Featured Career Paths


Darryl Embury

My Career

At the age of sixteen I fell in love with the food industry while working in a dairy plant as a summer student. I decided then and there to pursue a university education that would provide me with a career in food. In 1980, armed with a microbiology degree, I landed a job in the meat industry in Alberta. Here's how my career evolved:

Current Position

Title: Regional Director, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Programs, Manitoba and Saskatchewan Region
Currently: Acting National Director, Drug Analysis Service
Education: Bachelor of Science, Master of Food Science
Number of Years in the Workforce: 30
Number of Years at Health Canada: 28

My Experience at Health Canada

Since becoming the Regional Director of the Healthy Environment and Consumer Safety Branch at Health Canada, I have been very fortunate to have a large number of assignments in other roles. Some have been at my group and level, others higher, but all have been challenging and interesting. I am no longer a food regulator but I feel that I continue to have a vital role in protecting the health of Canadians. I don't know if all my career moves are done.

Across the wide range of our programs we use a myriad of tools, techniques, processes and approaches to deliver on the protection, promotion, prevention and regulation of the public health for our fellow citizens. It is both an honour and a duty that I take very seriously. I consider public service to be more of a calling than an occupation, and I strongly recommend it. Working for Health Canada gives one a real, tangible opportunity to make a difference in the health and safety of Canadians every day.

I like variety and new challenges in my work, and I think that my career path shows that. I've rarely spent more than 5 years in any one role. Working at Health Canada as the Regional Director of the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch continues to provide me with these new challenges.

Career Timeline
Job Profile The Story
1975 - 1980

Summer Student
Modern Dairies
Brandon, Manitoba

My first summer job, which evolved into 5 years of summer and year-round part time work. This job helped lead to my decision to work in the food industry.
1980 - 1982

Management trainee
Canada Packers
Edmonton, Alberta


  1. Chemist
  2. Production Clerk
  3. Sausage formulator

My first post-university job. I had several roles, the most interesting being Sausage Formulator where daily I wrote the recipes for thousands of pounds of wieners, bologna and other processed meats.

This was a huge jump for me. I was quitting my first permanent job, leaving a booming economy in Alberta and moving back to Manitoba in a recession. I was also joining the civil service, about which I knew nothing except for negative stereotypes. The company I worked for though was losing money, and the factory in which I worked closed less than a year after I left it.


District Officer, Food and Drug Inspector
Health and Welfare Canada
Brandon, Manitoba

My first government job. I worked in a one-inspector office with a half-time secretary.

This was a time of significant professional and personal growth for me. I learned all of the technical details of how to be an inspector, but also learned a great deal about working with people, from large companies to private citizens. These lessons have proved very valuable throughout my career.

1987 - 1988

Food Microbiology Specialist
Health and Welfare Canada
Winnipeg, Manitoba

My first promotion in the civil service, into a newly created position.

Auditor, Food Processing
Health and Welfare Canada
Winnipeg, Manitoba

This job represented another newly created position.

As an Auditor I worked in a new role within a brand new program. I no longer specifically inspected food plants for their compliance with federal law. Instead I audited how other federal departments performed their regulatory responsibilities in food plants. It was my first real taste of helping to design and grow a program and I liked it. It put all of my technical and people skills to a real test. I also completed a five year, part-time Master of Food Science program at the University of Manitoba during this time - sponsored by Health Canada.


Chief, Inspection Division
Health Canada
Winnipeg, Manitoba

My first management position.

Here I moved from a technical role to management, how hard could that be?
This is where some of those people skills I had been learning started to come into play.


Chief, Food Inspection Division
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Winnipeg, Manitoba

In 1996 I decided to transfer into a newly created agency, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

New agency, new culture, new colleagues... and having to deliver our program too! I have often described my early years at CFIA as like designing a boat, building the boat and crossing a river all at the same time; it was challenging, invigorating, demanding and more.


Regional Director, Manitoba Region
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Winnipeg, Manitoba

My first executive position.
2001- present

Regional Director, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Manitoba and Saskatchewan Region
Health Canada
Winnipeg, Manitoba

In 2001 I became the first Regional Director in the newly created Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch.

