Federal Spotlight: Melody Bell
Federal Spotlight: Melody Bell, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary (ADAS) Resource Management, Office of Environmental Management. 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?
MB: I have over 33 years between my time in the U.S. Air Force and Department of Energy in management and leadership positions with multi-disciplinary programs in energy, environmental management, and defense programs. Currently I am the Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Resource Management in the Office of Environmental Management (EM). Specifically, I provide leadership and direction in implementing key activities around empowerment, engagement, diversity and inclusion, and continuous improvement to promote positive organizational culture change within EM. Previously I served as the Senior Advisor to the Associate Deputy Secretary (ADS) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). I also served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Business Administration and the Director of Program Execution Support in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at DOE and the Deputy Director of the Office of Transformation for the National Nuclear Security Administration where she assessed and developed policy to enhance and improve effectiveness, utility, and efficiency of the nuclear weapons complex.
I began my career as an Officer in the United States Air Force, where I managed several projects and contracts in support of major Air Force weapon systems. My education achievements include: a Master’s of Science in Environmental Sciences from the Colorado School of Mines, a Masters of Business Administration from Pepperdine University, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering Mechanics from the Air Force Academy.
MC: What keeps you motivated and passionate to stay in the public sector?
MB: As the oldest of 4 children raised by a single-working mom, I have always felt a calling and motivation to pursue a career of service. I wanted to be a role model of service and responsibility. Upon graduation from the Air Force Academy, I began my service career in the Air Force. I enjoyed being part of a dedicated, professional cadre that stood for Duty, Honor and Country. During my Air Force career, I had the opportunity to work on a Hazardous Waste minimization and Pollution Prevention project at Hill AFB. This is when I knew that I wanted to combine my passion for both the environment and national security. After serving for over 8 years, I wanted to continue my love of service, passion for helping others and my community and entered the civil service. DOE Office of Environmental Management and Defense Programs were perfect alignments for interest in public service.
I have learned much in my career progression to SES and as a public servant. In addition, I enjoy mentoring and being a role model for women and girls in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career fields and reinforcing the benefits of being a life-long learner. I am a lifetime member of Girl Scouts and volunteers as a Troop Leader enabling the transformation of girls into leaders. I am also a member of the National Society of Black Engineers.
MC: What is one of your biggest achievements?
MB: I have several, starting with successfully graduating from the Air Force Academy to having a son and adopting a daughter with special needs at birth. However, professionally it would be when I was in the Office of Defense Programs and my supervisor empowered me to lead a team of seasoned engineers, scientists and program managers to develop a Strategic Plan for the Transformation of the Nuclear Weapons complex. Through his guidance and support, he enabled me to lead a very challenging team of diverse experts in the nuclear weapons industry leading to my presentation to the leadership. I received accolades and an award for the strategic development of the plan and resulting presentation. What was satisfying about it was that it was a team effort and the confidence of my supervisor motivated me to succeed.
MC: What advice would you share with the next generation of leaders on entering government?
MB: My advice to the next generation of leaders is based on 5 P’s of professional growth and success:
Perspective – Start by assessing your strengths, weaknesses, motivation and passion? What are your goals and how do you like to spend your “Energy”? Where and how do you want to grow professionally?
Preparation – Next find learning opportunities to reduce your skill and knowledge gaps. Find a mentor, network, open yourself up to opportunities and possibilities. “Luck in where preparation meets opportunity!”
Performance – Then work hard to not just meet expectations but exceed them. Delight your customers, volunteer to support your team members, and consistently go “above and beyond” on deliverables.
Persistence – There will be setbacks and adversity. Do not let them steer you from your goals. Find allies, coaches and others to who will give you advice on how to overcome the barriers. Remain strong, have courage and grit. Use failures as teachable moments
Persevere, persevere, persevere! – And finally, continue to move forward even in the face of difficulty.