Federal News Radio asked each Causey Award Winner to answer 10 questions about him or herself so that we could learn a little bit more about them. Here’s what Mika Cross had to say:
What is the most surprising thing about your job?
I think the most surprising thing at the moment for me, is the way the criticality of human capital strategy is gaining such momentum, so that it’s finally getting the acknowledgement it deserves. Shaping the care and feeding of an organization’s greatest asset, its people, is something I think that people traditionally underestimated or discounted.
I am energized that the value of our people who are performing HR functions are getting the positive recognition they deserve and demonstrating the value of the human capital function as critical to the success of how our federal government delivers its services to the American people.
What is the best piece of advice you most often give to your protégés?
I would consider the best piece of advice I most often give is to follow your gut. For me, this has never led me in the wrong direction. Even when I was making some of my most difficult career decisions for myself, if I felt that in my gut the decision was right for me, it has truly always worked out for the best.
I think that in the end this advice simply means trusting in yourself, following your instincts and honoring a decision once it’s been made.
What is the worst piece of advice you have ever received?
Not the worst, but the most challenging piece of advice I have ever received, was being told that I was working in a narrowly-perceived field and that I should make a move away from the human capital profession. I didn’t follow that piece of advice, of course, and it’s been so very rewarding. I’ve found ways to collaborate and intertwine with other lines of business as well, which keeps the focus more strategic.
Who has been your biggest role model and why?
My biggest role model was my grandmother, who passed away this last October. She always taught me to use proper grammar and value the importance of effective communication. She also instilled in me confidence, grace and manners — something that will always help one shine in nearly any situation, even the tough ones.
If you didn’t work for the federal government, what would be your dream job?
I honestly couldn’t imagine myself working anyplace other than for America; however, if I had to choose, I’d say a college professor. I think it would keep your perspective fresh by helping to grow and shape and pass along your knowledge and passion to the future generation of our country.
What hidden talent do you have that most of your coworkers don’t know about? Or, what’s one thing most of your coworkers don’t know about you?
Most people know that I am a United States Army veteran, but most don’t know that I was both Enlisted and then became a Commissioned Officer, and that I consistently qualified as an Expert Marksman.
If you could ask one person in history any question, who would it be, what would be the question and why?
Who: Harriet Tubman
My Question: “What was it inside you that kept you going and drove you to never give up, even when you knew your work was a threat to your own freedom, safety and livelihood?”
Why: Harriet was from Maryland, where I now reside, in a time when the boundaries between slavery and freedom were fuzzy. After she fled to Pennsylvania, she returned to Maryland and made the trip back and forth many, many times to help rescue friends and family from slavery, even after a bounty was placed on her for her capture.
She also was an activist in women’s suffrage and a member of the Union Army where she worked in several interesting positions. Most of all she was a mother to a daughter she adopted, and did all this while living with painful and constant headaches resulting from a traumatic head injury she acquired as a child when standing up for a fellow field worker. To me, she is such a fearless inspiration to stay true to your calling.
Who would you most like to have a business lunch with?
Michele A. Flournoy, the former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy or Anne Marie Slaughter — so hard to choose!
Your alarm clock rings at 5 a.m. on a Monday workday. What’s the first thing on your mind?
I can’t wait to see what fun my work week has in store for me!
What is the last book you read?
“Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time” by Brigid Schulte
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also list, “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein- my kids’ favorite bed-time read. They make me read it almost every night lately!
Federal News Radio awarded four individuals with a 2014 Causey Award. Read more about each of the recipients.