A new Branch and six new programmes to deliver. This job provided me with a learning curve that continues until today.

Dr. Delara Karkan

My Career

I have always had an interest in discovering new scientific ideas. I am a creative person and I love the idea of innovation and invention. Throughout my career, what I've always liked about my work is how it has allowed me to find new ways to help and treat diseases.

I did not necessarily have a clear direction of what I wanted to do when I started out but I think my work experience provided me with that insight. As I was advancing in my career and learning how to design better and more effective pharmaceutical products, I began to understand that therapeutic products based on new technology were difficult to produce. I also began to understand that once the products were produced, it was very important to ensure they were regulated.

For some technologies such as nanotechnology, their application is very dependent on the ethical and regulatory decisions made by governments. I became interested in public health and how we can regulate and use therapeutics to help mass population. This was a beginning and a trigger to find out more about working for the government. Here's the story of how my career evolved:

Current Position

Title: Senior Science Advisor, Nanotechnology Products, Health Products and Food Branch
Education: Ph.D Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Number of Years in the Workforce: 13
Number of Years at Health Canada: 5

My Experience at Health Canada

My job at Health Canada has given me the opportunity to look at the big picture and contribute directly to Canadians and their health. A great thing about my job is how it has allowed me to explore different types of work beyond the realm of science.

During my time at Health Canada, I have explored work in policy, management, strategic planning and communication. I would recommend Health Canada to anyone who wants to make a contribution with their work.

Career Timeline
Job Profile The Story

Visiting Fellow
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research,

As a visiting fellow, I was primarily responsible for scientific research.

Research Assistant
Glaxco Wellcome
Toronto, Ontario

At Glaxo Wellcome, I provided support for various types of discovery research activities.

Group Leader, Pharmacology
Synapse Pharmaceutical

As a group leader at Synapse Pharmaceutical, I supervised a group of scientists in the field of pharmacology, drug metabolism and bioanalysis.

Here I developed a proficiency for writing patents and grant requests.


Group Leader, Pharmacology
Cantest Inc.

At Cantest, I established governmental laboratory contracts concerning drug tests in racing horses.

Associate Director (Preclinical Research and Development)
Labopharm Pharma Inc,

As an Associate Director at Labopharm Pharma, I developed activities related to emerging nanotechnologies. I also developed a multi-million dollar production budget and supervised work related to the early stages of drug development.

Clinical Reviewer (Group Lead)
Canadian agency for Drug and Technologies in Health (CADTH)

As a group leader at the CADTH, I was responsible for the cost benefit analysis of biologic drugs and drug assessment protocols.

I also worked directly with doctors, provincial governments and with various patient and consumer associations across Canada.


Deputy Director, Center for Evaluation of Biologics and Genetic therapy
Health Canada

This was my first job at Health Canada. Here I provided strategic plans and innovative solutions to reduce a drug submission backlog. I was also responsible for financial planning, resource management and policy development related to radiopharmaceuticals.
February 2007

Senior Science Policy Advisor
Health Canada

Working in the Departmental Office of Biotechnology as a senior advisor, I was responsible for establishing and maintaining a number of critical working relationships related to nanotechnology. I worked very closely with other government departments, non governmental organizations and academia.
October 2007

Senior Science Policy Advisor
(Nanotechnology Products)

Health Canada

In my current position I am responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of Health Canada's nanotechnology framework, as well as several corporate, inter-governmental and international files.

Diane Kirkpatrick

My Career

At the start of my career I worked briefly at the Department of National Defence doing quality control of petroleum products and accident investigation. It was very interesting but I wanted to work in the public health area and at the time, I wanted to do research. I applied for a research position at Health Canada and I was successful. From this point on I had many interesting opportunities at the department. Here is the story of how my career at Health Canada evolved:

Current Position

Title: Former Director General, Veterinary Drugs Directorate
Education: Bachelor of Science with honours
Number of Years in the Workforce: 35+
Number of Years at Health Canada: 33

My Experience at Health Canada

My career at Health Canada exposed me to so many different types of work. I started my career at the department working in research, analyzing foods for heavy metals. Afterwards, I moved on to evaluation, assessing and establishing standards for a range of chemicals in foods; including chemical contaminants, food additives, pesticides and food packaging materials. In this area, I worked as a scientific evaluator and then moved up the line as a Section Head and, subsequently, as the Chief of the Division.

