Transcript – Episode 19: Chat with Marcy Grossman

David Morrison: Marcy Grossman began her public service career with a keen interest in young offenders and a desire to work in corrections. She spent nearly a decade doing so before migrating to the international world, first with Industry Canada and then with Foreign Affairs. She has spent most of her time abroad in the United States as consul general in Miami and Denver and deputy consul general in Los Angeles. Marcy and I recently chatted about her journey in life, her chutzpah and how when she wants something she simply visualizes it. Hey Marcy, thanks for stopping by.

Marcy Grossman: Hey David, thanks for having me. I am surprised I got selected actually.

David Morrison: I was thinking in preparing for this morning when we first met, and my recollection is that in the fall of 2013 I was just about to become ADM Americas and there was a meeting of all of the consuls general from across the U.S. mission network here in Ottawa. And you came up to me with a beer. Having bought it for me.

Marcy Grossman: Yeah out of my [for reals] money.

David Morrison: And you said, I want I know you’ll remember me because I’m the person that bought you your first beer as an ADM. And so for all GAC Files listeners, it’s a strategy that works.

Marcy Grossman: It is a strategy that works.

David Morrison: Because I do remember it. In any event, that was when I discovered, Marcy, that you were a stalwart of our mission network in the United States. Having served in Dallas and Miami and Los Angeles and Denver, when we met. Since then you have done a lot of work to get the Invest in Canada departmental cooperation up and running and you were now just about to go back out as a HOM to a different part of the world. So lots to talk about. But let’s start where it all started, back in Montréal. Tell me about growing up.

Marcy Grossman: Well thanks. Well, first of all, yes, I was born in Montréal, but actually in the suburbs. As we say in Montréal in the West Island. In a little corner west of the island.

David Morrison: A small Anglophone corner.

Marcy Grossman: Yes, very Anglophone. That has actually been the bane of my existence, particularly since my father was French from France and never spoke French to me and I lived in Montréal and I basically struggled to speak French.

David Morrison: When did he come to Canada?

Marcy Grossman: He came to Canada just after the war. He was actually a survivor of the Holocaust and managed to get immigration to Canada with his family. Actually, at the age of 17, he arrived... actually he spoke German and French and he now speaks English without an accent. So, he was a great linguist and unfortunately he never spoke to me.

Marcy Grossman: So, this is the reason we are speaking in English today, but I’m getting ready for some training in order to speak better in French.

David Morrison: Siblings?

Marcy Grossman: I have a sister. She’s a little younger than I am. She lives in Toronto. She has two young kids and we had a very nice existence growing up in the West Island. It was sort of like country at the time, there was not a lot of connection actually to the downtown core. We didn’t get buses until I was practically already driving. So we were a little dislocated. So being in the big city was a big thing, but it was a very sort of nice pastoral existence in the West Island.

David Morrison: And what brought you to Ottawa?

Marcy Grossman: Well actually I started my… as every good Montréal Jewish girl I went to McGill. There wasn’t even a question.

David Morrison: Right.

Marcy Grossman: It wasn’t even a conversation at my house. I never even asked out loud, I wonder where I should go to university because everyone goes to McGill. Why would you not go? Why would you go anywhere else if you’re from Montréal? And I went the first year and I did not realize that you’re supposed to actually move out of your house to have a good time. So there was commuting from the West Island and...

David Morrison: Your mother was very happy.

Marcy Grossman: Pardon me.

David Morrison: Your mother was very happy.

Marcy Grossman: my mother was happy and her pocketbook was happy. But I was miserable.

David Morrison: Right.

Marcy Grossman: And I had actually gotten early admission to Carleton when I was 17 because in Montréal you go to 11th grade.

David Morrison: Cégep.

Marcy Grossman: But before you even go to Cégep you can get an early admission to Carleton. You do a pre-qualifying year and you can go at age 17. So I thought about the summer and how over the summer and I wasn’t happy with my performance and I just wasn’t happy and I’d called up Carleton literally Labour Day weekend before school started second year and I was like, “Hey remember me, I applied, I got in queue year, I’ve done a year McGill, can I come to Carleton?” And they are like, “Yeah, sure, come on down.” Back in the day, that’s basically what you had to do.

