Meet ERPi’s Empowered Women: Empower Her Focus on Margaret Achieng, M.A.
Each month, ERPi’s Empower Her initiative highlights the success and impact of one of our empowered and enriched women. This month Executive Assistant, Suzanne Payne sat down with Consultant, Margaret Achieng to understand and share her diverse background and what motivates Margaret. Meet another of ERPi’s Empowered Women, Margaret Achieng.
Margaret comes to us with extensive international experience that gives her a unique perspective that she utilizes to help her clients achieve great success. International relations and public policy may not always be a logical pairing of skills, but Margaret has taken these talents and weaved them expertly over her career to provide a unique skillset to all customers.
A desire for adventure led Margaret to achieve her education overseas across the continents of Africa and Asia. Her eagerness to learn and her “all in” work ethic laid the foundation for the career path that led her to ERPi. She began using her international relations knowledge by authoring curriculum and proposal training for foreign service officers to facilitate diplomacy, protocol, foreign policy and interpersonal communications. She has worked with ambassadors, governors and heads of state to organize and stand up cabinet departments. This hands-on experience coordinating between local governments, departments and leaders, highlighted the importance of listening for understanding to be able to diplomatically innovate for action. Margaret was embracing ERPi’s Collaborative Advisory Methodology (CAM) principles before she even knew what they were! These direct government experiences led Margaret to want to expand her knowledge to include public policy.
Margaret knew the best place to immerse herself in public policy was the DC area, so she moved from Connecticut to Arlington, Virginia where she enrolled at George Mason University and continued her quest for learning. It was here where she was able to take her written, communication and negotiation skills and direct them into process and policy analysis. In her current role on the VHA, GAO High Risk Response team, Margaret serves as a policy writing SME, to direct technical and substantive reviews on drafts of VHA national policy to serve our veterans. She is able to effectively communicate veteran needs and policy requirements to ensure VHA compliance and effectiveness. She consults with the responsible program office and serves as the primary point of contact between the Office Regulatory and Administrative Affairs and VHA program offices to assist program offices in developing and drafting documents that meet all regulatory standards.
During the interview, we hoped to capture some insight into Margaret’s passion to grow:
Why are you passionate about working for VHA?
I enjoy being able to produce meaningful policies to protect our veterans. I’m called to educate myself in new arenas to ensure compliance and I love a challenge! I am able to use both my collaborative and negotiation skills along with my policy knowledge to foster a true team environment.
What drives you?
The desire to learn and foster communication. There is always something more to understand, another way to make a connection, or open your mind to alternate possibilities. The value of a good conversation is priceless and making those connections leads to shared experiences which strengthens everyone’s life purpose.
What does good leadership look like to you?
Good leadership creates a platform for mentorship and an avenue to learn, motivate, innovate, and exchange ideas. A good leader promotes inclusion and respect for differences; is agile, seeks clarity over assumption and is a source of optimism, support and advocates for the team. I have had the privilege of working under many true leaders and that includes my current ERPi team under the leadership of ERPi Director, Helen Costas.
Of all the places you have lived, which one stands out the most and why?
I lived in Kenya and this stands out because it laid the foundation for my career in international affairs and public policy. It’s the place I developed some of my strongest networks which I uphold to this day. Also, it’s a tropical nation with nice weather, great culture and history and amazing white sandy beaches.