Profile of a Retiree: Mike Roll, former Deputy Director, Hydroelectric Design Center



Former Position(s) at Portland District:
Deputy Director, Hydroelectric Design Center (also Value Engineering Officer, Mt. Pinatubo Study Manager, Chief Tech Resources Branch, Reinvention Lab Coordinator … to name a few of the 16 different positions I held).

How Long Retired? Nearly 6 years

Career Highlight: The chance to lead the Portland District’s Mt. Pinatubo Volcanic Eruption Recovery Action Plan technical team from 1992 to1994 to assist the government and people of the Philippines in their recovery efforts.

Second Career: I worked for two years (2010-2012) with a local engineering firm, Brown and Caldwell, helping them understand the federal government’s processes, the Corps of Engineers, and where their skill sets would best fit with Corps responsibilities. I enjoyed the time and the learning experience as I’m motivated by seeking the best in people, resolving problems and finding solutions to challenging situations. Presently, I’m not working for anyone (no one’s asking and I’m not looking, and until one of those conditions change I’ll just enjoy being retired).

MR-Jamaica-webDo you follow the Portland District? I continue to follow Portland District closely through news articles, District activities, the Corps’pondent, Society of American Military Engineer meetings and the occasional informal get-together/chat with former co-workers and friends I have from the Corps. I feel I’ve always been an ambassador for the Corps by promoting its work and encouraging others to consider working for them. I often still provide young engineers District contact information so they can engage with District staff about career opportunities.

Service to the community:

  • USAgencies Credit Union supervisory committee (2012-2015). My volunteer position with the credit union helped me understand so much more about how banking systems work and the challenges that a bank faces to stay solvent and relevant in today’s economic times.
  • Royal Oaks Country Club Junior Golf (2013-present).  Since I love the game to start with I enjoy helping the younger generation discover their own skills and interests. Plus kids see the world differently, and that helps me appreciate learning on a different level.

What I know now but didn’t know then: The value of having senior leadership involved in the orientation and integration of younger employees into the Corps is very important and is critical to organizational and personal success. When I started you didn’t interact much, if at all, with senior leaders. I wish it had been more like it is today, way back then. Having the District’s senior management involved in leadership development, communications improvement, Engineer-in-Training guidance, and timely and effective performance evaluations makes a significant difference for new employees early in their careers.

Bucket List items: Golf in Scotland, see the Aurora Borealis, visit Europe, go warm places, assist with the management of a PGA golf tournament, cruise the Panama Canal, visit Colonial Williamsburg, visit Pinehurst Resort, cruise the Rhine River and a bunch of other stuff.

MR-Ice-Bar-in-Alaska-webLessons Learned: To semi-quote the ancient English sage and philosopher, Sir Mick Jagger – “When it comes to work, sometimes you’ll feel like a Beast of Burden, that you Can’t Get No Satisfaction, or that you’re Stuck Between a Rock and Hard Place.  As you go through life, when you meet people have Some Courtesy, Some Sympathy, and Some Taste. And when it comes to getting the job done remember, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, But If You Try, Sometimes, You Just Might Find, You’ll Get What You Need.”  To me that meant, and still means, things aren’t always easy but you can get through it, treat people nicely and they will do the same for others, and always try to simply Do Good Things, the best things you know how to do.

Describe Retirement: Lots of golf, as much travel as possible, stay out of the Doctor’s office and hospital as much as I can.  Manage your money, your health, and your well being.  Enjoy life. Help others.  Wake up every day delighted about the chance to do it all again.

Favorite Film: The Christmas classic, A Christmas Story. We all were Ralphie Parker at one time in our lives, and wanted that Official Red Rider Carbon Action, 200-shot, range model air rifle…with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.

Favorite Book(s):  The Leadership Moment by Dr. Michael Useem, an excellent learning tool for anyone seeking to improve their leadership skills.  Timeline by Michael Crichton, a time-travel suspense tale with a unique look into medieval history.

Meal: The first meal my wife-to-be, Sylvia, made for me while we were dating.  Spaghetti and Apple Pie. That was 40 years ago and it’s still my favorite meal to this day.

Person that inspires: My hero, Brigadier General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin, the Commander of the 2nd and 20th Maine regiments at Gettysburg.  His leadership in banding together his troops with deserters who where thrust upon him, and leading them to victory at Little Round Top against the south at Gettysburg exhibits the highest level of people leading skills I’ve ever encountered.