Federal Spotlight: Pamela Thompson
Federal Spotlight: Pamela Thompson, Senior Advisor, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Here is our Federal Spotlight interview:
MC: How long have you been in Federal service and what is your main responsibility in your role today?
PT: I started my Federal service when I joined the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in February 2014. Prior to joining CFPB, I worked for The MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit company that operates multiple Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs). However, I spent the majority of my career working for Federal government contractors as a Human Resources executive. In addition, I have worked as an independent contractor for NASA, DHS, VA, OPM, and U.S. Postal Service, providing executive coaching, training, and other human resources services.
In my four years at CFPB, I’ve had the good fortune to serve in three roles: Chief of Staff to the Chief Operating Officer, Sr. Organizational Culture Advisor in the Director’s Front Office, and in my current role as Senior Advisor in the Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending (SEFL) Division. Today, I am responsible for overseeing SEFL’s general operations and employee engagement functions (e.g., human capital strategy, communication, culture, diversity and inclusion) applying change management and organization development methods and tools.
MC: What keeps you motivated and passionate to stay in the public sector?
PT: I am a second generation native Washingtonian and my first job was with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as a part-time clerk/typist in the Accounting Division. I left NRC after graduating high school to attend college. Following college graduation, I worked with government contractors on contracts that fulfilled my desire to serve the public. One contract I was proud to support was with the Department of Labor processing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for students. Another contract was with The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services educating and answering senior citizens’ questions about the Medicare program and their benefits.
My passion and life purpose is helping organizations and people develop. At this point in my career, my professional priorities have shifted and doing meaningful work is at the top of the list. The problems in our world are even more pressing today and the opportunities to grow and add value are plentiful in the public sector. Working for an agency that educates and empowers consumers to make better informed financial decisions and gives me opportunities to help the agency and people develop, keeps me motivated, passionate, and committed.
MC: What is one of your biggest achievements?
PT: One of my biggest achievements that still gives me goose bumps today was working on a contract to federalize the U.S. airport passenger screeners after September 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 people lost their lives. In November 2001, President Bush signed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act into law, resulting in establishment of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). I had the honor to lead the recruitment of recruiters across the U.S. who helped TSA recruit the first Federal officials to conduct passenger screening and baggage checks in all of the U.S. airports. We had 100 days in which to get it done. We worked around the clock. Whenever we felt exhaustion, remembering the 3,000 people fueled us to persevere to achieve our mission.
MC: What advice would you share with the next generation of leaders on entering government?
PT: My advice to the next generation of leaders is simple. Pay attention and make note of what energizes you and what drains you. Maximize your energizers and minimize your drainers. When you’re working for an agency where the mission and the work energizes you, you will better understand your life purpose inspiring you to do your best work, learn everything you can, and partner with your colleagues to serve the public.
Public sector service is important now more than ever. Uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity abound. The world is getting smaller as a result of technology and issues are escalating in our country. The public sector needs the next generation of leaders who will bring enthusiasm and optimism and who will challenge the status quo to navigate the uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.
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