Resilience: Millennials on the Rise

On October 19, 2017, Management Concepts participated in a professional development series with the Young Government Leaders (YGL) and Blacks In Government NOW Generation (BIG-NOW). We have been joining forces to create educational networking events to increase the participation and engagement of underrepresented Tim and Toniagroups within public service.  This breakfast event was held in Washington DC and included a dynamic keynote speaker followed by panelists who told compelling personal stories about how they have succeeded in their careers while sharing thoughtful career advice to those in attendance.

The keynote speaker was Chad Sheridan, Chief Information Officer at the USDA Risk Management Agency.  Chad shared some life lessons learned through his various career experiences which helped him become a more resilient person.  For example, early in his military career he learned no one was going to save him when things went wrong, and that resilience is critical to helping him overcome obstacles.  Chad SheridanHe also advised that when someone you respect offers you an opportunity, you must say “yes” even if you have no idea how to do the job; he admitted it was the best thing that ever happened to him.  As a leader, he has learned that you must believe in the people you hire, trust them to do a good job, admit when you are wrong and give others permission to be wrong. He concluded with telling the audience to be open to learning, show curiosity and don’t be locked into one mental model.

Following Chad’s engaging talk, Tim Bowden (General Manager of People and Performance Consulting at Management Concepts) was introduced as the moderator and asked the panel members to introduce themselves by talking about their current role along with their favorite books/blogs for developing leadership capabilities. The panelists included:

  • Melody Bell, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Leland Boyd, Branch Chief, Benefits, Performance & Compensation, USDA Departmental Management Office of Human Resources Management
  • Tinisha Agramonte, Director, Office of Civil Rights, U.S Department of Commerce
  • Minette C. Galindo, MPA, Public Health Advisor, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Tim Bowden then led the panelists through four questions before holding a Q&A session with the audience.  Here’s our paraphrased collection of the best advice and perspectives shared at the event:

What advice would you offer young government workers who feel like they can’t get ahead?

Tinisha: Attitude determines altitude – you need to be able to change the way you look at things.  Are you working for a purpose or a paycheck?  Sometimes you have to check your ego at the door and show humility for there is always room for development.

Minette: Be open to mobility and doing something new and different so you can re-brand yourself.  Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.  Learn something new every day and give back to your community.

Can you share what approaches you’ve used to “manage up” or lead from a more junior position in the organization?

Leland:  Be innovative and don’t be afraid to give your opinion or point of view.  And it is most important to make your customers happy.

Tinisha: Speak the boss’ language and constantly be aware of the national priorities and public sentiment.  Also think about everything right regarding an idea instead of everything wrong with the idea.

What advice would you offer to younger workers who may be in an agency that is going through a reorganization that my impact or displace their position?

Melody:  If you are not being used, you’re not useful so you need to find out what makes you unique and what are you good at.  Know yourself and how it fits into the ideas of the agency in which you work.

Tinisha:  Be relevant and build relationships.  Seek to find mentors and sponsors who will be able to speak on your behalf.

Leland: Don’t be afraid of change and don’t live in fear.  Instead stay focused and stay positive.

Minette: Remember that there is always opportunity in times of chaos and crisis.

Tim then invited the audience to ask questions of the panelists.  The first question was about how best to manage your finances as a government employee.  A panelist recommended that everyone contribute the maximum amount to their TSP and look at the importance of life insurance.  She also said to continue to contribute more into the savings accounts as you grow in your career and seek the advice of a financial counselor.

HandshakeThe second question dealt with mentorship.  The panelists advised the audience members to identify the goals and objectives they want to achieve and share them with their mentor.  They also said it was important to be receptive to learning from mentors, have specific questions to ask and be respectful of the mentor’s time.  Lastly, they said to look for a mentor who is diverse from yourself and doesn’t know your manager, so you can feel comfortable talking about work situations.

Whether you’ve started a new role or been at your current position for several years, take advantage of the resources and people who can help you achieve your professional goals. As Minette said, “Be open to mobility and doing something new and different so you can re-brand yourself.”

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