Transcript – Miniseries on Locally engaged staff, episode 3: Maxim Cambor

Welcome to the GAC Files, a podcast about the people, issues and ideas driving Global Affairs Canada.

Emmanuelle Tremblay: Maxim Cambor is a locally engaged staff member—or LES—working as a common services officer at the Embassy of Canada to the Czech Republic, in Prague. He started working at the embassy in 1998, and since then he has performed various functions, from driver to accountant. His manager, Lori Corriveau, praised his work and also his incredible involvement in his community. Have you ever heard of Jeden na Jednoho [one on one]? You will hear about it today. Maxim is married and the father of 3 children. He’s a seasoned athlete with a passion for sports.  

I have the pleasure of speaking with him to learn about his fascinating story. Hi, I’m Emmanuelle Tremblay. Thank you, dear listeners, for tuning in to another podcast about our locally engaged staff here at Global Affairs Canada.  

So, welcome, Maxim, welcome.  

Maxim Cambor: Thank you very much. It’s nice to be part of this podcast.  

Emmanuelle Tremblay: So, before we continue, I’d like to note that this episode is part of our very first miniseries of GAC Files podcasts, which is made up of 3 episodes. As you might expect, the miniseries focuses on locally engaged staff, a group of employees that, I will remind you, accounts for nearly half of Global Affairs Canada’s workforce and three quarters of the staff at our missions abroad.  

Finally, to respect Canada’s Official Languages Act, I invite our guest to speak in the language of his choice.  

Tell us how you became an LES with the Canadian embassy in Prague. 

Maxim Cambor:  So I started at the embassy in 1998 at the moment of my life where I was not really successful in the business. I tried to run my private business, and unfortunately it didn’t work. One day I saw the ad in the newspaper where the Embassy of Canada was looking for a manager at the official residence, so I applied for it, and luckily I was chosen one—let’s say it this way. 

I started to work there. I managed the team of 4 persons. We did a lot of official events for Ambassador and for other diplomats at the embassy at that time. It was a nice time, I have to say. Partially, unexpectedly I was working also as a driver of the Ambassador, so we did quite a lot of official trips within the country and Slovakia. So it was a really nice time. And what I can say is our big success was the Canada Day official reception where we hosted almost 800 guests.  

Emmanuelle Tremblay: It’s interesting because you mentioned the official residence, and there’s really a large variety of functions that can be performed by locally engaged staff in some official residences. Like we have people who work in the garden; we have people who manage events, prepare food, etc. And you also have the office staff, and I think you’ve become, since, someone who now works in an office behind a computer. So tell us about your current function. What do you do now? 

Maxim Cambor: The accountant at the time resigned on this position within my first year of being at the embassy. So I applied for internal competition, and again I won the competition. So I started to work as an accountant, and by the time I changed my job description a little bit, and now at this time I’m working as a common services officer. 

It’s very nice. You know because one day I can focus let’s say on finance and the next day we are running the staffing competition, so I have to switch to totally something different. And that’s what I like on my job. 

Emmanuelle Tremblay: Is there anything you can tell us about what it means for you to work for Canada? Does it have any meaning for you? 

Maxim Cambor: You know, I had my personal experience working abroad at the embassy. I worked for the Embassy of Slovakia in Egypt, in Cairo, for 4 years. So I had kind of knowledge what does that mean. But being, let’s say, at home and work for a foreign government and representing the country within the country, it’s very nice. I like it so much. It gives me an opportunity to work with very different people in very different environments. It’s enriching my life, my working experience so much. 

Emmanuelle Tremblay: What your manager, Lori Corriveau, told us is that not only are you committed in your work life but you also have a very significant volunteer commitment. 

Maxim Cambor: I’m a sportsman in my soul. Sport is my passion. Sport is my hobby, sport is my life. So one day I was asked to help with the organizing an event. It was a winter event, cross-country competition for 25 km, and I said, “No. This is impossible. I can’t do that. I have enough to manage myself, not to be responsible for somebody else.” 

But at the end, I decided okay, let’s give a try. And we did. We ran 25 km with my partner, who was blind, totally blind. That gives me kind of an opportunity that I can do what I like so much, and I can help to enjoy the same joy, passion, to somebody else. So I decided with friends to create an organization which is focusing on sport with visually impaired persons. 

We are trying to do it on the kind of tandem of one who is with a disability and one who is able-bodied—a guide—so that’s also the name of our organization—Jeden na Jednoho—which in English means one to one. 

Emmanuelle Tremblay: Maxim can you tell us a bit about one of your most memorable moments—a moment where your work at the embassy became something so significant for you? 

Maxim Cambor: Actually, I have 2 events I can share with you. The one is governor general visit in Prague: Michaëlle Jean, who was officially visiting Czech Republic and Slovakia and I have to say it was absolutely fantastic to see that big group of people moving, organizing these things. So it was one very nice. 

The second one was meeting Canada hockey team in 2015 during the world hockey championship here in Prague, when we hosted at the embassy an official reception where the whole team of Canada participated. So we were able to meet, let’s say, Sidney Crosby. 

Emmanuelle Tremblay: Wow, lucky you. (Laughs) That’s great. So the whole Canada hockey team was there for the championships and were hosted at the embassy. That’s super.  

If you were to tell an average person on the street why it’s great to work as a locally engaged staff for the Canadian mission, what would you tell them? What would you tell them that would attract them to become an LES? 

Maxim Cambor: I think there are certain moments which are very important for me, and let’s say one of it is language. I have to speak the language every single day, which is the best school ever. And the second one would be the fact that Canadian diplomats has posting for limited period of time. And it’s 3 to 4 years, so then all that circle goes on, and we are having new persons here. We have to adapt for a new person. So this is also very nice. Or depends. (cross talk). 

Emmanuelle Tremblay: It is pretty dynamic. 

Maxim Cambor: Yeah, when we have good relations with our manager, and he is leaving—or she is leaving—then it’s kind of sad and it is a little bit stressy: And so. who is coming next? But yeah, those are things really interesting for me and attractive, I would say. 

Emmanuelle Tremblay: Well Maxim, thank you so much for taking time with us to share your experience, your life at the embassy in Prague. Thank you, Maxim. It was really a pleasure to talk to you today.  

Maxim Cambor: Thanks, thank you very much. 

Emmanuelle Tremblay: That concludes, for now, our podcast mini-series on locally engaged staff. I hope you enjoyed the series, and we look forward to further installments in the near future.

GAC Files is a production of Global Affairs Canada. All of the opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the individuals and not necessarily that of their employer or Global Affairs Canada. For more information on Global Affairs Canada podcasts, visit  Be sure to subscribe to our podcast. Thank you for listening to the GAC Files. 

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