Debra Rockey, aka Rockey, is the Regional Director of Organizational Development and Talent Management for Mercy Health. She’s also a Global Career development facilitator and executive coach and shares her passion for improvisation in her teachings.
From the forest service to the ecosystems of healthcare, Rockey’s career has been a series of transformations as she has crafted each of her progressive positions, reinventing herself and her skill sets while utilizing her strengths and her values.
She makes sure of one thing no matter the role she takes on: “Not learning is not an option,” said Rockey.
Find out how Rockey chases her passion on the Find Your Passion Career Podcast!
During her undergrad years at Michigan State, Rockey funneled her love of the outdoors into her major: ecology and wildlife biology. This love turned into her first career move working for the U.S. Forest Service.
She reveled in proving she could ‘be one of the guys’ learning how to do tasks the role demanded of her such as operating power tools and driving trucks in the wilderness.
From natural ecosystems to virtual ones
After a year as a park ranger in a small town of only 34 people, Rockey returned to school for her associates degree in computer science—a switch from natural eco-systems to “virtual ecosystems.” Job offers were rolling in.
From there, Rockey tuned in to her personal work style and listened to where her passion was leading her.
“I really like working with people more than I do data. There is something so fascinating about human beings. And then I found it really satisfied my insatiable curiosity and my need for learning,” said Rockey.
With this revelation, she made the switch from data to people. She went on to receive her masters in healthcare administration and a doctorate in psychology.
Today as the Regional Director of Organizational Development and Talent Management , Rockey meets with her team and Chief Operating Officer to ensure that her organization is ready for the changes ahead and to take stock of the accomplishments already under their belt. She can see all of the building blocks from other roles coming together in a career that she feels is noble work.
Reflecting on her career journey, she can see the threads connecting her career moves. Moving from actual ecological eco-systems to the eco-system of healthcare administration, Rockey still studies ‘the big picture.’
And just like natural feedback loops she studied as a park ranger, Rockey feels that her career and role allow her to continue to grow, learn and pass on her knowledge and skills to others—completing the cycle.
“That’s’ when you are really living your career, when you see that feedback loop come back at you,” said Rockey.
Rockey has marked all of the big milestones in her career journey through her passion object— a collection of painted rocks. (Psst, you can see her beautiful artwork in the video below!).
“I’ve certainly enjoyed my journey and the only way I would have gotten there was by saying yes to opportunities that come.”
Learning to say yes, improv style
Saying “yes” is a skill she learned in improv classes at Second City. Improv goes beyond just the humor seen in shows like Whose Line is It Anyway? and Rockey has learned medical improv to help encourage deep listening skills for her hospital. “Improv is being open to possibility and being vulnerable with one another and letting information and deep conversation flow. It just so happens that improv is about life.”
After listening in to Rockey, take a minute to write down and celebrate your achievements. Then think about how you can be open to saying yes to opportunities that will push you to learn and grow.
Once you’re inspired by Rockey’s story, we would love to read your review. Thanks so much!