Making and re-making your career with resilience

Martha Johnson, former administrator for the General Services Administration has an insider’s perspective on the recent resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Photo courtesy of Martha Johnson

“People are put in charge of massive organizations and they are certainly responsible for them, and then they are being held accountable for very particular pieces of activity that have gone on inside them,” Johnson told Women of Washington hosts Aileen Black and Gigi Schumm. “There is always a tension around how much can a leader know, how much can a leader trust a staff to make the right decisions and inform him or her when things are going south.”

President Barack Obama accepted Shinseki’s resignation amid deep-seated problems within the VA’s health care system and after lawmakers in both parties called for him to step down.

“We, often in the government, want to jump to finding someone whose head will roll … but I think we often make deep mistakes when we flip people … especially when we flip appointees,” Johnson said.

Johnson, herself, resigned her post at GSA in 2012, two years after taking the helm. She resigned after details were made public of the agency’s overspending on training conferences in Las Vegas.

During the course of this interview, Johnson discusses the “collision of situations” that led to her resignation and what she’s been doing since.

Listen to the full Women of Washington interview with Martha Johnson.


Women of Washington


Gigi Schumm welcomes Washington's most ambitious and influential female executives to share their secrets to success. Contact Gigi at Subscribe to Women of Washington’s audio interviews on Apple Podcasts or PodcastOne.

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