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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Remarks by Former Deputy Secretary W. Scott Gould

MyCareer@VA Program Launch
October 25, 2011

Welcome to the official launch of MyCareer@VA, the latest in a succession of exciting initiatives that invests in the DNA of our department—our people, all 314,000 of them!

VA employees, and the programs that support them, is a cause that is among my top priorities as chief operating officer. Because when we talk about government—or any organization, public or private—we are talking about more than systems, assets, technology, policies, or money—mission-critical though they may be.

At the end of the day, people are our most valuable resource.

From Central Office, here in Washington, to our most remote facilities in Alaska, they bring programs and services to life, every day, for the Veterans and families who come to us.

Imagine, if you will, a GS-9 voc rehab specialist, meeting with a Veteran who is coming to grips with a recent life-altering injury. The door closes, and it's just the two of them in a one-on-one discussion. A thought flashes through the specialist's mind, I'm not sure what to do … what to say. This person is counting on me.

Think of the responsibility we are placing on that employee.

Or a GS-13 nurse in charge of a shift in the OR. The surgeon is in the chest cavity of a patient. Vitals look good. The doctor asks for a re-useable device, but the nurse notices something is wrong with it and speaks up.

Those are big responsibilities.

And because they are, Assistant Secretary Sepulveda and Team HR have developed an array of tools, training, and resources needed to help you and your colleagues get the job done.

Not only the job you may have today … but the job you may want tomorrow.

We can look to our ADVANCE initiative—transforming potential into performance in support of 60 initiatives, each designed to support overall transformation of VA, including:

  • VA's Learning University—with its full complement of tiered courses and programs.

  • Our Change Academy—generating innovative solutions from their front lines.

  • The HR Academy—a training ground for strategic consulting across HR functions.

  • Our Talent Management System Training with its state-of-the-art online interface.

  • And for those aiming for the top—our Office of Corporate Senior Executive Management, providing the full scope of centralized services for effective executive management.
  • .

MyCareer@VA is the latest addition to our line-up of HR initiatives.

It's a one-stop portal with all the tools and information that will change the way you and your colleagues manage your long-term VA careers … and it's unlike anything VA has seen in the past.

It will help prepare you, and empower you, to be the very best you can be. Veterans deserve no less. Everyone from Secretary Shinseki to your immediate supervisor wants to maximize your professional potential so that, in turn, you can help realize the full potential of VA's noble mission.

There's a saying about good preparation. It goes like this: Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.

Those words sum up what MyCareer@VA is all about.

It's about investing in yourself now, and understanding more about VA now, so that you have the skills and knowledge you need to achieve your short-, mid-, and long-term career goals.

We all have to adjust to the ups and downs of life and, in turn, adjust our careers accordingly. Sometimes we can step up to new career opportunities; sometimes we need to step aside; and sometimes we need to step back to meet our personal responsibilities.

MyCareer@VA is a matrix that can help achieve work-life balance. It was created by today's subject matter experts to clearly show what you need to know for a particular job and, as important, how to learn it.

The fact is studies have shown that there is a direct link between an organization's investment in its employees and that agency's optimal performance.

Toward that end, VA has put its money on the table. This year, we've invested a record $300 million in HR programs—$200 million in training alone. We are finalizing our return-on-investment analysis to complete our business case for training and development.

Our department's strategic management agenda calls for increasing employee satisfaction—your satisfaction—with the support services that help improve on-the-job performance. And also optimize the opportunities available to you in terms of career growth and advancement.

Secretary Shinseki and I want to make VA the federal government's employer of choice. We're sparing no effort in the drive to make that happen—and we're meeting with success. VA was recently rated first among federal agencies in job satisfaction by employees under 30 years of age.

Thanks to Assistant Secretary Sepulveda, we've laid a rock-solid foundation to support our employees, and we're continuing to broaden and enrich the human resources landscape with cutting-edge programs and practices.

It all comes down to this: We not only want our employees to have a passion for what they do, we want them to make a difference in the lives of Veterans by playing to their individual strengths.

We want to give every VA employee the opportunity to:

  • Fully develop their personal array of skills, abilities, and competencies.

  • Broaden their horizon of career possibilities.

  • Gain new knowledge about VA's many component organizations—their missions, hiring requirements, and geographic locations.

  • We want our employees to use their strengths, interests, and knowledge to chart a long-term VA career path, and effectively leverage that knowledge and know-how to build a better VA for Veterans.

MyCareer@VA is a clearly-marked, direct roadmap to the future—your future and the future of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

There's only one thing missing—your initiative and determination to use the system to advance your career at VA. We want your talent for the long-term.

On behalf of Secretary Shinseki, I encourage employees everywhere—from Maine to Manila—to take advantage of this innovative, user-friendly, online career gateway.

So get to it. Ask your supervisor about it. Dream. Make a plan. Act.

In closing, let me share an observation that has stood the test of time. Written two thousand years ago, it offers us this advice: Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

It's my hope that every VA employee will access and use the MyCareer portal, and prepare to successfully meet the array of VA opportunities that are out there. And, in doing so, create your own luck in reaching your personal career goals.

Thank you, all.