Wayne Wouters to join Blackberry’s board of directors in Canada

By on 14/10/2015 | Updated on 25/09/2020
Wayne Wouters, Former Clerk of the Privy Council, Canada.

Canada’s former top civil servant Wayne Wouters has been appointed to the board of directors at Blackberry, the smartphone company.

Wouters, who retired as clerk of the Privy Council in October 2014, will be one of seven independent directors. He will also serve as a member of the audit and risk management committee of Blackberry’s board of directors.

John Chen, executive chairman and CEO of BlackBerry, said: “I am pleased to welcome Wayne Wouters to our board of directors. Mr. Wouters brings to BlackBerry valuable experience in government relations, strategic leadership, international trade and economic policy.”

The appointment, which was announced by Blackberry yesterday, comes less than half a year after Wouters joined legal giant McCarthy Tétrault as a strategic and policy adviser.

Wouters retired after 37 years in the public service. He became Canada’s longest-serving clerk in 25 years after five years in the role – compared to an average tenure of between three and four years.

Wouters’s tenure was longer, mainly due to circumstance, he told Global Government Forum in an exclusive interview earlier this year: “I definitely didn’t plan to be clerk for five years,” he said. Wouters agreed to become clerk when prime minister Stephen Harper had two years left leading a minority government. “I remember [Harper] saying: ‘I don’t even know if I will even be here in two years’ time.”

But then Harper’s Conservative party won a majority in 2011 and Wouters thought: “There is no better time to be with the government than after serving a minority and then finally getting a majority because many more things can get done. I thought: ‘I don’t want to pass that opportunity by’ so I stayed on until I thought it was time to move on and do something else.”

Before his role as clerk, Wouters was secretary of the Treasury Board for five years, after holding various deputy minister roles – the most senior civil service roles in a government department – since 1997.

He first became a public servant in 1977 when he joined the Government of Saskatchewan – a province in Western Canada, following time spent lecturing in economics at the University of Saskatchewan.

One of his biggest achievements has been the creation of Blueprint 2020 – a set of proposals to modernise and improve the government workplace, better join up departments and increase citizen engagement, Wouters said.

Wouters published the Blueprint 2020 vision document in June 2013 and asked the entire civil service for their views. More than 110,000 officials submitted their ideas directly to Wouters’s team using mostly online communication tools. Such a large-scale, web-based consultation exercise, Wouters said, had not been done before.

This agenda is now being taken forward by his successor Janice Charette.

One key element of the Blueprint 2020 strategy which has already been implemented under her watch is the launched of the Central Innovation Hub. It which aims to help change the way Canada’s civil service does business and support departments in applying new approaches.

The hub, Charette explains in an exclusive interview with Global Government Forum, is important not just because it can help drive innovation but also symbolically: “We are doing it here in the Privy Council Office, at our centre of government, to demonstrate that we think innovation is important.”


See also:

Our full interview with Wayne Wouters and our full interview with Janice Charette

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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