Noah Kunin (@noahkunin)
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
What inspires you to work for government?
I’ve always believed that people can make better decisions if they’re given accurate information and the right tools to make sense of the data. The CFPB’s vision is a marketplace where consumers can see prices and risks up front and easily make product comparisons. It’s the perfect combination of data-driven tool design.
The opportunity isn’t just in better transparency for the consumer financial marketplace – it’s in refactoring the entire relationship between citizens and government. I’m looking forward to providing mechanisms for participation and accountability at a much higher level.
I think the vision for that is just coming into focus now. It’s an incredibly exciting time to work in the public sector.
What does your typical day look like?
I don’t think one exists here. I had the honor of serving on the CFPB implementation team before the Bureau officially launched in July 2011. I can’t count how many hats we’ve all had to wear as we’ve built a new organization from scratch.
Lately I’ve been managing the technology portfolio of our Consumer Education and Engagement division. I help stakeholders across the Bureau interface with our team of incredibly talented developers and designers. At the same time, I challenge our various teams to leverage technology to provide consumers with more valuable services at a lower cost to the Bureau.
What advice do you have for senior level executives to help them cultivate the next generation of public servants?
Washington, D.C. has had the good fortune of a huge influx of amazing talent over the past few years.
Despite the current talented workforce, the public sector is still severely shorthanded when it comes to developers and designers – the exact skill set we need to deal with 21st century problems. My team is in the middle of rethinking how to attract and retain this kind of talent – you can find out more on our Design + Technology Fellowship page.
We’re all looking forward to sharing lessons learned with our peers at other government agencies.
Do you have any mentors? If so, what role have they played in your career?
Since joining the government, I have had a never-ending list of amazing peers keeping me engaged in the Bureau’s vision – even if that engagement takes the form of vigorous debates. The best sounding boards don’t just listen and provide clarity – they call you out when necessary and everyone here has done more than their fair share.
I’d also single out J. Erik Garr, who emanates the most professional Buddha-like calmness even in the center of the storm. He often keeps us focused not on the daily putting out of fires but on how to prevent them from starting in the first place.
What’s your favorite DC hangout?
Big Bear in Shaw. There’s a fantastic community running that place.
How do you unwind?
Biking through downtown D.C. past midnight on a weekday. You’ve got the whole road to yourself.
Nominate your favorite federal government up-and-comer here.