Seen and Heard: City of Toronto CCO on Getting Ahead in Public Service

Heather Paszat

Josie Scioli knows all about hard work. Born in the Azores, Portugal, she immigrated to Toronto with her family while still very young. Like many immigrant families, Scioli’s parents wanted their children to have a prosperous life, and they worked tirelessly picking worms, cleaning houses, and working other laborious jobs to enable their children to achieve their dreams. Scioli recounts that she paid her own way through university, graduating from New College at the University of Toronto with an economics degree.

As the featured speaker at the Toronto Public Service Women’s Network annual event on June 13, Scioli addressed both her past career and her present role as the City of Toronto’s new Chief Corporate Officer (CCO). In an animated discussion, Scioli spoke candidly about her experiences in positions of leadership and how she successfully navigated the private and public sectors. More than 70 men and women from different City divisions attended the event, held at the University of Toronto’s Faculty Club.

In the 1990s, Scioli began working in the telecommunications field at Bell Canada. She remained at the company for 18 years, working her way up to the role of Vice President of Customer Service and Operations. After leaving the private sector in 2008, Scioli served as the CEO at Housing Services Inc., a subsidiary of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, for three years. In 2012, she was hired as the City’s CCO.

Currently, Scioli oversees the City’s Facilities Management, Real Estate, 311 Toronto, Environment and Energy, and Fleet Services divisions. Scioli’s remarks outlined her plans for innovative employee engagement and recognition programs within her cluster. Her personal and professional insights into a typically male-dominated arena echoed the intentions of the host organization the Toronto Public Service Women’s Network, which focuses on highlighting the accomplishments of women at the City of Toronto.

Throughout her talk, Scioli highlighted the importance of networking and making connections with people regardless of one’s profession. She emphasized customer service and breaking down silos at the City as two of her primary areas of focus as CCO. Scioli also spoke of the benefits of flat (rather than hierarchical) organizations, and her commitment to practicing an “open door” policy.

When asked how to be ambitious within an organization that may view this quality with hesitation, Scioli opined that when it comes to ambition, it’s not whether you should have it, but rather the way you approach it. Her advice: couple ambition with cooperation, honesty, and integrity. In her case, such an approach has paved the way to success.

Heather Paszat is a 2014 MPP Candidate at the School of Public Policy and Governance. She holds a BA (Honours) in History and Canadian English Literature from McGill University, and an MLitt in Modern History from the University of St. Andrews. Heather has worked in the non-profit sector and is currently a policy intern at Toronto Employment and Social Services.

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