Having worked now as both a researcher and an evaluator, I was convinced that these areas could forge stronger linkages to support the work of the department and I had the opportunity to translate that conviction into action when I accepted the position of Director, Bureau of Chemical Safety in the Food Directorate. This was my first time working as an Executive and I thrived working at this level; I later moved on to more senior roles across the department.

As a senior executive, I touched everything from health promotion programs related to breast cancer, AIDS and mental health to the department's Decision Making Framework, right through to its veterinary drugs program.

The experiences I've had with the department as a researcher, scientific evaluator, program manager, policy advisor and senior executive have made for a truly interesting and rewarding career. This work has been important to me because, as hokey as it sounds, I do feel a real commitment to public health and serving Canadians.

Career Timeline
Job Profile The Story

Health Canada

My work was primarily dedicated to establishing a laboratory and to analyzing foods for heavy metals.

Scientific Evaluator
Health Canada

I made the switch from research to evaluation. My team was responsible for setting important standards in food safety.

Here I was part of a team whose work led to the elimination of lead-soldered cans for baby foods and the establishment of standards for lead in canned foods - a 1st in the world.


Section Head
Health Canada

I continued my work in food safety evaluation and I was promoted to Section Head.

Division Chief
Health Canada

I became Division Chief in 1982. I was responsible for assessment and standard setting with respect to food additives, contaminants, pesticides and packaging materials in food.

Director, Bureau of Chemical Safety
Health Canada

This was my first position as an executive. As director of the Bureau of Chemical Safety I was responsible for scientific evaluation and research (chemistry and toxicology) pertaining to chemicals in food.

The Bureau of Chemical Safety addressed food safety issues. Our research and evaluation team forged strong linkages as we looked at dioxins, mycotoxins, pesticides, etc. and dealt with crisis issues such as vomitoxin in wheat and domoic acid in mussels.

As Bureau Director, I had the opportunity to serve as Head of the Canadian delegation to international meetings and I was an invited expert at international meetings dealing with chemicals in food/food safety. I conducted hundreds of media interviews including national TV, radio and print media - all relating to food safety.


Director General, Strategies and Systems for Health
Health Canada

As Director General, I was responsible for health promotion and program activities regarding breast cancer, AIDS, mental health and other health issues.

As Director General, I had the opportunity to work extensively with a broad group of stakeholders and interested parties including the provinces/territories, Non Government Organizations, other government agencies, academia and industry sectors. With their input, we helped to develop strategic approaches/responses to critical health and safety issues. We produced the first Report on the Health of Canadians endorsed by all thirteen jurisdictions and we developed and successfully implemented the Canadian Breast Cancer Initiative (1992- 1998).


Senior Policy Advisor, Health Protection Branch
Health Canada

This assignment was quite different from what I had done in the past but nonetheless critical. I was responsible for implementing Health Canada's Decision Making Framework.

Director General, Veterinary Drugs Directorate
Health Canada

This was my last position as a public servant and it was very rewarding.

We worked to ensure the safety and efficacy of drugs for pets and livestock, as well as the safety of any food product derived from animals treated with drugs.

We effectively rebuilt the veterinary drugs program... this was a major contribution and a major achievement.

Dr. Gary Kramer

My Career

We can say that I had "kind of a plan" when I finished university. I wanted to work in the academic world to do research in the field of Physical Inorganic Chemistry, and teach. The path to achieve this was to do some Post-Doc fellowships to build up my number of peer-reviewed publications. I wanted to travel during this phase with some stops in Canada, the US, Australia and hopefully to secure a position in an English university. I tried many times to secure a position in a university but just ended up with a tall stack of rejection letters.

I decided that the university career was not going to happen and I developed personal roots in Canada. I now had to find a job that would allow me to raise a family in Canada so I started looking for alternative employment where my education would provide a sound foundation for progress.

