Seen and Heard: Leadership in Public Policy with Paul Cadario


Vass Bednar

On Friday, November 23, Paul Cadario, Senior Manager at the World Bank, joined SPPG for the Leadership in Public Policy Series to reflect on his thirty-seven years with the Bank. The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. He was joined for an armchair conversation by SPPG Professor Tony Dean, former Secretary of the Cabinet, Head of the Ontario Public Service, and Clerk of the Executive Council.

When the Bank hired Mr. Cadario at the age of 24, he began as a Transport Economist in West Africa. He fearlessly worked to reduce the corruption he observed even if it required him to stand up to his superiors. At this young age he had already started to show the characteristics of a strong leader. 

In his recent work, he boldly worked to put the “trust” back in Trust Funds by focusing on accountability and results. Trust Funds complement and support the World Bank’s operational work and help deliver enhanced support to client countries.  These trust fund resources are critical to implementing the Bank’s trade work in three ways: as a key element in implementing the expansion of the World Bank’s trade program; to provide additional resources to Regional Departments to help mainstream trade into country strategies, and; as a vehicle for helping the World Bank to deliver increased aid for trade. Mr. Cadario emphasized that the Bank had a duty to remain credible and trusted to its investors and stakeholders.

Two of his key messages for MPP students were to: act with integrity and use the data. Through a series of anecdotes, Cadario consistently highlighted his most prized and often recognized leadership quality: fearlessness. He emphasized that in the private and public sectors, leaders at all levels must be prepared to speak truth to power. Cadario also revealed that he is a big believer in good processes, as they help to maintain good governance and facilitate honest work. Good process can help prevent individuals from being pressured to make exceptions even when things aren’t right. According to Cadario, leaders must listen carefully to the people around them and have to be prepared to change their mind when persuaded by reasonable thinking.

In drawing further connections between his career and public policy-making, Cadario observed that open data has totally changed the accountability at the World Bank and emphasized that metrics are central to making good public policy. All data at the World Bank is now assumed to be public which has in turn improved research by allowing scholars access this data.

Mr. Cadario also charged that “leaders nurture talent and believe in others,” emphasizing that persons in positions of seniority must demonstrate trust and have the “backs” of those who they have promoted or supported in the workplace.

Cadario concluded by reflecting on leadership in terms of giving back to society and philanthropy—he funds the Cadario Fellows program, which supports the scholastic pursuits of excellent MPP students, as well as the Cadario lecture, an annual public lecture with an international development focus. Past Cadario lecture speakers have included: James Morone (2012), Louis Menard (2011), Doug Saunders (2011) and William Easterly (2010).

The Leadership in Public Policy Series is designed to expose MPP students and SPPG faculty to exemplars of leadership in public policy. In the past, the series has hosted: Ed Clark, Group President and CEO of TD Bank, Margaret Biggs, President of CIDA, Janice Charette, DM of Intergovernmental Affairs and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet, Paul Martin, former Prime Minister, Tony Penikett, former Premier of the Yukon, Graham Flack, ADM of Public Safety, and Morris Rosenberg, DM of Foreign Affairs.

Upcoming Leadership lecture for December are:

  • December 6thShelley Jamieson, CEO of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and former Head of the Ontario Public Service (RSVP)
  • December 7thMichael Horgan, Deputy Minister of the Department of Finance Canada (RSVP)
  • December 11thLord Gus O’Donnell, Strategic Advisor to Ed Clark, Group President and CEO, and TD’s Senior Executive Team, former head of Britain’s civil service and an advisor to British Prime Minister David Cameron (RSVP)

Vass Bednar (@VassB) is a graduate of the MPP program (2010) and currently works at the School of Public Policy & Governance as the Manager of Engagement and EA to the Director. She is a 2012-2013 Action Canada Fellow who wants to make public policy more fun


3 Comments Add yours

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