Marion Gillespie is an IT project team lead at the Department of National Defence's Dockyards location in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has been with the department since 2004, and in her current role since 2017. Working with a team of seven project managers, Marion is responsible for overseeing IT projects that support the Canadian Armed Forces.
Although working in IT is a far cry from what she wanted to be as a child – a singer – Marion loves what she does today. Her six years of vocal training in high school and university helped prepare her for her role at the “centre stage” of her team. For her, presenting in meetings and leading other project managers comes second-nature.
Marion grew up in Dartmouth, and went to both Mount St. Vincent University and Mount Allison University. She spent three years as an au pair in Bermuda before returning to Canada to complete a college diploma in public relations. Later on, she transitioned into IT leadership. Her favourite part of the job is the colourful people she gets to work with every day.
“There are a multitude of personalities in DND,” she says. “It's the people – the environment that we're in – that really makes the job.”
The IT Project department within Base Information Services (BIS), supports the Canadian Forces, Navy, Army and Air Force in a multitude of IT projects that provide and support communications to their units throughout Canada and other parts of the world.
“We provide IT services and support to our national defence members in SMC Halifax. You have air force, you have navy, you have army. And there is always something IT-related that they may need, which in turn supports Canadians world wide,” she says.
Information technology teams play a pivotal role in ensuring that the Canadian Forces have the tools and information they need to do their job effectively.
“Having strong IT is essential for navy ships, communications and planning. They need to be able to communicate and have the desired networks that they require to perform their duties,” Marion says.
Our IT professionals are working hard to support our military. Marion Gillespie and her team are just one example of the many IT professionals who contribute to keeping our country safe. Marion is proud to be able to support those who serve our country.
She is also a proud member of PIPSC.
“Why I'm proud to be a PIPSC member is the solidarity with team members,” Marion concludes. “You always feel like you're not alone.”
As a wife and mother of twins, Marion values the work-life balance that PIPSC helps to provide. “It's been so important, especially as we return to work in a post-pandemic world,” she says.
One summer, Marion had to take time off to look after her children full-time. Being able to take family leave, which ensured Marion continued to receive a portion of her salary, and protected her job until she returned to work, meant everything to her.
“The family-related leave has been so important as a working mom over the years,” she says. “PIPSC has been huge in allowing me to feel that I am secure in the work that I do, and I will be given the time that I need to help with my children. Especially leave with income averaging.”
Without the wins that PIPSC has ensured through collective bargaining over the years, Marion says she’s not sure where her workplace would be. “Without the strength of PIPSC, we wouldn’t be where we are today in regards to leave, health care, and other important benefits,” she says.
As the world begins to recover from the pandemic, Marion is worried about the economic repercussions it could have, like budget cuts and supply-chain issues that would prevent their department from getting the equipment and tools they need.
“Professionally, I worry that we have to pay for this pandemic at some point. But we know that we would have PIPSC backing us if we ever had to face budget cuts or layoffs.”
Now that her children have grown up, they too have entered into promising careers in the public service, where Marion knows their jobs and rights, with the help of a tireless union, will always be protected.