YGL-LA: Maximizing Your Early Years – From NextGen to SES

Thanks again to everyone who attended our session at NextGen, Maximizing Your Early Years: From NextGen to SES. It was a packed room of 200+ aspiring government leaders! Here is a brief summary for those who could not attend, along with the mentioned training and development resources to continue your NextGen journey throughout the year.

The session had a panel of serious government rock stars:

YGL’s very own Tyler Robinson was our Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) representative and current Financial Modeling Specialist for the Export Import Bank of the United States. Tyler shared his young professional journey that jumped around between public and private sectors before deciding on graduate school, taking the advice of a mentor and entering into the prestigious PMF program (never too late as PMF eligibility is two years upon completion of a graduate degree). As director of the YGL Institute for Public Policy, Tyler also promoted YGL’s new relationship with the Senior Executive Association (SEA) and the mentoring pilot program between SEA and YGL. The program matches YGL members with SES members of the Association – what a way to bridge the divide! Check www.younggov.org for progress of the YGL mentor pilot and when new spots will be opening. Find out more about the PMF program here: www.pmf.gov

Claire Thurston, Program Manager, from OPM’s Western Management Development Center discussed what influenced her when creating the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) certificate program for federal employees – a personally weak onboarding process and no career direction or assistance when she was a young government employee. Claire also shared her PMF experience from back in the day, demanding we take advantage of any freedom to personally direct our careers. The LEAD program is the only formal training program that provides government employees a defined and federally recognized pathway throughout a career – Project/Team Lead, Supervisor, Manager, Executive (SES). It is gaining momentum amongst federal agencies and may soon be seen as necessary when promoting in government. Learn more and get started here: OPM Leadership Development & Training.

Our SES representative was Eric Velez-Villar, Assistant Director of Intelligence at the FBI and recent 2012 Presidential Rank Award recipient – the nation’s highest civil service award. All eyes were on AD Velez as an SES member just recently recognized by the President for his contribution to better government, or maybe it was the visible gun strapped to his ankle that got our NextGen attention! The award was a surprise and he even overlooked the initial email as not important, prompting a second email from the White House! AD Velez believes his work philosophy brought him the attention – “don’t see work as work, see it as a platform to create.” AD Velez also asked our generation to “slow down,” sharing his recent journey of town halls across the country for the FBI, but it was not enough to satisfy the need for information from his younger employees. Hard work will always be recognized in government. Focus on that.

Special thanks to the YGL-Philadelphia president, Sean Henry, for managing the session with me. See ya next year!


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Scott Thomas

Great session! And great job hosting it as well!

For me, one of the key reocmmendations from AD Velez-Villar is to expand the boundaries of your job. That’s how senior leadership recognizes your potential.