CXO Fellows: Sandra Oliver

The CXO Fellows Program regularly features members of the class of 2015-2016. This is a part of that series.

Name: Sandra K. Oliver
Title: Contracting Officer
Agency: Department of Homeland Security, Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers
Education info: (school/degree): George Mason University – Master of Public Administration; George Mason University – B.A. Government & International Politics

Describe your strangest day at work.   My strangest day at work was when the earthquake hit the Washington DC area on August 23, 2011.  I was on the 10th floor of my office building and on the phone with a contractor from the San Francisco area when the earthquake hit.  I interrupted the contractor and told her that I thought an earthquake was happening.  She said something to be effect of “oh okay” and then continued with what she was talking about.  By the time I got off the phone, I noticed I was alone because everyone had evacuated the building.  That struck me and strange and funny because evacuating the building is the last thing you’re supposed to do in an earthquake.  I suppose that is why she continued to talk like it was no big deal.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known at 18? When I was 18, I wish I had known that building relationships was more important than a perfect Grade Point Average.

Who was your most-valued mentor? My very first boss when I graduated college, Mr. Charles Eppright. It was a government job and the most memorable and valuable thing he ever said to me was “some people have 20 years of experience while others have 1 year of experience repeated 20 times” and that I needed to decide which person I was going to be. That has stuck with me my entire career and it keeps me motivated to ensure I do not get too comfortable and stop learning new things.

What accomplishment from the past five years are you most proud of? Buying a house without a loan from my parents while still paying student loans. Many Millennials complain that it cannot be done, but I’m a Millennial and I did it. I worked hard, made a few sacrifices, and took responsibility for the choices I made—both good and bad.

Learn more about the CXO Fellows Program.