New Role at ECCC

Published on 2023-10-23 by Stuart Spence

Today I'm excited to say I'm moving to a new team! They build AI prototypes in the cloud for Environment Canada (ECCC). On paper this is like a dream job! On this page I'll go over key details, the job description, and highlights.

Key Details

  • One year assignment starting November 14th.
  • At-level. I'll remain IT-03.
  • Full remote.
  • Colleagues in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Vancouver.
  • The group is Emerging Technologies at Corporate Services and Finance Branch (CSFB) at ECCC. So I'm leaving the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC).

They offered a permanent move but I want to work with the new team for a year before considering that.

New Group

The Emerging Technologies "Innovation Hub" is a new group created because CSFB predicts a rising demand in AI applications for ECCC. Here's how it's defined so far:

  • to harness the capabilities of emerging technologies and cloud computing.
  • identify and evaluate emerging technologies, with an emphasis on cloud-based cognitive services.
  • establish an Innovation Hub—a dynamic and centralized environment that nurtures experimentation, prototyping, proof of concept development, and laying the groundwork to transfer successful prototypes to operations.

My New Duties

When I read my newly written list of duties it seemed like a dream job. I've been asking for years to do some of these at the MSC. Some of them I already do on my free time! Here's some highlights.

Starting with what I'll probably spend the most time on:

  • AI Project Leadership and Development
  • Develop AI Best Practices
  • Guidance and Mentorship for Juniors
  • Continuous Learning
  • AI Strategy Development
  • Vendor Relationships, Assessments, Budgets, Contracts.
  • Develop Training
  • Ethical and Regulatory Awareness
  • Stay up to date on latest AI

Vendors: "Manage relationships, contract negotiations, and vendor assessments." I plan to run projects with open standards on both Azure and AWS to avoid vendor lock-in. I also plan to use open models like Llama 2. Finally, I've wanted to help with government tech contracts for years because knowing myself, I will be a huge help.

Training: "Develop training for team members, cross-functional teams, stakeholders, and departments." Wow! That mandate has so much reach. I think that best practices, training, and my own learning are closely intertwined so it's great seeing this.

Continuous Learning: "Stay updated on the latest advancements in AI, AI ethics, regulations, and related fields." This is fanastic because I already do this on my free time with podcasts like Last Week in AI and Super Data Science and Law Bytes, and reading. Now I can dedicate a couple hours a week of work hours towards this activity.


I recently learned there are exceptions for some ITs to work full remote. Curiously, the MSC (mostly) does not allow this. This was a welcome surprise when they offered me the job! I've always felt that the minimum twice a week in office is more days than many ITs need. A reasonable number to me would be a couple times a month to have big in-person meetings and lunch with the team. Since that's not possible right now, full remote is a big upgrade. Long term, I could live anywhere in Canada! Despite the housing crisis, my home could soon be cheaper and nicer.


A spectacular nexus of work frustrations bombarded me in the summer of 2023. I want to keep this post positive, so I won't list them here. Reacting to all that, I started applying to dozens of jobs in the public and private sector. I did a few interviews. Got a bad job offer. Got another great job offer that I nearly accepted (DevOps engineering simulation company). I'm happy to chat about the experience if anyone is interested. In retrospect, it's a small miracle that today I'm excited about a position in government.

I have reminders to regularly check internal job postings at ECCC, though this time a colleague beat me to it and found this position. They recommended I apply.

Since the new position is at-level and within ECCC, the process wasn't very long. I applied and did two interviews.

First Project

As a first project, I suspect I'll be deploying document and email analysis services with LLMs. I have a ton of novel ideas on how to use LLMs to do this. Really exciting stuff!


Thanks to the MSC, CMC, and CMOI for introducing me to supercomputers, IT operations, and government over the past 5 years. I'm not sure any new team will ever be as friendly, fun, and professional as CMOI. You will be missed!