Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.
Guest blog post by Lisa Casias, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Department of Commerce
As the Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Director for Financial Management, I work with all of the bureaus CFOs and financial management teams to provide support to the Department’s program managers in meeting their missions. As a community we ensure that we meet the many requirements of the federal government’s financial reporting mandates, maintain robust internal control environments, and maintain the systems to produce financial information. Perhaps, the most important aspect of our work is to ensure program managers have the information needed for decision making. I am also responsible for the Office of Secretary’s budget operations and most recently the travel, fleet and personal property offices.
I have worked in the Department for over 22 years in both the Office of Secretary and Office of Inspector General. I have held different positions within these organizations and added new areas to my portfolio over that time. While some choose career paths that cross into many federal agencies, the opportunities to continually learn new things and ability to work with outstanding financial and administrative communities have kept me in the Department.
One of the most interesting aspects in working at the Department level is the ability to engage with all of the bureaus and learn their missions as we support their financial management needs. As demonstrated in the Department’s Strategic Plan, the Department plays a critical role in the nation’s economy and the financial and administrative management communities are an integral part of mission success.
I attribute my ability to follow my dreams (yes, I always wanted to be an accountant) and my career successes to the support of my parents. I grew up in Dumont, New Jersey where my parents had migrated from England. They taught by example instilling in both my sister and me the importance of having strong work ethic, integrity and belief in oneself. They stayed in the United States as they believed we would have more opportunities to achieve our dreams, including obtaining a college education. We were the first in our family to graduate from college.
I have learned that strong work ethic, integrity and taking charge of your own destiny are key factors in anyone’s success. Throughout my career I sought out both informal and formal mentor relationships. Seeking developmental opportunities outside of the Department also provided me with new learning experiences. I joined the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) early in my career, served as the Washington D.C. Chapter president (2005) and later the National President of the AGA (2010). These experiences provided me opportunities to enhance both my personal and professional skills, a network of peers across the government, and the opportunity to make a difference in the larger financial management community.
Of course, to be successful in life there needs to be a good balance between career and personal life. I have a wonderful husband Don and two boys, Michael and Matthew who have supported me in reaching my goals. This included my personal goal of climbing Mount Washington in New Hampshire last summer. Without the team effort of the boys motivating and leading the way I would not have made it!
Throughout my career I have always believed teamwork plays a key role in whether or not a goal would be reached. Over the years I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the most passionate, hardworking, dedicated and brilliant individuals in the field of financial management. While we may not have climbed an actual mountain together, the financial management community’s ability to partner across the bureaus and dedication of all the staff has resulted in many successes.