School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Jim Pine: Helping people take care with care

January, 2017
By Natalia Mukhina

Alumnus Jim Pine

Jim Pine

Queen’s alumnus Jim Pine does not like punching clocks. Conversely, he likes variety and a bit of freedom in managing his time. An executive with over 35 years of experience in municipal affairs, Jim’s approach to his job is anything but routine or bureaucratic.

“As a public servant, I am always among people, and I believe caring about people means doing so during more than just regular office hours,” Jim explains.

Signing up as an Alumni Career Mentor, Jim wishes to help graduate students interested in developing careers outside academia, especially in municipal affairs. With his wealth of diverse experience in the field, Jim can contribute a lot of mentoring to the next generation of public servants.

Jim has been involved with various municipalities across Ontario since he graduated from Queen’s, first with a Bachelor’s in Geography and then with a Master’s in Public Administration. A native of Red Lake, a small town in northwest Ontario, Jim describes himself as a natural-born municipal public servant. “My father was in local politics for 30 years, so local government comes naturally to me and may be in my genes,” smiles Jim.

Since 2002, Jim has been performing as the Chief Administrative Officer for the County of Hastings, which has both rural and urban communities. The county is a diverse geographic area stretching almost 160 km to the northwest of Belleville.

“It is certainly not easy to manage all business affairs and a range of public services, including emergency services, over such a large area,” Jim says. “Yet, what is really tough in my work is to be in the public eye all the time. If you consider a career in public administration, you should be prepared for that.”

Jim smiles while thinking back on good memories from his Queen’s years. “Obviously, Queen’s has a high academic standard. It was a great time in my life! Queen’s gave me skills that helped me build my career and establish professional connections. I met a lot of people here from different disciplines, organizations, government and the private sector.” Jim stays in touch with Queen’s people working on projects with former students and professors.

What are the top skills of a successful public administrator, according to Jim Pine? “You have to be a good thinker, listener, and risk taker,” responds Jim confidently. “You have to be skilled in managing people and weighing diverse risks correctly. You should not be frightened by that. You just have to gain strong leadership skills to provide the right direction to both people and business processes.”

Importantly, Jim has distilled a sort of professional wisdom out of his long-term administrative career and participation in many municipal projects. “Our job as public servants is to take care of people. It sounds very simple, doesn’t it? But it’s not so simple to follow this approach.” Helping people and communities and doing so with care and passion - that is Jim Pine’s mission as a municipal leader.

Jim advises his staff to ask themselves every morning after waking up: “How can I help somebody today?” He is confident that such a simple exercise will help them stay in tune with other people. “If you can do that every day as an individual, we will be an effective municipal organization because we will be focused on the right things,” emphasizes Jim.

“People are always a challenge,” adds Jim. “It is my daily challenge to care about people. If you just stay focused on the right things, people will recognise your empathy and appreciate it.”