Federal Spotlight: Rebecca Ayers
MC: How long have you been in Federal Service and what is your main responsibility in your role today?
RA: I was fortunate to join the Federal government through the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program in 2003. In fact, we were the last class from when it was called the Presidential Management Intern program. My entire career has been with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and in the division that provides reimbursable services to other agencies. Today I get to work with some of the best and brightest in the Federal government from the comfort of my home in Raleigh, North Carolina. I manage a geographically diverse team of HR Consultants who provide performance management and strategic planning services to other agencies. I am also the program manager for USA Performance, OPM’s automated performance management system. Every day we work with different Federal agencies to address individual and organizational performance matters necessary to properly create and sustain a healthy and effective results-oriented culture.
MC: What keeps you motivated and passionate to stay in the public sector?
RA: Foremost, I am motivated by the knowledge that our work at OPM makes people and agencies even better, and better able to meet their missions. We bring real change. Some days I can’t believe I have the opportunity to shape and transform how agencies manage performance. I have an Outlook folder full of emails from customer agencies exclaiming, “You made a significant improvement to our agency,” or “You have helped us with performance management problems we have had for so long.” Second, I get to be associated with other men and women to share my motivation and passion for public service. The Federal government is full of hardworking, smart men and women who care about our country and have made a career serving the American public.
MC: What is one of your biggest achievements?
RA: Leading the program to develop an HR IT system (USA Performance) that will revolutionize how individual performance is managed across the Federal government. We are taking a key human resources function into the 21st Century with technology that streamlines the process, increases transparency, ensures accountability, and ultimately saves agencies millions of dollars. USA Performance offers agencies a cost-effective and federalized solution to move away from the paper process to an integrated automated system to manage individual employee performance. Leading the development also opened up a completely new career path for me in information technology and innovation.
MC: What advice would you share on making public service a career and not a pit stop?
RA: There are so many diverse careers in the Federal government and yet they all ultimately serve the same mission and purpose: to serve the American people. If you are driven by public service motivation, there is no better place to find a fulfilling career – not just a job –than the Federal government. Change does not happen overnight in the public sector, if you want to be a change agent and be part of a bigger transformation effort that impacts the public, you have to stick with it. In my type of work I’ve had opportunities to do similar work for private sector companies working for the government, but I do not want to be on the outside looking in. You lead change from the inside.
MC: What advice would you share with young people on entering government?
RA: Find an agency, office, or position where you are passionate about their mission or the work at hand and it will never feel like a job. Don’t focus on the promotions or job status; find the opportunities and challenging work that excites you. Advancements will come in your career if you concentrate on doing your best in the work that motivates you.
*Answers reflect Rebecca’s own personal views and do not reflect those in her official capacity.
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