Public Sector Organizational Consultant at DKM Consulting
Tell us about your current public service work. Can you briefly describe your employment organization and position responsibilities, as well as any relevant volunteer or entrepreneurial activities?
I currently run my own consulting firm, DKMan Consulting, specializing in change management, process redesign and managerial coaching, within public sector and non-profit organizations. I am also associated with the Rapid Results Institute, an international non-profit focused on improving performance in public sector and public-private partnerships. Most of my work involves designing and implementing change-management strategies for government and non-profit projects based in Africa, Asia, Latin America as well as for the US Federal government. Additionally, I manage and support the work of a small group of consultants based in multiple countries, who are engaged in similar work.
Currently, I also serve as a Board member for the Bridge Inc., a leading provider in NYC of housing and health services for individuals diagnosed with serious mental illness. I serve on the Finance and Board Development sub-committees.
Please summarize your professional and academic background. What has been a highlight?
I earned my undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a dual BA in Political Science and Sociology, magna cum laude and departmental distinction. I continued on to earn my Master of Public Administration at NYU Wagner.
One of the highlights of my academic career was my time at Wagner. The program helped me learn how to analyze challenges more quickly and accurately, and engage in collaborative conversations focused on developing concrete, actionable solutions.
I have 15 years of experience working in public and non-profit organizations, both internationally and domestically, I’ve served as a Peace Corp Volunteer in El Salvador as a Water/Sanitation and Health Education Specialist, External Faculty for one of the World Bank Institute's Leadership Development Programs, and as a Programs Manager at the Rapid Results Institute.
What led you to pursue a master’s degree in Public Administration? Why did you decide to study at Wagner?
I decided on an MPA because it was built around the skills needed to effectively manage in the public sector. Other types of programs (i.e. Master of Public Policy and Master of International Affairs) focused on researching and studying problems, and not enough on how to implement solutions and organize, manage, and lead action in the real world. Conversely, while most MBA programs I looked into did focus on managerial issues and skills, they did not adequately acknowledge the fact that leadership and management in the public sector is different from that in the private sector.
I chose Wagner in large part because it was built around this ethos: preparing leaders to be better public sector managers. I could tell that Wagner, while being strong academically, prioritized building skills needed in the workplace and not just in the classroom.
In your current position, how do you use the knowledge and skills that you gained at Wagner? Which skills do you use most frequently?
The constant focus on group/team work at Wagner was very helpful. Having largely worked independently or in loose groups prior to Wagner, the training in this area helped address a key gap in my professional experiences. I am a better, more effective manager, consultant, and employee because of it.
Reflecting on your academic experience, what Wagner courses, professors, and/or projects had the greatest influence on your professional development? How?
My Microeconomics and Public Econ courses. While I do not use the graphs or specific vocabulary very often, the analytical training and tools from these courses have been invaluable to me.
Reflecting on your time outside of the classroom (social events, orientations, trainings, etc.), can you describe one or two key moments at Wagner that impacted your passion for public service?
I felt the orientation at the start of the program was great. It was one of the first times in my life where I was surrounded by others who had a similar passion for public sector service.
Are there any programs, opportunities or other aspects of the Wagner experience that you wish you had leveraged during your time as a student?
I feel I would have benefited more from taking more finance courses.
How are you involved with the Wagner community as an alumnus (i.e. attending events, mentoring students, maintaining connections with other alumni, recruiting at Wagner, etc.)?
I still maintain connections with Career Services, both as a resource for my own professional career and as an aid in recruiting interns and staff for my organization. When possible, I also attend talks and symposiums organized at Wagner that touch on my professional interests.
Prospective students have expressed interest in learning how alumni funded their living expenses and education during their time as a Wagner student. If you feel comfortable, would you please tell us how you made it work?
For me, it was important to acknowledge that I couldn’t live like a “typical” New Yorker while in grad school. Instead, I needed to live like a grad student. Thankfully, NYC is full of opportunities built for grad students: tons of free, low-cost, cultural, social, academic, and professional-development events, as well as lots of options for buying food, clothing, and transportation that fit a range of budgets.