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Feature: Interview with Captain Stacey Noem, U.S. Marine Corps
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Military branch of service and rank
U.S. Naval Academy class of 1987, U.S. Marine Corps, Captain

Was there an experience at FEI that was particularly transformative for you? What was the most valuable lesson you learned from this experience?
In general, I think that being broken down into our LDTs and getting to know each person on the team on a personal level first before we delved into anything work/leadership related allowed for us to ultimately get constructive feedback without feeling judged.

As a military person, you have probably had experiences that most Federal workers would never have. How do you incorporate that into your Federal work? 
There is a difference between leading and managing/supervising. I had the opportunity to lead Marines during my time on active duty. I work very hard to lead my staff and not just manage them. By that I mean trying to empower them, leveraging their strengths, and helping them strengthen any weaknesses they have.

You have been in several leadership positions for most of your career. Can you share what is the best leadership advice that you ever received?
I’ve received a lot of good advice over the years, so it’s hard to pick just one leadership nugget, but I would have to say taking care of your people and never putting yourself above them—by that I mean always being willing to do the grunt work with them and not just watch by the sidelines.

How would you describe your leadership style?
I am pretty easygoing, yet I always ensure my staff knows what is expected of them. I don’t wait until the midyear to counsel my staff. I believe it’s better to course correct right when I see something because it provides the opportunity for improvement. I don’t like to be blindsided, so I try not to ever blindside my staff.

What do you think are the biggest challenges for Federal Government leaders today?
One challenge is overcoming the incorrect view that civil servants aren’t really working hard, that they’re just working for the “Government” and they have it easy. Our Federal workforce does some truly amazing things. Another challenge for Federal leaders is having those few employees who prefer to file grievance after grievance, and instead of the serial grievance filer being held accountable for filing unsubstantiated grievances, the Federal leader (a) spends an inordinate amount of time dealing with disgruntled employee issues and less time on the important work and (b) continues to face additional grievances for retaliation for anything/everything they do once someone has filed a grievance. Too often the organization finds it easier and cheaper to settle a case instead of dealing with the issue at hand. And it has an impact on the other employees when they see the disgruntled folks getting a pay-out.

What was the last book you read?
The Reason for God (still reading it).

What are you listening to these days? What is on your iPod?
Today’s hits.

What is one piece of technology you can’t live without?
My phone.

If you were queen/king for a day with an endless pot of money what one thing would you want to fix/change in the Federal workforce? Why?
I would like to see all levels of management be held accountable. I don’t know if that means additional training or if it means gutting it and starting over. Why? Because I feel like that is one of the biggest problems in the Federal Government—not just in my organization, but government-wide.


As chief of the Safety and Incident Investigations Division within the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), Stacey Noem is responsible for the development and implementation of a national investigations program that provides consistency to BSEE’s investigative process when incidents occur offshore on the Outer Continental Shelf. She has been an investigator for over 20 years. Ms. Noem spent over 16 years as a criminal investigator with Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, and she has been working with BSEE for six years overseeing a staff of investigators and training others within BSEE on conducting incident investigations. 

Ms. Noem earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physical science from the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps upon graduation.

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