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My Richmond Fed

5 Questions With LaTonja Powell

Strong. Intelligent. Able. LaTonja Powell

#MyRichmondFed explores the diverse career paths and people currently working throughout the Federal Reserve. In this feature, we caught up with LaTonja Powell to learn about her journey from being an operations contractor to Information Technology Services business relationship manager. We asked her five questions about her career. Read how she answered them below.

How did you begin your career?

In high school, I was an intern at a government organization. I worked there through college and received my first entry-level job. My parents actually encouraged me to stay there because it was safe, but I wanted to explore new roles with more innovative opportunities.

How many different roles have you had at the Fed?

I’ve had the opportunity to have eight different roles during my 25-year career. I started as a contractor in National IT Operations and within 18 months, I was offered a role in mainframe systems programming. This role served as a huge catalyst in my IT career carrying me from development to technical project management to engineering management to HR business relations to operations management.

Throughout my journey I’ve learned that no one decision is final. Your career is fluid and even if you don’t have all the answers, you have to take chances and jump in! Currently, I’m in the perfect role that requires a good mix of soft and technical skills, allowing me to connect the dots and help the Bank reach its strategic goals.

What role has relationship building played in your career development?

I leveraged my background in information technology to get my foot in the door, but relationships have been critical to getting me where I am today.

As a minority studying IT in the 80’s, I had to navigate more than a few barriers and establish relationships to unlock the doors that would help build my network. Over the years, I continued to use my people skills and newfound relationships to progress in my career. This helped me nurture client relationships, build business acumen and build requirements for various programs.

What skills are vital to helping you succeed in your current role?

I’d say technical and business acumen of course, and then collaboration, teamwork, influence and being able to work through ambiguity are at the forefront. Analytical skills, time management, creative problem-solving and critical thinking also play an important role in helping me successfully navigate projects and partnerships with clients and cross-functional colleagues.

Which has been more valuable in your career: education or experience?

Both are equally important. I truly believe education is the key that opens opportunities. However, while education has been essential to understanding concepts, my hands-on work experience has been an invaluable asset in my career.

My work experiences have equipped me with the soft skills needed to become a strong contributor and have given me a heads up on the latest trends, technologies and industry practices. My work experience also granted me access to a huge network of talented people who were willing to let me tap into their wisdom early on for which I am extremely grateful.

Want to get your technology career started at the Richmond Fed or National IT? Apply today.

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