Photo: Cheryl Reese illustration of a magnifying glass over a computer.

Get to know the Human Resources Shared Service Center Director

Cheryl Reese has led the Power Marketing Administrations Human Resources Shared Service Center since 2021. Her team provides a full range of human capital management functions for federal employees in the Southeastern Power Administration, Southwestern Power Administration and WAPA. Closed Circuit sat down with Reese to get to know her better.

  1. What brought you to WAPA initially?

A promotion. I started with WAPA just a few days before 9/11. What I found was a very progressive organization, open to innovation and new ideas in Human Resources. The message was, “Make your business case and show us what you can do.” I thrived in this environment and was given a lot of room to create cool HR innovations that boosted client satisfaction.

I came to really understand and love the WAPA mission. I grew up on a ranch in southeast Wyoming, driving a tractor around the transmission towers on our property. Coming from this background, a lot of the maintenance concepts made sense to me. I identify strongly with our craft community. It made for a good fit in my new job.

  1. What has been your most rewarding experience at WAPA so far?

Serving as the HR Director for the PMA HR SSC – taking care of 1,700 employees in the power marketing administrations – is my dream job. My goal is to have the most innovative, engaged HR shop in the Department of Energy. Our HR employees are some of the hardest working and most dedicated in DOE. We create a workspace where HR specialists are encouraged to be data driven, proactive and understand the mission of the marketing administrations. I love our WAPA employees, supervisors and the WAPA Senior Leadership Team. Several of my favorite people in the world work at WAPA.

In 2023, a high point was meeting with WAPA’s chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and other WAPA officials at Hoover Dam to celebrate the signing of the new collective bargaining agreement.

  1. What is something most people do not know about you?

I can be a real nerd about the work that is done throughout DOE – is there a cooler agency? Several years back, WAPA afforded me the opportunity to work detail positions with the Maintenance functions in both Sierra Nevada and Desert Southwest, as well as the Washington Liaison Office. While I never became a lineman, the knowledge I took back to the HR office resulted in better client relationships and on-target HR products. I am a huge fan of learning opportunities and programs such as those offered by the Leadership Development Program.

  1. What are you reading right now? Do you have a favorite author?

Empires of Light by Jill Jonnes is a must read. It discusses the race by Edison, Tesla and Westinghouse to electrify the world.

Another “voice” I’ve started listening to in the past six months is Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., the president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management. I’m reading An Insider’s Guide to Finding and Keeping the Best People. You can follow Johnny on LinkedIn; I recommend it. He brings refreshing HR common sense.

  1. What is your style for both communication and leadership?

All new hires coming into HR know these principles:

  • If I can tell you, you’ll know. Why? So you can make decisions independently in alignment with our mission.
  • Ask for feedback (good and bad), ask to give feedback, and provide it within seven days of a situation. Assume communication or relationship breakdowns will happen, and plan for them in advance. Hardwire it in. Twice a year, we schedule to get dialed-in, objective feedback on how our clients think we are doing and how the HR staff thinks HR leadership is doing.
  • Be a strategic partner. Linemen use climbing hooks and hot sticks to achieve the mission. HR specialists use HR automation and procedures and laws to achieve the mission. HR is a “how,” not a “what.”
  1. During WAPA’s period of maximum telework, what do you think was the most valuable lesson you learned as a leader?

Culture is always a challenge, especially as more and more work is performed outside the local office. We must work together to assure we are creating a shared reality; where people don’t have information, they will make it up. We need to ensure a connection to the mission and create engagement. We are all responsible (not just management, not just HR).

“Culture is the lifeblood, the nucleus, the compass that points our organization in a singular direction and inspires us to row together.” – Johnny C. Taylor.

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Last modified on March 7th, 2024