Our Experts Peter Sheriff




Our students tell us that what makes their Western Continuing Studies learning experience great is the quality of our instructors.  All of our instructors are industry experts as well as accomplished adult educators, with varied training backgrounds and accreditations.  They take pride in delivering high-quality, relevant, and interactive learning experiences.  We’d like you to get to know our instructors a little better and learn more about their background, teaching philosophy, and experience.


Peter Sherriff

Instructor and lifelong learner

Communicating in Conflict

Problem-Solving, Decision-Making and Creativity

The Power of Strategic Questions


Peter Sherriff has 35 years of experience as a Senior Manager in the Ontario Public Service.  He held leadership roles as the Deputy Director and Chief Instructor of the Leadership Branch at the Ontario Police College, Regional Manager of The Centre for Leadership and Learning with Treasury Board, and Manager of Court Operations with the Ministry of the Attorney General.  Peter’s passion is for helping learners engage in active learning.  His background is in Leadership Development, Facilitation, Organizational Effectiveness, Strategic Planning, Change Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution, and Executive Coaching.  He is a Master Facilitator, and led Ontario’s Pre-Budget Consultation, and was the Lead Facilitator for the Postsecondary Education Review with former Premier, Bob Rae.  Peter has a diploma in Adult Education from Saint Frances Xavier University in Nova Scotia.


Three Questions with Peter Sherriff


As an instructor, did you ever have an “a-ha” moment in class that has shaped your philosophy towards teaching adult learners?

I have been fortunate enough to have had a lot of “a-ha” moments in my career, but two come to mind right away.  Something that always stands out for me is when I introduce a new model or a framework for the first time, and students start using it right away in their real-life work situation.  It is very rewarding to help learners by providing practical tools and information that is useful in their personal and professional lives.  Another learning moment that always amazes and inspires me is when I see participants from different organizations, all of whom have similar issues or problems, helping each other discover solutions.  One situation that was particularly memorable was when one group of participants organized their own “Community of Practice” to ensure the learning took place after the course.  It’s really these kinds of experiences that have made my teaching career so gratifying and meaningful to me.



What advice would you give to the adult learner who is entering the classroom again for the first time in many years?

Entering the classroom or engaging in a learning experience again after many years can be an intimidating and stressful experience, but it doesn’t have to be.  The best piece of advice I can give is to commit to being engaged in your learning before it even starts and stick with it throughout.  Every course is filled with participants who have many diverse experiences.  Tap into that collective wisdom, and be sure and add your knowledge and experience to the mix. That is the power of group learning!  Also, be bold, be adventurous, and most of all, be curious.   One of the best ways to learn is to ask questions.  This way, you help everyone learn and grow.



You’ve spent the bulk of your career developing, managing, and facilitating leadership training programs.  Why is it important for organizations to identify and nurture high-potential talent to develop strong future leaders?

High-potential talent is the lifeblood of every organization.  When seasoned veterans leave the organization, you must transfuse their energy and passion into these future leaders before it is lost.  Talent transition takes time, and you must invest heavily, early, and often in coaching and mentoring with your future leaders.  Your return on investment will astound you!  One of the key leadership traits you can instill in your future leaders is to have true sense of what legacy they want to leave when they are asked to mentor and coach the next generation of leaders.



Courses taught by Peter Sherriff


ADRN6202 - 010 - Communicating in Conflict

LEAD6255 - 009 - Problem-Solving, Decision-Making and Creativity

SPRK1024 - 001 - The Power of Strategic Questions