1. How long have you worked at the Department of the Interior? What is your current position?
I have been with the US Department of the Interior for 6 years, and I am currently the Associate Director of the Professional Development Program Management Office.
2. What is your quick background before coming to the Department of the Interior?
I worked for several corporate tech companies before the burst of the Dot-com bubble. In 2002, I joined the federal service as a P/PM professional for several federal IT contractors. For the majority of my 19 years in the government, I have served on acquisition-based projects and programs as an IT Project Manager, senior-level COR, Program Analyst, or Regulations Analyst for the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Transportation.
3. What is are major efforts your agency is currently working on?
We are currently engaged in major efforts related to offering professional development to advance justice and equity and establishing a learning environment that honors diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. We are also involved in the ongoing efforts to implement the FAI CSOD system and the Program Management Improvement Accountability Act.
4. Tell us about one of your biggest successes achieved by you/your team/agency.
To integrate and streamline the professional development of over 10,000 members of Interior’s acquisition workforce (AWF), I led the establishment of the Interior Acquisition Institute (IAI) under DOI University in 2016. Due to the diligence and hard work of the DOIU learning center and program staff in 3 satellite locations (DC, Denver, and Albuquerque), we continue to deliver a robust catalog of learning and development for any federal employee who desires to obtain or maintain a federal acquisition certification or who wants to acquire competencies to perform successfully on a federal acquisition team (Contracting, COR, P/PM). The IAI also provides support to our agency’s leaders including the Acquisition Career Manager, the Program Management Improvement Officer, and the Chief Learning Officer. It has been very rewarding to contribute to the development of a capable, skilled, and high-performing federal AWF.
5. What is the biggest challenge in your position supporting the AWF?
The biggest challenge in my position supporting the AWF is resources. We all are doing important work so financial and human resources must be identified, prioritized, and strategically allocated. Regardless of the resources that we have, we must also respond to the priorities of the current Administration. These changes and decisions are the nature of federal government work. Recently, I have utilized resources like OPM’s Open Opportunities and DOI Career Connection portal to fill gaps in staff resources while providing professional development opportunities.
6. What skills do you think are most critical to successfully perform your job?
The foundation of my job performance is program management and service delivery leadership which requires business acumen and critical thinking mastery. I possess the technical skills to accomplish my job, but job skills related to people, relationships, and building coalitions are the most critical. Skills such as communication, political savvy, emotional intelligence, conflict management, entrepreneurship, strategic vision, and identity leadership have been key to developing the network and relationships that serve as the foundation for effective job performance and a successful career.
7. What words of wisdom would you offer to your fellow acquisition career managers (ACM) or the acquisition workforce?
To fellow AWF: First, the acquisition workforce has one of the most perpetually critical jobs in the federal government. We are stewards of taxpayer dollars by ensuring that services and products are delivered to Americans within scope, on time, and within budget. Second, to assist with requirements development, estimating costs, and measuring performance, the Contracting team should ensure that Program/Project Managers are identified and appropriately engaged early on. Program/Project Managers should team up with the Contracting team on acquisition planning and market research. Finally, ongoing professional development will provide all members of the acquisition workforce with the competencies needed to effectively perform their roles on the acquisition team.
To P/PMs: The skills, competencies, and experience that we have obtained as acquisition workforce members gives us an opening to many career paths including senior executive leadership. As the federal government is looking to identify and define what the future of work will be, take the opportunity to participate or lead many of the agency-wide and federal-wide workgroups, communities, and councils. P/PM professionals will have the expertise necessary to lead agencies through the technology, digital skills, and innovations of the future federal government.
To all federal workers: Work from a place of kindness, respect, ethics, resilience, and flexibility. Be generous with sharing your knowledge, skills, and experience. You will enjoy your federal career and you will unknowingly inspire others which will contribute to a legacy of learning and a culture of excellence.