Students in Public Service: Inspiring Leadership and Encouraging Compliance
Interview with Jennifer Kunz Hoisington
The following profile is the fifth in a series of public service student profiles of our students and alumni at the university.
Job title: Safety, Health and Compliance Systems Supervisor at Stericycle
Degree: Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Organizational Management, American Public University
What is your idea of an outstanding leader?
An outstanding leader is someone who inspires others to strive and become better, and who rejoices in the achievement and progress of others. An outstanding leader does so because of a genuine concern for others and their success and well-being. In contrast, the opposite of an outstanding leader is someone who instills fear, considers success in others a threat, shows contempt for others and seeks only personal gain or success.
Leaders from my professional life and my church have inspired me. They are willing to volunteer for causes that they believe in and motivate compliance in others, rather than forcing it.
What do you feel is the difference between serving as a leader versus merely steering an organization?
In one of my classes, we discussed the book, “The New Public Service: Serving, not Steering” by Janet V. Denhardt and Robert B. Denhardt. When I consider the phrase “serving, not steering,” I am reminded of my many years of religious education. In my church, each member takes a turn participating in the leadership and functioning of the organization. In my church’s parlance, this is called “serving.”
There is a strong difference between serving and steering. Steering is for someone interested in quick results and personal success over true understanding and lasting, positive change.
If public servants want to serve the public, they must know the public they serve and truly care about their well-being. They must listen to them and seek to lead in such a manner that the public will desire to follow. That is the difference between serving and steering.
Why did you decide to study public administration and organizational management?
I wanted to broaden my opportunity for growth within my current field. I work for a large company with a hand in many different markets and felt that organizational management would be broadly applicable across any of Stericycle’s business units. It also provided potential opportunities for growth outside my current organization within various industries and the public sector.
How does what you do impact your community?
I work in the safety, health and environmental compliance division within an organization that manages hazardous and medical wastes for other businesses, aiding in their compliance with environmental regulations. The core work of Stericycle contributes to making communities safe and healthy places through the proper management of potentially dangerous substances.
To this end, I was part of a team that compiled a database of safety and health regulations for each state, making it easier for Stericycle to compliantly manage our customers’ waste.
Additionally, my division within the organization is responsible for internal health, safety and environmental compliance. We work to ensure that the work environment within the company is safe and that the organization is compliant with regulations that fall under state and federal agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
I feel that my company has a great impact for good on my community. My work with safety, health and compliance within this organization centers on making the workplace safer.
My colleagues can safely return home to their families and contribute positively to their communities. I feel my work is doubly impactful because it contributes to community well-being, both inside and outside the organization.
What are the challenges that you face in your field?
Staying ahead of changing regulations, as well as keeping up with varying regulations from state to state, is a significant challenge in the waste industry. As in most industries today, companies are running very lean.
It is challenging to have sufficient resources to be forward-thinking in addressing upcoming changes. It is all too easy to fall into firefighting rather than prevention.