“Up-and-coming” is a regular FedScoop feature profiling the rising stars in federal government.
Kanika R. Tolver (@CareerDropout)
Information Technology Specialist
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
U. S. Department of Transportation
What inspires you to work for government?
Being able to promote safety awareness through new citizen engagement processes is inspiring to me. Government initiatives such as Open Government, Digital Government Strategy and Data.gov inspire me to be more collaborative and transparent with our citizens and stakeholders. I feel privileged that I can use technology, social media and innovative ideas to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities which sometimes involve large trucks and buses.
What does your typical day look like?
Despite the some difficult challenges of managing complex IT projects, I try to create an innovative work environment that will help further the department’s goals. Typically, my day begins with reviewing my calendar to prioritize tasks around various meetings and conference calls, then I read and respond to email requests. Daily, I review software requirements, project plans and conduct software testing. While the workload is often heavy, I still live a balanced life and I end my work day with a trip to the gym for a cardio workout.
What advice do you have for senior level executives to help them cultivate the next generation of public servants?
Bridging the generation gaps within the workplace would be a great starting point for senior executives. Senior executives need to lead with an open mind and embrace servant leadership. A servant leader looks to the needs of the people and he or she helps people with personal development. Creativity and innovation from the next generation of public servants must be considered and encouraged by senior executives.
Do you have any mentors? If so, what role have they played in your career?
Yes, I have several mentors. My mentors are great leaders and over the last seven years, and they’ve helped me evolve in the areas of communication, innovation and leadership. The baby boomer and X generations of mentors have shown me how to be resilient and resourceful for my career, self-brand and realize personal and professional passions. I also have virtual mentors that are global leaders, authors and innovators, whom I don’t personally know but inspire me to be great. The success behind Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, President Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerburg, Oprah Winfrey and Jay-Z inspire me to be epic. Overall, my mother Kelly Harris is my mentor and my biggest inspiration. She has cultivated me into a strong, educated woman.
What’s your favorite DC hangout?
The Georgetown area is full of fun, eating and shopping. I love spending a nice fall or spring day walking the streets of Georgetown.
How do you unwind?
I really enjoy listening to music and attending concerts. Music is motivating in so many ways. I like all genres of music, but I love listening to hip-hop, alternative rock and pop music. Exercising unwinds me. It allows me to release all types of emotions and feelings.