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Carleton University hosts an annual ‘Appreciation Day’ to celebrate the accomplishments of its staff and faculty.Provided

When Gilles Monast started working at Carleton University in Ottawa, his first job was in the mailroom. Now, 35 years and a number of different positions later, he’s the university’s director of library administration.

He credits his career development to hard work, dedication, and having supportive managers who took notice of those qualities. It was also a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

“What Carleton has given me is the chance to grow as an employee and as an individual. There is a lot of support, there are a lot of opportunities. Even today, a lot of opportunities for staff for advancement, to join committees, to do professional development,” explains Monast, who continues to collaborate with colleagues in other departments by sitting on interview committees, for example.

Staff and faculty can participate in university committees, fine-tune skills through learning and development workshops, and engage in management training – all of which assist in career growth. Full-time employees can also access a free tuition benefit if they wish to enroll in courses. Those interested in volunteering have a number of choices, too, including Carleton’s annual United Way campaign or in the university’s nationally-certified ‘Healthy Workplace’ initiative.

Like Monast, interim president and vice-chancellor Jerry Tomberlin has held a number of positions during his 15 years at Carleton. He first moved to the nation’s capital to take on the role of dean of the Sprott School of Business. He then became provost & vice-president (academic), and, most recently, assumed the role of interim president in September.

“When you have people reporting to you, it’s all about supporting them, helping them succeed. To me, that’s always been the way I work, and I find that really kind of fits into the ethos and the culture here,” he says.

There are a number of initiatives in place at the university which help employees nurture their careers, he says. One of those programs is Carleton Leader.

Inspired by collaborative leadership principles, this initiative builds capacity by bringing together leaders from across the institution to embrace their potential to effect positive change. The initiative offers participants first-hand insight into how their staff and faculty colleagues approach leadership at the university, as well as the opportunity to form long-term, supportive networks that may not otherwise happen.

“It’s a learning platform for, ‘How do I work across the boundaries of the university?’” says Tomberlin. “We make sure that we have academics there. We have administrators there. We have employees at all levels there who’ve shown an interest in career development. And it’s pretty amazing.”

An initiative like Carleton Leader also helps participants get recognized and feel that they have “more of a career” at the university, he says.

“So, when positions are available, or when you’re looking for somebody to take over more responsibilities on the academic or the administrative areas of the university, that’s kind of where you look first,” Tomberlin says.

The initiative has been offered for the past decade, and Monast, who describes himself as a “people person,” was one of its first participants. “I found the Carleton Leader program really eye-opening because people don’t believe they’re leaders, but they actually are in their own way,” he says.

While participants have different ways of approaching problem-solving, “you’re all there for the same purpose: to develop your leadership skills,” Monast notes.

“There is a lot of room for growth, and there is a lot of opportunity,” he says, “and you just need to seize those opportunities.”

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