ACC-RI employees build leadership skills
September 25, 2012
Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. - Two Army Contracting Command-Rock Island employees graduated from the Defense Civilian Emerging Leader Program on Aug. 23 in Washington D.C.
Julie Lawrence, contract specialist in the Information Technology Division, and Mary Beth Landphair, contract specialist in the Reachback Division, graduated during a ceremony held at the Pentagon Auditorium, concluding a nearly year-long program featuring a series of courses that focused on recruiting and developing future leaders.
The pilot program began in September 2011 at the Executive Management Training Center, Southbridge, Mass. Subsequent one- and two-week courses were held bi-monthly with topics such as a leadership assessment, project management, team building, leadership principles, communication skills, conflict resolution and relationship building.
There were also two required capstone papers -- one a reflective paper on the program and the other a research paper.
"It was very insightful, thorough, and provided a wide range of courses that you won't find in one program anywhere else," said Lawrence.
The DCELP participants were selected from three areas of the Department of Defense workforce: acquisition, finance management and human resources. Students came from as far away as Hawaii and Germany. The program divided the 104 DCELP participants (102 graduated) into three "pods." Students stayed within their pods for the entire program.
"One big takeaway from working in these small groups was that we got to know our leadership style and the style of others, and it was great to see those interactions play out during team projects," said Lawrence.
Both Lawrence and Landphair said the program was fascinating, challenging and, at times, mentally exhausting.
"It was just constant feedback," said Landphair. "In some of the classes we had personal coaches dedicated to watching us all day and then they would give us feedback on ourselves -- our style, how we interacted with people, what we need to work on. We also received daily feedback from our peers as well."
Landphair said she was impressed with the leaders that the class met during the program. Some of the speakers included Sandra A. Gregory, who retired this summer from her post as special assistant to the Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer; Eileen Hipe, director, Army Materiel Command contracting support element; Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics; John P. Roth, deputy comptroller (programs & budget), Office of the Undersecretary of Defense; and Katrina G. McFarland, assistant secretary of defense for Acquisition.
"Meeting all these people within the Department of Defense who have worked their way up to become leaders and having them care about our futures was such a blessing," said Landphair. "They have a face with a name now. We can call them, e-mail them and they are there for us."
They also met experts and authors in the leadership field. A sampling of the authors they met included Russell M. Linden, author of "Leading Across Boundaries"; Clifton Taulbert, author of "Eight Habits of the Heart"; Steve Farber, author of "The Radical Leap Re-Energized"; and Glenn Brome, author of "The Facilitative Leader."
The program was intensive and took a lot of time and effort, but after hours the DCELP participants made the most of their time together.
"We held baby showers and wedding showers, and we celebrated engagements, promotions and birthdays," said Landphair. "We had Wii dance parties, held dodgeball tournaments and took a group trip to Boston over one of the weekends."
Through work and fun, Landphair and Lawrence made connections that they said they hope last for the duration of their careers.
As they attended their graduation on Aug. 23, they were joined by ACC-RI Executive Director Michael Hutchison. Hutchison said he attended the graduation to show his pride in their accomplishment, as well as his gratitude for the effort they put into the course.
"By taking this course, the demonstrated that they are interested in self-development," said Hutchison. "They are two promising future leaders."