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Spotlight on Commerce: Ellen Herbst, Senior Adviser to the Deputy Secretary

Ellen Herbst, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

As Senior Adviser to the Deputy Secretary, I support accomplishment of the mission of all of our operating units.  My job requires a combination of problem-solving, coordinating across bureaus and offices, and connecting people to the resources they need to successfully deliver results to the American people.

Much of the time, this involves working to improve the way we do things–how to be more effective and efficient in our processes-and measuring our progress towards our goals. The work is always interesting because I get to work with very dedicated people who deliver results across the broad portfolio of the Commerce Department. The people of the Department of Commerce are delivering results in areas as diverse as supporting the growth of regional economic clusters; managing grants to build broadband networks; providing severe weather warnings earlier than ever before; delivering cutting edge measurement science and protecting our business’ intellectual property.

I have been working for 32 years and have been very fortunate in my career. My good fortune started with parents who supported all three of their daughters by setting high standards; by instilling a strong work ethic, perseverance and a “can do” attitude and by teaching us to live by the Golden Rule. I was fortunate to enjoy the process of learning and receive a wonderful formal education. And finally, I have been fortunate in the support of many mentors, both formal and informal, throughout my career.

I have learned there is no substitute for hard work, preparation and perseverance. The person who is more prepared and more passionate will succeed more often than not.  Have a strong sense of your own brand–what are your unique talents and attributes that can make a difference. Maintain a strong sense of your own worth. Remember Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

Over 32 years, I have learned that there is tremendous value and satisfaction in tackling the challenges others shied away from and in focusing on the most important goals. There is additional risk in a career path built on solving problems, but there is also tremendous reward. The first 25 years of my career were spent in the private sector working for a variety of companies in finance, operations, sales, marketing, customer service and business management. I joined the Federal Government because I wanted to have a more direct impact on helping others. After seven years with the Department of Commerce, I can confirm that achieving results for the American people is both more challenging and more rewarding than anything I accomplished in the private sector. I encourage everyone with a desire to have a positive impact on our country to seriously consider a career in public service.

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Kudos to you!

Ellen, all those that have come under your leadership and those whose lives you have touched, are better people because of your care and concern.

so proud of you

I was thinking of my friends from waaay back. You all mean so much to me still. Congratulations on your post. Thank you for doing what you do!!! ~your friend Heather