In the Business of Government
In June 2017, SDSU grad Jeff Leieritz was appointed by President Donald Trump to the position of senior communication advisor at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).
The role of the GSA is to construct, manage and maintain government buildings and administer real estate used by the federal government. “As the senior communications advisor, I am responsible for ensuring the agency’s communications are aligned with the Trump administration’s priorities and that we are effectively communicating the value we create for our partners in the government and the American taxpayers,” said Leieritz (’09), who earned degrees in management and political science.
Leieritz, a native of Redlands, California, said that he came to SDSU because “it was the most attractive business school in a place I wanted to live.” Due to his political activism, he chose to double major in management and political science during his junior year at SDSU. And while it was his political involvement and contacts that led to his first job on Capitol Hill in 2011, it was his management skills that paved the way for his success.
Getting a job on Capitol Hill is “relationship-based” according to Leieritz and he was able to get his foot in the door by working for a campaign consulting organization during the 2010 elections. “One of the consulting firm’s clients, who was re-elected to the House of Representatives, was chosen to chair the House Committee on Small Business,” said Leieritz. “He had positions to fill, which gave me the opportunity to take an entry-level job on the hill.”
After serving in several capacities with the House Committee on Small Business, Leieritz was promoted to deputy press secretary and director of new media for the committee in 2012. Two years later, he left Capitol Hill to pursue a position as media relations manager for Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) which is located in the D.C. area. “I found that ABC had a position available that would open a door for me to take on a more senior role,” Leieritz recalled. “I expressed an interest, interviewed and things worked out.”
While he was happy in his role with ABC, the election of Donald Trump to the presidency changed everything in Washington. Leieritz, who was already known among the D.C. power-brokers, was a natural fit to take on the role of senior communication advisor for the GSA.
Though he is in a communications position, Leieritz points to his SDSU management degree for giving him skills that have enhanced his success. “Having worked for the House Committee on Small Business, and now for an agency that manages clients and works with real estate, a business degree has really helped me to better connect with industry and to have a full grasp of business concepts and jargon,” said Leieritz. “I am also big on process, which I think is rooted in my management degree. There is tremendous value and efficiency to be gained from spending time developing your processes, then getting the buy-in, trust and understanding throughout the organization on the processes you’ve established.”
While communications isn’t the most obvious path for someone with a management degree, it has provided Leieritz some advantages in his career that he otherwise might not have without his business skills. Keeping this in mind, he offers this advice to today’s SDSU student: “Don’t be afraid to pursue a career path that may not seem like a natural fit for your major. There are so many different paths, so don’t be afraid to follow your passion - look instead for a way to fit your education into what you want to do."