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13 Feb

SPPG Alum Andrew Thiele receives IBM Grant

February 13, 2017

Read the Q&A with SPPG Alum Andrew Thiele on his work with IBM this past summer.

IBM Grant: Recipient Profile

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Q&A with Andrew Thiele

From May to September 2016, Andrew Thiele gained valuable experience in the role of Policy Analyst – Ontario Education. IBM supported this position through an IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs (CCCA) grant. We are grateful to IBM for making important hands-on learning opportunities available to University of Toronto (U of T) students.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a 27-year-old recent graduate of the School of Public Policy and Governance (SPPG) at U of T.  Before entering the Master’s program at U of T, I completed my undergraduate degree in Political Science at the University of Guelph.

I was inspired to study at U of T because I wanted a location where I would be challenged by and surrounded by the best and brightest. During my studies, I was introduced to a lot of opportunities through SPPG and its network. I have a passion for public policy and desire to change things and serve the public. I believe in the public good and that there are better ways forward.

Why were you interested in the IBM-supported role of Policy Analyst – Ontario Education?

Given that it was not that long ago that I was a student going through the education system in Ontario, I saw it as an opportunity to better familiarize myself with the subject matter and hopefully contribute something that could help steer the conversation about education forward and toward better outcomes.

Education is the foundation of the economies of Ontario and Canada. The inefficiencies and lack of innovation that emerged as I explored the subject matter intrigued me, and I was blissfully optimistic that I might uncover something that prior efforts had missed and could help change the education conversation in Ontario.

Describe the Policy Analyst – Ontario Education role for us.

As Policy Analyst, I conducted research and analysis. Stakeholder consultation was a big component of the work. I was able to take advantage of education experts in the U of T community. I really appreciated opportunities to consult with IBM staff to learn more about how employers experience the end results of the Canadian education system. All the research and consultation findings were summarized in the major report which was shared with key stakeholders.

What were some exciting experiences and realizations you had during the placement?

My most exciting findings related to the work already underway to innovate education within the government and outside. A lot of meaningful work is happening to identify and measure what really matters in the educational experience.

I am particularly interested in the area of experiential learning as a process that could benefit students, educators and employers. Organizations such as Pathways to Education and programs like the ‘Specialist High Skills Major’ are innovative opportunities to engage and support the students who are too often left behind by conventional education programming.

Education in Ontario has already achieved great successes and results. It’s inspiring to see the diverse system of partners and organizations committed to delivering better education to all students.

What were the major accomplishments achieved during the placement and how were they achieved?

Finalizing the report was a big highlight for me. It’s over 100 pages of research, analysis and recommendations. I learned a lot in the process.

I also enjoyed sharing the findings with Norm Chatelier and Dave Robitaille at IBM during the Executive Review. I appreciated the mentorship and input I received from leaders at IBM Canada, as well as key faculty at SPPG.

How will this opportunity impact your life moving forward?

This experience affirmed my interest in working toward the policy changes necessary at the provincial and national level to shape a better future for the next generation. Strong education is one of the most important factors allowing our economy to thrive

The Policy Analyst role was an opportunity to gain real world experience. It brought me to my current role as a Policy Analyst with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

I really appreciate IBM’s supporting this experience – their generosity will allow me to be involved in meaningful policy work moving forward.