In January 2015, at the suggestion of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civilian Personnel, Ms. Gwendolyn DeFilippi, the Army Management Staff College partnered with the Civilian Senior Leader Management Office to stand up a program to engage Army Civilian Senior Executive Service (SES) leaders in the Army Civilian Education System. Referred to as the "SES Engagement Program," a senior executive from across the Army Enterprise spends a full week with an Advanced Course class.
The four-week Advanced Course is the required leader development course for all Army Civilians in grades GS-13, GS-14, and GS-15. The course curriculum offers learning experiences to promote leading complex organizations in support of national security and defense strategies; integrating Army and Joint systems in support of the Joint Force; inspiring vision and creativity; implementing change; and managing programs.
Since the inception of the SES Engagement Program, 45 senior executives from 36 Army agencies and commands have participated in ten Advanced Course iterations to include six resident sessions at Fort Leavenworth and four mobile training sessions at Redstone Arsenal, Fort Sam Houston, Fort Belvoir, and Vilseck, Germany.
The SES Engagement Program provides senior executives four occasions to directly interface with CES Advanced Course students during their specific week: participation, mentoring, open forums, and graduation. In participation, they spend the bulk of their week in seminar rooms with the students, sharing in the learning events, contributing to discussion sessions, and receiving small group presentations. Regarding mentoring, they provide students opportunities for individual coaching and career advisory appointments. Open discussion forums involve a weekly brown bag luncheon open to all Advanced Course students to discuss a variety of Army leadership topics in an informal setting. And, finally, the senior executive participating in the fourth and final week of the course traditionally serves as the guest speaker for the graduation ceremony.
Due to recent budget delays, funding for the four mentors for the most recent Advance Course was not available. Fortunately, Mr. Kirby Brown, the Deputy to the Commanding General for the Combined Arms Center, stepped up and served as the senior executive representative for all four weeks of the course. During his graduation speech Mr. Brown commented, "I've had a blast spending time with such talented and dedicated professionals over the last month. It was my honor to share the classroom with you great folks. You taught me a lot. And, for that, I say thank you very much."
According to the Director of the Army Management Staff College, the SES Engagement Program is the proverbial win-win for the Army. Senior executives get a fresh look inside the Civilian Education System which helps them mentor their subordinates toward accomplishing their respective CES courses. Also, by engaging firsthand in the students' learning experiences the senior executives add priceless depth and rigor to the course curriculum. Lastly, students with SES aspirations have a chance to sit down and talk one-on-one with a senior executive to obtain career advice and suggestions.