As chief financial officer for the U.S. Department of Energy, Joseph Hezir (E 1972, HNZ 1974) oversees a complex $29 billion budget.
He credits his Carnegie Mellon University degrees in chemical engineering and public policy as helping him become the leader he is today.
"In the course of my career, I've had the opportunity to work with many people coming out of other institutions. The quality of the education I received at Carnegie Mellon was unmatched from anyone else I've ever worked with," Hezir said. "I probably couldn't do what I do without the benefit of both degrees."
Hezir was confirmed to his post by the Senate on Dec. 4, 2014.
"Joe's experience in the energy, environmental and budgetary realms and his strategic approach to challenges make him a great fit as chief financial officer for the agency," said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz when the appointment was announced.
Hezir is working to assure the effective management and financial integrity of the department. He helps implement and monitor department-wide policies and systems in the areas of budget administration, program analysis and evaluation, finance and accounting, internal controls, corporate financial systems, and strategic planning.
In addition to Hezir, another member of the 1974 Heinz program is also with the department. Cynthia Wilson (DC 1973, HNZ 1974), a senior policy advisor, has known Hezir for more than 40 years. The 18 students who graduated together continue to stay in touch.
"Many of our most pressing and challenging public policy issues are deeply rooted in technology … at CMU, we've succeeded as no other university has in training students who can work effectively at the interface between technology and policy. Joe does us proud." — Ed Rubin
"The group deeply bonded together over our two-year program," Wilson said. The most recent gathering was last November in Pittsburgh. "Joe was always the quietest of all of us and the deepest thinker."
Prior to joining the department, Hezir worked as a research engineer and executive director of The Future of Solar Energy Study and a member of the Future of Natural Gas study team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Energy Initiative.
He was the vice president and managing partner of EOP Group, Inc. and executive vice president of EOP Education, LLC and EOP Foundation, Inc. Hezir also held various roles at the Office of Management and Budget, Exxon Research and Engineering Company, the President's Reorganization Project, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and was an adviser to a number of public policy and public service organizations.
Hezir credits Ed Rubin, the Alumni Chair Professor of Environmental Engineering and Science and a professor of Engineering and Public Policy, Mechanical Engineering for being instrumental in steering him to a career of public service.
"Joe attended CMU during my early years on the faculty, but I still remember him as a serious and bright student, interested not only in the technical dimensions of engineering, but in societal and policy aspects as well," Rubin said.
When Rubin was working on a National Academies' energy study, he learned that Hezir was the highly respected overseer of the Department of Energy's budget line at the federal Office of Management & Budget.
"That re-established our connection. He later moved to a D.C. consulting firm, where I called on him for advice in formulating a legislative proposal related to climate change," Rubin said. "His new position at DOE puts him at the top of his game. I can't imagine anyone better qualified."
Hezir said the analytical underpinning of CMU's education is important in pursuing a career in policy.
"Policy is often equated to politics, but policy is an increasingly complex field and analytical insights are a critical skill in addressing those issues," Hezir said.
Wilson said that her friends and former classmates have taken those analytical tools they learned in school and transferred them to fields such as health care, finance and real estate. "The strength of Heinz is that we were taught skills not topics," she said.
Rubin echoed that sentiment.
"Many of our most pressing and challenging public policy issues are deeply rooted in technology — think about energy systems, telecommunications or climate change," he said. "At CMU, we've succeeded as no other university has in training students who can work effectively at the interface between technology and policy. Joe does us proud."