David Morrison: Right, right.

Marcy Grossman: And I came to Ottawa, and I loved it. This really was an opportunity for me to really blossom as a person and it was perfect because I wanted to be in public service always. I knew, starting from probably age 16, that I wanted to be a psychologist. I wanted to help people. And I actually knew quite early on I wanted to be a criminal psychologist. So my big dream was actually to work in the federal system, you know, in the Big House, Corrections.

David Morrison: Why did you want to be a criminal psychologist? I mean some would say that’s...

Marcy Grossman: A little creepy.

David Morrison: Great preparation for Global Affairs Canada, but...

Marcy Grossman: For foreign service, yeah. It honestly, it really just a thought that came to me. I want to say, it’s a bit of a cliché, it actually came to me in a dream where I pictured myself sitting across the desk from young offenders. They weren’t actually adult prisoners, they were youth and I felt like all the stuff that happens to disadvantaged kids that get them into trouble in their early years, what can be done to sort of break that cycle and help them out. And I was really committed to that and I actually ended up with a master’s degree in criminal psychology from Carleton.

David Morrison: So you graduated and you joined Corrections Canada.

Marcy Grossman: Yes, the dream, the dream. A lot of people ask me if, you know, I tell them I went to Carleton, they think I went to the Norman Patterson School [of International Affairs]. I said, “No, I didn’t take public…I didn’t take political science.”

David Morrison: So you worked in prisons, in jails?

Marcy Grossman: I did. I did. I did my master’s thesis. It was a clinical applied clinical research project. I was...I developed a treatment program for young offenders at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre. I implemented, I assessed it. And with that and those credentials I translated that into a co-op, not a co-op actually, a FSWEP [Federal Student Work Experience Program].

David Morrison: FSWEP.

Marcy Grossman: Whatever it was called foreign, not foreign, federal service...

David Morrison: Federal student employment something something.

Marcy Grossman: Something, something whatever it was called at the time. I was just graduating with...I was just finishing my master’s thesis and I got a job at Federal Corrections for the summer. And I was like, I’m not leaving this place. I love it here. This is what my calling was.

David Morrison: And you spent the decade, almost a decade...

Marcy Grossman: Almost a decade. Actually it was about a decade.

David Morrison: And then what? How did you convert from a corrections officer...

Marcy Grossman: Well, two things.

David Morrison: …to and...and that’s a job, Federal Corrections, that could have sent you anywhere in Canada. Presumably.

Marcy Grossman: Right. So first of all after I had my experience in jail and then I got to the ivory tower, I realized I was not a jail person. Like my career goal was not to be a warden and run a prison, I had liked the ivory tower. I like making things, I like decreeing policy, creating programs for other people to implement. But I didn’t want to go back to the jail. I find it very disheartening. And I got promoted a few times in those early years that took me further and further from the content of what I was doing. And so it was a lot more administrative. And that started opening up opportunities for me though and possibilities and I actually got noticed by an ADM at the time. I was sort of a junior officer and I was nominated for the career assignment program, which at the time was Can....the federal government’s longest-standing program and it was basically a training program that took middle managers to the executive level through a series of learning sessions and different stages that you would do a year in a different federal department to get different types of experiences.

David Morrison: So where did you work?

