Posted at 1:55 PM
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to the Open for Business Agenda.
Guest blog post by Veronica LeGrande, Human Resources Lead, Shared Services, Office of the Secretary
I was born in Washington, D.C., raised in Maryland, and graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration. I have spent my entire federal career at the DOC – 22 years at Census, administering a variety of HR programs, including talent acquisition, performance management, employee/labor relations, incentive awards, reasonable accommodation, ethics, and diversity management; and 1 year as the Director of the DOC Human Resources Operations Center (DOCHROC) managing the Center’s operations and the delivery of the full range of Human Resources services and programs.
In July 2015, I was appointed to the Department’s Shared Services Initiative’s (SSI) project team to lead the Human Resources (HR) work stream. The SSI will transform the way DOC delivers mission enabling services. The project team is charged with planning, designing and implementing intra-departmental, multi-function shared services operations (HR, Information Technology, Acquisitions, and Financial Management) to the Office of the Secretary and the Commerce’s 12 bureaus. Shared services was recognized by the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and executive leadership to be a proven means of achieving the objective of Operational Excellence, one of the five priority areas of the Department’s Strategic Plan designed to help DOC meet its long term goals and objectives.
With the active support of Commerce’s HR leadership, I have led a team in defining a new integrated HR services delivery model that employs enterprise-wide shared services.
I often get questions and raised eyebrows about why I’ve stayed at one Agency. That’s easy, I have been afforded amazing opportunities at DOC that have provided me with diverse experiences, exposed me to a variety of programs and people across the organization, and enabled me to influence change and the way HR does business. DOC has a great mission and I admire the intelligent and dedicated people – particularly my HR colleagues across the Department - who work hard every day to promote that mission. I have a passion for HR and a commitment to customer excellence - whether it’s delivering innovative and strategic HR solutions to managers and stakeholders to meet their mission or helping an employee with a question about employment or benefits.
My interest in public service came at an early age, from my mother who worked for the federal government her entire career. She and my dad led by example, instilling a strong work ethic, can do attitudes, and commitment to excellence. And when I think about what Black History Month means to me, I reflect on our rich culture and contributions and the integral role family plays in our community. For me, that is the constant source of support and encouragement from loving parents, a cherished husband of almost 14 years, a sister who is a best friend, and a host of relatives and friends who share in trials and triumphs.
When I mentor and advise African Americans and other aspiring HR professionals, I treat them like family, imparting lessons learned, encouraging continuous development, and challenging them to step out of their culture of comfort to stretch themselves. Often times, it is accepting and succeeding at opportunities outside this comfort zone that promote professional growth, launch a career, build confidence, foster relationships, or provide visibility for future assignments. One of my favorite people and mentors has a saying, “timing is everything”. When doors open, I encourage our community to be ready to walk through and position themselves for success. Missed opportunities may not come around again, so consider the timing and seize the moment to shine! (And if you should falter, don’t get discouraged, consider it a learning moment, dust yourself off, and try again.)
I am thrilled to be on the SSI team, performing work that is challenging and exciting, alongside esteemed colleagues, Departmental leaders, and stakeholders internal and external to the Agency. The SSI is charting new territory and like our ancestors who were who trailblazers in their own right, I am proud of this groundbreaking opportunity to be a pioneer in reshaping how DOC delivers HR services.
As you can see I love what I do! It allows me to work with an array of people with varying backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. As Black History month comes to a close and we celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of African Americans, I challenge us all to embrace one another’s uniqueness and promote equal opportunities, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, not just on special emphasis months, but all throughout the year.