Ryan Browne, class of 2012, began working for the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2011 as an intern during his time in the MSBA program with the understanding that if he met certain criteria he would be offered a full time job upon graduation. Following his graduation in 2012, Ryan transitioned to full time employee with the official title of Budget Analyst. Since then, his roles and responsibilities have changed and he has received a promotion every year since 2011. During his first year he worked mainly on process improvements and integrating systems. As he continued in the budget systems role he was also tasked with more financial analysis and other reporting functions.
In the spring of 2013, Ryan started working on the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program (PILT) as an assistant to the manager. He helped to administer the program from within by completing projects that included sending letters to congress and attending briefings on Capitol Hill. In November of that same year, Ryan was given the opportunity to become the manager of the PILT program. Although he declined the offer, he agreed to manage the program until they found someone else and became the official program manager of PILT at the age of 23. Says Ryan, “It was a daunting task because the program is highly visible”. Ryan successfully administered the program in 2014 and 2015, issuing payments to approximately 1,900 counties timely and in accordance with statutory requirements.
Ryan’s current position in the front office of the secretary has given him access to many high-level executives. He has had the opportunity to brief Senior leadership on important issues and congressional staffers to familiarize them with the background and complexity of the PILT program.
Although Ryan’s undergraduate degree was in mathematics and actuarial science, and he never envisioned himself in a policy analysis position, he has come to enjoy his role in the U.S. Department of the Interior. This year he is training someone to take over his position as manager of the PILT program and is being judged not only on administering the program and making payments on time but also how well the incoming manager transitions. Ryan hopes to get back into the type of work he was doing before becoming the interim manager for PILT, which includes quarterly financial reporting and congressional district reporting. He hopes to work with the appropriations liaison to answer congressional inquiries on current budget issues, assist with the department budget submissions, and work on the actual budget process to see where budget meets policy and how legislative decisions from congress impact budget.
When asked how the MSBA Program helped prepare him for this career, here is what Ryan had to say:
“In my interview for the MSBA Program, Professor McHie asked what I was passionate about. At the time, all I was worried about was getting a job and making money. When I thought about it, it really was my appreciation for wildlife restoration and conservation (I grew up surrounded by a wildlife sanctuary). That was my answer to him at the time and I didn’t realize I’d be working months later at a department that handles natural resources policy. I was unhappy at first because I was not challenged in my job as an intern, but after graduation I got a lot more responsibility and management realized what I was capable of.
The past 2 years have really been a lot of problem solving for me. I’m handed a situation and have no guidance on how to fix it or succeed, but I have to figure it out. The MSBA provided a lot of real-life problem solving and there was a lot of discussion about how you would solve a problem if it arose. It all came together for me while working with Smart Insights group in our Field Team Study. That ended up being similar to the position I’m in now in that it required problem solving skills, focusing on a topic I was unfamiliar with, Human Resources. It was overwhelming and we didn’t know if we could be successful. Through persistence and by using and immediately applying tools we learned in the first semester, it turned out to be the best experience I could have asked for. Also the amount of criticism we received in the program was immensely helpful. There was never a time when the professor said “perfect job”. This instilled in us the idea that you can constantly improve. Even when you’re an executive, you can constantly improve upon your skills.
The MSBA is unique in the amount they challenge you in oral presentation skills. For my first project for the Department of the Interior, I remember putting together a webpage online. All of the work that I put into it wouldn’t have meant anything if I couldn’t sell it. I had to provide a recommendation and present final solution. Being able to communicate that and justify it at such a young age projected me into the position I’m in now and is the reason why I’ve been given more responsibilities and opportunities to present publicly.”