Valerie Leone became interested in the water profession when she was working for a metal finisher. It was there she learned about wastewater regulations and decided she wanted to be a part of something that allowed her to benefit the environment, community and future generations. As the Industrial Source Reduction and Control Program (ISRCP) manager at the Burbank Water Reclamation Plant, Valerie was nominated for her valuable contributions in promoting a positive atmosphere. As her nominator, Young Jim Kim states, “Valerie creates a department where employees can grow. She is dedicated to mentoring her staff with responsibilities, administrative help and their career development process. She is willing to work with our tasks while setting a great example and creating a learning opportunity as she has a solid understanding of day-to-day tasks from years of experience in the field. Working with Valerie, our staff and I are always treated as partners. She clearly communicates her goals and expectations and knows how to delegate difficult tasks with us as a team.”
This past week was National Bosses Day (October 16), so we reached out to Valerie for a quick Q&A. Read below to learn a little more about Valerie Leone:
What was your career path like?
I started as a chemist and then worked as a quality control supervisor. Later I taught Earth Science and Advanced Placement Chemistry. Then I worked as an Environmental Compliance Inspector and passed CWEA ECI Certifications up to Grade IV. Currently I work for Suez Environmental Services as the Industrial Source Reduction & Control Program Manager.
What’s the secret to moving up in our profession?
Initiative to learn more and go through different CWEA certification levels, volunteer at CWEA TCP workshops and share resources with others. Also, serving as a SEIU 721 Union Shop Steward while I was working as an Environmental Compliance Inspector gave me the opportunity to understand the job and also understand the concerns of a frontline employee.
Why become a leader?
The most fulfilling times in my life are those times when I am helping others and I get to teach and mentor young professionals. A word of encouragement goes a long way.
Best part of the job?
Interacting and involving the inspectors to participate in different aspects of the program each day. I encourage them to make decisions, prioritize tasks and plan projects. Each inspector gets a chance to use and showcase their skills which helps the program improve.
The accomplishments of my staff. Just seeing how proud and excited they are of their achievements. I think I am more excited than they are when they text me after their certification exams: “I PASSED!!!”
What do you recommend to young professionals?
Network and find folks who are happy with what they do; they approach each day as an adventure. They volunteer for the most complex tasks, and have a positive outlook. Those are your mentors.
CWEA Local Sections are still accepting nominations for Supervisor of the Year for 2019. Find your section deadline and nominate someone today!