Where are they now? – Profiling Stéfanie Fréel

Where are they now? – Profiling Stéfanie Fréel

The objective of our initiative ‘Where are they now?’ is to create a forum or a bridge for German alumni to share their career stories with current students, and for students to ask alumni questions about careers.  We kicked off the project in June 2017, by emailing German alumni, asking them if they would be willing to share their career stories with current students of German studies.  Response was very positive, with over 15 alumni from a wide variety of careers, inside and outside of academia, indicating their interest in participating.

This project was led by Joan Andersen, as part of her volunteer position as Alumni Ambassador and Executive in Residence.  Joan is a German alumna of the University of Toronto, and moved into a career outside of German studies after graduating with a Master’s Degree.  Joan conducted a telephone or email interview with each participant with the objective or drafting a 5-8 minute long article profiling his/her career.

We will publish one or two ‘Career Profile’ articles every month which we hope our readers will find informative and maybe even inspirational. We welcome your feedback on this initiative by sending Joan an email at j.andersen.ma@gmail.com

Our ninth article profiles the career of Stéfanie Fréel.

Welcome to this edition of ‘Where are they now’? In this article, we profile Stéfanie Fréel – UofT 2010 and 2013. I hope you find this article interesting and maybe even inspirational.

Stéfanie graduated from the University of Toronto (Woodsworth College) in 2010, with her Honors BSc. She completed a major in psychology with a double minor in Business German and Spanish. After graduation, she worked at the Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care as a Research Assistant and Laboratory Manager where she oversaw two clinical psychiatric research studies.  She subsequently completed a Master Degree in Global Affairs at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, graduating in 2013.  She chose this field of study as it would allow her to marry her interests in the fields of health and international affairs. Upon graduation, Stefanie worked for a not-for-profit organization, Dignitas International, where focused on issues related to Aboriginal health, heath innovation and health equity.  She also acquired experience in the field of health technology by working at the Center for Global eHealth Innovation and led consulting work for the Office of Transformative Global Health at the Centre for Addication and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. She then joined the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care where she has been working for over three years, holding progressively senior roles in the area of health policy, research and evaluation.

We caught up with Stéfanie at home.  She is currently undertaking consulting work for the World Health Organization (WHO), a United Nations entity, in the area of global dementia policy.

1. What made you decide to pursue German studies at the U of T?

My family is originally from Germany and I grew up in Switzerland.  Learning about my heritage was both a personal and professional interest.  I also thought that it could provide me with broader employment opportunities internationally.

2. Describe your current position and job responsibilities. What career path lead you to your current job?

My most recent position at the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care was as Strategic Project Lead.  I this role, I led an inter-sectoral policy initiative aimed at improving government planning and accountability.  My work focuses on government planning and policy development, and I have responsibilities in the areas of policy analysis and development, partnership building, consensus building, communication, stakeholder management, and strategic planning.

3. How did you come to select this position as your career?

I wanted to apply the skills that I had developed in my Master’s program, gain a better understanding of policy development and government decision-making, and contribute to having an impact on the lives of Ontarians.

4. What does a typical day at work for you look like?

My work involves a lot of communication between government stakeholders and partners, as well as the ability to identify and create synergies and collaborations.  I conduct research, analyze policy, develop strategies and present policy recommendations to senior management, typically through policy briefings and presentations.  My role involves substantial coordination across ministries to ensure that policies and projects reflect all partner’s viewpoints and input.

5. What do you like most about your job?

I like the fact that it is inter-sectoral in nature, that it involves collaborating with many different individuals across government, and that it is challenging.

6. What are some of the challenges that you face on a day-to-day basis?

The ability to articulate the relevance and impact of a given project or policy across sectors, taking into account diverse interests and points of view is quite challenging. Reaching consensus in a multi-stakeholder environment can also be quite challenging as is ensuring that the right support is in place to move the policy forward.

7. What skills do you possess that make you a good fit for your current job?

Diplomacy, political acuity, communication and interpersonal skills, organization skills, problem solving, decision making, critical & strategic thinking, diplomacy, negotiation and consensus building, partnership building, and project management skills.

8. How have your German studies equipped you with the skills you need to do your job?

When I was completing my Master in Global Affairs, we had to complete a professional placement as part of our graduate studies.  I ended up accepting an internship in the German Federal Foreign Ministry in Berlin, Germany, as I was the only student who spoke German.  I was placed in the Department for East Africa, Horn of Africa and Sudan where I had the opportunity to work on conflict and post-conflict resolution policy issues.

9. What are your ultimate career goals?

I have to say that I did not think that what I am doing now would be my career when I was completing my undergraduate studies.  At the time, I was focused of becoming a Clinical Psychologist. Now that I am in this field, I would like to continue working in policy development, ideally in the health sector whether at the regional, national or international level.

10. What do you do in your spare time?

I like to hike, travel, read and discover new parts of the city.

11. What advice do you have for German students who are pursuing their studies with the goal of securing meaningful employment post-graduation?

Think outside the box and be flexible in terms of your career path.  Find something of interest where you might be able to use the language that you have learned.  Look beyond Canada to gain international experience, especially when you are studying languages.  Do not be afraid to network with as many professionals as possible, so that you can learn about their career paths and learn about professional opportunities.  Link up with professionals and companies operating in your area(s) of interest because this will open up more career possibilities than you might think of as an undergraduate student.  Keep in mind that you develop many skills in the process of studying a language, which can be applied to many career avenues.

12. For those readers who want to learn more, how can they contact you?

By email at: stefanie.freel@mail.utoronto.ca