Ruby DeMesme is the director of Human Capital Innovative Market Strategy at Deloitte Consulting LLP, where she helps federal clients find solutions in matters of human capital transformation, change management and cybersecurity. She also helps provide guidance in bridging the leadership gap in public and private agencies.
ExecutiveBiz: Could you discuss your background with the Air Force and your transition to Deloitte?
Ruby DeMesme: My background with the Air Force spanned about ten years. Before that I worked for the Army for thirteen years so I had twenty-three years of Department of Defense experience; eight of those in the government were as a political appointee. I retired as the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force where I managed Air Force human resources management policies and programs for more than two million active and reserve members, civilians and families. I called myself “a people resource advocate.” I was involved in total force management of active, guard, reserve and civilian employees and managed the recruiting, training, assignment, promotion and retirement of all service members and civilian employees.
I also was responsible for their quality of life and well being, which included education, child care, and family support, as well as recreation and base operations. During my tenure, I also managed the Court of Military Appeals for performance evaluations and reviews. I also supervised the base realignment and closure activities to include environmental clean-up and property transfer and I was responsible for military housing, construction and facilities. I directed the equal opportunity and diversity initiatives across the Air Force – focusing on manpower reserve affairs and installations and environment. Today there are two Senate confirmed appointees doing the job that I did singularly for the years that I was there.
ExecutiveBiz: Could you talk a little about your transition to Deloitte as well?
Ruby DeMesme: I bring to Deloitte extensive knowledge, broad experience and proven leadership skills. During my career, I have built sustained, professional, trusted relationships with current leaders in the Department of Defense and throughout the federal government. I have a passion for public service and a track record of success. I also have focused strategically on building the workforce of the future. I take pride in my ability to be collaborative and inclusive and enjoy sharing my knowledge and experiences with the leaders and professionals in our agency. Our focus is on what the government needs today to become more functional, more effective and proficient in its services. I also mentor our future leaders in work/life balance and career management.
ExecutiveBiz: Could you describe your approach to leadership on a personal basis and your strategy in leading a human capital innovative market strategy from a business perspective?
Ruby DeMesme: From a leadership perspective, I am decisive, inclusive, collaborative and forward-looking as well as a strong decision maker. I like to get things done. In my role as a human capital innovation strategist, I’m able to look at today’s environment and envision what it is and what it should be. We are moving toward a different workforce culture in the future and I understand what tools, people and capabilities agencies need to strategically meet today and tomorrow’s mission requirements, as well as the personal needs and expectations of a blended workforce.
ExecutiveBiz: Do you have any advice for executives looking to make the switch from the Department of Defense or maybe from the military to the private sector?
Ruby DeMesme: I think it is important when one is coming into the private sector to recognize that it will be a different working environment. You will be applying your skills and abilities in a different manner and it is important to market yourself wisely. Looking for a job in the private sector is very different from looking for one in the government. You’re really selling yourself, which is something that you don’t really have to do in the government. It is important for people to understand their worth in terms of what they bring to the table and what they expect in resource compensation.
I would also encourage job seekers to pursue positions that allow them to engage their passion, so they can continue to make a difference. You can expect uneasiness and unfamiliarity when moving into a job environment where leadership is not hierarchical. You will be working with different levels of people, so effective communication is critical. You will be managing issues of all sizes. The government usually has someone take care of clerical and administrative support; in the private sector you generally have to do a little bit of everything yourself. The bottom line, you are working in an organization where budgets and net revenue really matter. You have to work within the guidelines and recognize that profits matter. Overall, you must be flexible, manage ambiguity, and become someone who provides input into decision making rather than being the decision maker. That is a big difference for many leaders who come into the private sector.
ExecutiveBiz: Do you have a favorite hobby or activity that you enjoy in your down time?
Ruby DeMesme: Reading and listening to music are two things that I like to do to relax. When I get a chance, I like to cook. I also like to travel and I try to be flexible with my time to do a little of everything – such as spending quality time with my family.
ExecutiveBiz: Where was the last place that you traveled to?
Ruby DeMesme: The last place travelled to was Jamaica this summer. It was a family vacation and it was absolutely wonderful. It was a time to relax and I decided that I was going to let the BlackBerry go and just spend time with family.
ExecutiveBiz: Was there anything else that you wanted to talk about today?
Ruby DeMesme: Just one thing – I’ve been performing multi-faceted tasks for many years and really enjoy executing the crisis management model. So, in addition to my job at Deloitte, l volunteer on different government Boards and Advisory groups. Volunteering allows me to have a hand in government operations and leverage my professional contacts to create reciprocal relationships between my former and current agency leaders. My volunteer work also helps me stay current with new trends in government and provides the insight that enables me to help Deloitte leaders move their programs to the next level of efficiency meeting clients’ needs and expectations.