Ron Martin retired in July after 40 years of federal service. His last job was as the lead physical security specialist for the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Ron Martin file
Length of federal service: 40 years
First job in government: Postal Service in high school
Why retire now? Why not now? I have reached an age where I can leave active government service and still provide a service to our country and the security industry.
Post-retirement plans: I plan to continue working with the security industry organizations and non-profit organizations. My two daughters have non-profits that provide community services. One provides mentorship to high school students in Louisiana. The other provides free eyewear to disadvantaged persons worldwide.
What has been the impact of your federal career on your life? It’s been my life. A lot of the federal government is in me and I don’t think it will leave me.
How has the government changed? We’re getting out of the sitting in the seat and putting in time versus deliverable based service. The just-enough-for-government work is changing to deliverable based. Some of the folks around my age, it’s kind of hard for them to take with the new teleworking and what have you because some of them feel ‘if I don’t see you, you are not working.’ I think it has been proven folks are very productive teleworking and in some cases more they are more productive.
Where do you see the government going in the future? “You will see a new productivity model come along that will expound the telework or work-deliverable based instead of sitting in the desk behind a cubicle.”
How has the office environment changed? There has been a big change in the racial make-up of government at the senior leadership level. There are no secretaries. I remember in my first and second Provo marshal job, you had secretaries that ran the organization. As we get into the 1980s, you had office automation and secretaries went away. No all of a sudden, you had folks who had to get on the computer and type their own correspondence. It’s for the better because now you have managers who are looking at grammar more so than not.
How have employees changed? If you were a GS-certain grade, you would wear a shirt and tie. If you were a WG, you were blue collar. Shirts and ties, suits, for men, was the appropriate dress. For ladies, it was a tasteful dress. That is the way it was. As we moved toward modernization and other political changes in our society, a lot of things have changed. I came into work one day without a shirt and tie, and an older gentleman asked me why I didn’t have a shirt and tie on. With the era of telecommuting, teleconferencing and videoconferencing and not necessarily seeing my face or your face, the dress code is somewhat different. For the most part, it has changed.
What is the biggest change you’ve experienced during your career? I had to be responsible for my own development and my own advancement. You had to really push for it. I had to figure out ways to get my education on my own.
What are you most proud of about your federal career? There are a couple of folk who I know I’ve had some impact on. In other words, I’ve been able to say things to certain people and they listen. One of the biggest things that give me joy is to see someone working for the Office of the Secretary of Defense who used to be one of my students, to see a lot of folk who are GS-15s who I mentored. Those types of things make me feel good about it. I encourage that and try to mentor.
What will you miss the most about leaving the government? A lot of folks don’t understand this, in the morning I say ‘good morning’ to every security officer that I come in and I want to know their names, and we talk. In the evening, I make sure I say ‘good evening, you all be safe.” I’ll miss that.
What will you miss least? The change. Sometimes folk will change for change sake, not necessarily change needs to happen. I will miss the least those managers who want to change for change sake because it’s counterproductive.
What would you say to someone who wants to join the government? I’d say go for it. But use it as a stepping stone for what it is you have in your personal life. What are your life goals? What is your mission in life? What they need to do is look out six years from now and imagine you are being interviewed and you write the story. After you write the story, make it happen.
What advice would you give to current federal employees? There’s a lot of people who like to change to get grade because they don’t feel they can progress where they are. I tell them to consider if this move is in their plan and if it’s just for money, you will find real fast, it’s not a good reason for change. I tell them to know where they are going in their skill set, and from there you can develop you plan.
Any final thoughts? Government service is a very important service. I know a lot of people will say, ‘you work for government, you should work for private industry.’ But if you work for the federal government, hopefully you will get into a skill career field that you will like, and if not, change to one you like. Do what’s your passion because if you are doing that you really don’t work a day in your life because you are doing what your life’s mission is.
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