A folksy Machelle Sanders hailed her roots along the north shore of the Pungo River, family-instilled values, and her high-level, private-sector management acumen in the pharmaceutical industry.

Then she deftly responded to a series of questions about her qualifications to become state secretary of administration from a Senate panel that recommended her confirmation for the job unanimously.

Sanders, a native of Belhaven, population 1,400, appeared under subpoena before the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday afternoon.

She was the first of Gov. Roy Cooper’s Cabinet nominees to undergo a confirmation hearing since a court ruled on Friday that the Senate has the constitutional authority to approve a governor’s nominees.

Sanders’ résumé includes most recently vice president of manufacturing and general manager of Biogen, a pharmaceutical research and development firm in Research Triangle Park that grew from 900 to 1,200 employees, and launched five new medications under her watch.

As secretary of administration, Sanders would be responsible for an agency with 441 employees, a $64 million budget, and stewardship of 1,200 buildings across the state.

Many of the multiple senators quizzing Sanders wanted to know if and how her private sector experience would help in the government realm.

They also asked related questions about dealing with government bureaucracy, and the broad spectrum of her responsibilities from surplus property and parking for government agencies, to procurement, construction, motor fleets, fair housing, and the state Human Relations Commission.

Sen. Ronald Rabin, R-Harnett, wanted to know how she planned to make her department more effective and efficient.

Sanders said she could immediately identify and fix problems due to her private sector experience. “I am a stickler for execution,” tracking and monitoring work orders, and employee accountability.

 “To change a light bulb surely should not require the same number of approvals, documents, paper, changes, communication, touch points as it would to change a boiler, or it would to change an HVAC system, and right now it does,” Sanders said, to audience laughter. “Those are efficiency gains.”

She said her work in operations management helped her find ways to deliver services more efficiency and effectively, partly by compiling key metrics and indicators to measure whether performance is improving.