Marcy Grossman: I went to the Treasury Board because of course getting a central agency was a big tick mark. I did one position in-house in Corrections as the director of federal-provincial relations, so I got a sense of what that experience was like. I went to the Canada School of Public Service, which at the time was called the Canadian Centre for Management Development, but I always know I want to do something international. But I always thought it would be correctional. I always I wanted to try to translate. And I had to make...and the other thing was this forced me to have a five-year plan because they wouldn’t let you go forward unless you had this plan of where you wanted to do your assignments and how you wanted to learn. So I tried for my fifth assignment to try to translate into an international assignment where I could go to, say, Bosnia or one of the new “Stans” to help them create a judicial system and a correctional system. That was like my big passion and that was really the only content I knew. But I just couldn’t....I didn’t know how to make that happen. So I was a bit discouraged and I got a referral to a woman who was a DG at an organization called Investment Partnerships Canada, which was basically the precursor to what is now the new Invest in Canada departmental corporation. She was very lovely and she sounded very friendly and I was just looking for a warm place to work because I was a little discouraged about not getting to the dream. And it was great. She was, you know, which is what I tell a lot of people is, you know, you don’t always have to go where the best work is. Sometimes it’s better to go...

David Morrison: Where the best boss is.

Marcy Grossman: Where the best boss is. That never fails you, even if it’s just a transit point for you, that never fails you. And she seemed awesome and she was awesome. And before I knew it I was in an organization that was co-managed by Industry Canada and the Department of Foreign Affairs. And I would see these broadcast messages come up with these job opportunities, and finally after a few months I would be like, “Am I allowed to apply for those?” And they’re like, “Yeah, yeah, sure, yeah, if you’re here you can apply,” and that’s what...

David Morrison: These were temporary job opportunities or…?

Marcy Grossman: No. Well they could have been TDs, but because this organization was co-managed by the both departments, the employees of this special agent, it wasn’t a SOA, it was just a unique little unit. We were able to apply for postings even if I wasn’t rotational.

David Morrison: So, what, you were a CO or you were...

Marcy Grossman: I was an EX minus one.

David Morrison: EX minus one.

Marcy Grossman: I was doing that last stage and then I was going to take my executive exams and then I would become an executive, hopefully, if I passed the exams.

David Morrison: Yeah, this is a thing that I just learned from Marcy before we went on the air, that the culmination of this cap program was, you said, a two-day process of examinations and, what? Interviews?

Marcy Grossman: Psychological, oh, my gosh. It’s two days. You went to what was called a Psychological Assessment Centre. The day before you went they gave you a package of material and they gave you a character. I won’t say if they still use it, but I was director of a Parks Canada site.

David Morrison: And you had to do a role play.

Marcy Grossman: And I had to role play for two days. So I would role play, I would get, I knew who I was when I arrived and then I had to do a huge inbox and clear it, inbox exercise. And then actors would start showing up into my room where I was, and there’d be someone in the corner taking notes rating my behaviours. So I had Greenpeace come and show up and then I’d have to go to a staff meeting and my goal was, you know, they say you have to get through this agenda and your staff meeting. And I had, like, actors, like lunging over the table trying to kill each other and I’d be like, “Oh, wait, wait. You know.”

David Morrison: So anyhow, I think that program doesn’t exist...

Marcy Grossman: Unfortunately not.

David Morrison: …anymore.

Marcy Grossman: It was amazing.

David Morrison: But it, you know, was obviously driven by trying to create a cadre of...

Marcy Grossman: It was.

David Morrison: …people across the government who had a shared experience…

Marcy Grossman: Right.

David Morrison: …and identified as high flyers.

Marcy Grossman: Yup.

David Morrison: And who had tested into...

Marcy Grossman: Exactly.

David Morrison: …the EX1.

Marcy Grossman: Yeah, it was very careful.

David Morrison: Very careful...

Marcy Grossman: Selective.

David Morrison: …nurturing of talent. And you ended up somehow in Dallas.

Marcy Grossman: Yes. So once my husband had a sister in Dallas and he always wanted to live in Dallas. And when you work in Corrections you can’t ever live in Dallas because Dallas is like the antithesis of what Canada was doing. I was...I loved the Canadian Correction at the time, like rehabilitation was first and foremost and getting people back into the communities and, you know, reducing the rate of return. That was a huge priority. They don’t do that in Dallas. I said we are never going to Dallas. Like I could not ask the deputy minister of corrections, the commissioner, to go on an assignment to Dallas. It would never be allowed.

David Morrison: Just the American philosophy was just different.

