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Spotlight on Commerce: David Ziaya, Chief Administrative Officer U.S. Census Bureau

Blog post by David Ziaya, Chief Administrative Officer U.S. Census Bureau

My name is David Ziaya and I am currently the Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. Census Bureau. I am a first-generation professional from a small, rural-based community of roughly 1,400 people in Michigan.

Going to college was always the plan for me although my family couldn’t afford it. I earned some scholarships as the Salutatorian of my class and the scholarships covered about half of my room and board and tuition, so I supplemented my financial aid with a work-study program. Having to balance work and school helped me develop a strong work ethic and a determination to succeed.

After college, I had numerous unsuccessful interviews for the HUD Intern Program but was hired under the Outstanding Scholars program. When I wasn’t hired under the intern program, at times, I felt inadequate and inferior to the HUD Interns since I didn’t graduate from an Ivy League school or have previous Federal government or private sector experience like most others in the program. However, I made it my job to get to know the interns and learn from them as well as make myself known and visible to management and my colleagues. 

In the Federal government, I was provided with job training and leadership experience that I’ve used throughout my career. Over the years, I learned time management skills and how to develop social networks that I believe are critical towards having a successful career. 

I believe that my parent’s work ethic and sacrifices were significant influencing factors on who I am today and contributed to how I successfully navigate the workplace culture through observation, commitment and being genuine to my colleagues and the mission at hand.

Ed. note: This post is part of the very first Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of the Department of Commerce employees who are First Generation Professionals. First Generation Professionals are one of the first in their immediate families to enter the professional work environment. They are professionals with varying socio-economic backgrounds, life experiences, skills and talents that diversify our workforce.

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