What are the biggest day-to-day challenges?
My biggest challenge is figuring out how to balance the tight resources for accomplishing our mission. We had a buyout recently and lost about 15 percent of our staff across the board. That presents its own set of challenges. We want to make sure that we satisfy our customers. Before we offered the buyout, we made a workforce plan, looking at the entire organization and asking, “What if we lost 15 percent of our staff?” Every day now we continue to balance our resources to accomplish the mission. We are transforming ourselves to be a digital-information platform and provider of secure credentials. It’s important to make sure our employees have opportunities to train in those skill sets. I’m in constant communication and collaboration with our business leaders and our labor union leaders.
What experience was essential to making you the leader you are today?
In the private sector, in the early part of my career,I worked on the strategic side of the house, in market research and product development. I then asked for an opportunity to move to operations. Everyday, I find myself using those strategic and operational skill sets, and I firmly believe it’s made me a better leader. It is a good foundation to be able to understand what’s going on in your operation, analyze information, make quick decisions and synthesize the data.
Are there individuals you’ve looked to as role models?
I’ve had good managers who could sit and listen to what someone had to say. They would process information and make important decisions based on information they had gathered. They made mountains move. I’ve tried hard to pattern my leadership style after them. They had the ability to make anybody, regardless of grade level or rank, understand that what they said was important. They gave their full attention. A lot of times, in meetings now, we’re supposed to be listening but we’re on our Blackberrys or writing a note. These powerful people found the time to listen quietly. You never know who has the good idea. You never want to stop the flow of information coming to you.
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