Marcy Grossman: Yes, especially there, when they were privatizing everything. He had always wanted go to Dallas and this unit that I was working on actually had a pilot project going on in Dallas and I was like, oh, maybe if I align myself with this project, something could happen. So I was part of this pilot project. We were testing, it was a branding. We were into basically reviewing, interviewing, CEOs in the market to see what they thought about Canada, if they would invest in Canada, that kind of stuff. And I found that fascinating, the work, and I’d started developing new content and a TD opportunity presented itself. Prime Minister Chrétien was leading the last Team Canada West and last Team Canada mission of its day to Dallas and Los Angeles, and the investment officer position was vacant. The woman had left suddenly mid posting. This was early in her posting, this was November, they had no one in the seat and someone needed to produce an investment round table. So they needed someone to go to Dallas for two weeks to do this. I was like, “Well, you know, take me.”

David Morrison: So, just to open, just to explain a little bit for our younger listeners.

Marcy Grossman: Yes!

David Morrison: Just give in 30 seconds, what was Team Canada? What was that approach about?

Marcy Grossman: Yes, so this was a Team Canada West, so it only involved the Western premiers and possib...probably the territories. But in a full Team Canada, the prime minister would go with each of the premiers of each of the countries and a...

David Morrison: Each of the provinces.

Marcy Grossman: Sorry, excuse me. I’ve been living in the States too long. I don’t know provinces from territories and countries. Each of the provinces. So the premiers of each province and business delegations and they would all swoop in to a place. Usually Europe, China or wherever, and the goal was to promote Canada, promote the Canada brand, sign political, you know, MOUs or deals or new trade agreements.

David Morrison: These were massive…

Marcy Grossman: Massive productions.

David Morrison: …trade promotion and investment attraction.

Marcy Grossman: Right, yeah. Try to sign deals...

David Morrison: Undertakings.

Marcy Grossman: Yeah. And the premiers would promote their individual provinces. And of course, at the time, Gary Doer was the premier of Manitoba and he was promoting Crown Royal as he still did as ambassador, right, to the United States, Canadian ambassador. But so yeah, this was a huge thing, and you know, all singing, all dancing and there was no one to do one important task.

David Morrison: Right.

Marcy Grossman: So I said, well I’ll go. I was flexible. I went, and cold-calling Michael Dell’s office. You know, whoever, I didn’t have, I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, but in the end.

David Morrison: For listeners who haven’t figured it out yet, Marcy has no fear. She just jumps in with both feet to everything. So you rose to this challenge.

Marcy Grossman: I did at the end of the two weeks it was a very successful investment round table, and at the end of the two weeks I went to the head of mission and I said, “You know, I know your investment officer left. You’re not going to get anyone until the summer rotation, it’s December 1 now, the mission has ended.” I said, “I would love to come back and fill that position for you. I could come immediately, my kids are mobile, my husband’s mobile.” And of course I got this, “Well, you know, you’re not really from here. You’re really, you know, you’re new.” I said, “Well, be honest, with all due respect, sir, I’m better than no one. I’ve proven that to you. I can do something.” And sure enough, by February 16th, so this is December 1, by February 16th I was reporting for duty in Dallas, Texas, as the investment officer, two kids in tow, registered at school, house sold, boom.

David Morrison: Chutzpah.

Marcy Grossman: Chutzpah, chutzpah for sure.

David Morrison: There’s a...I think there’s a theme that’s going to continue in this chat. But anyhow you parlayed that into quite a remarkable run within the U.S. network. So from that investment job in Dallas to a fully paid-up HOM consul general in Miami, with cross accreditation to Puerto Rico.

Marcy Grossman: The U.S. Virgin Islands.

David Morrison: And a couple other places.

Marcy Grossman: It’s a hardship post.