I have to say looking back at this decision, I have no regrets. This shift in strategy put me on the road that eventually led to the place I am now: the Head of the National Internal Radiation Assessment Section of the Radiation Protection Bureau, one of the top 5 laboratories for In Vitro, In Vivo bioassay research in the world.

Here's how my career evolved:

Current Position

Title: Head, National Internal Radiation Assessment Section, Radiation Production Bureau, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch
Education: Ph.D. in Physical Inorganic Chemistry and Bachelor of Science, 1st honours in Chemistry
Number of Years in the Workforce: 31
Number of Years at Health Canada: 23

My Experience at Health Canada

I was attracted to Health Canada (HC) because I was looking for new challenges. Constraints had set in at my previous job; funding was being cut and the work environment had become much less stimulating. I started to look around for work and that's when I came upon HC.

My first position at HC was as Head of what is now known as the National Internal Radiation Assessment Section. It was great because my supervisor at the time gave me "carte blanche" to develop the laboratory. I was literally setting the priorities for our research and for the type of facility I thought HC needed to have.

Today, the job gives me and my staff the possibility to conduct research and collaborate with other countries. There are new things happening regularly and we are frequently making discoveries which we were unaware of the day before; this is very rewarding.

HC gave me freedom to develop and expand my own sphere of expertise and this is priceless. Many of my international peers are jealous of the time we have to pursue research.

Career Timeline
Job Profile The Story

Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Calgary, Alberta
Calgary, Alberta

My first fellowship was at the University of Calgary, where I taught and conducted research to understand the influence of Freon on Ozone holes.

Research Associate
University of Toronto, Ontario
Toronto, Ontario

At the University of Toronto I taught and worked on the effects of halogens on materials like red blood cells.

Analytical Radiochemist, BiomedicalRresearch Branch
Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories, Ontario
Chalk River, Ontario

At Chalk River I worked on the development of new bioassay methods and testing, improving and documenting existing methods. I was also responsible for teaching radiation safety.

Bioassay: measurement of radioactive material in urine and feces.

After I decided I was no longer going to pursue an academic career, I secured two job offers: one for Chalk River and the other one from an IT firm in the United States. I had to decide between nuclear science and information technology. I had to ask myself if I wanted to leave science. I recall doing plus and minus on a piece of paper for certain criteria related to the jobs. I remember that I lost sleep over that process.

Finally, science won.

I remember that at the time I took the decision, one thing that was quite influential was that when I was at school the nuclear industry had greatly interested me. However, I did not take physics at university because I thought it would be too complicated. And then, here I was in front of a job offer where I would use my chemistry in the nuclear industry. What a chance, I could not let it go!


Head of Bioassay Laboratory, Dosimetric Research Branch
Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories, Ontario
Chalk River, Ontario

My second job at Chalk River allowed me to research more fully the biological transport mechanisms of uranium in the human body.

Head of Bioassay Laboratory and In-Vivo Monitoring Facility, Dosimetric research Branch
Chalk River Nuclear Laboratory, Ontario
Chalk River, Ontario

My third job at Chalk River involved further research into bio-assay methods. This job also involved staff supervision, software development, contract management and teaching duties.

Head, Human Monitoring Laboratory
Health Canada
Ottawa, Ontario

My first job at HC. The Human Monitoring Laboratory does a great deal of critical research, in addition to In Vivo monitoring of internally contaminated individuals.

The Laboratory is an emergency response unit in case of a nuclear incident and it works to facilitate joint research with other international organizations on this topic, amongst others.

How did I get my job at HC? Someone phoned me. This position was an accident. A pleasant and fortunate accident!


Acting Head, Fallout and Reactor Section
Health Canada
Ottawa, Ontario

These were additional responsibilities to my existing jobs. Here I was operating, maintaining and upgrading the Canadian National Radioactivity Monitoring Network.
2008- present

Head, National Internal Radiation Assessment Section
Health Canada
Ottawa, Ontario

My career continues to be rich and compelling and my research remains as fascinating to me today as it was when I started my career 30 years ago.

I have a lot more influence and flexibility than I did at the start of my career and I use that influence to further our research goals and work in collaboration with international partners.

