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Posted by on Sep 30, 2015

Ask the CHCO: SBA’s Bridget Bean

Ask the CHCO: SBA’s Bridget Bean

When you hear the term “Main Street” it characteristically conjures up the image of a retail hub in a small town where residents shop and socialize about the day’s events. Whether in a small town or a larger city, with several Main Streets, historically the term denotes a brick and mortar location of small businesses.

Today, businesses are as diverse in presence as the entrepreneurs who have established and run them; and SBA is committed to have its workforce be reflective of that diversity.

Here are four things SBA is doing well, through the direction of the Chief Human Capital Officer, Bridget Bean, who states that her job is to get the “right people in the right jobs with the right skills and at the right time.”

SBA CHCO Bridget Bean has taken a diverse approach to the recruitment, professional development, retention and engagement, and succession planning for the individuals that make up the SBA and serve the entrepreneurs on Main Street. One underlying and important focus is inclusiveness of the workforce.


The U.S. Small Business Administration has cast their net to attract talent as diverse as the entrepreneurs they serve. The net is cast on military hiring and specifically Veterans. There is research to support Veteran success as entrepreneurs due to their unique and extensive military training. The reach extends to the disability community, The Peace Corps, and professional organizations to connect with those with industry-specific skills, such as accounting. The SBA is also committed to getting the word out via social media and word-of-mouth.

Professional Development

It’s a rare yet progressive day when an organization recognizes the valuable relationship between development and retention. “If we want to retain talent, we have to continue to develop them,” Bean positions.

The SBA has taken a holistic view of development which commences with a training needs analysis of the organization: current skills vs. needed skills and the identification of the needed focus area. The SBA creates opportunities to develop through instructor-led and online training initiatives and other programmatic opportunities such as book clubs, shadowing, position assignments, and the very successful President’s Management Fellows Program (PMF). The PMF two-year at-large cohort training program is well respected and regarded.

Retention and Engagement

“Is there something I can do to get you to stay?” is the question that may be asked of SBA employees considering an external position, but who are great at what they do. With 68 District and 10 Regional offices, the SBA is sure to find an opportunity to retain the institutional knowledge of the workforce, while offering an employee an opportunity to continue to expand theirs, a win-win in Bean’s book.

As CHCO with a professional career that’s extended 27 years within SBA, Bean has seized the numerous opportunities to learn and explore the various facets of the organization though multiple lenses from field office to headquarters; and she encourages others to engage and discover what is available to them.

The SBA is an organization of low employee turnover and through many of their human capital practices they are making the SBA an employer of choice where people want to come, work, and stay.

Succession Planning

Few organizations plan for succession. More often, organizations leave the next generation of leadership up for chance, often missing valuable opportunities to adequately prepare leaders for tomorrow. Oftentimes the bulk of institutional knowledge exists as employees retire or simply find their next positon of choice. Succession is the lens in which we assess the current talent capacity against the organization of tomorrow. Through extensive workforce planning and analysis, hiring managers at SBA are asked to assess the need of the position not only for today, but in the years to come.

As SBA gets the people component right under the direction of Bridget Bean, they can ensure their customers, “Main Street” entrepreneurs, are receiving the aid, counsel, assistance, and protection critical to America’s economy and future.

Like our “Ask the CHCO” series? Stay tuned for our “Federal Spotlight” series coming soon!

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