David Morrison: Yeah. Then you went to LA. And listeners should know that these postings to the U.S. are normally four years and sometimes five years. Anyhow, when Marcy bought me that famous beer in downtown Ottawa all, the only other thing I knew about her was that she hadn’t been back in Ottawa for over a decade, which made me appreciate her chutzpah even more. Tell us, Marcy, about that run and why, you know, when you join the foreign service or when people think of this department they don’t necessarily think of being posted to the U.S.

Marcy Grossman: Right.

David Morrison: You know we have consulates in Minneapolis and Detroit. In...

Marcy Grossman: 12 full consular generals.

David Morrison: …obviously Denver and other places. But what’s it like being a foreign service officer in the United States?

Marcy Grossman: Well it’s actually amazing. Well, first of all. It’s amazing for a few reasons. One of the reasons it’s amazing is that nobody is looking at the U.S.

David Morrison: Right.

Marcy Grossman: They, it’s not...most people… Like, I am not from the foreign service, right. I’m from jail. Anything looks better than jail. But when most people join the foreign service they want have a really foreign experience. They want to go to the Beijings and the Paris’s and the Londons, and they want to do hardship posting, and the CIDA folks want to get, you know, as down and dirty as they can. And the former CIDA folks, excuse me. And the policy wonks want to go to Geneva and etc. etc. Nobody is looking at the U.S., so it was perfect for me. I was like, perfect opportunities.

David Morrison: But, you know, you’re a diplomat in a town…

Marcy Grossman: Right.

David Morrison: …without diplomats.

Marcy Grossman: Yeah. All the more reason why you can own a town, because you are like an oddity. In some, I would say in Los Angeles and Miami that a huge consular corps people knew what diplomats were, they knew what your job was, they knew you had funny license plates. I have to say in Denver there was not a huge consular corps and even in Dallas it was a bit of bit of an oddity. But what people don’t realize about the U.S. is it’s not one market. It is 50 markets. Every state is a different. I mean if California was a country, I think now it would be the seventh largest country economy in the world. Texas, the amount of GDP in Texas, is probably greater than Canada. I know California has surpassed Canada. And the philosophies and the cultures of each of these regions is so different. And even in a territory of Texas where I add Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico—very, very different everything. So they’re all really unique. I mean you’re closer, Toronto is closer to New York than Dallas is, you know. So they’re really countries and territories unto themselves, and so, so interesting. And of course, like, and if you served in the U.S. you’ve been saying the same thing for, you know, 20 years. The U.S. is the primordial market and there’s no more obvious that that is the truth than today.

David Morrison: Yeah.

Marcy Grossman: This very day.

David Morrison: When I was ADM Americas I had to live this...

Marcy Grossman: Right.

David Morrison: …on a daily basis, first by making the case somewhat gently that, you know, we sell about three quarters of everything we manufacture to the United States, so our presence there is very important. And then of course in the period since November 2016 and the election of President Trump, that’s become, you don’t have to make that argument anymore.

Marcy Grossman: No and it’s not just trade.

David Morrison: But it’s also. Well it’s not just trade sure, but what the role of Canadian diplomats in the U.S. is has had to change, right? was mainly would...

Marcy Grossman: I think I exited stage left at just the right time.

David Morrison: Well, I mean...

Marcy Grossman: I would be working my butt off now more than ever because it’s so important.

David Morrison: Yeah, well but also you wouldn’t be… the core of your job when you were in Denver…

Marcy Grossman: Right.

David Morrison: …was trade promotion.

Marcy Grossman: Right, sell stuff.

David Morrison: Yes… sell stuff…and attract investment into Canada.

Marcy Grossman: Yeah.

David Morrison: And there was needed contacts.

Marcy Grossman: Right.

David Morrison: You needed to know the governor, you needed to… NORAD is there, that’s an important institution, the Governor General...

Marcy Grossman: Visited there.

David Morrison: …visited when you were still there.

Marcy Grossman: Absolutely!

David Morrison: So there is a veneer of traditional diplomatic work. But our presence there was really about the economic ties between Canada and the United States. That is of course still the case, but we have the network there, and the personnel there have attracted a huge amount of new interest and attention doing advocacy.

