Robyn Hebron is a supervisor in Workforce and Talent Management in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. In this role, her branch of workforce management oversees training and human capital in the workforce. She has been in her current role for one year and with the Department for 26 years. She sat down with us recently for a brief discussion in honor of the Black History Month Blog Series.
Tell me a little about your role at the Energy Department.
We are the liaisons with Human Resource Service Center and liaisons with our HR business partners. We provide procedures for EERE when it comes to hiring, all aspects of personnel, including employee training. We coordinate with the training business partner to make sure the training is procured, paid for, and we provide ideas and opportunities for training. We are about to launch the EERE Mentoring Program in a couple weeks, which gives EERE employees ways to improve their careers while they’re here and even help as they leave DOE at the end of the day. The workforce management office is the business side of EERE, with our group we provide standard operating procedures for EERE technical offices to abide by.
We give employees ideas or techniques to let them know there are possibilities and you don’t have to stay in your current position your entire career. We give them opportunities to get into leadership positions. It feels good to us when we can see how a person has gone from just coming to the Department to utilizing the tools we provided to move to next grade or next positon. It’s very satisfying.
How would you describe your current thinking about diversity, and how has your thinking changed over time?
For myself, diversity in DOE is overlooked quite a bit. When we reach a certain ratio of diversity in EE, with the beginning of a new administration, it tends to go up or down. Here in our office, we have a good ratio of diversity with Black Americans, Caucasians, other nationalities, and women. In this group, we’re pretty even. It has its ebbs and flows, but we have a good ratio of diversity in regard to black and white —but no men. There are all women on our team. The age range is also a good mix on our team.
Who were some of your heroes growing up?
My mother. She raised four kids alone and all of my siblings are professionals. Even though it was struggle for her, she took a lot of pride knowing that all four of us were able to become professional adults as the years went by. And once she passed, we’ve been able to maintain whatever professional status we had.
Since I’ve been here, I’ve also had a supervisor that helped me grow within the organization by instilling their knowledge on me. One supervisor I had, I keep in touch with. She gave me a lot of opportunity as I was coming up through the ranks. My current supervisor saw something in me too that when she needed a supervisor for this team, I was able to apply and was chosen to do it.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
It’s a month where we focus on all contributions Black Americans have given to this country. We also focus on the sacrifices our predecessors have given up to get someone like me to where I am today. It also gives us a time to reflect how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go. Under this current political climate, the two steps we’ve taken forward, we’re taking two steps back. It’s unfortunate Black Americans get to a certain status, but are still not considered equal.
What’s one thing about you people would be surprised to know?
Probably that I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I give off a stern impression but to know me, you know I cry during commercials. I’m a no holds barred person professionally because I have to be, but personally I’m just a softy.