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Devan Sommerville

Account Director,Counsel Public Affairs Inc.


Year of Graduation
2010

Prior Education
Honours B.A., History – University of Toronto

Prior Experience
N/A

MPP Summer Internship: Research Assistant, Samara

What influenced your decision to attend SPPG?
It was the opportunity to pursue a degree that combined both academic study with real-world challenges. I was very much interested in a graduate program that had real applications in Canada’s competitive job market. There is no question that I benefited from excellent hands-on opportunities at SPPG, which directly led to an incredible opportunity in the Office of the Premier of Ontario and the career path I am on today.

What is your favourite memory of SPPG?
The tremendous camaraderie we shared as students at SPPG. Coming from my undergraduate experience at the University of Toronto, the opportunity to get to know a close-knit group of fascinating and diverse people was incredible. We challenged and motivated each other, and forged many close friendships.

What is a typical day like at your current job?
I’m not sure that there really is a typical day! The experience of working in a Minister’s Office is full of constant changes and challenges. Generally speaking, it’s an ever-shifting mix of high-impact stakeholder meetings, working with Ministry staff to tackle issues and develop new policy, and working with the Minister to assure that they are well-informed and their directives are carried out.

What advice would you now want to give to yourself on your first day as a MPP student?
Not so much for myself, but for new SPPG students in general, I’d encourage them to focus on the journey. In undergraduate school, there’s constant pressure to focus on grade scores with an eye to graduate school. SPPG is necessarily a different experience. You should focus instead on learning and building experience, developing as a policy thinker, and not so much on what grades you’re receiving on each assignment. Make this your focus, give your best effort, and the rest will fall into place.

What have you done or are doing now that you believe has the most impact?
For the past half year, I’ve been responsible for developing and overseeing a major reform process for Ontario’s land use planning & appeals system. It’s an issue that has huge implications for every house or building constructed in Ontario. At the same time, being generally responsible for a major file of government on behalf of the Minister and the Premier is both a motivating and humbling experience, even on everyday matters.

What are your favorite Toronto activities, places or restaurants?
The great thing about Toronto is that there really is something for everyone. The city can be as busy or as tranquil as you’d like, as long as you know where to look. I’m an admitted foodie of sorts, and Toronto has an almost never-ending parade of restaurants to check out. I think you’d be hard pressed to find that there wasn’t a little corner of this city that you’d like to call your own.

What aspects of your MPP program did you most appreciate?
The great friendships I’ve made and the fascinating projects that I had the opportunity to work on certainly jump out in my mind, and I’d expect that any alumni of SPPG would feel the same way. Of course, it’s also where I met my incredible and talented partner, so I’d have to say that she takes top billing!