Marcy Grossman: Absolutely.

David Morrison: First, in the first six months of the Trump Administration just kind of reminding Americans at the non-Washington level, at the state level, at the municipal level that Canada is often that state or that territory’s greatest trading partner. The relationship is in great shape and so on. Now, in the midst of a critical phase of a NAFTA negotiation, that presence is even more making itself felt.

Marcy Grossman: Absolutely.

David Morrison: So you may have exited stage left at a time where you, as you said, you would have had to work very hard.

Marcy Grossman: I would have been working twice as hard, for sure. Because I see what my colleagues are doing right now and it’s amazing. Translating that sort of traditional relationship into a very different attitude and a very different approach. And you know what Tip O’Neill, his famous quote, “All politics is local.” And so that’s where the important work has to get done—with your governors, with your congressional delegation, with your senators in market—those are the people that vote on the issues that are important to Canada. And you have to, that’s your number one job, is getting them on board and that’s no more important than right now.

David Morrison: And those folks are often much more accessible...

Marcy Grossman: Absolutely.

David Morrison: …in their districts than they are in Washington.

Marcy Grossman: Absolutely. The governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, I could call him up and go to his office any time I wanted to. I would see him on the street. We, you know, I would go to events and see him all the time. We were very friendly.

David Morrison: He’s going to be in Canada shortly. And for listeners that don’t know, he’s talked about frequently as a presidential, Democratic, presidential candidate.

Marcy Grossman: Absolutely, absolutely.

David Morrison: So we know these are the next...

Marcy Grossman: Yeah, so these are the next presidents.

David Morrison: Right. And, you know, I would say that from a departmental point of view we no longer have to explain why our presence across the United States is useful.

Marcy Grossman: Right.

David Morrison: Because I think that has been shown in spades since November 2016. Let’s get back to your journey. You came back from the United States because, basically, we made you.

Marcy Grossman: You made me David.

David Morrison: Marcy was great at performance discussion time, which she and I would talk on the phone a couple times a year. How are things going, what are your objectives, what have you done for me lately. And this is I hope a message that’s broadly applicable to listeners. I always appreciated that Marcy was exceptionally clear with me as her supervisor as to what she wanted in terms of a next step in her career, in terms of a next assignment and in terms of an ultimate goal. Because she didn’t always get what she wanted, but at least I would be able to say when Marcy’s name came up, when we were talking about assignments, “Oh, Marcy’s been in the States a long time. Here’s how she sees her career evolving and here is her ultimate goal.” That was a very useful thing for me to know as a supervisor. So I encourage anyone that’s having performance discussions with their supervisor to have thought in advance about what you want. Talk to me a little bit about, I mean, chutzpah is something that’s already come up.

Marcy Grossman: Right.

David Morrison: Marcy has in spades. But talk to me about how that has worked for you.

Marcy Grossman: So it’s kind of a twofold process. First of all being on the CAP program actually forced me to make a five-year plan. I think everyone should have a five-year plan, because if you don’t have a five-year plan then you don’t know where you’re going. A lot of people say well I just go with the flow, things come up, whatever. That is probably a fabulous way to run the universe. It’s just not my way. And that’s what really helped me. So I actually that year one had to say where I was going to be for the next five years because I changed my job every year. I knew I wanted to end up internationally. And the other part of the equation is, well, then you have to communicate that to superiors, to the universe. And then you actually have to put some action to it. So I know that if I want to do an assignment, something international, in my fifth assignment for the CAP program then I have to align myself with people who are doing things internationally, I have to learn something about international. I have to. And if something else comes up, someone offers me another opportunity I say no to it because I know what my goal is. But the other interesting thing that happens for me is I actually start to really just visualize it and feel it and what it feels like. And so, in, when I got to Dallas I was still an EX minus one. I was, basically, my position sat at Industry Canada but I knew I didn’t want to leave Foreign Affairs and I started imagining how I could translate that into a career at Foreign Affairs because I was on a secondment when I went to Dallas for that posting. And I graduated from the EX cadre, but like after I got to Dallas, and then I started.... and I was having a great time being an investment officer. I started looking at my boss’s job, senior trade commissioner, and I was like, that looks good.

