This weeks GovLoop member of the week is City Engineer, Pam Broviak who works for the City of LaSalle Illinois. I got a chance to ask her a few questions about working in Civil Service, being a mom of 6, and her thoughts on the Web 2.0 and social media in 2009.
1. Where are you from originally? The short answer is I am originally from LaSalle. However, the longer story is that I was born in Peoria, Ill., to a woman from Cleveland, Ohio. She placed me for adoption with Catholic Social Service, and I was fortunate to have been adopted within a few days by a family in LaSalle.
2. How did you end up in Civil Service? After getting an associate in technology degree in the early 80s, I had a terrible time finding a job – no one was hiring due to the economy. Finally, I was hired by the city of Aurora, Ill., as an engineering technician, first part-time and then full-time. And although I worked for a couple consultants for a few years, most of my work experience has been with public agencies.
3. As City Engineer, what would you say is the most important part of your job? Helping the people in my community either by addressing their concerns or problems, or maintaining the communities assets, or trying to plan for our community’s future.
4. For you personally what would you say is the best part and worst part of your job? The best part is the people and the worst part is the people. I love the folks in my town and trying to help them. But unfortunately a few people can be very unreasonable and difficult to deal with no matter how hard you try. I don’t enjoy getting yelled at or blamed for everything on a regular basis.
5. As a mom of 7 (which warrants a separate interview al together), how do you balance the often-demanding career of working for the city, and being a mom? Well, we have 6 kids aged 6, 8, 10, 13, 14, and 21 (unless you are counting my husband – just kidding). The kids are older now so it is getting a little easier. When they were young, I have to admit it was a little more difficult. Fortunately I had my mom for a while to help with daycare, and then later a local daycare center. I also worked a lot of nights and weekends to stay caught up. A few days, I even took a kid to work – particularly when I needed help surveying. I also have a few great helpers: my husband, my oldest daughter, and my in-laws who are incredible.
6. How do you think your community driven spirit and career path has benefitted your children? Well, I suppose there have been a few benefits. They seem to view the entire city as something for which we are all responsible. As a family we have worked on the weekends pulling weeds and planting bushes and flowers in the parks. My oldest daughter has chosen a career path in engineering although she is in bio-engineering. However, I think it is still too early to know if any of the other children will really be affected significantly by what my husband and I have done. Most days I think the kids actually have more affect on changing and inspiring me than I will ever have on them. I am continually amazed by what they achieve completely on their own.
7. As a fan of Virtual Worlds such as SL, how has it helped you in your job, and how do you hope to see it impact public service as well as other government agencies in the future? My exposure to and participation in virtual worlds has caused significant changes in me. One major benefit has been my exposure to a wide variety of knowledge and computer tools that I otherwise would never have discovered. Several of these I now use at work.
Also, exploring the virtual world and learning to build things has caused me to look at the world around me in a whole new way. Much in the same way our view of the world is changed when we see our small children experience something for the first time. I also have been able to use the building tools to help me better visualize designs.
Finally, the ultimate benefit has been the ability to interact with other people in an environment that has no regard for geographic boundaries, physical appearance, or differences in religion or culture. All of this helps me to better understand my place in the world and how our community fits into all that.
As for impacting public service and government agencies. I really see virtual worlds helping us to better connect much in the same way GovLoop has helped us network. However, in a virtual world, we have the ability to share even more and richer experiences and therefore build stronger relationships. I also see virtual worlds being used as a worthwhile tool for increasing public education and understanding of government and communities.
8. How has GovLoop played a part in your work and career? GovLoop has helped me at work because working for the government can be challenging and frustrating, and sometimes it just helps to know you are not alone. I also feel I have a great resource should any issues at work come up. I view GovLoop as a type of safe haven where I can discuss my ideas and thoughts with other people who, though they might not always agree, would still understand.
9. What are you most excited about for 2009? Right now, I would have to say the meetings and conferences I will be attending to discuss the acceptance and implementation of Web 2.0 and social media in government and public works.
10. What are you reading right now? I seem to always be juggling a group of books, but the one I just finished was Scripting Your World: The Official Guide to Second Life Scripting.
11. What other career path would you have followed if you hadn’t taken this one? I was going to be a psychologist until the dean of engineering talked me out of it.
Thanks so much Pam for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat! Happy New Year!