SEATTLE ― Robert Frazier, Seattle District’s former resource management division chief, has more time to pursue his interests and hobbies now that he has retired from federal government service. His last official day was Dec. 31, 2021.
Retirement isn’t new to Frazier, a native of Iowa, who completed 27 years in the U.S. Navy in 1995. He then ran his own engineering and construction company for 14 years and was a contractor for the U.S. military until the recession hit around 2008 ― which led Frazier to consider joining USACE in 2009.
Although Frazier credits the recession as the external force that led him to join USACE, he said it was the Corps’ values, which includes loyalty, respect, duty, selfless service, honor, and integrity, and its mission ― to provide engineering expertise and water resource stewardship, and to deliver world-class solutions to protect and serve the Pacific Northwest ― that resonated with him the most.
But it wasn’t smooth sailing for the former Navy commander.
“I had to prove myself as an outsider and former contractor,” Frazier said. “Some people knew me, but I had to earn my colleagues’ respect,” the U.S. Naval Academy graduate added.
In his first three years with the district, Frazier thrived, progressing from Environmental and Interagency Services Branch program manager to branch chief within a year. After the previous resource management chief retired, previous district leadership selected Frazier to fill that position, according to Frazier, due to his track record at the Corps, previous industry expertise and experience, and his MBA.
Looking back, Frazier said he wished he’d joined USACE sooner, although the former naval surface line officer and weapons systems engineer believes his industry experience gave him real-world knowledge, skills, and technical know-how that he applied in his many positions with the Corps.
A pivotal organizational change Frazier witnessed and welcomed during his time with USACE has been its transition to a more business-oriented organization.
“The Corps became better at managing business,” he explained. “Improvements in technology have changed the landscape of how we do business. The Pandemic sped up how we’re doing business now as well as in the future, but we must remain flexible and stay viable, as we stay mission-focused and look forward in the environment we’re in.”
On sharing wisdom with younger generations of USACE employees, Frazier advises taking every opportunity to get more training, stay relevant and marketable, remain flexible and encourage “thinking outside the box” as they gain seniority. He also recommends embracing diversity and inclusion because it is vital to the Corps’ success.
“There is great talent in diverse corners of our society just waiting for an opportunity to prove they can be high-performing members of the Corps team,” Frazier said. “Once you’ve built a diverse team, fully engage them in executing a successful mission. I've made it a priority in my career to support diversity and inclusion, like “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” and have seen firsthand how truly powerful a diverse and engaged team can be,” he added.
Frazier’s last stint with the Corps was with Portland District as its acting resource management division chief. His short-term retirement goals include cabinetmaking, woodworking, and all things outdoors, while long-term aspirations include international travel, building his new home at Lake Chelan, Washington, and enjoying retirement with his wife.