David Morrison: “Yeah, I could do that.”

Marcy Grossman: I could see myself doing that. And sure enough, and I said, “I think I could do it better than him, too.” And sure enough...

David Morrison: That sentiment is rife...rife in this department.

 Marcy Grossman: Exactly. Everyone probably everyone thinks that and I started just picturing myself, what I would do if I was a senior trade commissioner. Sure enough, no word of a lie, the senior trade commissioner disappears one middle of the night, mid-posting, never to be seen again. And I’m one year into my investment gig and I go back to the HOM at mission. I said, “You know, I really love it here. I think you can see I’m doing some good work. I really, you know, looking at that senior trade commissioner job, I think I could do it.” He’s like, “Well, you know, you just, you’re on secondment, you’re still an EX minus one, that’s any EX1 position.” I said, “You know, it’s February. Like you’re not going to get anyone until a summer assignment.” I said,  “I’m better than no one.” And he thought about it for a couple days and he came back to me, he said, “Okay, you can have it.” Well the very same time I finished my...

David Morrison: You got your EX1.

Marcy Grossman: …executive. Now I’m an EX1 at Industry Canada, and I’m thinking, and I’m senior trade commissioner and I’m just like, momentum is building, right? I’m in year two. You know, I’m still a foreigner like I’m still from Industry Canada. One morning I wake up in 2003 and I find out that all the resources from Investment Partnerships Canada along with other Industry Canada employees are transferred...

David Morrison: To Foreign Affairs.

Marcy Grossman: …to Foreign Affairs. Now I’m a rotational EX1 in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. I was on freaking cloud nine.

David Morrison: Right.

Marcy Grossman: And then I after a year I started, and I know there are some big, again, momentums, successes, positive reinforcement, vision. I was like, I want to put my hat in the ring for something bigger. My boss offered me an extension because I got there in a half year. He said, “You know, you want to stay an extra year because you’ll be leaving here at three and a half years instead of four... four, you know, four and a half.” I said, “You know, I really appreciate your offer,” I said, “but I’m going to put my hat in for a HOM job.”

David Morrison: For Miami.

Marcy Grossman: For a head of mission.

David Morrison: Which was a...

Marcy Grossman: Miami.

David Morrison: …which was an EX2, probably.

Marcy Grossman: It was an EX2, yeah. And he said, dear, God bless him he was a lovely man, he gave me a lot of great advice. He says, “It’s not going to happen every year. You just got here. You got promoted in cycle. You just became an EX1, you just became rotational foreign service. Like that’s just not the way it rolls here.” I said, “Whatever. I’m just putting it out to the universe.” Again, in the HOM, with those jobs, you got to put five jobs that you can picture yourself doing and I thought, I want to go to Miami. That’s where my people are. That’s where my Canadian expat people are. That’s where the largest Jewish diaspora is and the Canadian Jewish diaspora. Those are my people. I could picture myself there. And sure enough the universe responded and I was probably the last one to find out that I got the HOM gig.

David Morrison: So just for reasons of time we’ll have to skip over LA, and Denver. We’ve already talked about. I do want to ask a little bit about what you tried to accomplish for the LES [locally engaged staff] in the United States. When we met you were the formal or informal champion of LES issues for the whole network...

Marcy Grossman: Right.

David Morrison: …which is 13 or 14 missions.

Marcy Grossman: Right.

David Morrison: The LES in the United States are 10% of the LES around the world. And they tend to be very senior.

Marcy Grossman: Absolutely.

David Morrison: They post a series of cutbacks. There are a lot of LE9’s which are super senior trade commissioners, sectoral specialists. Just talk to us a little bit about that and the, you know, stepping in to that informal...

Marcy Grossman: Arena.

David Morrison: Well arena, but also for you a real leadership.

