Ryan Kitching, MA, International Studies
Ryan Kitching is learning what it takes to run the Canadian government, one department at a time.
Kitching is an Analyst in Pension Policy with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, the government department that manages the federal public service and oversees the effective and efficient use of public resources. He completed a Master of International Studies at SFU in 2012.
Kitching explains that while he enjoys his current role, helping manage a $158 billion pension plan for Canada’s 507,000 federal government employees, what he appreciates most about being a public servant is knowing there will always be ’next new thing.’
“Before working at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat I was working in the Department of Foreign Affairs, and Trade and Development (DFATD). I made the move because I wanted to try something new. That is the great thing about the federal public service. You can move around to different departments and continue to build on the skills you gained in previous positions,” he says.
Kitching's first position with DFATD was as a graduate co-op student. “I’de always been interested in international trade — my graduate research was focused on Chinese investment in Africa. So when the China division at DFATD put up a job poster I applied right away.”
Kitching explains that the co-op position offered him incredible opportunity to learn how the structures and systems he was studying in his academic program were playing out in practice.
“Free trade agreement negotiations were not as glamorous as I thought: 12 people sitting around a table for hours at a time. One of the countries would have a reservation about a particular clause and it had to be hammered out, line-by-line,” says Kitching.
Kitching credits the interdisciplinary nature of his graduate program for helping prepare and launch his career in public service. “What was really unique about my degree was that it was a hybrid of economics and political science. There are a lot people who can do one or the other, but may not be able to bring them together,” says Kitching.
He also points to the research skills as key to where he is now. “SFU taught me how to pay attention to the world, how to conduct research and how to approach a problem critically. In my current role we’re always looking at ways to improve the public service and all of these skills are so important to doing that,” says Kitching.