Carole St. Amand

My Career

My career in the public sector has provided me with many "once in a lifetime opportunities" to expand my knowledge, skills and expertise and to meet people that have unselfishly mentored me along the way. I have worked in 6 different government departments and one provincial agency which would never have been possible without the full support of my employer for assignments, secondments, successful appointments, interchanges and relocation. I never would have dreamed that I would be where I am today when I first entered the workforce. Here is the story of how my career evolved:

Current Position

Title: Senior Policy Advisor, Health Products and Food, Regions and Programs Branch
Education: Bachelor of Arts (1992), Bachelor of Social Sciences (concentration in Economics) (1993), University of Ottawa
Number of Years in the Workforce: 17 years of service in the public service
Number of Years at Health Canada: 2

My Experience at Health Canada

I enjoy my job because I am exposed to a subject matter that relates directly to the health and safety of Canadians. As the Policy and Planning Advisor, I report directly to the Regional Director of the Health Products and Food (HPF) Program - Ontario Region. The program focuses on the analysis of foods, pharmaceuticals and natural health products and is also responsible for inspecting the health products industry and ensuring compliance with the Food and Drugs Act. I am responsible for overseeing outreach activities with regional stakeholders, for providing the regional context to national policy development and for supporting the human resources, operational and strategic planning of the program. I also provide our programs' input to Ontario Region-specific strategic plans, briefing notes, Memorandums to Cabinet etc. and provide advice to the Regional Director on issues or files that affect the program area.

For those looking to contribute to protecting the health and safety of Canadians, including First Nations, there is no better department than Health Canada. There are so many opportunities whether you wish to do research, be involved in developing policy or regulations, work on environmental files, work in the field of food and nutrition or even work on international files.

Career Timeline
Job Profile The Story
Summers of 1989,1990,1991 & 1992

Summer Student
Agriculture Canada
Ottawa, Ontario

I worked for the soybean research group of the Experimental Farm. The work was mostly done outdoors in the field test plots.
1993 - 1994

Clerical Assistant
Statistics Canada
Ottawa, Ontario

This office was dedicated to agriculture statistics.This was my first exposure to a "real" job in an office environment. I was the clerical assistant to two assistant directors.

After finishing my Bachelor's degree in Economics in 1993, a shortage of work made it difficult to find work in my field. I applied to various government jobs and eventually obtained a determinate clerical position with Statistics Canada. I remember being so relieved and excited when I was offered the position, even if the salary and the job was not at all what I had envisioned for my career. It seems simple now, but looking back, I had to learn very quickly how to perform simple administrative tasks. After several months, I was no longer finding my job challenging and my new quest was to become indeterminate. With the help from senior management, I obtained an opportunity to work in an area of Agriculture Statistics that provided me with the skills in data analysis that I needed in order to apply for positions in the technical and analytical fields. This assignment is the reason I was successful in a competition as a Junior Technical Officer with the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada and became an indeterminate public service employee in November 1994.

1994 - 1997

Junior Technical Officer
Statistics Canada
Ottawa, Ontario

I provided technical support to the Manager of the Youth Custody and Crime Statistics Survey working with databases and performing some data analysis.

This position is significant because it is at this point that I knew that I wanted to pursue data and statistical analysis further and that a career in economics would be suitable for me - but it would take some time to get there.

1997 - 1999

Product Manager
Statistics Canada
Ottawa, Ontario

I was the product manager for the 1996 Census Area Profiles.

This is possibly the most significant position in my career. The skills and knowledge I acquired during this time have helped me immensely in moving ahead in the public service. I was responsible for the production of the 1996 Census Area Profiles data products. It was a fast paced environment with strict deadlines and so many pieces of the project were inter-dependent. I had to work with various subject-matter experts and had to provide regular status updates to management. I was exposed to project management, supervising staff, working in a team environment - all of which have allowed me to progress in my career. I loved this job!

1999 - 2002

Information Management Analyst
Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
Ottawa, Ontario

I first joined Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) on a secondment from Statistics Canada. I was responsible for the data analysis and quality assurance of information reported by First Nations.

Later, I was responsible for managing the development of on-line reporting modules for First Nations Communities.

