As the Chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, Bryan Daniel needs almost no introduction, especially to an audience of Economic Development Professionals. We are honored to have him speak at our upcoming TexasEDConnection Partner Palooza 2022 and cannot wait to soak up all of the knowledge, experience, and wisdom he is bound to share with us.
Regardless of how well-known Chairman Daniel is professionally, we wanted to introduce you to the man behind the title before you meet him in a few weeks. Lucky for us, Mr. Daniel agreed to sit down and chat so we could do just that, and while our conversation leaned heavily towards economic development talk, we did manage to sneak in a few fun personal questions as well. Just for you.
Of course, your resume speaks for itself, but if you could, please give us a quick bio, so our readers know a bit more about who you are and your professional background.
I graduated from Texas Tech with a degree in agriculture and ended up working there, teaching a class and as a student recruiter for the College of Agriculture. After that, I moved to Washington, DC, to work for a non-profit focused on researching how we teach high school students about food and fibers and all of the things encompassed within agricultural education. From there, I worked in the US House of Representatives in the agricultural division, at which point George Bush was elected to the Presidency, and I was appointed as the State Director for USDA Rural Development. This brought me back to Texas, working for the federal government but in the state, focusing on funding programs, loans, and grants for rural communities. From there, I was in the private sector for a while, working in marketing but still within the agricultural field. Until a position quite similar to my federal role opened up on the state level, and I worked with the Texas Department of Agriculture. I was there for three years, then was appointed to Governor Abbott’s Economic Development Program. Four years later, Governor Abbott approached me about my current role as the Chairman of the Workforce commission and I, of course, accepted. In a way, it was all related as I had created 1 million jobs in my role with Economic Development (literal, not figurative) and then moved over to help fill those jobs with the WFC.
With that fascinating resume, what did you want to be when you grew up? And does that relate in any way to what you do now?
From the time I started thinking about it, I really thought I’d be a lawyer. It was about persuasion, really, the ability to work with people and sell ideas. I didn’t know that at the time, what lawyers really do, but I can see that what I do now involves a lot of the skills I assumed lawyers used.
What is the one piece of advice you’d give to a young person starting out in their career?
I tell students and young college grads all the time, the only job you really apply for is your first job. After your first job, you are a known entity. Even if you think you are not, people know what you can do. You think you’re gravitating towards certain jobs, but you’re actually being enticed to each job and role.
You don’t see it at the time, but when you get 30 years out and look back, you can see how each opportunity built upon itself and how everything is somehow interconnected. So I tell people to choose carefully, that first job. Make sure it pays enough, that it’s something you’re interested in, and that the employer has a good reputation because you will carry that reputation as well, and you don’t want to have to explain it away as you go throughout your career.
Regarding Economic Development and the Workforce, what are the biggest challenges facing Texas at the moment?
In general, the question we get asked out loud is, ‘is there enough workforce to continue to fill these jobs?’ Employers want to know prior to establishing their business if they can get the workforce they need. So we have to look at it two ways–both at the existing workforce in the area and the quality of life, in that we want to be able to attract the workforce from outside the area to fill those jobs as well.
When companies are evaluating their site selection process, they typically consider real estate, cost (which is tied in with real estate as well), and workforce. To ensure that the native workforce is engaged, we work closely with high schools, universities, trade schools, and community colleges all over the state. And we are continually evaluating the quality of life so that companies can attract people to move here as well.
Do you find that companies are attracted to Texas for the workforce then?
We find that even if a company doesn’t want to move out of California for its headquarters (though they should), it is in their best interest to also have duality in Texas. So even if you’re headquartered in Kansas, you want to have a branch somewhere in our state. This creates a lot of opportunities for us to help employers get jobs created in this state and then fill them. It allows me many chances to help employers understand how to use the workforce commission to get done what they want to get done–which is to expand and grow. This is good for Texans, for communities, and for the businesses. Because what’s good for Texans, is good for Texas.
We cannot argue with that point. What is the most underrated professional skill?
Everyone needs to be a better writer. If I can’t understand what you’re trying to convey to me in the first paragraph, I probably am not reading further. Everyone needs this, including myself, and I’m a writer.
Ok. One last non-business-related question. What do you do for fun, outside of work?
Fly fishing, stand-up paddleboarding. Boating. Hunting. Dove hunting. Photography. A lot of video work.
A fitting list for a native Texan, we appreciate Chairman Daniel taking the time to chat with us and, once again, are very excited to have him as a speaker at our upcoming Economic Development Conference. For information on the event and to get tickets, please visit our website at: https://texasedc.com/partner-palooza. For more information on joining the TexasEDConnection Partnership, please visit TexasEDC.com or contact us at SuperDave@D1Experts.com.
Please also follow Chairman Daniel and the TWFC on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/texasworkforcecommission and on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/company/texasworkforcecommission/
Watch Chairman Daniel’s weekly Texas Workforce VLOGs below or click here.