Department of Energy

Rizwan “Riz” Shah: Organizational Culture Advisor, Environment, Health, Safety and Security

November 8, 2018

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Rizwan “Riz” Shah

Service Branch: US Army

Years of Service: 20

Would you like to share any details of your military history, awards you may have received or other accomplishments?

I am what they refer to as a Mustang; as in the horse breed.  I started as a Private.  When I was a Sergeant, I applied for Flight School and was accepted.  So, became a Warrant Officer after completing WOCS at the beginning of Flight School.  After flying UH60’s for a few years, I applied for OCS and became a Commissioned Officer and retired from the Army as such.  I’ve served in 13 countries from Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Croatia, Honduras, Panama, Belize, Bosnia, Guatemala, and Germany to name a few.  Most of my time was spend in Command or Operational positions.  My highest award was the Bronze Star Medal for leading a 120 Soldier task force of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assualt) as a lead element in the invasion into Iraq in 2003.  My highest honor was serving alongside Americas Best; walking amongst Hero’s!  My mantra is “Let me not fail them.”

Please take a moment to reflect on your thoughts when considering your service uniform.  What does your service uniform represent to you?

My uniform represents a book, a timeline, a history…a collection of my memories embodied in the ribbons on my chest.  It represents one period in my life of a lifetime of service to my Nation.  A life which is not over and service still to perform.

Teamwork is essential across many contexts in life.  Please share how your service in the military cultivated an appreciation for the value of teamwork.  Do you draw from these experiences, or what similarities exist, when working within teams at the DOE?

I do draw from my experience from the team mindset of serving in the military.  I learned that to build a high performing team you have to empower those on the team.  They don’t need to work for you, they can be peers.  That they, are indeed your organizations greatest asset and should be treated as such.

Military service can have a profound and lasting impact on those who serve. Your perspective is unique in having seen both the military and the civilian sides of service.  What story could you share of service before self? 

The more I deployed, the more I become a little detached a bit cynical about humanity.  Then I realized, for every bad guy I encountered on the battlefield, there were hundreds, even thousands of good people.  Doing the right thing.  Not just Soldiers but the civilians we met.  Most want a peaceful, but circumstances beyond their control had thrust them into dire situations.  They cared for me, and my Soldiers and I and my Soldiers cared for them.  All of us serving, humanity.

What inspired your interest the agency, and how did your prior service prepare you to join the DOE’s workforce?

I was recruited into DOE.  I learned that the Oath one takes as a Military Officer and a Federal Employee is literally the same.  That formed the bridge connecting the two worlds.  Different but interdependent in ensuring the success of our Country.

Served and Still Serving Veterans Month graphic