to live 6  weeks! In fact, he said that the majority of people that don’t choose a positive stress response don’t make it.


There were so many life lessons learned in that time and yes, Stan continues to be super healthy and almost impossible to keep up with as we approach the 12.5 year mark as I write.


How can you shift your perspective to choose new ways of responding to stress so that you turn stress into good stress?

Submitted by:

Sophie Mathewson, PCC

Strategic Advisor & Coach

Prism Group

[email protected]