Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Breckheimer MPP ’08
by Kimberly Ueyama
Consulting necessitates dedication to one’s client and the ability to effectively analyze problems and communicate the best possible solutions. When that client is an agency or department of the federal government, discretion and accuracy become especially critical. As a member of Deloitte Consulting LLP, a national consulting firm that deals with such issues, Jennifer Breckheimer plays an indirect but key role in the functions of an agency of the federal government.
Deloitte works in a variety of fields ranging from tax and audit to financial advisory services; Breckheimer is a consultant for the branch of the company that offers guidance to the public sector. When agencies find a particular project too overwhelming to handle on their own, they rely on consultants, like those at Deloitte, to provide assistance.
Dealing with “people issues” that affect government on a day-to-day basis is an aspect of consulting Breckheimer particularly enjoys. As a ‘Human Capital’ practitioner within Deloitte, this is precisely what she focuses on.
By interacting with people and policies in an attempt to make the federal government an “employer of choice,” she is exposed to the inner workings of government.
“Public servants truly are the heart of government, and there has been a recent push – led by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) – to ensure that departments and agencies are capable of recruiting and retaining a high-caliber workforce,” she said. “In order to do this, they have been exploring private sector practices in order to find new and innovative ways of identifying and attracting talent, and that’s where we (Deloitte) come in.”
For Breckheimer, working with a variety of issues is one of the highlights of her position.
“As a consultant, my work load is constantly fluctuating,” Breckheimer said. “We deal with a variety of federal departments ranging from Health and Human Services to Treasury, and I’ve enjoyed learning about different agencies, both through outward facing client work, and internal firm activities.”
Breckheimer’s initial exposure to Deloitte and the field of consulting occurred during her first year in the master of public policy program at USC’s School of Policy, Planning, and Development.
Prior to participating in the Deloitte Case Challenge – an event that provides SPPD graduate students with direct experience in consulting on an introductory level – she had no particular interest in the private sector.
“At SPPD, I found that I enjoyed the idea of being presented with a problem, working with a team and identifying a solution,” Breckheimer explained. “This remains the most rewarding part of my job.”
In addition, Breckheimer noted that in the future she hopes to work in the international policy arena, potentially with the Department of State. Her interest in this area grew during her time at SPPD.
“While an MPP student, I participated in the SPPD International China Lab, a program that sends USC graduate students abroad to work on various policy issues. My particular project focused on water quality in southeastern China.”
Because Breckheimer was one of only a few MPP students who participated in the lab, she was able to interact with participants from a variety of disciplines across SPPD. She felt that the opportunity to learn about a range of issues and work with different students helped prepare her for her work in a field that requires skills in collaboration and innovative approaches to multifaceted problems.
Although Breckheimer’s position in Deloitte has not yet provided exposure to international affairs, she is confident that this will occur.
“One of the benefits of working for a company that deals with so many issues across a wide range of government agencies is that its consultants have the opportunity to move around and find work that truly interests them.”
This, coupled with Breckheimer’s personal eagerness to learn from every opportunity presented to her, ensures that she will successfully achieve this goal as well as any future aspirations she may set for herself.