How long have you been a FCCMA member and why did you join?
I am a professional engineer and became FCCMA member in 2017. I attended my first conference in 2014 when one of my peers sent me the flyer to “So you want to be a City/County Manager: Taking the next step” workshop. It was the time I was looking for opportunities to make a bigger impact while being able to pay it forward back to the community. Prior to joining, I had been active for years in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and served as Florida Section President, serving more than 7000 members, which proved vital for my continued professional and leadership growth.
Are you an ICMA member, why did you join, and how long have you been a member?
Yes, I joined ICMA in 2015 as an opportunity to be part of a diverse professional association that can help me further my leadership and perspective (soft) skills. ICMA provides you a platform to network with peers, leaders and executives from over the world.
Please describe your areas of formal/advanced education.
I have a diverse educational background, focused on sciences, environmental, engineering and public administration at undergraduate and graduate levels. I am a Gator and Spartan at heart.
Why did you select a career in public service?
Public service is my passion, and I believe it to be a noble calling. For me it could also be because of my family and maybe it’s in my genes. Dad is a decorated army veteran, and my mother pursued her passion in public administration.
Have you always been in the public sector or have you had experience in the private sector?
Growing up I worked in the retail business, and help build a successful small family business while attending school full time. I have 25 years of diverse experience including almost 10 years as an inspector for a small construction company, and as a consultant for a mid-size engineering firm and fortune 500 multi-national corporation like AECOM. Previous public sector experience includes working for agencies like Sarasota County and most recently as Public Works Director for Haines City. Having varied experience, gives you unique perspective and understanding when dealing with competing interests, and how best to offer superior public services to our communities while effectively collaborating with valued partners and stakeholders.
Please tell us about your current position.
Pinellas County is a coastal community and the most densely populated county with 970,000 plus residents in Florida. Currently, I am the Public Works Director and County Engineer, and was appointed to this position last year in September of 2018. The Public Works Department is the largest full service department under County Administration, with about 500 team mates and $110M operating budget. There are six divisions within Public Works, which are Transportation, Stormwater and Vegetation, Environmental Management, Construction, Customer and Technical Services, and Survey and Mapping. The Department provides services in the following areas – transportation infrastructure, traffic management services, stormwater and water resources, operations and maintenance, capital improvement and rehabilitation projects, mosquito control, urban forestry and landscaping services, vegetation and lakes management, coastal management, environmental and ecological services, water and navigation, air and water quality, floodplain management, development reviews, right-of-way use permitting, construction inspection and management, customer and technical services, survey and mapping services, field emergency and debris management, and asset management.
Please describe your typical day.
Typical day includes early morning walk or quick HIIT run and spiritual meditation. I live, play and prefer to raise my family in the community where I work. It makes me understand and get a better pulse on community needs. Family breakfast with my two boys before I leave for work. Depending on the day of the week, sometimes it includes welcoming different civic or youth groups that are visiting Pinellas County and Public Works campus. Several meetings with my executive leadership, operations and project teams, field visits, responding to residents, requests from County Administration and BCC and multiple public administrative tasks. My evenings and weekends typically consist of spending time with family. At the same time I am responsive to emails and teams’ requests that comes in after hours and over weekends.
What is your favorite part of the job?
What we do impacts people’s daily lives in ways. My favorite part of the job is civic engagement, public policy making, infrastructure management and delivering superior public services alongside my high performance team. I think there’s no higher calling in terms of a career than public service, which is a chance to make a difference in people’s lives and serving for greater good of the community.
What is your least favorite part of the job?
I enjoy the diversity of challenges, but rigid public misconceptions by a few about public service concerns me, where as we know many public service jobs are difficult to obtain and highly prestigious.
If you are involved in any volunteer or leadership activities in your community, please share with us a bit about what you do and why it is important to you.
I am an active member of multiple professional and civic associations, and from time to time volunteer to visit schools and youth groups to promote STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) and higher education, as I was fortunate as a young professional to have some great mentors including my mother.
What is your most memorable experience on the job?
Some of my most memorable experiences on the job in my professional career include helping residents with their concerns, and seeing that glow of happiness on their faces once you solve their requests.
What are your hobbies/interests?
My family and spending quality time including outdoor activities with them is my priority. Other than that my hobbies include reading, gym, soccer, biking, motorcycling, nature and watching superheroes movies. Aqua man was the last movie I watched.
If you could give one piece of advice to people interested in a career in public service, what would it be?
Join a professional association like FCCMA, always be open to learning and never hesitate to exchange ideas with peers for help, when you have questions.
Who were your mentors and how have you passed this information down to other aspiring public administrators?
My parents are my most important mentors, they are the reason why I am where I am today. I freely share my experiences with the aspiring leaders in my organization and encourage them to pursue training, networking, and professional development opportunities.
What career would you pick if you were to pick another?
Medical doctor, as they are able to pay it forward through practicing medicine responsibly.
Do you have a story you can share about how being a member of FCCMA has helped you or impacted you in a positive way?
Aspiring public administrators can find wonderful mentors in our organization! Meeting managers from across the state helped me affirm my interest in public policy and governance.