Although I was very reluctant to leave Statistics Canada, I could not possibly turn down the opportunity to move from a technical to an analytical field.

My years at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada are some of my most memorable. I had the opportunity to travel across Canada, visit First Nations communities, work with regional offices and First Nations Organizations and lead major projects under the Government On-line Initiative.

I will also never forget my Director, the late Mr. Ravi Shankar, who served as my mentor. Not realizing it at the time, I understand now why he would insist that I deliver the presentations to senior management and in front of audiences at conferences. Although terrifying to me at that time, this was his way of ensuring that his staff were recognized for their work and that they gained the skills required to move up in the public service. To this day, I still think of Ravi as the most influential person in my career and have him to thank for my continued success.

2002 - 2005

Senior Analyst
Public Works and Government Services Canada
Ottawa, Ontario

I joined Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), on an acting assignment to support the director on the International Cooperation file. I was responsible for hosting foreign delegations and the preparation of visit scenarios and briefing materials for the Deputy Minister and Ministerial foreign visits. I was also involved in the development of key departmental strategies and plans.

I was promoted after successfully completing a selection process. My new job was to lead the Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) intergovernmental cooperation file.

I decided to take an assignment with PWGSC, because of my interest in working on intergovernmental files. The directorate I worked for was responsible for supporting PWGSC's Deputy Minister and Minister's offices for international and federal-provincial-territorial (FPT) government collaboration and partnership initiatives and activities. I planned several Deputy Minister level FPT meetings and events and had the opportunity to sit at the table with Deputy Ministers from every province. The most notable event would be the 2005 FPT meeting in Iqaluit, Nunavut. My experience working with other levels of government is an important aspect of my career and has proven to be an asset for other jobs following my tenure with PWGSC.

This job gave me a good understanding of working at the corporate level and allowed me to know a little bit about every branch in the department.

2005 - 2007

Business Advisor to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Ontario Realty Corporation (ORC)
Toronto, Ontario

I moved to Toronto after accepting a one year assignment, under the Interchange Canada program, with the Ontario Realty Corporation (ORC). The ORC is responsible for the real property and facilities management for the Ontario Government. My knowledge with PWGSC was very applicable for this assignment. I decided to stay on an extra 6 months after my assignment was over.

I took a huge step when I decided to move from Ottawa to Toronto. I accepted to join the ORC on an Interchange Canada Assignment. The Interchange assignment allowed me to keep my current level and status of public service employee while working in a provincial agency. The experience I gained in working with senior executives and leading FPT initiatives at PWGSC is what helped me obtain the position of a Business Advisor to the Chief Operating Officer (COO ).

It is difficult to believe all the things I did at the ORC. I wrote and managed the production of two of the corporations Annual Reports which are still on-line. I gave presentations to senior executives and the Board of Directors. I developed a business case framework and a process improvement project. Perhaps the most notable of my accomplishments would be the development of Key Performance Indicators and a performance Dashboard for the Corporation, still in use today. After a few months, I was also the business advisor for the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

2007 - 2008

Chief, Labour Market Information and Occupational Analysis
Service Canada
Toronto, Ontario

This was my first experience working in a regional office. For the first time in my career; I was working as an economist. I was directly responsible for managing a group of 20 analysts responsible for the analysis of the Ontario labour market.
2008- present

Senior Policy Advisor
Health Canada
Ontario Region - Toronto

I am currently responsible for analyzing health products and food policy. I am also responsible for the operational, strategic and human resources planning of the regional program and for providing advice to the Regional Director.

Due to my relocation to Toronto, I was looking for a position that would allow me to return to the Public Service at my previous level within the Ontario region. I was very happy when I found out about this position and I consequently successfully applied. Having worked in the National Headquarters area for the most part of my career, there was an adjustment period to being in the region. However, in time I came to value the operational nature of the work and the front-line responsibility for delivering the program on behalf of the Branch. I have now been with Health Canada in the Ontario Region for almost two years. I have gained an appreciation for the work that is conducted in regional offices and understand how they directly support the mandate of the department. I also have a good understanding of our regional stakeholders - the industry, provincial governments, and consumer groups - and have a clearer sense of their views.

Page details

Date modified: