Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs
Neil Desai is Director, Corporate Affairs with Magnet Forensics, a software company in Waterloo, Ontario that provides digital forensic tools to police and security agencies around the world.
He previously served as Chief of Staff to the Minister of International Development (Canada). He was appointed by the Minister and Prime Minister in 2011 and was successfully re-appointed to the post in 2012. Neil led a team providing strategic advice on policy, communications, grants totalling $3-billion annually, operations, stakeholder and parliamentary affairs to the Minister on Canada’s international development portfolio and other Government of Canada priorities. He put forward and led the implementation of a transformative agenda for the Canadian International Development Agency that included private sector led development initiatives and the merger with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He was named one of the top Canadians influencing Canadian foreign policy by Embassy Magazine and one of the top 99 young foreign policy professionals by the US-based Diplomatic Courier magazine.
Prior to his return to the Government of Canada, Neil served as a Director at the Munk School of Global Affairs located at the University of Toronto. In this role, he supported the development of the school’s research agenda and public affairs efforts. He led practical workshops on international affairs for students in the school’s signature, Masters of Global Affairs program. He also directed various research projects on behalf of the school.
Previously, Neil served with the Government of Canada as Manager, Strategic Initiatives and Stakeholder Relations to the Prime Minister of Canada from 2007-2010. In this capacity, Neil led projects on behalf of, and provided political advice to, the PM on issues pertaining to foreign affairs, immigration, international trade and competitiveness.
Neil is a Fellow with the Canadian Defense and Foreign Affairs Institute and the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. He is also an occasional contributor to the Globe and Mail’s editorial page. He holds a master’s degree in international political economy from the London School of Economics and a bachelor’s degree with honours from Carleton University.