Before he cofounded ride-sharing company Lyft, CEO Logan Green learned the intricacies of public transportation as a director on the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District board. Venture capitalist Bradley Tusk worked as a communications director for Sen. Chuck Schumer and served as deputy governor of Illinois. Aerospace engineer Aisha Bowe says her six years working at NASA were “instrumental” to founding STEMBoard, a tech company that serves government and private-sector clients.
For these business leaders, “government service” isn’t a pejorative. Their work in the public sector helped shape their entrepreneurial journeys. And many executives from Silicon Valley to Wall Street have served at the highest levels in government, including Mike Bloomberg (a three-term mayor of New York), Megan Smith (former Google executive who served as Chief Technology Officer of the United States), and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a former venture investor nominated to be U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
Today Fast Company is launching an initiative called Fast Government that aims to examine the cross-pollination of talent and innovative ideas between the public and private sectors. It is a home for stories about leaders who are bringing entrepreneurial zeal to state, federal, and local agencies and offices. This section will also explore the ways government service helped shape the careers of business leaders at some of the world’s most innovative companies.
As Sean McManus and Brett Dobbs explain in this accompanying piece, the talent pipeline in government needs refreshing. A third of federal civilian employees are slated to retire in the next five years, and fewer than 6% are under the age of 30. Young leaders, especially purpose-driven individuals looking to make a difference, might perhaps want to consider a stint in fast government.