LDP III Q+A with Sean Harper
August 14, 2013
By James Woods
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - What is your official job title?
Beaver Lake Operations Project Manager
When did you graduate from Leadership Development Program III?
I am a 2012 graduate of the LDP III program.
How has the program assisted you with career progression?
While I remain committed to project operation as a career, certainly, one of the benefits of the program is an exposure to the wider Corps of Engineers with its many missions and aspects that I don't normally work with in my day to day assignments. That has led to more circumspection and thought in regard to what I might want to do in light of the broad area of opportunity with the agency. The program definitely illuminates, through interaction with fellow LDP participants from across the Corps, career possibilities and career progression success stories.
Did you work on any projects during the course that helped the Beaver Project?
One of our major projects was to launch the mentoring program throughout the Southwestern Division. I have been a participant in the mentoring program as both a mentee and mentor for several years and have found it to be a rewarding experience. It's been exciting to see Beaver Project Office staff take advantage of the program, participate, and grow and develop as a result. Mentoring is good for everyone involved and a good investment in people by the Corps.
Is there a specific lesson learned from the course that you apply daily or to projects you work on?
That's both an easy and a hard question. In the LDP III program, it's non-stop lessons. But, as you would expect, there are some that stick with you for the long haul. I found "The Flip Side" approach to self-analysis novel and useful for everyday life. It was a whole new way of looking internally, focusing not on talents or skills, but constraints that may be acting like an anchor. The program makes you look at yourself in a whole different way, and that's helpful in understanding yourself a little bit better, and see others differently too. During the LDP III program, you get to spend time with Division leadership and learn a lot from them. During one session, one of these leaders passed me a note with a short phrase that kind of captured the essence of the session. I've kept it as a reminder. The statement was, "Strategic thinking is good, execution is better." In the context of the session, it really clicked with me and I've been more conscious of execution as better ever since. With that being said, it's difficult to achieve good execution without having good strategy. Luck only gets you so far.
What are your future goals in the Corps?
I went into the LDP III program as a fairly new OPM at Beaver Project Office. It only takes a short time after you take an OPM position to realize that you have a lot to learn, at least that's the way I felt. My objective for LDP III participation was to become better equipped personally and professionally to be the leader that Beaver Project Office needs to achieve a high level of organizational success. Providing good leadership for the Beaver Project Office remains my primary objective and goal for the future. I love my job and hope to serve the public and the Corps in this capacity for the foreseeable future.
What did you like most about the program?
I enjoyed the interaction with leadership elements throughout SWD as well as fellow LDP III participants. I made a lot of good friends as we toiled together to complete the program.
Has the LDP program helped you outside the Corps?
You learn a lot about yourself in these types of programs. You are given opportunities and sometimes pushed to do things that are outside your comfort zone. These types of learning adventures translate to the personal life fairly effectively. It's all useful if you want it to be. Like most programs, you get out of it what you put into it.
Anything else you want to add?
I appreciate the Little Rock District's support of this program and the opportunity to participate.