Mentor & Protégé Series: John Jolokai & Richard Clark
November 6, 2013
Army Contracting Command-Warren, Mich.
Mentor: John D. Jolokai
Chief, Tactical Vehicles/MRAP Contracting Division, Combat Support Contracting Directorate
The future of contracting:
Given the current and future budget constraints, contracting personnel will be at the forefront in providing critically needed support to our Soldiers. Contracting professionals will face limited fiscal resources and a constantly changing regulatory and business environment. While this may seem daunting, these challenges will allow for contracting professionals to further demonstrate the value and benefit contracting professionals provide.
The need to keep skills current:
I routinely stress that, at every level, one needs to constantly grow their contracting skill set. As contracting professionals, we have tremendous opportunity to utilize new tools (virtual contracting enterprise, paperless contracting files, etc.) to provide outstanding support to our customers. Leveraging those tools and consistently staying on top of the latest policy and procedures allows us to maintain our role as the preeminent contracting provider.
Training the future generation:
The mark of a true leader is the ability to grow the necessary technical and leadership skills in the next generation. ACC not only provides tremendous opportunities to relatively new contracting professionals, but also works diligently to ensure those individuals have the necessary training and resources to perform their job.
Recommendations for new contracting professionals:
My recommendation to new employees is to work hard and ask questions as often as you can. New contracting professionals should utilize the extensive resources available to them to ensure they are truly grasping the key contracting concepts. One of the many benefits of government service is that every organization has multiple people who are not only subject matter experts but are willing to take the time to answer any questions you may have. Leverage your co-workers' expertise to build a solid contracting foundation and you will be well served for the rest of your career.
Protégé: Richard Clark
Contract Specialist, Robotics Contracting Team
Working With a mentor:
The mentor/protégé relationship I have with John Jolokai is very rewarding because it is an informal, unforced arrangement which I believe optimizes the outcomes. I've learned there are a few necessary requirements for valuable mentor/protégé sessions. One is to be capable of recognizing where you can make professional improvements. Another is to not be afraid making yourself vulnerable. You should also seek candid feedback from your mentor and implement what you've discussed into your professional routines and work.
My view on training is whether or not it is in a formal setting, training is continuous. There is always something to learn and there is always something to improve upon.
Challenges to date:
One of the most important challenges I've faced to date is learning to think about how a contract action affects the big picture. This is a very valuable lesson to me because it helped me realize that all actions are equally important.
Biggest lesson learned:
The biggest lesson I've learned so far, which my mentor has helped me to cultivate, is that a good attitude is everything. I've learned to choose an attitude that allows me to approach my work, regardless of its type or complexity, knowing that there will always be something I can learn to help me advance both professionally and personally. A key component of that is making sure that my intentions are always mission focused.