Marcy Grossman: Oh yeah it turned into that. It started off like a crazy idea. So I think it was that meeting where I met you. I actually wasn’t actually confirmed for Denver yet. I think I was still sitting in LA and because I was the deputy there I just, I was allowed to go to that meeting. And we had a briefing at that meeting in the big boardroom downstairs and HR started talking about all the stuff that was going to be rolling out for the LES, that Treasury Board had transferred the authorities back to the, or over the department. That we’re going to be looking at pensions and benefits and there’s going to be a big salary review that year. And having worked in the United States side by side with locally engaged staff for, you know, at that point probably 12 years, I knew how important that workforce was. As you said these...this is like the core.

David Morrison: That’s the heart and soul of...

Marcy Grossman: The heart and soul, especially in the United States.

David Morrison: Some are Canadians.

Marcy Grossman: Some are Canadians.

David Morrison: Many are Americans.

Marcy Grossman: Some of them are not Canadians, but they play a damn good Canadian on TV. Like, because they are so passionate about what they do, they are so committed to what they do. They don’t, you know, there’s no differentiation. In other countries I think there’s these formal, informal or reasons why you have to make these separations between locally engaged staff and Canada-based staff. But I never made those. If I saw a job that could be done just as well by a local staff than a Canada staff, I would just do it. In fact my FPDS manager in Denver is the locally engaged staff. She is probably the best FPDS manager in the network. But she was like a pariah the first year. They didn’t even want her to have her come to the meeting.

David Morrison: Because she was American.

Marcy Grossman: Yeah. So I also felt very passionate about...I could see what was coming down the line and I thought there’s an opportunity here to make a big change in the workforce, in the whole shift in the workforce. Instead of death by a thousand cuts, which I could see could happen, we have an opportunity to shift the workforce into something a lot more important. We had an opportunity to modernize this workforce and start to work on, if we were going to start taking money away from people or benefits or levels or whatever, we should be offering them flexible workforce. We should be offering them more interesting jobs. We should be offering them opportunities to grow horizontally a lot more, to learn more. These are all things that were totally in our control.

David Morrison: Well that’s why I raise it. Because you saw a problem that needed fixing. Nobody asked you to do it. You just knew it was important and stepped up, and others followed or joined you. I just thought it was...

Marcy Grossman: Or didn’t.

David Morrison: Or didn’t. But it was a remarkable example to my mind of informal leadership. You didn’t, you weren’t the boss of...

Marcy Grossman: No.

David Morrison: …of the people you were trying to get to follow you.

Marcy Grossman: Right.

David Morrison: But you deployed remarkable influencing skills. I remember one evening in Washington when you deployed a lot of wine.

Marcy Grossman: Oh my goodness, yeah, I had to “gin” the group up to get approval, but whatever…

David Morrison: But you did push the ball down the field.

Marcy Grossman: I did. Thank you, thank you.

David Morrison: And I think you should be proud of what you were able to accomplish on behalf of those valued colleagues, many of whom have seen Canada-based staff come and go frequently. But they provide the continuity and the ballast and the ongoing representation for Canada throughout the United States, and as you said, that’s never been more important than it has now, than it is now. I think we’re out of time.

Marcy Grossman: Okay.

David Morrison: I’m going to wish you all the best.

Marcy Grossman: Yes, thank you.

David Morrison: And by the time this podcast comes out, where you are going will likely be public, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for you and for your family. And we’ll look forward to hearing about the great things you’re accomplishing in your new chapter.

Marcy Grossman: Thanks David, it’s been a real honour and to be able to share some of my stories with you today. And you know I just want to wrap by saying I always knew that I wanted to be in public service because I always knew I had a call to service. And that’s why I started in corrections and that’s why I maintain my public service career. And I just want to say how proud I have been in this department and to serve Canadians’ interests abroad and I will continue to do that. And I appreciate the opportunities that you’ve given me.

David Morrison: Okay. Well you’ve made many of those opportunities to yourself as we have found out on this podcast. So, thanks greatly and good luck.

Marcy Grossman: Thank you.

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