Created on:
September 5, 2022

A Learning Organization: Interning with the Policy Insights Forum

Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt

In my one year living in Ottawa, my summer with the Policy Insights Forum (PIF) has undoubtedly been a personal and professional highlight. Through my award of the Dr. Robert Spencer Internship Program in Strategic Studies, I have spent the last four months working at the Policy Insights Forum, a non-partisan research division of the Samuel Group of Companies. The executive team at our Ottawa headquarters, our Senior Associates, and our design and production staff have all welcomed me with generosity and contributed to my career growth.


I had to hit the ground running from the very first week; editing communications, adapting to a new work environment, familiarizing myself with our vast expert network, and meeting Dr. Robert Spencer, the man my internship was named after. In my first month, I was tasked with writing a thirty-page report summarizing there commendations and outcomes from our Spring 2022 NATO-Private Sector Engagement visit. To my excitement, that report has since been circulated to senior NATO officials and leading Government of Canada departments and agencies. We capped off May with our inaugural company golf tournament, where I played my first round of 18-holes, leading up to the massive CANSEC 2022 convention in the early days of June.


Ottawa is a city with its own distinct business style and subculture. At the PIF, I was trained in the skills and etiquette required to interact with government officials and corporate executives. I had the opportunity to represent our firm at diplomatic events sponsored by the national delegations of Croatia, Belgium, and India (and eat plenty of tasty food!). I also came to appreciate the flexibility and dynamism of the PIF team. When we conceive an idea, we are quick to carry it out. Already, we’re drawing up plans to facilitate a second visit to NATO Headquarters in Brussels for Canadian CEOs next year. Though I am confidentiality-bound on most matters, rest assured that big moves are in the making for the PIF in 2023 and 2024.


In my interactions with PIF Chairperson Goran Samuel Pesic, he has frequently emphasized that “we are a learning organization.” It seems a bit odd to say—after all, if you tallied up the careers of our staff and Senior Associates, you would probably be left with a figure somewhere in the 500 to 700-year range of total experience working in the private sector, politics, and various levels of the Canadian government. Still, every day we are learning and upgrading our capabilities. Our learning comes in many forms: through interactions with our business clients and government institutions, expansion to new domestic and overseas markets, hosting LinkedIn Live webinars and coordinating with our charity partners such as Aman Lara and the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust. Each day is a new, memorable, and cherished experience.


Lastly, I am proud to have been with a group that is truly dedicated to national healing and social change. Many companies and think tanks parrot their commitment to equity and diversity principles. Still, few have weaved it into the core of their organizational DNA in the manner of the Policy Insights Forum. This summer, I was honoured to interface with our Indigenous partners at Millbrook First Nation, collaborating to produce the Samuel Group's first-ever Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). I’ve been inspired by our conversations and can walk away from my time here, understanding that civic virtues and values can still engender meaningful changes in the professional workplace.


In the next few weeks, I will be returning to my J.D education at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. I can already tell that the skills and knowledge I have developed at the Policy Insights Forum will have an immeasurable impact as I move forward in my academic and legal career.


With the end of my internship, I will be transitioning my involvement with the PIF to a new position as Emerging Leaders Ambassador, where I will help recruit bright university students to assist in the planning and facilitating of future PIF activities.


Thank you to Goran, Jonas, Aliénor, Gio, and the rest of the senior team Samuel Group network for your infinite patience, advice, and humour throughout the past few months. This is a special team, and it has been an absolute pleasure to learn with you this summer. I highly recommend this internship to other keen and inspiring young Canadian leaders.

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