June 6, 2018

S4|E20: Ken Pimlott – You Can’t be Afraid to Act

By Tom Davidson

Chief Ken Pimlott is the Director of CAL FIRE and State Forester of California. Ken began his career as a reserve firefighter with the Contra Costa Fire Protection District and has served in many capacities on his way to becoming Director. For example, prior to his current role, Ken was Deputy Director of Fire Protection including Command and Control Operations, Cooperative Fire Protection, Conservation Camps, Fleet Management, Aviation Management, Training and Safety. He holds an Associate of Arts Degree in Fire Technology from American River College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Forest Resource Management from Humboldt State University and is a registered professional forester. In addition, Ken has served as past chair of the Council of Western State Foresters. On today’s show, Ken discusses the shifts in his department over time, including some recent ones, and he explains why firefighters have to become good leaders in a hurry. He also talks about the best ways to navigate a changing workforce and leadership lessons he wished he’d learned even sooner!

Key Takeaways:

[:55] A message from Leadership Nature.

[1:40] A quick intro about Ken’s background.

[3:25] How did Ken become interested in forestry?

[5:45] Why is leadership so critical in the fire community?

[9:35] Every firefighter is a leader in their own right. When a fire is happening, you can’t always call base to find out what to do next.

[10:10] What does Ken mean by ‘leader’s intent’?

[11:45] What have been some of Ken’s defining moments that really shaped him as a person and a leader?

[15:15] In today’s climate, Ken has never seen so many diverse groups in alignment about the need for active forest management.

[17:00] What’s it like being the CEO of an agency compared to being in middle management?

[24:40] What is Ken most proud of in his career?

[27:45] Ken shares what he wished he learned sooner about leadership.

[31:00] What are Ken’s thoughts on the younger generations entering the workforce?

[34:50] How can someone be successful in their career?

[38:15] Don’t be afraid to take action!

Mentioned in This Episode:
Ken on Twitter
Ken on LinkedIn
The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, by James D. Hornfischer

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