Emerging Leader Spotlight: Adrienne Burch

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Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her to share how she achieved her current position, what obstacles she encountered on her climb, as well as tips for how to be a rising woman of influence.

This month we shine the Emerging Leader Spotlight on Adrienne Burch, who is a Management and Program Analyst in the Office of Civil Rights, Diversity, and Inclusion with USDA APHIS.

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Adrienne Burch with APHIS USDAFavorite Quote:

“You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.” —Mother Teresa

What is the most important thing you have learned that has been critical to your career success?

You are a brand. You have to treat yourself as if you are a company or commodity and as such, you have to nurture, grow, and protect your name and all that is attached to you. Be honest about what your skills and talents are – don’t misrepresent yourself. Lastly, never utter the words, “That’s not in my job description.”

What key steps did you take to get the role you are in today?

I have been fortunate to have had wonderful supervisors for the bulk of my career with a federal agency. I was able to speak freely about my interests and career goals with them. My current position is one I would never have dreamed of and has been my favorite in my 27-year career.

Early in my career, I loved the people I worked with, but I just felt stagnant after being in the same position for 8 years, with no room for growth. At my age (and still not quite feeling as if I had a career) it was depressing to me. I asked my supervisor about opportunities within our agency that would align with my skills, interests, and talents. My first detail lasted 60 days and I barely had any work or projects. I was disappointed and returned to my previous position.

A year later, I had another conversation with a senior leader about classes or training that were available that might help me gain knowledge in the equal opportunity arena. Unbeknownst to me, my supervisor had already spoken to this same senior leader about me!

As a GS-10 Secretary, I had attained highest rank in our organization for that occupation, so my job series and title had to change but my salary had to remain the same. This made the process of reassigning me more difficult. In June 2016, I began a 90-day temporary assignment. Four months after the initial conversation, my position was reassigned to the Office of Civil Rights, Diversity, and Inclusion. Finally, it was official!

What professional accomplishment or result have you achieved in the past year that you are proud of?

I was asked to deliver a presentation to the Basic Leadership Development Program class on the Women’s Forum employee resource group I head at APHIS. The group is comprised of men and women of different ages, cultures, and pay grades under my current grade level. I could really relate to them, I had once been every grade level that was represented in the room. I understood their struggle, frustration, and confusion about how to climb the ladder and what to do next. I was so nervous about the presentation the night before. I put together the slides and didn’t write any notes because I knew the subject matter, I decided to just “wing it” with my remarks and feed off the energy in the room. It was THE BEST presentation I had ever given.

About an hour later, three young women from the class showed up at my desk with two thank you cards signed by the entire class. They told me how much I inspired them and how they would be willing to assist me with my programs. Another woman from the class sent an email stating she was ready to sign up for anything I was a part of because she just wanted to “be around me and learn from me”. I was moved to tears. I was a good secretary, but I never received acknowledgement like that before.

What steps are you currently taking to develop yourself professionally?

I believe in continually developing myself both formally and informally. I wholeheartedly believe that I can learn something from anyone, at any station in life. You can learn what to-do and what not to-do, so it is important to pay attention. I have learned, since taking this position, I must step up and own my accomplishments. I am generally a humble person but, sometimes it can be a detriment. As an individual, no longer in an administrative support role, I must acknowledge I’m capable and comfortable with tasks and projects that fall outside of my comfort zone. If I don’t have confidence in myself, why should anyone else?

Connect with Adrienne Burch on LinkedIn.

Angie Klein

As Operations and Marketing Manager, Angie Klein is responsible for maintaining the day to day operations of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. and Be Leaderly.com. Angie manages all aspects of training program logistics, registrations, SEO, social media engagement and customer service.

Follow @kleina2012 on Twitter.

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