Grad student gets face time with provincial finance minister

Ridha Chilmeran and Dwight Duncan

Ridha Chilmeran and Dwight Duncan

How do you make an appointment to meet the Minister of Finance?

Well, you could send a letter or make a phone call. Or you could do what Ridha Chilmeran did – send Finance Minister Dwight Duncan a note on Facebook.

Chilmeran, a graduate student in the Master of Business Economics (MBE) co-op program, contacted Duncan to meet with him to say how much he appreciated his eight-month co-op placement with Duncan’s ministry. He sent the Facebook message a few weeks before completing his placement at the end of December 2010.

Chilmeran was thrilled to get a positive response from the minister through his assistant.

“I met with him in his office a few days before my placement ended,” Chilmeran said. “He was very appreciative of my work.”

At the Ministry of Finance, Chilmeran was the lead analyst with respect to the Mental Health and Community Health Centres portfolio, a major public health program area in Ontario.

As lead analyst, he was responsible for reviewing and analyzing submissions from other ministries, preparing briefing materials, and presenting the analysis and recommendations to top bureaucrats in the Treasury Board and Management Board Cabinet. One of the meetings Chilmeran attended was also attended by several ministers, including Duncan.

“The experience I gained at the Ministry of Finance was very rewarding,” Chilmeran said. “Usually this position is taken by a seasoned analyst. However, my manager had confidence in my abilities. It was a fantastic opportunity to participate in high-profile public policy.”

Chilmeran, who is originally from Iraq and has lived in a handful of countries including, Jordan, England and Lebanon, started out at Brock as an undergraduate international student.

He continued on to pursue an MBE degree at Brock. For his MBE research essay, Chilmeran is examining the links among the major indexes of Canadian stock market performance.

He credits Prof. Tomson Ogwang, his MBE research essay supervisor, for his invaluable insights and, most importantly, for his friendship. Chilmeran hopes to graduate with an MBE degree this spring.

“My older brother came to Brock first and highly recommended that I join the University,” he said. “It has been a remarkable experience. From the beginning, I have felt welcome and have received support and encouragement from many members of the Brock community.”

Chilmeran’s long-term goal is to join the United Nations as policy researcher.

“Joining the United Nations at the professional level requires an advanced degree combined with several years of experience in the field,” he said. “When I graduate, I’ll be looking forward for the next challenge. I believe taking on new challenges keeps me motivated and brings about the best in me.”

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