By Laura Hopper, Public Affairs Staff
At the St. Louis Fed, new chapters are being written in our story every day by employees in every division, department and unit. Our We Are Central profile series introduces you to some of the people who help make our Bank central. Today, we feature Philip Dell, who works in Information Technology Services (ITS).
Philip Dell's current title—consultant IT architect—can seem like a word salad. That’s familiar territory for the ITS manager who, after starting as a contractor, earned full-time roles as a senior systems consultant and senior systems consultant specialist before moving into management. As he discusses in this interview, though, Philip finds meaning and enjoyment in his St. Louis Fed career in large part because his title isn't all that defines him.
He takes pride in the mentoring and staff development opportunities that stem from his managerial role. And he is a founding co-chair of the group that became the St. Louis Fed’s first employee resource group: Central Pride, with a mission of supporting the Bank's LGBTQ+ community and its allies through education, collaboration and inspirational leadership.
It was an interesting journey. I was looking for something new. I had moved to St. Louis and was working as an IT architect for another company. I didn't know much about the Bank, but the firm that recruited me told me about it and it sounded interesting. I had other opportunities, but I liked my interview so well that I said, "No, they're going to call me, I want to work for the Bank."
I have four direct reports, and their role is essentially to support the day-to-day operations of developers. We want them to focus on what they do best (writing code), so my team essentially helps them configure and troubleshoot applications to make sure they work and perform appropriately. If they're researching new technology, we help them do that and test to ensure it will work well for the outcomes they are looking for.
After being here for six years, I'm giving my employees the value of that experience with the customer and with the applications they're supporting. They know their job, but a lot of times history is really relevant when it comes to what they might need to do next or anticipating the customers' expectations.
I started at the St. Louis Fed leveraging experience from my previous job, which was very similar. However, I decided after 12 years in the field prior to joining the Bank, I was ready for a change. I wanted to be a people manager. I didn't want to be so intimately involved with the technology, and I expressed that early on. It took a little time to find the right fit, but here we are.
I feel like my role at the Bank isn't just what I do. I like working for the St. Louis Fed because I believe in many ways it is a progressive, fast-moving organization that's pointed in the right direction. I like being enabled to care for and help my staff do better at their jobs.
I enjoy the opportunities outside of my role to increase engagement. I love working with the Central Pride employee resource group and other ERGs. These initiatives allow me to learn about things that aren't directly connected to my role, but enable me to bring something more to my job and the Bank as a whole.
Now, I want to give other people the chance to have the same opportunities for leadership development that I've had in the Central Pride ERG. We were able to do some transformative things: We were able to work toward, apply for and be recognized by the Human Rights Campaign with a 100 percent score on the Corporate Equality Index for two years in a row. We were also recognized by a local organization, PROMO (Promoting Equality for All Missourians). We were the genesis of “ally” training, which helps St. Louis Fed employees strengthen skill sets around unconscious bias, managing privilege and building skillful advocacy. And, we've helped inform some of the Bank's current and future Human Resources policies.
I was a member of the Board of Directors for a youth organization in Nashville called One-In-Teen Youth Services for five years before moving to St. Louis. We worked with at-risk youth, mainly LGBTQ youth. And I know that really made a difference. I haven't identified a specific, great, ongoing volunteer opportunity here that I want to participate in, but I feel like the work that I've done with others in the employee resource group, even though it's a work-related initiative, has made a difference in the lives of people.
I actually spend a lot of time speaking with people in the community. I like to talk about social issues. I like to understand the needs of people who are different from me. I'm not highly involved in politics, but I am interested. I learn about what's going on, I have discussions with people about current issues. I like to travel. The day-to-day job can be pretty stressful, so it's good to get away. I like singing karaoke. And I really love to dance.
I have also been on a long fitness journey the last couple of years. So one of the things I focus on a lot is how to eat better and how to fit exercise in. The biggest challenge I ran across trying to find my way here is that there are so many fad diets and so many things that society says you have to do. Now I consider myself to be a little bit of a fitness and health nut outside of work, but I figured out my own way to do it. And I have fun doing it. So this was the first year I ever participated in the St. Louis Fed’s Fitness Challenge. And I felt confident doing it, and it all started with me dancing and taking dance classes.