The Transition with Gary Rebello, City of Milwaukie HR Director

Posted on March 6, 2013

Gary Rebello has been learning the nuisances of the public sector since April 2011 when he began working for Marion County. Before that experience, Gary had spent the bulk of his career in the private sector working for LaCrosse Footwear, Mentor Graphics Corporation, and Intel. He now finds himself leading the human resources department for the City of Milwaukie.

The Transition with Gary Rebello


City of Milwaukie, Human Resources Director

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Tell us about three projects that consume the bulk of your work day.

Projects at the top of my list right now include:

    • revamping our performance management system which includes changing from an anniversary to a focal performance review schedule and a new review format;
    • audit and updating of all City policies and procedures;
    • introducing a shared service administrative support model; and management/leadership development.

What have been the biggest challenges in transitioning from the private to public sector?

download (1)There are actually quite a few differences, and they are not particularly either positive or negative.  For me personally, the biggest challenge is not so much private vs. public as union vs. non-union.  The bulk of my career has been spent in mostly non-union environments (semiconductor, software and footwear).

Other challenges are at-will employment vs. property rights to a job; pay for performance vs. COLAs and step increases; and the level of transparency in public vs. private.  The public sector also seems to be more focused on process (part of the transparency). And last but not least, is working for the public good vs. profit margins and stock price.

One thing to note is that I have come full circle since graduating from college with studies in political science and public administration.  I do want to acknowledge the folks at Marion County where I spent 18 months prior to joining the City of Milwaukie.  They were hugely supportive in helping me with the transition from private to public.

From your experience in human resources, do you find employees in the public and private sector fully grasp the scope of work handled by human resources or do they tend to associate HR with job recruitment?

I hope so.  I have never been a recruiter and do not see recruitment as the primary function of human resources.  For me, HR is about talent management and individual and organizational success.  Managing talent demands a full spectrum approach which includes employee relations, organizational development, labor relations, compensation and benefits design, employee training and development, performance management, succession planning and even recruitment.  Hopefully, what employees see is a healthy and productive work environment as the end product.

Speaking of job recruitment, give our readers three tips for increasing their marketability.

  1. Know, grow and protect your personal and professional brand…do not compromise your ethics and values.
  2. Keep learning…stay ahead of the curve or you will fall behind.
  3. Network, network and network…it is what you know and who you know.

download (2)ELGL is hosting its 1st annual conference at the Kennedy School on October 4, assist our planning committee by providing three recommendations for speakers or session topics.

Well, I have a couple.  Jathan Janove is a local Portland attorney/partner with Ogletree Deakins and management author.  He is highly informative and entertaining.  I also recommend Steven Schuback, an attorney with LGPI, if you have a topic on labor relations.

Describe your ideal Sunday morning.

There is a pretty good chance that on a given Sunday morning I may be at a dog show with my wife and my Irish Water Spaniel.  It would be ideal if we are winning.

Three items on your professional bucket list. Personal bucket list.

I do not keep a bucket list.

Write a headline for your first six months in Milwaukie.

download (3)

  • ‘Rebello Passes Probationary Period’ or
  • …on a more optimistic note, ‘Rebello Adds Value to Milwaukie City Success’

Name a few songs on your ultimate music playlist.

Pretty much anything Van Morrison, REM, Beatles or the like.  Black Keys are currently high on my list.  My change of pace alternatives are jazz and blues.


What is going through your mind when you are driving to work?

Need coffee!


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